The mass killing of women activists in Latin America: making political violence visible

In 2017, Latin America was described by the UN as the world’s most violent continent for women. The assassinations of women activists and community leaders have continued across the region in 2018. While the killing of Marielle Franco, a favela community leader, and the unraveling of government-private enterprise collusion in the 2016 killing of Berta… Read more »

Eid, Islamic finance and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha, the ‘festival of sacrifice’ or the Greater Eid. The other Eid, Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. This is when many Muslims pay their annual zakat – a religious tax equivalent to 2.5 percent of a person’s wealth each… Read more »

Record deaths at sea: will ‘regional disembarkation’ help save lives?

Never has it been more dangerous for people in search of protection to make the crossing to Europe. The estimated death rate on boat migration journeys across the Mediterranean has risen from 4 per 1000 in 2015 to 24 per 1000 in the first four months of 2018, according to available data. While the death… Read more »

Aid Agencies Can’t Police Themselves. It’s Time for a Change

The spreading “Oxfam scandal” will affect the entire humanitarian sector painfully. It brings into plain sight what observers of the internal workings of NGOs have known for a long time: NGOs have an organisational reflex of banning outsiders from their kitchen, and keeping their potentially dangerous secrets hidden. Abuses of power are common in any… Read more »

From Principle to Practice: Humanitarian Innovation and Experimentation

Without methods to gauge success and failure, and without appropriate ethical frameworks, humanitarian tech may do more harm than good. Humanitarian organizations have an almost impossible task: They must balance the imperative to save lives with the commitment to do no harm. They perform this balancing act amidst chaos, with incredibly high stakes and far… Read more »

Humanitarian Experimentation

Humanitarian actors, faced with ongoing conflict, epidemics, famine and a range of natural disasters, are increasingly being asked to do more with less. The international community’s commitment of resources has not kept pace with their expectations or the growing crises around the world. Some humanitarian organizations are trying to bridge this disparity by adopting new… Read more »

Why Isn’t Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Treated the Same as Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Contexts?

The recent #MeToo hashtag and associated social media storm highlighted the extensiveness of sexual abuse and harassment and the exploitation of women and girls (and in some cases men and boys) by those in positions of power. It showed that the problem does not come down to a few “bad apples”, but is systemic, impacting… Read more »

Europe’s Quiet Offensive Against People Helping Refugees

A look back on three years since the end of Operation Mare Nostrum. Three years ago today, pressure by the European Union on Italy forced the end of one of the EU’s most successful humanitarian missions, Mare Nostrum, a search-and-rescue operation that in just one year brought 130,000 refugees safely to Europe’s shores. As the… Read more »

Building a Sociology of Law for the Humanitarian Field

  Legal sociology has paid significant attention to human rights, but in contrast to legal anthropology, little focus has been given to humanitarianism. In this contribution, we ask, what does a legal sociological research agenda for the humanitarian field look like? Humanitarianism is many things to many people. As described by Miriam Ticktin, humanitarianism is… Read more »

The Myth of ICT’s Protective Effect in Mass Atrocity Response

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are now being employed as a standard part of mass atrocity response, evidence collection, and research by non-governmental organizations, governments, and the private sector. Deployment of these tools and techniques occur for a variety of stated reasons, most notably the ostensible goal of “protecting” vulnerable populations. In a new article published… Read more »