Call for abstracts of papers related to the theme 'Is humanitarianism
compatible with refugee rights'
Panel at the World Conference of Humanitarian Studies
4 – 8 February 2009
Groningen, The Netherlands
We are soliciting abstracts for papers to be included in a panel
entitled Is humanitarianism compatible with refugee rights? This panel
will be part of the World Conference of Humanitarian Studies
(www.humanitarianstudies2009.org), organised by the universities of
Bochum, Groningen and Wageningen.
The panel will be convened by Prof. Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond and the 3R
Foundation (Stichting 3R), a Dutch NGO dedicated to improving refugee
rights in the global South. We welcome abstracts related to the panel’s
theme as outlined below.
Submitting an abstract
Abstracts (maximum of 250 words) can be submitted through the Conference
website (www.humanitarianstudies2009.org). Click through to the ‘call
for papers’ section. You will be asked to create an account. Once your
account is created, you can add your abstract. The panel conveners will
then be able to accept or reject abstracts. Should your abstract not be
sufficiently relevant to this panel’s theme, the Conference organisers
will assess whether it can be included in another panel.
Deadline for submissions of abstracts is 1 October 2008.
Deadline for submission of full papers is TBD with convenors
The Conference organisers have a limited number of grants available for
participants from the global South. Those in need of a grant to
participate can be recommended by the panel conveners. Also, the 3R
Foundation may be able to provide funding for travel or accommodation on
an ad hoc basis. Please contact the conveners should you require
financial support to participate.
For more information, please contact Chris Mommers of the 3R Foundation
at [log in to unmask]
Is humanitarianism compatible with refugee rights?
Refugee flows in the South force international, governmental and
non-governmental agencies to provide for refugees’ basic needs on very
short notice and often on a massive scale. The challenge of logistical
operations involved in providing accommodation, health care, water, food
and other services,
has forced such agencies to become large administrative and operational
bureaucratic entities. The most obvious example of this is the office of
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has argued that
material assistance is complementary to – or even a precondition for –
the fulfilment of its mandate to protect the rights of refugees. At the
same time, the UN refugee agency has come under criticism for, what is
seen by some, as prioritising assistance over rights, and thus for
weakening its own mandate of protection.
More than that, however, questions have been raised whether the way in
which assistance to refugees is managed and implemented, rather than
just weakening protection, may actually lead to the violation of the
fundamental rights of refugees. This has been particularly true for
those refugees who find
themselves in UNHCR-managed camps. The panel aims to explore this
inherent tension between humanitarianism and refugee rights in camp and
other settings by focusing on the following questions:
- is humanitarian assistance strengthening or weakening the protection
of the human rights of refugees?
- should refugee rights, such as the freedom of movement, always be
respected, even when this means that it will become much more difficult
to effectively provide material assistance to them?
- are there alternative scenarios in which humanitarian assistance and
full respect for the human rights of refugees can co-exist?
The panel seeks to bring together academics from various disciplines, as
well as practitioners who work on both sides of ‘the divide’; those who
devote their lives to provide for the basic needs of refugees in the
camps, and those who advocate for refugees’ rights and believe that
(unwittingly) violating these rights. The panel will incorporate both
the organisational perspective, focusing on the operational difficulties
of humanitarian agencies, and the perspectives of those refugees who are
the targets of such assistance.
Chris Mommers (3R Foundation)
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