Humanitarianism

Coordinator: Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

​​​​​​​The humanitarian enterprise currently finds itself at a crossroads. At the tail end of armed international engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is increasingly also faced with new types of emergencies related to climate change, urbanization, and shifting geopolitical dynamics. What is the future of the humanitarian system in light of these challenges? This is the most basic research question that occupies us. Answering it requires investigations into humanitarianism's current character, how it is changing, and how it ought to change. 

The Humanitarianism Research Group has a close collaboration with The Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies. The Centre aims to promote and facilitate critical and relevant research on key humanitarian issues, and serves as a hub for research and policy discussion. The Centre is established as a joint PRIO, CMI and NUPI initiative. NCHS also features a national network of scholars working on humanitarian issues from outside the three core institutions, as well as featuring an extensive network of international humanitarian scholars. ​​

Humanitarianism is still an evolving field of study. As illustrated by events over the past ten years, the institutional and political frameworks of the humanitarian enterprise will continue to shift the terrain of global governance in the new century, posing novel challenges to traditional ideas of sovereignty, security, and human welfare. To understand the political, legal, ethical, cultural, and economic implications of this development, there is a need for basic research into the premises and impact of contemporary humanitarian practice, with a focus on developing better conceptual and methodological approaches.

The work of the Humanitarianism research group seeks to contribute to the development of humanitarianism as a field of study in its own right, and to further a more critical debate on humanitarian issues and humanitarian policies at the national, regional, and international level. It also seeks to develop the insights of a variety of cognate disciplines in relation to the complex issue of contemporary humanitarianism. We carry out this work under four thematic headings:


1. Local actors and dynamics of humanitarianism

Humanitarianism is faced with the challenge of finding the right balance between the need for standardized approaches and the need to adapt to unique contexts and challenges for each specific crisis. It also faces the challenges of how to adjust to the persistence of complex armed violence. While addressing these issues, the Humanitarianism research group explores how urbanization shapes the relationship between structural poverty and humanitarian crisis, as well as our understanding of it, and the ways in which climate-change related phenomena, whether sudden-onset or gradual, both trigger displacement and affect those already displaced. Furthermore, we critically examine the coupling of humanitarianism and the protection of vulnerable groups (eg. women, children, and minorities) and how governments affected by humanitarian crisis relate to issues of protection, access, and responsibility.


 

2. Humanitarianism and technology

The technological underpinnings of the contemporary will-to-care are a basic and yet understudied element of contemporary humanitarianism. There are both possibilities and pitfalls, for example, in using biometrics, information and robot technology, and social media in the identification of humanitarian emergencies and for the delivery of assistance and protection. In addition to studying these, we are interested in the ways in which humanitarian reform and regulatory processes (including standardization, regulation, and measurement efforts) continue to reshape service delivery and protection.


 

3. New humanitarian actors: rising powers, diasporas, and faith-based actors

Rising powers are increasingly involved in delivering humanitarian assistance. We are therefore interested in understanding how these rising powers understand humanitarianism conceptually. More precisely, how will the common and diverging interests of humanitarian actors, both established and new, shape the understanding of humanitarian crisis at the law and policy level, and how will they impact the delivery of assistance? In addition, we know that diasporas play an increasingly important role in providing assistance during and in the aftermath of humanitarian crisis. But how do diasporas interact with humanitarian organizations and policy makers? We also want to better understand the role of faith-based humanitarianisms within the contemporary system; the approaches, values, and practices that faith-based actors bring to crisis and post-crisis settings.


 

4. Power and ethics in humanitarianism

The fundamental issues of power and ethics are explored through a critical approach to the relevance and appropriateness of humanitarian engagement. The changing norms of sovereignty and security are examined, as well as the related transformations in the techniques and practices of governance. We address the question of how the security/development/humanitarianism nexus continues to shift the terrain of humanitarian assistance, and how the boundary between crisis and normalcy is determined, especially when crisis is perpetuated. We also examine the evolutions in "human rights based humanitarianism", as we look at whether there are other ways in which a more 'just' humanitarianism can be envisioned.

 

Aims

The Humanitarianism research group aims to establish a strong humanitarian research community at PRIO, with the ability to undertake interdisciplinary and long-term research at the highest academic level. We aim to contribute to public debate and agenda-setting, as well as to the general professionalization of humanitarian practice.

 

Interdisciplinarity and methodology

The Humanitarianism research group encompasses the academic fields of anthropology, history, criminology, sociology, geography, law, political theory, international relations, and ethics. Although quantitative approaches will oftentimes be utilized or developed, the researchers within this group mainly employ a variety of qualitative approaches. The Humanitarianism research group includes both normative and descriptive projects.

Past Events

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kristian Hoelscher (2017) The Reframing of the War on Drugs as a “Humanitarian Crisis”: Costs, Benefits and Attendant Consequences, Latin American Perspectives (Forthcoming).
Horst, Cindy & Anab Nur (2016) Governing mobility through humanitarianism in South-central Somalia: compromising protection for the sake of return?, Development and Change 47(3): 542–562.
Lemaitre, Julieta (2016) After the War: Displaced Women, Ordinary Ethics, and Grassroots Reconstruction in Colombia , Social & Legal Studies.
Cezne, Eric; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Drones como Veículos para a Ação Humanitária: Perspectivas, Oportunidades e Desafios [[Drones as vehicles for humanitarian action: perspectives, opportunities and challenges]], Conjuntura Austral 7(3334): 45–60.
Lidén, Kristoffer; Nona Mikhelidze; Elena B. Stavrevska & Birte Vogel (2016) EU support to civil society organizations in conflict-ridden countries: A governance perspective from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Georgia, International Peacekeeping 23(2): 274–301.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The humanitarian cyberspace: shrinking space or an expanding frontier?, Third World Quarterly 37(1): 17–32.
Reid-Henry, Simon (2015) Genealogies of Liberal Violence: Human Rights, State Violence and the Police, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33(4): 626–641.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) African Drone Stories, BEHEMOTH a Journal on Civilisation 8(2): 73–96.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2015) Les drones humanitaires [Humanitarian drones], RIS La Revue Internationale Et Strategique 98(2): 139–146.
Horst, Cindy & katarzyna grabska (2015) Flight and Exile—Uncertainty in the Context of Conflict-induced displacement, Social Analysis: Journal of Cultural and Social Practice 59(1): 1–18.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert; John Karlsrud & Mareile Kaufmann (2014) Humanitarian technology: a critical research agenda, International Review of the Red Cross. DOI: 10.1017/S1816383114000344.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kjersti Lohne (2014) The Rise of the Humanitarian Drone: Giving Content to an Emerging Concept, Millennium Journal of International Studies. DOI: 10.1177/03058298145294701–20.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2014) Teknologi og det humanitære fornyelsesprosjektet [Technology and the Humanitarian Renewal Project], Internasjonal Politikk(2): 272–281.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert & John Karlsrud (2014) Ny humanitær teknologi - en kritisk forskningsagenda, Internasjonal Politikk(2): 224–233.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2014) How Sudan’s ’rogue’ state label shaped US responses to the Darfur conflict: what’s the problem and who’s in charge? , Third World Quarterly 35(2): 284–299.
Horst, Cindy (2013) The depoliticization of diasporas from the Horn of Africa: From refugees to transnational aid workers, African Studies 72(2): 228–245.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2013) Internally Displaced Women as Knowledge Producers and Users in Humanitarian Action: The View from Colombia, Disasters 37(1): 36–50.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen & David Lanz (2013) Globalised Rebellion: The Darfur insurgents and the world, Journal of Modern African Studies 51(2): 193–217.
Liden, Kristoffer (2013) In love with a lie? On the social and political preconditions for global peacebuilding governance, Peacebuilding 1(1): 73–90.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) Negotiating the Humanitarian Past: History, Memory, and Unstable Cityscapes in Kampala, Uganda, Refugee Survey Quarterly 31(1): 108–122.
Fadnes, Ellen; & Horst, Cindy (2009) Responses to Internal Displacement in Colombia: Guided by What Principles?, Refuge 26(1): 111–120.
Horst, Cindy (2008) A Monopoly on Assistance? International Aid to Refugee Camps and the Role of the Diaspora, Afrika Spectrum 43(1): 121–131.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2007) La Sécurité humaine et l’internationalisation des conflits intra-étatiques : le cas du conflit au Sud-Soudan [Human security and the internationalization of intra-state conflicts: the case of the conflict in South Sudan], Human Security Journal 3(2).
Horst, Cindy (2006)Buufis amongst Somalis in Dadaab: The Transnational and Historical Logics Behind Resettlement Dreams , Journal of Refugee Studies 19(2): 143–157.
Horst, Cindy; & Horst, Cindy (2006)Refugee livelihoods: Continuity and Transformations , Refugee Survey Quarterly 25(2): 6–22.

PhD Thesis

Lidén, Kristoffer (2014) Between Intervention and Sovereignty: Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding and the Philosophy of Global Governance. PhD thesis, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo.

Monograph

Horst, Cindy (2006) Transnational Nomads: How Somalis Cope with Refugee Life in the Dadaab Camps of Kenya. : .

Book Chapter

Lidén, Kristoffer & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Poison Pill or Cure-All: Drones and the Protection of Civilians, in Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, eds, The Good Drone. London: Ashgate. London: Ashgate .
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2016) Creating the EU Drone: Control, Sorting and Search and Rescue at Sea, in Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, eds, The Good Drone (Forthcoming). London: Routledge .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) How accountability technologies shape international protection: results-based management and rights-based approaches revisited , in Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, ed., UNHCR and the Struggle For Accountability, Technology, Law and Results-Based Management. London: Routledge Humanitarian Studies .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) Introduction: The Quest for an Accountability Cure , in Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, ed., UNHCR and the Struggle For Accountability, Technology, Law and Results-Based Management. London: Routledge Humanitarian Studies .
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Introduction: What Does It Take to Be Good?, in The Good Drone. London: Ashgate .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) Stronger, Faster, Better: Three Logics of Humanitarian Futureproofing , in Heins, Volker; Kai Koddenbrock; & Christine Unrau, eds, Humanitarianism and Challenges of Cooperation. London: Routledge .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: A Bottom-Up Reading of Law in Post-Conflict Transitions, in Saul, Matthew; & James A. Sweeney, eds, International Law and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Policy. London and New York: Routledge (251–271).
Horst, Cindy; Stephen Lubkemann & Robtel Pailey (2015) The Invisibility of a Third Humanitarian Domain, in Sezgin, Zeynep; & Dennis Dijkzeul, eds, The New Humanitarians In International Practice: Emerging Actors and Contested Principles. London: Routledge (213–231).
Lidén, Kristoffer & Henrik Syse (2015) The Politics of Peace and Law: Realism, Internationalism and the Cosmopolitan Challenge, in Larsen, Kjetil M. ; & Cecilia Bailliet, eds, Promoting Peace Through International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press (21–42).
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2015) Activist Mobilization and the Internationalization of the Darfur Crisis, in Casciarri, Barbara ; Munzoul A. M. Assal; & Francois Ireton, eds, Multidimensional Change In Sudan (1989–2011): Reshaping Livelihoods, Conflicts and Identities. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Rights-Based Humanitarianism as Emancipation or Stratification? Rumors and Procedures of Verification in Urban Refugee Management in Kampala, Uganda , in Derman, Bill; Anne Hellum; & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, eds, Worlds of Human Rights. the Ambiguities of Rights Claiming In Africa. Leiden: Brill .
Horst, Cindy (2013) International Aid to Refugees in Kenya: The Neglected Role of the Somali Diaspora, in Kane, Abdoulaye; & Todd Leedy, eds, African Migrations: Patterns and Perspectives. Indiana: Indiana University Press (195–210).
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) The Risks of Technological Innovation, in World's Disaster Report (2013) Technology and the Future of Humanitarian Action. Geneva: IFRC .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) The Multiple Tracks of Human Rights and Humanitarianism , in Derman, Bill;Hellum, Anne; & Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora, eds, Worlds of Human Rights. the Ambiguities of Rights Claiming In Africa. Brill.
Horst, Cindy(2012) Chapter 2: Vulnerability and Protection: reducing risks and promoting security for forced migrants World Disaster Report 2012. : International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(46–79).
Horst, Cindy(2012) The Livelihoods Approach Food Security Handbook. : Norwegian Refugee Council.
Naftalin, Mark(2012) Darfur The Oxford Companion to American Politics. : Oxford University Press(249–254).
Naftalin, Mark(2012) Darfur The Oxford Companion to Comparative Politics. : Oxford University Press(273–278).
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora(2009) The physicality of legal consciousness: suffering and the production of credibility in refugee resettlement Humanitarianism and Suffering the Mobilization of Empathy (Wilson & Brown Eds). : Cambridge University Press.

Edited Volume

Garnier, Adèle ; Liliana Lyra Jubilut ; & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, eds, (2017) Refugee Resettlement: Power, Politics and Humanitarian Governance. New York: Berghahn.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Katja Lindskov Jacobsen, eds, (2016) UNHCR and the Struggle for Accountability Technology, law and results-based management. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Routledge Humanitarian Studies.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, eds, (2016) The Good Drone. London: Ashgate.
Derman, Bill; Anne Hellum; & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, eds, (2013) Worlds of Human Rights: The Ambiguities of Rights Claiming in Africa. Leiden-Boston: Brill. Afrika-Studiecentrum Series.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen; Kristian Hoelscher; Benjamin de Carvalho & Pinar Tank (2014) Brazil: An Aspiring Global Power, Government Gazette.

Popular Article

Tank, Pinar & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2016) Flyktningavtalen mellom EU og Tyrkia er kostbar - særlig for flyktningene [The EU-Turkey Deal is Costly - Especially for the Refugees], Aftenposten.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) Futureproofing humanitarianism for permanent emergencies: unpacking the promise of cooperation, A Quest For Humanitarian Effectiveness.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kristian Hoelscher (2016) Is The War on Drugs a Humanitarian Crisis?, ATHA.SE.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The Refugee Crisis as a Global Humanitarian Challenge, European Council of Foreign Relations.
Miklian, Jason; Kristian Hoelscher & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2016) What makes a country dangerous for aid workers?, The Guardian.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) An academic New Year’s resolution for Colombia: understanding continued gendered violence as a threat to positive peace, Intlawgrrls.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: Transition from Humanitarian Crisis through Law Reform?, Reliefweb.
Leira, Torkjell & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2015) Bistandsparadokset Brasil [The Brazilian Aid Paradox], Dagsavisen.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen & Cindy Horst (2015) En byrde ingen vil bære [A burden no one wants to bear], Dagsavisen.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2015) Et nærblikk på grenseovervåkningen i Middelhavet [A Close-up on Border Control in the Meditteranean], Ny Tid.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2015) Terroraksjoner i sosiale medier [Terror attacks in social media], Dagbladet.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) Beyond Sexual Violence: Gendered Political Insecurity as a Threat to Peace, Intlawgrrls.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Evaluating Ebola: the politics of the military response narrative, EISF.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Conundrums in the Embrace of the Private Sector, ATHA.SE.
Østby, Gudrun; Henrik Urdal & Ida Rudolfsen (2014) Utdanning Skaper Fred [Education Creates Peace], Dagsavisen.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2014) Do they really care? Protection of Civilians and the Veto Powers, Norwegian Centre For Humanitarian Studies Blog.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2014) Flytkningene er et felles ansvar [Refugees are a shared responsibility], NRK Ytring.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2014) Muslimsk dugnad for de fattige [Muslim charity for the poor], VG.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen; John Karlsrud & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2014) Bedre nødhjelp [Better aid], Dagens Næringsliv.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; John Karlsrud & Chris Wilson (2014) A Humanitarian Technology Policy Agenda for 2016, ATHA.SE the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Maral Mirshahi & Nicholas Marsh (2014) Killer robots – hvorfor ønsker man et forbud? [Killer Robots - The Quest for a Ban], NRK Ytring.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Nicholas Marsh (2014) Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Issues for the International Community, Security & Defence Agenda.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert & John Karlsrud (2014) Blir humanitære organisasjoner de nye overvåkerne? [Will Humanitarian Organizations Become the New Surveillance Monitors?], Bistandsaktuelt.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen; John Karlsrud & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2013) Vil aggressive fredsoperasjoner løse Malis humanitære krise? [Will Aggressive Peace Operations Solve the Humanitarian Crisis in Mali?], Bistandsaktuelt.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Lohne, Kjersti (2013) The promise and perils of ‘disaster drones’, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine 58.
Horst, Cindy (2012) Finding protection from violent conflict and famine?, Sarvi. Horn of Africa Journal, .
Horst, Cindy (2012) En trygg havn? [A safe haven?], Dagbladet.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Cindy Horst (2010) Ekskludert fra utvikling? [Excluded from Development?], Dagsavisen, 29 July.

PRIO Report

Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; & Juliana Vargas Gómez (2014) Organización comunitaria y derechos humanos. La movilización legal de las mujeres desplazadas en Colombia. [Community organization and human rights. Legal mobilization of displaced women in Colombia.], PRIO Report, 10. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; Eva Sol López; Juan Pablo Mosquera; Juliana Vargas Gómez; & Patricia Guerrero (2014) Sueño de vida digna” La Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas: Estudio de caso en mejores prácticas de organización de base para el goce efectivo de derechos. [Dream about a decent life. The League of Displaced Women: A Case Study of best practices organization based on the full enjoyment of rights], PRIO Report, 7. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Eva Sol López; Juan Pablo Mosquera; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; & Juliana Vargas Gómez (2014) De desplazados a víctimas. Los cambios legales y la participación de la Mesa de Víctimas de Mocoa, Putumayo. [Displaced victims. Legal changes and involvement of the Bureau of Victims of Mocoa, Putumayo.], PRIO Report, 8. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; Luz Estella Romero Villalba; Ana Manuela Ochoa Arias; Valentina González Villegas; & Sandra Vargas Mahecha (2014) Defensoras de derechos humanos Tres estudios de casos de ONG y su respuesta al desplazamiento forzado [Human rights defenders, Three studies of NGO's and response to forced displacement], PRIO Report, 9. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).

Conference Paper

Lidén, Kristoffer (2016) The Ethics of the Protection of Civilians: Beyond Intervention and Resilience, presented at The World Conference on Humanitarian Studies, Addis Ababa, 5 March.
Lohne, Kjersti (2016) Cosmopolitan legalism, criminal justice and human rights NGOs, presented at International Studies Association, Atlanta, 18 March.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The refugee crisis: a common challenge?, presented at Europe, China and the UN in an Age of Crises, Peking University, 14.01.2016–15.01.2016.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Drones for Humanitarian «Interventions», presented at Drones: From Technology to Policy, Security to Ethics, Zürich, 30.01.2015.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2015) Luhmann goes to Juba: a systems theoretical perspective on the postliberal condition, presented at Worlds of Violence: 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, European International Studies Association, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy , 26 September 2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) From IDPs to victims in Colombia: Reflections on durable solutions in the post-conflict setting, presented at From beneficiaries to actors: Exploring displaced persons’ roles in resolution processes, McGill University, 14.12.2015–15.12.2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Humanitarian Cyberspace: Expanding Frontiers or Shrinking Space? , presented at Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict, Copenhagen, 13.01.2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Drone Pilots, Humanitarians and the Videogame Analogy: Unpacking the ConversationTrondheim, 5–7 February.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Relief and Disaster Drones: Commercial Logic as Humanitarian Logic?Ljubliana, Slovenia.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) The War on Drugs as “Humanitarian Crisis": Examining the Latin American Experience, presented at Seventh Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, Bogota.
Lohne, Kjersti (2012) Drafting the Rome Statute: The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations, presented at Humanitarian Research Group internal seminar, PRIO, 06.12.2012.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Lohne, Kjersti 2012 Technology Transfers from the Military to the Humanitarian Field: the Rise of the Humanitarian Drone, presented at Humanitarianism: Past, Present, Future, , .
Lidén, Kristoffer 2012 Recipe for Disaster: Violent Rebellion and Humanitarian Intervention, presented at Humanitarianism: past, present, future, , 8–10 November 2012.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2012 In Love with a Lie? On the Political Preconditions for Global Peacebuilding Governance, presented at New Frontiers for Peacebuilding: Hybridity, Governance, and Local Agency, , 13–14 September 2012.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Lohne, Kjersti 2012 Robot Technology and the Drone Stare: Seeing or Unseeing Humanitarian Suffering?, presented at Political Theatres of Suffering: Humanitarian Politics and Representation of Distant Suffering, , .
Horst, Cindy 2007 A Monopoly on Assistance? International Aid to Refugee Camps and the Role of the Diaspora, presented at AEGIS Conference, , 11 July.

PRIO Policy Brief

Fladvad Nielsen, Brita; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2016) How Can Innovation Deliver Humanitarian Outcomes?, PRIO Policy Brief, 12. Oslo: PRIO.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kristian Hoelscher (2016) Is the War on Drugs a “Humanitarian Crisis”?, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Lemaitre, Julieta & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Tailoring Protection of Civilians to State Capacity, PRIO Policy Brief, 8. Oslo: PRIO.
Horst, Cindy & Tove Heggli Sagmo (2015) Humanitarianism and Return: Compromising Protection?, PRIO Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: PRIO.
Marsh, Nicholas (2014) Defining the Scope of Autonomy, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the Global Legal Order, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Gaas, Mohamed Husein & Cindy Horst (2009) Diaspora Organizations from the Horn of Africa in Norway: Contributions to Peacebuilding?, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.

PRIO Paper

Erdal, Marta Bivand & Cindy Horst (2010) Engaging Diasporas in Development. A Review of Pilot Project Pakistan, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

Report - Other

Pérouse de Montclos, Marc-Antoine (2014) Nigeria’s Interminable Insurgency? Addressing the Boko Haram Crisis, Chatham House Research Paper. London: Chatham House.

Report - External Series

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Drone Pilots, Humanitarians and the Videogame Analogy: Unpacking the Conversation, UAV – bare ny teknologi eller en ny strategisk virkelighet? Luftkrigsskolens skriftserie volum 29 , 29. Trondheim: Luftkrigsskolen.

Blog Posts

White Helmets in the Dark Night

Posted by Marte Heian-Engdal on Tuesday, 4 October 2016

In the long dark night that is the Syrian nightmare, the White Helmets have become the only ray of light. “In an earlier PRIO blog post, Erica Chenoweth observed that “there are really two types of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates – elites (or elite-led institutions) and ordinary people.” This year, for example, the Colombian nominees President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerilla leader Timoleón Jiménez, one of the duos on PRIO Director Kristian Berg Harpviken’s shortlist, would be an example of the former, while the Syrian Civil Defence, or the White Helmets as they are better known as, clearly ...

The End Of Migrants As We Know Them?

Posted by Jørgen Carling on Monday, 19 September 2016

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants holds the promise of progress. But ahead of the summit, communications staff were pushing a warped view of migrant diversity. Even the International Organization of Migration (IOM) is straying from its mission to uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants. When migration issues rose to the top of international agendas last year the word ‘migrants’ became a matter of contention. Many interventions were cast as a matter of clarification and correctness, but actually concealed a fundamental disagreement: do ‘migrants’ include ‘refugees’? There are two opposing views, which can be called inclusivist and residualist. ...

Refugee Resettlement as Humanitarian Governance: The Need for a Critical Research Agenda

Posted by Adèle Garnier, Kristin B. Sandvik & Liliana Lyra Jubilut on Wednesday, 14 September 2016

This blog post suggests understanding refugee resettlement as an instrument of humanitarian governance from the selection of refugees to their long-term integration. It presents a five-point research agenda aiming to investigate resettlement’s power dynamics in multiscalar perspective, with a focus on: political economy; the UNHCR’s competing goals; and the role of discretion, persuasion and coercion in resettlement’s discourse and practice. Refugee resettlement can be described as the orderly and long-term relocation to safety of individuals in dire need of protection. It is one of three durable solutions in the international refugee regime (in addition to local integration and voluntary repatriation). ...

Against the Merger of Humanitarianism with Development and Security

Posted by Kristoffer Lidén on Wednesday, 8 June 2016

In the recent World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul 23-24 May, the interconnections between humanitarianism, development and security were highlighted. Recognising that humanitarian assistance alone cannot address ‘the needs of over 130 million of the world’s most vulnerable people’, the conference chair’s summary report states: ‘A new and coherent approach is required based on addressing root causes, increasing political diplomacy for prevention and conflict resolution, and bringing humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts together’ (page 2). Similarly, the background report of the UN Secretary General – One Humanity: shared responsibility – prescribes the merger of humanitarian policies with peace and development agendas. ...

African Drone Proliferation: The Meaning of Leapfrogging

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The ongoing drone proliferation throughout Africa has received little critical attention. However, African drone proliferation has become a vehicle for the production and distribution of forms of legitimacy and of resources that have implications for drone proliferation both within and outside Africa.  More specifically, the percep­tion of Africa as being in need of external drone intervention dovetails with the drone industry’s efforts to identify and promote good uses for drones — efforts that are central to increasing the legitimacy of drones in the eyes of the Global North. This blog post discusses the ways in which drones are presented as ...

The Humanitarian Quest for Accountability: Examining the role of UNHCR

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Katja Lindskov Jacobsen on Monday, 23 May 2016

The European refugee crisis has been a difficult experience for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On the one hand, UNHCR has been criticized by civil society and the humanitarian community for not being present on Greek islands. On the other hand, the organization has experienced difficulties in negotiating this access with Greek authorities. In addition to criticism of UNHCRs actions/inactions in Greece, the organization also faced criticism for not doing enough to push states across Europe to admit a bigger responsibility for the refugee crisis, and to accept greater numbers of refugees for resettlement. In the fall ...

Brought Up to Be a War Criminal

Posted by Kjersti Lohne & Anette Bringedal Houge on Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dominic Ongwen has been charged with committing the same crimes that were committed against him as a child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army. To what extent is Ongwen responsible for his actions as an adult, given that he himself was abducted as a 10-year-old child? The International Criminal Court in The Hague is to determine the answer to this question. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has recently confirmed 70 charges against Dominic Ongwen for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ongwen is accused of committing these crimes as a member of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). During over ...

Insecurity in the Humanitarian Cyberspace: A Call for Innovation

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Monday, 9 May 2016

Humanitarian practitioners and scholars are currently struggling with how to analyse the opportunities and challenges of technological innovation. This includes not only what technological innovation can do for humanitarianism but also what it does to humanitarian action. Over the last two decades, innovations have fueled the creation of a humanitarian cyberspace. It is now time for the task of addressing the challenges posed by the humanitarian cyberspace to be prioritised on the humanitarian innovation agenda. The term cyberspace broadly refers to the realm of computer networks and the internet. The traditional notion that the ´virtual` world is a different social ...

Why the Veto Powers All Support Protection of Civilians (And Why They Often Fail to Agree on It)

Posted by Simon Reid-Henry & Kristoffer Lidén on Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Protection of Civilians (PoC) expands the responsibility of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for international peace and security to the internal affairs of conflict-ridden countries. As such, it bolsters the authority of the five permanent members (the P5) in world politics and presents them with a flexible tool for exercising this authority. In reply to the question “what’s in it for them”, in this blog post we argue that in addition to shaping their responses to situations like Syria and Libya, the principle of PoC shapes the very dynamics of the Council itself, and ultimately the decisions of conflict ...

The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal is Costly – Especially for the Refugees

Posted by Pinar Tank & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Thursday, 7 April 2016

The agreement reflects the EU’s self-interest just as much as Turkey’s, but takes little account of the interests and rights of the refugees. On Friday 18 March, Turkey and the EU concluded a deal designed to put an end to refugees’ use of the sea route to travel from Turkey to Greece, because the route is costing too many lives, and because the EU and Turkey want to get the flood of refugees under control. The majority of the refugees and migrants who have arrived in Europe in recent months have travelled via this route. The EU’s website claims that ...

Is The War on Drugs a Humanitarian Crisis?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kristian Hoelscher on Friday, 18 March 2016

Humanitarian actors increasingly look to frame the failure of the War on Drugs as an imperative for renewed engagement in Latin America. When leaders meet at UNGASS 2016 in April, legalization will be central in discussions, but issues of humanitarian encroachment should also be on the table. In Latin America, the four-decade long War on Drugs has had devastating impacts on the health, safety and wellbeing of rural communities, and imposed de facto states of siege in heavily militarized urban areas where government forces engage narco-trafficking groups. In reflecting on the legacies of disappearances, murders and displacement, the Drug Policy ...

Futureproofing Humanitarianism for Permanent Emergencies: Unpacking the Promise of Cooperation

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Despite the strong growth of the humanitarian sector, there is an increasing operational and financial deficit in the capacity of governments and humanitarian organizations to respond. This has led to calls for changes in the way such crises are understood and managed. As humanitarians grapple with what is increasingly imagined as a future of permanent emergencies, the promise of cooperation has taken center stage as a way of dealing with an uncertain future. Humanitarianism has a long history of trying to improve itself incrementally through best practice examples, ever more fine-grained standards, and reforms. As humanitarian actors undertake periodic renewal ...

New Developments in Drone Proliferation: How Africa was Deployed to Rescue Drones

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Debates on global drone proliferation tend to assume that adoption and adaptation of drones follow a universal logic and that the drone industry is a singular thing, geographically concentrated in the Global North. In this blog post I argue that these assumptions make it difficult to critically assess the growth in drone use across Africa. I suggest that one way to think about African drone proliferation is by considering the way drones and Africa are being construed as solutions to each other’s problems: drones are seen as a game changer for develop­ment and security, while in return Africa inspire new ...

Brazil: an Emerging Southern Drone Actor

Posted by Eric Cezne on Tuesday, 9 February 2016

This blog post uses the case of Brazil to reflect on how actors in the Global South now engage with drone technology. This technology has been employed across a series of areas where Brazilian stakeholders are involved or seek to become more involved, both at the domestic and international levels: from aiding the work of the police and military to supporting environmental and health agencies and contributing to agriculture, mining, energy production and construction activities. So far, the academic debate on drone development and deployment has been focused on actors in the Global North while countries, communities and individuals in the ...

An Academic New Year’s Resolution for Colombia: Understanding Continued Gendered Violence as a Threat to Positive Peace

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Over the last decade, Colombia has been host to the world’s largest population of internally displaced people (IDP). In 2016, it is expected that the Colombian government and FARC will reach a peace agreement, marking the formal end of more than 50 years of civil war. It is widely recognized that this peace agreement will not resolve the immediate causes of displacement, but rather generate one kind of settlement in a context of longstanding and complex uses of violence. At present, contradictory tendencies seem to be at play: While periods of 2015 have seen the lowest levels of violence recorded ...

What’s Wrong with the Idea that ‘Robots don’t Rape’?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kjersti Lohne on Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The politics of rape denunciation is fast becoming the politics of lobbyists, vendors and military manufacturers seeking access to new customers and markets. The recognition of wartime rape as a fundamental violation of international law has been a hard-fought victory. Ending rape and other forms of sexual violence in war ought to be a central aspiration of the international community. But the struggle against rape has attained a kind of moral currency, put to use by those lobbying for ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ (LAWs). And in doing so, the politics of rape denunciation is fast becoming the politics of lobbyists, vendors ...

Attacks on Humanitarian Aid Workers: Five New Findings

Posted by Jason Miklian, Kristian Hoelscher & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

More aid workers are being targeted in violent attacks than ever before, but the roots of humanitarian insecurity have nuanced and surprising causes. Syria. Afghanistan. Mali. Central African Republic. Today’s complex conflicts seem to be defined by insurgents, terrorist groups and other violent actors with ideologies that increasingly disregard the rules of war. Over 150,000 people died in conflicts around the world last year, with a further 59 million displaced – the highest total ever recorded. Troublingly, aid worker attacks have increased in tandem. Headlines relay stories of humanitarian aid workers caught in the middle, killed either in the fog of war – or ...

The Brazilian Aid Paradox

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert & Torkjell Leira on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

While the Norwegian overseas aid budget has been debated intensely here at home, Crown Prince Haakon was recently on an official visit in Brazil, from 16-19 November. Brazil is unquestionably the largest recipient of Norwegian aid, while simultaneously donating aid itself to poorer countries. This paradoxical situation tells us much about our changing world and Brazil’s ambitions for great power status. Norwegian Aid to Brazil Over the past five years, Norway has given over NOK 6.5 billion in aid to Brazil. Most of this aid has gone towards environmental measures. When Norway’s minister of climate and environment, Ms Tine Sundtoft, ...

Merkel Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Leonid Bershidsky on Thursday, 8 October 2015

Odds on who’s going to win the Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded on Friday, are so hard to make that one could easily arbitrage various bookmakers. I’m not a betting man, but I hope the prize goes to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She’s the favorite now, with average odds of about 6-1, and she deserves to win. The field is strong. It includes Pope Francis, who this year helped restore relations between the U.S. and Cuba; the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which did a great job covering Russia’s hybrid war in eastern Ukraine; and Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who helps ...

Practical Compassion in the Age of Crisis

Posted by Erica Chenoweth on Saturday, 12 September 2015

The news from last week was bleak. Fleeing violence and chaos in the Middle East, horrific accounts detailed the tragic fates of countless people seeking refuge in Europe. Thousands have perished along the way, and many survivors have found themselves in dangerous conditions upon arrival in Europe. Some state reactions have been appallingly inhumane, and many undocumented refugees remain vulnerable to predation and exploitation by human traffickers. Government pledges to approve more refugee applications have been criticized as too little too late, and the immediate needs of countless people remain unmet. Read more at Political Violence @ a Glance, where ...

Refugees are Also Migrants. And All Migrants Matter

Posted by Jørgen Carling on Monday, 7 September 2015

The recent debate over word choice has taken turns that undermine humanitarian principles and cloud the view of how migration is unfolding. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, and others have examined the usage of ‘refugees’ versus ‘migrants’ over the past week. The general impression is that ‘migrants’ are being thrown to the wolves. The most insidious contribution, sadly, comes from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But first, the origins of the current debate: in mid-August 2015, Al Jazeera announced that the network will no longer refer to ‘migrants’ in the Mediterranean. ...

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Killing the ‘Robots-don’t-Rape’ Argument

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kjersti Lohne on Thursday, 13 August 2015

Earlier this spring, we debated a law professor who insisted that lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS) could clean up war. The professor posited that a war fought with autonomous weapons would be a war without rape. Taking humans out of the loop would, the argument goes, lead to more humane war. We find this narrative, where technological innovation is equated with human progress based on the assumption that it will end the occurrence of rape in war, highly problematic. We have since reflected on what this ‘progress narrative’ is about and how we as a scholars should approach this type of ...

From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: Transition from Humanitarian Crisis through Law Reform?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Julieta Lemaitre on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

What are the challenges of responding to displacement as a problem of transitional justice? In the Colombian context, pervasive violent conflict coexists with constitutional democracy. In recent years, the legal framework for dealing with internal displacement has been altered by the 2011 Victims’ Law. Based on newly published work on Colombia, this blog post discusses the changing conditions for displaced women’s legal mobilization. Imposing the rule of law in post-conflict situations has often been seen as a means of filling normative voids that both enable and result from conflict. Colombia offers a unique opportunity to reflect critically on how progressive ...

A Close Look at Border Security in the Mediterranean

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Monday, 1 June 2015

The EU’s response to the increased flow of refugees crossing the Mediterranean has been to boost border security by means of Operation Triton, which is the responsibility of Frontex, the EU border agency. There is little one can do, however, to impose effective border controls at sea. Operation Triton does not have a search-and-rescue mandate, even though it is for search-and-rescue that surveillance has the greatest potential to play a positive role. In the fear that search-and-rescue capacity would make it slightly easier for boat refugees to reach Europe, border surveillance operations are being promoted as a more “effective” response. ...

What Would Have Been New about Bombing Migrant Boats?

Posted by Jørgen Carling on Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The European Union has made it clear that bombs were not part of the plan for war against people smuggling after all. “No one is thinking of bombing,” said Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, yesterday. The alleged plans for bombing had already caused widespread alarm and protest. But what would have been new about bombing the boats that might have  ferried migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean? On the one hand, such action would have been unprecedented and dramatic — the ultimate militarization of migration control. On the other hand, it would simply have been another mode of a well-established ...

Humanitarianism and Return

Posted by Cindy Horst & Tove Heggli Sagmo on Monday, 4 May 2015

Humanitarianism and Return: Compromising Protection In many contexts around the world, states use funding for humanitarian programming as an active part of their attempts to manage populations displaced by conflict. Humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced is commonly understood as a temporary activity that ends when people will return home. Yet returnees can often not be provided with protection and ‘return’ for many entails a first encounter with a new place. In a recent policy brief we argue that humanitarian organizations have the responsibility to analyze the long-term security implications of their decisions on where to provide aid. Return ...

Earthquake in Nepal and we are Safe

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Peace researchers often have the opportunity to witness the ‘real world’ of conflict and post-conflict during fieldwork in countries such as Nepal. In some cases we also cooperate with local institutions where we benefit from working with fellow peace researchers and other partners. In Nepal we have had the great pleasure of working with Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti, director of the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR) on a collaborative project called Making Women Count for Peace. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and its surrounding areas on Saturday, our first thoughts naturally went to Bishnu, his colleagues ...

Beyond Sexual Violence: Gendered Political Insecurity as a Threat to Peace

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Julieta Lemaitre on Monday, 13 April 2015

Based on extensive field research in Colombia, our new article “Beyond Sexual Violence in Transitional Justice: Political Insecurity as a Gendered Harm” examines political insecurity as a specifically gendered harm that must be addressed in the ongoing Colombian transitional justice process. In a previous blogpost we described the tragic plight of the women’s rights activist and survivor of sexual violence Angélica Bello. Bello was one of the main proponents of Law 18 June 2014, which sets out to guarantee access to justice for victims of sexual violence. The Law is part of the transitional justice process and seeks to bring ...

Emergency Exit for the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Posted by Kristoffer Lidén on Friday, 10 April 2015

The tragedy in Syria bears witness to the deep crisis afflicting the international commitment to the “protection of civilians”. But there is a way out. Against the background of a politically divided Security Council, there is a need for a new international strategy to protect civilians caught up in armed conflicts. The international system for crisis management that emerged after the Cold War assumed a degree of political consensus that has now evaporated. As a result we are left with peace policies that do not work. From worse to a true hell This is the clear message of a recent ...

Evaluating Ebola: the Politics of the Military Response Narrative

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 18 March 2015

While the humanitarian community is still struggling to help end the Ebola epidemic, talk about lessons learned and the need for critical evaluations have been on the way for some time already. Here, I suggest that humanitarians must pay keen attention to the post-Ebola narrative of military victory that is currently emerging. To see the deployment of military personnel, strategies and tactics as the game changer is unfair, because it invisibilises the resilience of the nationals of Ebola affected countries, as well as the efforts of local health workers and (some) humanitarians to address and control the outbreak. However, this ...

Conundrums in the Embrace of the Private Sector

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Thursday, 19 February 2015

The humanitarian sector faces an unprecedented number of crises globally. The growing operational and financial deficit in the capacity of governments and humanitarian organizations to respond has led to calls for changes in the way such crises are understood and managed. This involves a strong focus on cooperation and partnerships with the private sector. A large part of the allure is the notion that private-public partnerships will make humanitarian response faster by entrenching market-oriented rationalities, thus enhancing effectiveness. This is also how the private sector presents itself: One should never underestimate the power of private companies who offer aid. Companies ...

Fighting the War with the Ebola Drone

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Friday, 12 December 2014

A particularly interesting and puzzling corner of the War on Ebola imaginary is inhabited by the triad consisting of Ebola, humanitarian governance, and unmanned technology, drones more precisely. Out of this triad has emerged what will here be called ´the Ebola Drone`. The Ebola Drone has materialized from a confluence of ideas about the relationship between diseases and (inter)national security; the means and ends of effective aid delivery; and the potentiality of drones to «be good». The Ebola Drone is imagined to be able to do many things, including seeing, sensing and shooting Ebola infected individuals to protect Western Health ...

Do they Really Care? Protection of Civilians and the Veto Powers

Posted by Kristoffer Lidén on Monday, 8 December 2014

It was not until the advances of IS in Syria and Iraq turned into an international security threat that a military intervention was launched in September 2014. A horrendous civil war had then killed tens of thousands Syrian civilians and displaced millions without provoking any similar reaction. In this blog post I reflect on what this tells us about the commitment of major powers to the principle of protecting civilians across borders. Do they really care? And do they agree on its meaning and implications? A report of the UN Human Rights Commission from 13 August this year describes the ...

Humanitarian Innovation, Humanitarian Renewal?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The continued evolution of the humanitarian innovation concept needs a critical engagement with how this agenda interacts with previous and contemporary attempts to improve humanitarian action. Accountability and transparency have been central to discussions of humanitarian action over the past two decades. Yet these issues appear generally to be given scant attention in the discourse around humanitarian innovation. The humanitarian innovation agenda is becoming a self-contained field with its own discourse and its own set of experts, institutions and projects – and even a definitive founding moment, namely 2009, when the ALNAP study on innovation in humanitarian action was published. ...

Ebola: A Humanitarian Crisis or a Crisis of Humanitarian Governance?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Wednesday, 15 October 2014

With more than 8,000 confirmed, suspected and probable cases of Ebola and nearly 4,000 deaths, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the impact of this Ebola outbreak far surpasses all previous outbreaks registered since the disease was identified in 1976. But what type of crisis is this? Is this just another humanitarian crisis in a year unusually crowded with emergencies, or is it also a serious crisis of humanitarian governance? What kind of crisis is this? In popular culture and current media coverage, Ebola is often portrayed more as a civilisational crisis than a humanitarian one: the fear-mongering and alarmist outbreak narratives, including frequent allusions to Zombies, are reminiscent ...

Refugees are a Shared Responsibility

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A record number of refugees have arrived by boat in southern Europe this summer. Norway should voice its support for a common European solution to the issue of boat migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Last year this would have been front-page news, but now each new arrival – or each refugee boat that is lost at sea – is just one more in a series. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 refugees have arrived by boat so far this year. This is a dramatic figure. The previous record was 63,000 for the whole of 2011, which was the year the Arab ...

Is it Acceptable to Lie for a Good Cause?

Posted by Henrik Urdal on Friday, 5 September 2014

Humanitarian organizations may easily succumb to the temptation to misuse numbers and statistics in order to promote their own causes. Does the end justify the means? Disasters are most dangerous for moms reported Save the Children’s Carolyn S Miles in Huffington Post when presenting the organization’s State of the World’s Mothers report for 2014. The claim was followed by a number: women and children are ‘14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men’. A sky-high number when one is talking about differences in death rates and a colossal injustice if the information is reliable. But it’s not. ...

New Technology – Better Disaster Relief?

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, John Karlsrud & Kristin B. Sandvik on Sunday, 17 August 2014

New technology has become central to relief efforts in humanitarian crises. This may make relief efforts more effective, but we can’t assume that the technology will have only a beneficial impact on the recipients of emergency aid. Today, mobile phones, social media, crisis mapping, online volunteering, and pre-paid cards are changing how humanitarian crises are identified, analysed and addressed – and, not least, who the humanitarian responder is. Information technology has become an integral part of crisis response operations: in the wake of  Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in November 2013, re-establishing internet access was the top priority for humanitarian organisations. ...

A Humanitarian Technology Policy Agenda for 2016

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Thursday, 10 July 2014

The World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 will feature transformation through innovation as a key theme. Leading up to the summit, OCHA has voiced the need to “identify and implement….positions that address operational challenges and opportunities” (OCHA 2013) relating to the use of information technology, big data and innovations in humanitarian action. In this blog post we sketch out four areas in need of further research over the next two years to provide policymakers, humanitarian actors and other stakeholders with up to date and relevant research and knowledge. Empowerment and Accountability The role of aggregated data Enabling and regulating V&TCs Read ...

Invisible Aid

Posted by Marta Bivand Erdal & Kaja Borchgrevink on Friday, 4 July 2014

Muslims pay 15 times more “religious tax” than the rest of the world gives in humanitarian aid. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, has just started. A time of fasting for devout Muslims, this is also the time of year when most Muslims pay their annual zakat. Zakat is a form of compulsory almsgiving, a kind of “religious tax.” The amount due is 2.5 per cent of a Muslim’s wealth at the start of Ramadan, subject to a minimum threshold. The Koran contains clear rules about who is eligible to receive zakat: in general, these are people who ...

Turkey’s Ambitions in Africa

Posted by Pinar Tank on Thursday, 5 June 2014

In August 2011 Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan took his family, his foreign minister, and an entourage of cabinet members to visit Somalia as part of a humanitarian mission to highlight the plight of 12 million Somali victims of drought. The visit was symbolically important, as Erdoğan travelled to Mogadishu, the first visit to the Somali capital by a leader from outside Africa in 20 years. Also symbolic was the timing, coming as it did during the holy month of Ramadan in which Turkey alone raised 201 million USD in humanitarian relief. The magnitude of the Somali tragedy – with the ...

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Issues for the International Community

Posted by Nic Marsh & Kristin B. Sandvik on Monday, 12 May 2014

On May 13-16 a United Nations (UN) expert meeting will discuss ‘questions relating to emerging technologies’ in lethal autonomous weapon systems. Such systems are distinguished by being mobile and selecting targets autonomously without direct human supervision. This type of expert meeting represents the lowest rung of the UN ladder. The Chair of the meeting will simply write up a report to be presented later in 2014 to the annual discussions by States on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. But the expert meeting in May could be the start of a process which might see the development of new national and international law to ...

Issues for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

Posted by Nic Marsh on Friday, 4 April 2014

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was launched in April 2013 with the objective of achieving a ban on the development, production and deployment of lethal autonomous weapons. In May 2014, the issue will be discussed by a UN expert meeting under the auspices of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva. At this stage, it is inevitable that there will be much debate and discussion over the scope and meaning of any future prohibition. The Campaign is still being shaped, and what will be necessary for its success is that over the next few years a group of ...

No Prospects of Cooling Down: why the Crisis in South Sudan must be Solved Immediately

Posted by Øystein Rolandsen & Maral Mirshahi on Sunday, 22 December 2013

The South Sudan crisis becomes more difficult to solve by the hour. The window of opportunity to avoid a full scale civil war is rapidly closing. But, finding a viable solution is dependent on a precise diagnosis of core issues involved. Read more at the blog of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, posted December 21, 2013 by Maral Mirshahi for Øystein H. Rolandsen.

The Promise and Perils of ‘Disaster Drones’

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kjersti Lohne on Monday, 2 December 2013

The dire humanitarian consequences of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) in conflict have become all too familiar. In contrast, there has been much less public discussion about the potential humanitarian uses of drones. So-called ‘disaster drones’ offer humanitarian agencies a range of possibilities in relation to crisis mapping, search and rescue and (some way off in the future) cargo transport and relief drops. Read more in the blog post by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO) and Kjersti Lohne (UiO) at the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, November 1 2013.

Most Importantly a Nobel for the Colombian People and the Victims of the Civil War

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik on Friday, 7 October 2016

The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes that the award of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos is not only a prize given in recognition of his own personal efforts to end the more than 50 year old civil war in the country, but that this award is also given to the Colombian people and to all the parties contributing to the peace process. While not explicitly mentioned, this also includes the FARC, and could be read as an appreciation of FARC’s willingness to contribute to the struggle for peace, post-referendum. The prize is also a ...