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Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Protection of Medical Personnel and Operations at the Frontlines

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

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Recent high-profile attacks on humanitarian professionals and operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among others, call attention to the growing vulnerabilities of humanitarian staff and medical operations at the frontlines. These attacks endanger lives, violate international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the effective delivery of emergency relief to populations in need. In such contexts, humanitarian organizations face difficult legal and operational challenges...


Implications of Applying IHL to Low-Intensity Conflict: From Internal Disturbance to Armed Conflict

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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Humanitarian actors increasingly find themselves in contexts where the application of the norms and concepts of international humanitarian law (IHL) is contested. In particular, those working in possible situations of non-international armed conflict are often faced with the fact that it can be far from clear whether or not there exists a situation of armed conflict, which is required for the application of IHL. Especially in cases of armed insurgencies, spill-over conflicts, riots, urban violence, or violence in fragile states, the application of IHL may be disputed, resulting in a lack of clarity as to the applicable norms, and the more...



Practitioner Profile | Jennifer Schirmer

Monday, September 19, 2016

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On August 24, 2016 the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly referred to as the FARC, signed a peace deal after 52 years of internal conflict. This peace deal marks a potential end to the over half century of violence that has killed over 220,000 Colombians and displaced more than six million.

There are many distinctive attributes to this deal specifically regarding its parameters for reintegration of former guerilla fighters as well as its unique model for transitional justice. On October 2, Colombians will have the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on the peace accord, which in its more...



Practitioner Profile | Sareta Ashraph

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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In this practitioner profile, ATHA is joined by Sareta Ashraph, Chief Analyst on the Commission of Inquiry on the Syria crisis since May 2012. The Commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council in August 2011 to investigate and document violations of international law in Syria. Sareta led the investigation and drafting of the Commission's recent report "They Came To Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis", which determined that ISIS was committing the crime of genocide. In this more...



Practitioner Profile | Dr. Jemilah Mahmood

Thursday, June 30, 2016

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The World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016, was guided by a framework articulated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “Agenda for Humanity,” focusing on areas such as preventing and ending conflicts, enhancing promotion of community resilience, proactive emergency planning, and inter-organizational coordination. In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Dr. Mahmood shares her insights on the results and outcomes of the discussions and commitments in Istanbul. more...


The World Humanitarian Summit: Outcomes and Reflections

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) convened 9,000 representatives from humanitarian agencies, governments, crisis-affected communities, and the private sector. Driven by a consensus that the current humanitarian system is unable to cope with the intensifying needs of populations affected by conflict and disaster, the WHS aimed to take stock of the achievements and failed interventions of a sector confronted with rapidly evolving challenges and recommit stakeholders to the foundational principles of humanitarian assistance, protection, and institutional reform.

The WHS was guided by a framework of collective more...



San José del Guaviare, check point near Chuapal. A soldier of the colombian army is reading an ICRC leaflet. Image (C) ICRC

The Role of Humanitarian Professionals in Promoting Respect for IHL

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Amidst recurring violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), strengthening compliance with these international norms is indispensable to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. While improvements in accountability have been brought over recent decades to the international judiciary response, particularly with the establishment of the International Criminal Court and Special Tribunals, these mechanisms also face inherent limitations. Moreover, in situations of armed conflict, where the host state may be weakened or unwilling to ensure humanitarian protection and promoting respect for IHL, there is substantial more...



Practitioner Profile | Michaël Neuman

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Michaël Neuman, the director of studies at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Centre de réflexion sur l'action et les savoirs humanitaires (MSF-Crash). MSF-Crash conducts and directs studies and analysis of MSF actions with the purpose of inspiring debate and critical reflection on field practices and public positions. Michaël joined MSF in 1999, alternating between missions in the field (the Balkans, the Caucasus and West Africa) and positions at MSF headquarters (in New York and Paris as deputy program manager). His work has also addressed political analysis and issues of immigration and more...



Yurvi and Tatiana stand in the ruins of their home in Nikishino, eastern Ukraine. The couple's home was hit during fighting in the village and was completely destroyed. (c) A. McConnell/UNHCR

Politics of Aid in Ukraine

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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Two years of conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine has continued to intensify since early March of this year. An estimated 3.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, particularly in terms of protection, unimpeded access of humanitarian agencies, continuous supply of water, food and emergency shelter, and other critical services.

Yet aid remains highly politicized in this conflict, complicating humanitarian access and operations. Most recently, the Ukrainian government has suspended social payments and started a verification process projected to affect over 600,000 registered IDPs from five more...



Practitioner Profile | Dr. Michael VanRooyen

Thursday, April 7, 2016

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In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Dr. Michael VanRooyen, an emergency physician with a wealth of experience in humanitarian response. Michael has worked for a number of NGOs in over thirty countries affected by war and disaster. He is a Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

In  an upcoming memoir entitled The World’s Emergency Room, Michael reflects on the evolution of the aid community over the last several decades and discusses what he considers to be today’s most pressing more...



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