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Five types of humanitarian influence

February 15, 2023
Loved this piece from Hugo Slim, first posted on the Humanitarian Law and Policy blog. Influence is typically conceived as a subtle form of power that is indirect, unconscious, or deliberately hidden. Influencers are often off-stage rather than on it, whispering behind a curtain, appearing in dreams, or using magic of some kind. Influence tends to work gradually, seeping gently
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‘Never let the Silence Reign’: in Conversation with William Chemaly on the future of Global Protection

October 12, 2022
I recently interviewed William Chemaly, coordinator of the Global Protection Cluster Here’s a transcript of the highlights DG: Hi William, you have one of those terribly important sounding jobs that no one outside the humanitarian sector understands. Maybe you could explain who you are and what you do to begin with? WC: Thanks Duncan. Protection is the heart and soul

Bigger? Smaller? And What about the Missing Middle? Great discussion on the future of Humanitarianism

January 8, 2021
For reasons I hope to be able to explain in a few weeks, I’m mugging up on debates in the humanitarian sector, and really enjoying the ‘Rethinking Humanitarianism’ podcast series from The New Humanitarian and CGD. Each episode provides a full transcript, but no accompanying blog, so I thought I’d summarize November’s discussion on forces of disruption and the future
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It’s Time to Invest for the 21st Century and Repurpose Humanitarian Bureaucracies

December 15, 2020
Glad to see humanitarian guru Hugo Slim is stepping up his blogging activity. This post first appeared on the ODI page In the run-up to Christmas the big humanitarian bureaucracies have been busy asking governments for money. UN OCHA has appealed for $35 billion for the UN-led humanitarian response in 2021 (to reach 235 million people across 56 countries). UNHCR

What would a feminist approach to localisation of humanitarian action look like?

August 14, 2018
Guest post from Francesca Rhodes, Oxfam’s Gender Policy Adviser on campaigns, policy and influencing The aid sector’s sexual exploitation and abuse crisis  put into stark spotlight the unequal power dynamics between humanitarian actors and communities they work in, and the injustices this can cause. Discussions on what a humanitarian system, and Oxfam itself, would look like if it was actively

Challenging humanitarianism beyond gender as women and women as victims

March 9, 2018
Dorothea Hilhorst , Holly Porter and Rachel Gordon introduce a highly topical new issue of the Disasters journal (open access for the duration of 2018). This post first appeared on the ISS blog. At the United Nations (UN) World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016, ‘achieving greater gender equality and greater inclusivity’ was identified as one of the five key areas of humanitarian

Hugo Slim sets me straight on the state of humanitarianism

October 11, 2017
I wrote a gloomy piece on the state of humanitarianism recently, and got put straight by some excellent comments from Ed Cairns, Paul Harvey and others. Here’s a particularly erudite rebuttal from humanitarian guru Hugo Slim, who (among other things) is Head of Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross. (I’ve added a few links): Welcome to our world,

How Change Happens (or doesn’t) in the Humanitarian System

February 15, 2017
I’ve been in Stockholm this week at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper

If governments don’t tackle the causes of conflict and the refugee crisis, will the World Humanitarian Summit be a damp squib?

April 22, 2016
Ed Cairns Oxfam’s humanitarian policy adviser, sets the scene for next month’s World Humanitarian Summit as we publish our curtain raiser for the event. After years of preparation, and a roller coaster of expectations plunging and soaring, it is almost upon us. One month from tomorrow, dozens of world leaders will gather in Istanbul for the World Humanitarian Summit. The

Crunch time for global humanitarianism – funding can’t keep up with need, so what else is needed?

June 18, 2015
Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on humanitarian advocacy, reviews the latest overview of global humanitarian aid. [Update: in response to readers’ comments, I’ve stuck up a very retrogressive humanitarian v long term aid poll to the right – please hold your nose and vote] This year’s Global Humanitarian Assistance report highlights some startling figures. For years these reports from the Development

Four years into the Syrian conflict, we must never lose sight of the civilians behind the ‘story’

March 12, 2015
As the conflict in Syria enters its fifth year, Oxfam’s Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns, Maya Mailer, reflects on a recent trip to Lebanon and Jordan, where she spoke with Syrian refugees, and asks whether we have become immune to the suffering of Syrians. If you type ‘Syria’ into Google News, the headlines that normally appear are about airstrikes,

Impressions of humanitarianism (based on last week’s trip to the Eastern Congo)

June 11, 2014
Blimey, that was hard work. Still recovering from a ‘getting to know the humanitarians’ visit to Eastern Congo last week, having my skeleton rearranged by bouncing around for hours on truly execrable roads, and my insides rearranged by some persistent DRC microbes (I’ll spare you the details). I’ve always worked on the long term development and advocacy side of development,