Category Archives: Call for papers

Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives twelfth issue

N°12 – November 2019: Demography and humanitarian aid

In view of the publication of its twelfth issue, to be released in November 2019, Humanitarian Alternativesis calling for papers under its next focus theme “Demography and humanitarian aid”. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before July 5 at the following address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.orgWe will respond on July 15, at the latest.

The final deadline for submitting the article is September 2019. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 characters, including spaces (approximately 2,400 words).

Statement of issues for the “Focus” theme

A Focus theme co-led by
Vincent Léger, Docteur en anthropologie, Chargé de recherche à laFondation Croix-Rouge française.

By 2050, the world population will have grown by 2,5 billion, and the proportion over 60 years will have doubled from about 11% to 22%. The absolute number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. There will be a sharp increase in displacements due to climate change. By 2050, if no measures are taken, there will be more than 143 million climate migrants in Sub-Saharan Africa (86 million), South Asia (40 million) and Latin America (17 million). Today, one in three urban dwellers lives in an informal area and, according to the United Nations, about 180,000 people migrate to cities every day. In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030, and 50% of Africa’s population will be living in an urban environment by 2050 (against 38% today).

Certain demographic phenomena, such as the ageing of the world population, migration, urbanisation, demographic growth or poverty, have become visibly strong trends and are developing at a surprisingly fast rate. They are generating new needs and an increasingly large gap between initial forecasts and the means planned to address them – and they are obliging all stakeholders to adapt accordingly.

This issue of Humanitarian Alternatives aims at reviewing today’s major demographic trends and look at what demography can teach us about the current and future challenges facing humanitarian aid operators. How can demography – the statistical study of human populations – give us a clearer understanding, a different perspective on humanitarian issues and actions and improve our approach to them?

Furthermore, dubious data, farfetched demographic projections or the communication of statistics that have been skewed to suit political agendas are causing fear and helping to cultivate clichés and false representations of certain populations or phenomena, making the humanitarian assistance intended for them more difficult to deliver. We need to deconstruct the kind of alarming statistics that trigger these reactions and explain how they are produced so that we can distinguish cataclysmic predictions (“massive influx of migrants”, “demographic explosion”, etc.) from previsions that can be of real use in preparing the humanitarian actions of tomorrow.

Finally, some humanitarian actors now use demographic research tools to gather, process and analyse data on the socio-demographic characteristics of their beneficiaries (especially in refugee camps), making findings that help them adjust and improve their interventions. So, how do NGOs get hold of this key data? How do they use it? In short, why did they feel the need to become demographers?

Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives eleventh issue

N°11 – July 2019: Humanitarian aid and climate change

In view of the publication of its eleventh issue, to be released in July 2019, Humanitarian Alternatives is calling for papers under its next focus theme “Humanitarian aid and climate change”. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before April 15 at the following address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.org We will respond on April 17, at the latest.

The final deadline for submitting the article is June 3. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 characters, including spaces (approximately 2,400 words).

Statement of issues for the “Focus” theme

A focus theme co-led by:
Christophe Buffet, Expert Climat/Adaptation à l’Agence française de développement

In 2009, on the eve of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Christophe Buffet already asked whether the humanitarian community was ready to tackle the issue of climate change (Christophe Buffet, Humanitaire, n°23, December 2009, http://journals.openedition.org/humanitaire/598). What is the situation ten years later?

One obvious development relates to how the issues are perceived: at that time, apart from a core group trying to mobilise the humanitarian community, many stakeholders considered climate change had nothing to do with their profession. The issues were sometimes misunderstood, with for example such figures as Jean-Hervé Bradol condemning the Copenhagen COP15 summit in advance as a move to “dominate the universe to the point of regulating global temperature variations”, echoing “Man’s ancient plan to dominate Nature” (“The return of the titans”, Crash blog, 18th December 2009,  https://www.msf-crash.org/en/blog/humanitarian-actors-and-practice/return-titans).

Today, however, every “natural” disaster is measured in the light of climate change, perhaps excessively so: the climate migrant has become a well-established figure in the media-driven humanitarian landscape, sometimes without any qualification; even some crises that seemed political in nature are reconsidered in this way. In short, apart from scientific publications which have long shown that climate change is a threat multiplier as far as food safety, access to water or even health are concerned and that it contributes to the increased intensity and/or frequency of extreme events, a certain amount of climate discourse is now employed in humanitarian imagery, whether as a result of shortcuts, of a conscious choice for “enlightened catastrophism”, or of communication strategies for attracting donations by using language in tune with the times.

On a deeper level, what can be said about organisational methods and practices? To what extent have human stakeholders changed structurally (if at all) to integrate this new challenge? This edition of Humanitarian Alternatives aims to provide an up-date on these trends, which can be of several types.

In view of the impacts of climate change, one might expect organisations whose work is to “save lives”, to be exemplary; but we may ask how far aid organisations have been committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions when ten years ago two of the factors causing the highest emissions, rapid deployment in the field and direct mail marketing, seemed fundamental to the way they operated.

After the COP15 summit, links with environmental NGOs began to take shape (Anne Chetaille, François Grünewald, Guillaume Fauvel, Alix Mazounie and Christophe Buffet, “Humanitarian and environmental NGOs: a necessary alliance?”, Humanitaire, n°38, 2014, http://journals.openedition.org/humanitaire/2951; Boris Martin, « Pour un marriage de réseaux », Humanitaire, n° 38, 2014, http://journals.openedition.org/humanitaire/2944), as they rancampaigns together (reduction of greenhouse gas emission, funding for the adaptation of the countries of the “South”, etc.), revised humanitarian norms by integrating environmental issues (with WWF in particular in the SPHERE project) or simply provided a better grasp of the complexity of climate science and insights into the contributions and limits of impact modelling. But which links were the most fruitful and long-lasting? To what extent has this dialogue continued or on the contrary, are the two “families” of NGOs still living in parallel worlds?

Finally, the theme of the crossover between climate change and humanitarian work evokes conflicting timeframes and relationships with nature: emergency aid is involved in rescuing actual bodies, while climate change looks rather into its effects in the long term and on socio-ecosystems. How far are strategies such as disaster risk reduction or, more recently, forecast-based financing conducive to reconciling these timeframes and the relationship between man and nature?

Photo credits: © Wilco Van Meppelen – Unsplash

Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives tenth issue

In view of the publication of its tenth issue, to be released in March 2019, Humanitarian Alternatives is calling for papers under its next focus theme “Humanitarian aid in cities”. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before December 12 at the following address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.org We will respond on December 21, at the latest.

The final deadline for submitting the article is January 28. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 characters, including spaces (approximately 2,400 words).

Statement of issues for the “Focus” theme

N°10 – March 2019: Humanitarian aid in cities

Historically, humanitarian aid has mainly intervened in rural contexts. Yet increasing urbanisation, the rural exodus towards megacities, the “rise” of conflicts in countries structured around big urban centres with standards approaching those in Western countries, and migrations caused by conflicts, all mean that humanitarian actors are increasingly led to intervene in contexts which they do not know as well. In cities, indeed, the issues (cohabitation between urban dwellers and recently arrived rural people, the management of chronic diseases, types of combats/weapons and impacts on civilian populations), infrastructures (hospitals, health centres), and established actors (the State, public services, associations) clearly influence the conditions of intervention. Conflicts in terms of skills, governance and culture can therefore arise. Whilst their intervention is considered relevant in the case of war or natural disasters, are humanitarian actors the best placed – or indeed welcome – with regard to social issues? In any case, how can they adapt their practices to new forms of vulnerability, and to the authorities in place? What do they have to offer in cities, based on what they have developed in the countrysides? Does this continuum suggest the idea of a development/social/humanitarian nexus?

© Milo Ezger – Unsplash

Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives ninth issue

In view of the publication of its ninth issue, to be released in November 2018, Humanitarian Alternatives is calling for papers under its next focus theme “1968-2018: Disruptions and continuities”. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before July 5th at the following address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.org We will respond within 15 days following the reception of your proposal.

The final deadline for submitting the article is September 21st. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 characters, including spaces (approximately 2,400 words).

Humanitarian Alternatives

N°9 – November 2018

Statement of issues for the “Focus” theme

“1968-2018: Disruptions and continuities”

Fifty years after the Biafra war, which set the stage for the “without borders” movement, humanitarian aid has become a resolutely strategic sector, both in terms of action and of image, encompassing an increasing number of players with ever more diverse profiles and practices. In the face of this double movement of expansion and diversification, the aim of this issue is to shed light on the reconfigurations of humanitarian action over the last fifty years, and the momentum which 1968 represented. The issue will examine both the disruptions and the continuities between past and current humanitarian aid. The aim of this analysis is not to go back over the Biafra war, or its implications. Although historical, the issue will be essentially dynamic and critical, based around five terms which, without exhausting the range of humanitarian practices, enable a broad enough coverage of its developments and reflections: humanitarian aid, context, sovereignty, professionalisation, and politics. Each of these terms will be approached by way of the following questions: what is the history of the use of these terms and their associated practices? How have these uses and practices evolved over time? Which future(s) do they foretell for humanitarian action?

Humanitarian aid. Since its beginnings, the term has taken hold, to the point that everything now seems to come under the umbrella of humanitarian aid. The concept has therefore become broader and more diluted: a banner for some, and a deterrent for others. The without-borders movement certainly did not invent humanitarian aid, but 1968 marked the emergence of a movement that reinvented it, wishing to heal and freeing itself from the “pact of neutrality” sealed by the ICRC, in order to bridge borders and bear witness to what could be observed behind closed doors: what developments does this term, now used by MSF, Veolia, and Hamas, represent? What justification can there be for its continued use, given that it is increasingly called into question, a symbol, for some, of Western-centric thinking, or even of neo-colonialism, and manipulated by States and companies to the point of being rendered meaningless? The analysis will examine the way in which reconfigurations in the humanitarian field have redefined its fundamental values, distinguishing between universal ideals and culturally situated values.

The second term is that of context, in other words, the circumstances and spaces in which humanitarian action is deployed. The conflict in Biafra prefigured the conflicts that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years later: it opposed, within former colonies, State and non-State groups on political, economic, and increasingly identity-based issues. How do these logics, and the past experiences of humanitarian workers, enable us to grasp the contemporary conflicts in Syria or in Iraq? Reflecting on the concept of humanitarian context also invites us to think about the impact of climate change (on natural disasters and migrations), but also to question the extension of humanitarian workers’ fields of intervention.

A third angle for reflection concerns the term of sovereignty, central to the Biafran question. The nascent without-borders NGOs laid the foundations for the right to intervene. 50 years later, the acceleration of globalisation, reflections on the right to intervene and the adoption of the responsibility to protect have contributed to opening up borders. Yet we are witnessing a reaffirmation of sovereignty in a number of States, namely by way of the emergence of nationalist movements, or increasingly hostile legislation concerning the creation of national NGOs and foreign NGO activity within countries. The declaration of an agenda for aid localisation since 2016 certainly does point to the will of a large number of governments to independently organise humanitarian responses in their own countries, but also possibly to take back control over civil society.

The fourth term up for debate is that of professionalisation. The concept, which has a number of definitions, referring in turn to the professionalisation and skill of humanitarian workers, training for humanitarian careers, or the opposition between paid humanitarian work and activist engagement, must be clarified. Putting the concept into perspective invites us to go back over the lifespan of humanitarian workers’ professional practices, and their progressive implementation. It also invites us to think about the impact of the development of specialised university courses on these practices.

The final term structuring the reflections in this issue is that of politics. In response to the ICRC’s neutrality, the movement of “French doctors” affirmed a political humanitarian practice. In the name of activist engagement, it did, indeed, flirt with politics. The relationship between without-borders NGOs and the media stemmed from this engagement: it was a question of raising awareness amongst populations and mobilising them so that they would put pressure on their leaders to stop the massacres which were going on. State humanitarian aid, often developed with the help of former figures from the movement, has lastingly muddied the waters. Humanitarian action currently seems trapped between a rock and a hard place. The explicit development of “humanitarian policy” on the one hand, intended not only to defend the interests of populations affected by crises, but also and especially to make humanitarian aid a tool amongst others for governmental foreign policy. Depoliticisation, on the other hand, which sees NGOs relegated to the rank of efficient and mute State and business contractors, and contested by a growing number of social movements.

Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives seventh issue

In the perspective of the publication of its 7th issue, to be published in March 2018, Humanitarian Alternatives is launching a call for papers on its focused theme “NGOs and the private sector: the State as an arbitrator?” the second part of the 6th Issue’s “Focus” section. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community, and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before December 4th, 2017 at the following email address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.org. We will respond within 7 days following the receipt of your proposal. The final deadline for submitting the article is January 15, 2018. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 signs (approximately 2,400 words).

Humanitarian Alternatives
N°7 – March 2018
“Focus” Theme:
NGOs and the private sector: the State as an arbitrator? (2nd part)
 

For several years now, the humanitarian ecosystem has been in transition. Alongside traditional actors – mainly the United Nations and NGOs – the private sector (businesses, corporate foundations, social businesses, etc.) has made a remarkable entry into the humanitarian field.

Under the theme “NGOs and the private sector: threat or opportunity?”, the 6th issue, published in November (on the 20th for its online edition and the 27th for the printed edition) aims to make an inventory and to set the terms of the dialogue between businesses and NGOs: is the frontier between the profit and the non-profit sector still relevant? Should we impose limits on businesses? What kind of advocacy speech NGOs need to carry?

As this “Focus” section does not exhaust this essential subject, our next issue – to be published in March 2018 – will extend this reflection and this dialogue by more specifically questioning the role that the State, guarantor of the general interest and arbitrator of specific interests, can play in this debate. More precisely it will examine its role in promoting a shared ethics. Isn’t international solidarity part of the public interest?