The 7th IHSA Conference on Humanitarian Studies took place on 5-7 November 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh and online. Our Academic Partner for this conference was the North South University, and our Network Partner was InSights.
1) Changes in refugees, displacement, and migration policy and crises
2) Protracted crises, sustainable responses? Climate change, conflict, and development
3) The digital transformation in humanitarian crises and humanitarianism
4) Civic space, advocacy, and locally-led humanitarian response
5) Humanitarian studies and education
6) From evidence to action: Advancing health in humanitarian contexts
Humanitarian efforts do not happen in a vacuum – they are deeply embedded in political, social, cultural, economic and environmental contexts. Humanitarian crises and responses are thus deeply affected by shifts and changing climates. This year’s conference considers humanitarian action, policy, governance, and education within this broader context and explores how humanitarianism intersects with, is influenced by, and impacts local and global economies, political systems, and social structures.
We understand changing climates to mean two things. First, there are the real effects of anthropogenic climate change and climate-related disasters. Disasters are of course not new, but some hazards seem to be more extreme, intense, and occurring at a more frequent and rapid pace. From flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh, bushfires in Australia, earthquakes in Afghanistan, Turkey and Syria, and worldwide disease outbreaks, no corner of the globe is untouched. What does this mean for communities, institutions, societies and international (aid) relations? What will be the impact on community resilience, existing (economic) institutions, and technological developments for safeguarding or even promoting development standards? What are the implications of a changing climate for the responses to human suffering, and what is the role of humanitarian actors? Furthermore, responses unfold simultaneously at multiple scales (with affected people and their neighbours being the first responders), requiring thoughtful use of resources and coordination between different sectors of activity, assistance providers and policy makers.
Second, humanitarian action is situated across shifts in social, political and cultural climates. The forces against humanity seem to grow stronger, with brutal wars in Ukraine and other high-intensity conflict zones, with questions raised about the eroding influence of global institutions, and with a continued restriction of civic space in large areas of the world. On the other hand, global and domestic publics are resisting the forces of authoritarianism, racism, misogyny, economic inequality and other forms of discrimination and injustice. What’s more, there is a reckoning and recognition that humanitarian action not only reflects these structures of oppression and inequality, but might also reinforce them. What can social movements mean for reform of humanitarian responses, and how do they impact the traditional humanitarian sector? What encourages social and moral progress and what hinders it? The 2023 IHSA conference aims to address the question of what changing climates means for humanitarian crises and responses by focusing on six themes.
The 7th International Humanitarian Studies Conference will be as inclusive as possible. We call on panel organizers to consider creative ways to make the conference, multi-local, multi-temporal and inclusive. This will, among other ideas, be facilitated by:
Please, contact IHSA to learn how we facilitate these activities.