GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images. This content is subject to copyright.
GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images. This content is subject to copyright.

While humanitarian aid is key in Syria, questions need to be asked about how the procurement of goods and services by humanitarian and development actors, using international funding, can contribute to a war-crime-economy. The Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP) has conducted extensive research into businesses that supply aid groups, including the UN, and how some of these businesses are sanctioned for human rights abuses. The seminar will share the findings of this research, discuss the challenges in operating in a conflict zone like Syria from the perspective of business and human rights, and discuss some solutions that donors and aid agencies could take to mitigate the negative impact of their operations.

An opening introduction will be held by Ibrahim Olabi who is the founder and director of The Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP). A panel discussion will then follow, with Trude Falch (Norwegian People’s Aid) and Kristoffer Lidén (PRIO). Jørgen Jensehaugen (PRIO) will chair the seminar.

Trude Falch’s comments will take the perspective of the INGOs and discuss the operational aspects and dilemmas we face while operating in a country under heavy international sanctions and subject to anti-terror legislation where everything we do is in risk of contributing to a war or even war-crime-economy. Kristoffer Lidén will give a reflection on the ethical dilemmas raised by Olabi’s talk.

This seminar is free and open to all. A light breakfast will be served.

The seminar is cohosted by the PRIO Middle East Centre, the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS) and SPACE – Syrian Peace Action Centre.


Ibrahim Olabi is UK barrister at Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, and the founder of the Syrian Legal Development Programme. He is also a UK-based lawyer with specialised international law knowledge and experience related to the Syrian conflict.

Trude Falch is Head of Middle East and North Africa section in Norwegian People’s Aid and has overseen the organisation’s programming in Syria since 2012. Norwegian People’s Aid works with local organisations to provide humanitarian and longer-term support in Syria.

Kristoffer Lidén is a Senior researcher at PRIO, with a PhD in Philosophy. He coordinates the PRIO Research Group on Law and Ethics and is Deputy Director of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS). His current research centres on the ethics of international affairs, with a focus on the fields of security, humanitarianism, peacebuilding and new technology.