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XIV. Humanitarian Congress Berlin – Theory and Practice of Humanitarian Action (12th & 13th October 2012)

This year’s Humanitarian Congress was held at the new venue in the Virchow clinic in Berlin. Various types of people and NGOs were gathered such as Salmone Atim (Gender Officer Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)) (used to work for the Refugee Law Project), Hugo Slim (Research Fellow, University of Oxford, Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict), Leila Nachawati (Blogger from Syria/Spain), Médicines Sans Frontières, International Committee of the Red Cross, GIZ, UNHCR, etc.

The programme discussed various ethnical problems in humanitarian action and offered a great deal of discussion one could choose from, such as:

  • Examining Medical Humanitarian Action Through the Ethical Lens
  • Humanitarian Action for Beginners
  • Humanitarian Action in Authoritarian States
  • Impartibility in Practice – who comes first?
  • The Golden Fleece – Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action
  • Humanitarian Action: Doing the Right Thing in War and Disaster
  • Technical Innovations in Humanitarian Action
  • Water and Sanitation in the Field
  • Sexual Violence against Men
  • Does Humanitarian Aid Prolong War?

As ethical challenges stood in the spot light it was a bit difficult to discuss environmental issues at the Congress. Following information were mentioned with regards to the keywords “environmental change” and “climate change”:

  • Evaluating German humanitarian action abroad: This meeting dealt with Germany’s humanitarian action evaluation in the study by channelresearch.com/OECD on German humanitarian action abroad. Ina Lepel from the German Foreign Ministry highlighted that Germany will focus on climate change in coming humanitarian projects. Niema Movassat, Member for the German Left Party, highlighted that there has to be more humanitarian action in future as conflicts and natural disasters are on the rise.
  • The Golden Fleece: This discussion dealt with the book publication of the “Golden Fleece” by Antonio Doini (Senior Researcher, Fernstein International Centre, Tufts University). The author thereby stressed that the last chapter of the book refers to climate change and that humanitarian actors need to adapt to climate change challenges.
  • Humanitarian Action in Urban Violent Settings: The speakers from the IFRC (Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet), GIZ (Anne-Katrin Niemeie) and the independent consultant Elena Lucchi discussed how violent urban setting are on the rise and that urban settings will become the future for humanitarian action. Hereby natural disasters were referred to as one of the causes of increasing urbanization. Equally problematic is that slums are often likely to be affected by natural disasters.

As you can see, not too much was mentioned on environmental change; but this is due to the theme of this year’s congress. Let’s just hope environmental change will have a greater focus on next year’s congress 😉

 AW, 19th Oct 2012

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