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Ad hoc Recordings

Sophie Delauany, former executive director at MSF –

Oct 30, 2019

HCRI Research Seminar with Sophie Delaunay: Tackling multiple challenges at once: Are we drifting away from our core mission?

Humanitarian organizations operate in complex environments where providing assistance to thousands of people is rarely their sole challenge. A wide range of constraints including insecurity, lack of adapted resources, management of public perception, local administrative requirements and/or hostility towards humanitarian actors may co-exist and frequently combined. These multiple challenges force humanitarians to not only focus on their specific efforts but to invest in many other activities that are not necessarily core to their social mission, but essential to conduct their work. As a result, many organizations are inclined to expand their scope of intervention, and to develop know-hows in various areas from advocating for affordable and adapted medicines, to negotiating access to restricted territory, analyzing and navigating national legal environments or understanding regional political dynamics. This local complexity faced by NGOs has been in recent years amplified by growing public demands for higher standards of financial accountability, environmental preservation, or equity and behavior on the part of humanitarian stakeholders. All these constraints put humanitarian organizations under tremendous pressure and can contribute to uncontrolled growth and sometimes mission creep. This is when comes an additional challenge: not losing direction and finding the right balance between the need to adapt to and address prevailing obstacles, and an organization?s ability to focus on its core mandate. This is the tension that was explored in the group discussion through a series of recent examples.

Dr Sophie Roborgh and Dr Nat O'Grady –

Mar 12, 2019

HCRI Research Seminar

HCRI celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a rich programme of events. Join us for our research seminar series featuring current and alumni colleagues, and current and alumni postgraduate research students. > Speaker 1: Dr Sophie Roborgh > Seminar title: Medical Muhajireen - Health workers under Daesh > Seminar abstract - In a time of fierce public debate on the return of British nationals who joined IS (muhajireen), one group has largely escaped attention: medics who joined IS. Can one argue to have been a humanitarian, as some have maintained, whilst serving in IS? highly politicised healthcare system and under an administration that flaunted its human rights abuses? Studying these medical muhajireen offers a provocative window into questions of mobilisation, identity, politics, and medical humanitarianism. > Speaker 2: Dr Nat O'Grady > Seminar title: Emergency Infrastructures, Automation and Public/Private Security Hybrids > Seminar abstract - Transformations to urban infrastructure facilitated through devices and processes associated with so-called ?Big Data? raise new lines of inquiry for how we might conceptualise and critique the enrolment of data-based technologies within security practices. The paper engages with and extends these debates by reflecting upon the ongoing processes underpinning the development of New York?s burgeoning ?free? wifi infrastructure, called LinkNYC, and its deployment as an emergency warning device for the public. I outline specifically the agreements brokered between an assemblage of public and private organisations to legally enshrine the implementation of this infrastructure whilst also providing insight into the technical processes through which emergency warning is itself brought into effect. The case of LinkNYC, I argue, offers fresh trajectories for understanding the redistribution of authority and responsibility where new infrastructure associated with Big Data intersect with security. Owing to the wide array of organisations coordinating its enactment, I suggest that this infrastructure serves additional, somewhat surreptitious, ends and interests when warning the public of potential emergencies. Additionally, I contest that an imaginary of expertise has developed around the technical processes that facilitate emergency warning that plays a crucial role in re-shaping the power relations inscribed within this new security infrastructure. Lastly, I consider how the proliferation of these infrastructures, along with the governing arrangements that condition them, instantiate new forms of what, after Bonnie Honig, we might called ?discretionary? decision making that operates beyond legal parameters.

Dr Larissa Fast, Chair, Hakim Khaldi, MSF and Keyan Salarkia, Save the Children UK –

Feb 20, 2019

Yemen: Response and Representation of a War

During the 4 years since the launch of the Saudi-led coalition offensive in Yemen in March 2015, humanitarians and observers from the media have repeatedly used phrases worded to garner media attention - ?Worst humanitarian crisis since WII?, ?the worst cholera outbreak in history?, ?On the verge of famine? - to describe what all agree are tragic consequences of the war for the population of the country?. However, the last six months have seen an acceleration of these apocalyptic descriptions, and the multiplication of alerts of all kinds. NGO spokespersons, UN officials ? and many journalists who followed suit ? quasi unanimously claimed that ?this time really, millions of people were going to die of starvation?. However, these discourses were disputed by a minority. MSF for instance stated via an interview of its program manager on 24 October 2018 that ?there is was no quality data available to declare that a famine was imminent?, further stating that the organizations? teams were not the witnesses of such a scenario. Yet, a month later, a press release by Save the children claimed that ?as many as 85,000 children have starved to death in Yemen ? What then was at play? Who produces and analyses the data? What do we really know of the state of the country and the toll on war on the country and its population? Through the podcast, you will hear The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute along with representatives from MSF and Save the Children UK try to understand the basis for the depiction and qualification of the situation by humanitarian NGOs and explore how this has impacted international responses.