Sniffer dog and handler | Crispy/Flickr
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik & Kristian Hoelscher - March 4, 2016

This guest blog comes from Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and Kristian Hoelscher. Kristin is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Director of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS). Kristian is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Humanitarian actors increasingly look to frame the failure of the War on Drugs as an imperative for renewed engagement in Latin America. When leaders meet at UNGASS 2016 in April, legalization will be central in discussions, but issues of humanitarian encroachment should also be on the table.

In Latin America, the four-decade long War on Drugs has had devastating impacts on the health, safety and wellbeing of rural communities, and imposed de facto more...

Steve Wilkinson - February 19, 2016

Over the last few decades there has been a concerted movement to promote a gender perspective within the international humanitarian law (IHL). Such a movement has gained considerable momentum and importance as a central tool addressing gendered vulnerabilities in conflict. Gender itself can be defined as: “socially constructed differences between persons based on sex, perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” While definitions may vary, “the core is that the socially constructed differences between persons are changeable over time and are different both within and between cultures.” Taking a gender perspective applies these social constructions towards a given action in order to better identify and address specific vulnerabilities.

When coupled with IHL, the body of law regulating armed more...

UN Photo Martine Perret
Roxanne Krystalli & Brittany Card - February 16, 2016

This guest blog comes to us from Roxanne Krystalli and Brittany Card. Roxanne is the Humanitarian Evidence Program Manager at Feinstein International Center at The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She is also a PhD Candidate at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where her research focuses on gender, violence, and transitional justice. Brittany is a Candidate for the MA in Law and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School. Previously, she was the Program Coordinator for the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI).

In 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted UNSC Resolution 1325, acknowledging the immense impact of conflict on women and girls and promoting the active participation of women in conflict management and peacebuilding. more...

Jennifer Silverstone - February 4, 2016

Jennifer Silverstone recently travelled to northern France to provide volunteer first aid to migrants and refugees at the Calais and Dunkirk camps. She is a wife, mother of two young sons and a registered nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In November, I became aware of two refugee camps on the coast of France, near the entrance to the English Channel Tunnel. Together, Calais and Dunkirk are currently home to thousands of migrants and refugees from all parts of the world, including accompanied and unaccompanied children. In Calais, you will find around 6,000 people from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, and most recently Syria. In Dunkirk, you will find a few thousand more people, mainly from Kurdistan and Syria. While the numbers change frequently, reports coming from these camps remain dire. more...

MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the bombing  © MSF
David Polatty - January 27, 2016

This guest blog comes to us from Professor David Polatty. David teaches military strategy, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island, serves as director of NWC’s new “Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program,” and is a co-founder and co-director of the NWC-Harvard School of Public Health “Joint Civilian-Military Humanitarian Working Group.”

2015 was a dangerous and tragic year for humanitarian aid workers, keeping with the trend in recent years of significant increases in both discriminate and indiscriminate attacks against humanitarian organizations and aid workers. In perhaps the most egregious and heavily publicized incident by a conventional military force, the October 3rd bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Hospital more...

Mare Nostrum has rescued more than half of the 120,000 migrants who have reached Italy's shores so far in 2014. Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN
Argyro Nicolaou & Johannes Laepple - January 26, 2016

Over the course of January 2016, a Harvard University Field Study is investigating migration into and out of Morocco, how the country has managed its migration and what lessons the EU and other states can learn from Morocco’s considerable experience in this field.

Hail to the Bus Driver - Argyro Nicolaou

As part of a refreshing approach to the issue of migrant access to the Italian labor market, the ASGI (Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration) offered us a recommendation that is as original as it is socially progressive: give migrants and refugees jobs that make them socially visible.

While we have often heard about the suitability of agricultural jobs for migrant or refugee workers – as such work requires neither language nor cultural familiarity and since agriculture is a more...

Artist INTI’s mural in Rabat depicts the importance of Morocco to many Sub-Saharan migrants. Photo Courtesy of Juliette Keeley
Dan Cnossen & Stephanie Garbern & Joseph Ataman - January 19, 2016

Over the course of January 2016, a Harvard University Field Study is investigating migration into and out of Morocco, how the country has managed its migration and what lessons the EU and other states can learn from Morocco’s considerable experience in this field.

Migrant Mafias: Trafficking in Morocco - Dan Cnossen

Simultaneously dispatching her assistant on errands, monitoring and scolding children running awry, attending to her buzzing mobile phone and answering the questions of 16 Harvard researchers, Fatima Outaleb was an inspiration to meet. The founding director of Morocco’s first shelter for abused women – the UAF foundation – she offered fascinating insights to our investigation on migration.

From our interviews so far, a contradiction has arisen regarding whether Morocco is a more...

Emily Franchett & Argyro Nicolaou & Johannes Laepple - January 16, 2016

Over the course of January 2016, a Harvard University Field Study is investigating migration into and out of Morocco, how the country has managed its migration and what lessons the EU and other states can learn from Morocco’s considerable experience in this field.

Why Morocco?

Looking at Morocco’s experience of migration may hold the answer to the question we need to be asking: what next for migration in Europe.

Our goal is to assess the processes through which Moroccan society receives and assimilates migrant workers and affords protection to refugees. These can serve as a legal, moral and cultural example to societies in Europe facing similar dilemmas.

Due to its geographical proximity to Europe, Morocco is a transit zone for migrants wanting to reach Europe but it’s also an important more...

MSF trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan © Michael Golfarb/MSF
Julia Brooks - December 22, 2015

Since US airstrikes destroyed an Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital compound in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3rd, killing 14 staff, the aid organization has suffered from a barrage of further attacks. In Yemen, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit an MSF hospital in Haydan on October 26th and an MSF clinic in Taiz on December 2rd. In Syria, barrel bombs hit an MSF-supported hospital in Damascus on November 21st and in the Homs region on November 28th. And MSF is by no means the only organization to suffer from the latest incidents of violence against aid workers and facilities. Attacks on healthcare facilities have occurred at alarming rates in recent conflicts; a new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), for instance, details the systematic targeting of healthcare in Syria as a weapon of war. The International Committee more...

eyeWitness app
Wendy Betts - December 21, 2015

This guest blog comes to us from Wendy Betts. Wendy is the Director of the eyeWitness project at the International Bar Association. She has twenty years of experience in international development, rule of law reform, and transitional justice.

Humanitarian workers often find themselves operating in very volatile situations where violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international criminal law (ICL) are all too common. Far too frequently these attacks are not only perpetrated against the civilian population whom aid workers aim to assist, but also against the aid workers themselves. In the month of November alone, humanitarian organisations suffered at least 20 violent incidents – according to information pulled from open sources by Insecurity Insight. Last year, at least 329 aid workers more...

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative - December 17, 2015

This guest blog comes to us from P. Pham, M. Comes, B. Van de Walle, A. Wagner, C. Arkwright, N. Gibbons, and P Vinck. On November 4, 2015, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) brought together representatives of a range of organizations working to address the needs of refugees arriving in Europe, to take stock of the current status of data collection and coordination among key actors, to discuss critical areas of improvement in the collection and use of data, and to identify concrete next steps to be taken both by the meeting’s participants and to be recommended to policy-makers dealing with more...

Steve Wilkinson - December 9, 2015

As the frequency and brutality of conflict increases around the world, a number of voices are questioning the relevance of international humanitarian law (IHL), as well as its chief guardian the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). While many criticisms are undoubtedly warranted, some are unfair, inaccurate or misplaced; as such, they warrant a much more careful consideration.

The difficulty in assessing trends of (dis)respect and respect

Many critics of IHL argue that a seeming increase in civilian deaths in conflict means that the law is failing and/or increasingly irrelevant. Yet it is difficult to quantify whether we are in fact seeing an increase in disrespect of the law.

As a legal framework, IHL is a broad and complex beast; consequentially, such assumptions can often be misdirected. more...

Kate Akkaya - December 3, 2015

Ethnically and religiously distinct from the majority population, the Rohingya people in Myanmar face state-sponsored discrimination, and mounting evidence of serious human rights abuses, according to numerous recent reports. Increasingly urgent reports – including from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International State Crime Initiative and Yale Law School – argue that this state-sponsored violence rises to the level of genocide. While the term “genocide” is often wielded in relation to a range of mass atrocities, it is a specifically defined crime under international law. Does the evidence in the case of the Rohingya support the claims of genocide? And perhaps more importantly, if the evidence points to genocide, what actions can or should be taken by the government of Myanmar, or the international community more generally? more...

Beth Maclin - November 17, 2015

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is one of the most infamous, long-standing armed groups in the world. Its repertoire of violence includes mass abductions, particularly ofchildren, looting and destruction of property, mass murder, mutilation, and sexual violence. After decades of poorly coordinated efforts by individual national armies, the African Union now leads a coalition of forces from all four affected countries – Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – that was launched in 2012 to work toward dismantling the group. Despite more...

Yemen was already deep in the throes of a humanitarian crisis before the cyclone hit
Julia Brooks - November 4, 2015

Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) reviewed two resolutions to investigate serious violations of international law committed during the conflicts in Sri Lanka and Yemen. In the case of the Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in 2009, the Council approved a resolution calling for the establishment of a hybrid court to prosecute grave violations of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the case of Yemen, the UNHRC dropped plans for an international inquiry into human rights and humanitarian law violations by all sides in the ongoing conflict, in light of strong resistance by Saudi Arabia and other members of the international military coalition currently carrying out airstrikes in the country. Instead, the Council voted to support a decree by exiled Yemeni President Hadi, with more...


Subscribe to Blog

Recent Tweets

Our Sponsor

A Program Of

All materials © 2014 Harvard University

Back to Top

Back to Top