About the Conference on Humanitarian Studies

Every other year, the International Humanitarian Studies Association organizes a conference on humanitarian studies. Our conferences take place in a different parts of the world each time. We started in 2009 in Groningen, the Netherlands, and after Boston, Addis Ababa, Istanbul and the Hague we will organize our 6th conference in Paris, France. Our conferences bring together a wide range of academics and practitioners that exchange knowledge on different topics within humanitarian studies.

Hybrid Conference 

Katja Tsvetkova
By Katja Tsvetkova

There are a lot of insecurities in times like these surrounding event organisation. We aim for our conference to be a save event, and we do aim for this event to come together in person at least with some of our network. However we will strictly adhere to all safety regulations that will be in place at the time of the conference. It is very likely that we will not all be able to meet up in Paris this year, but possibly with a smaller select group.

This year the conference will be hybrid, meaning people have the option to present online and, if regulations allow, also in person in Paris. However, we cannot say at this stage how many people will be able to attend in person. We ask participants who sign up for the conference to let us know if they prefer to attend in person or online. When we know how many people will be able to safely attend in person, we will communicate this to the participants. If by then there is a higher demand than what is safe to attend, we will accept participants on a rolling basis. The rest can join online! There will be a discounted price for online attendance. More information under Fees and Registration.

Conference Partner
In 2021, the IHSA conference will be organized in collaboration with Sciences Po. Founded in 1872, Sciences Po is France’s leading research university in the social sciences. Sciences Po offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and executive education levels, and developed 42 dual degree programmes with its network of 470 partner universities.

Today, half of Sciences Po’s 13,000 students are international and represent 150 nationalities. Education at Sciences Po is multidisciplinary, multilingual and outward looking. It also places great emphasis on professional exposure. Following completion of their degree, 80% of the graduates are hired within six months of graduation and 39% start their career abroad. Sciences Po holds a high standard of social responsibility, and plays a pioneering role in the promotion of diversity and equal opportunity in higher education. Sciences Po has an array of financial aid for students of all origins and 26% of the student body hold a scholarship. For more information on Sciences Po: www.sciencespo.fr/en

Conference Theme – New realities of politics and humanitarianism: between solidarity and abandonment

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on humanitarian needs and responses in the last year and put solidarity  to the test. The competition over vaccines where poor and conflict-affected areas are at the bottom of the list to be served shows us the naked reality of humanitarian politics and it is feared this situation will  compound humanitarian crises even more. While the volume and range of humanitarian activities is higher than ever, the traditionally dominant actors in international aid, i.e., the US, the UK, and the EU, are turning away from the notions of solidarity and respect for the rights of refugees or disaster-affected citizens enshrined in international law towards securitization and criminalization of migration.  Together with ever more complex political arrangements, often imbued with populist authoritarianism, whether in Venezuela, India or South Sudan, what humanitarians can do on the ground is being restricted. Are we witnessing the increasing abandonment of crisis-affected people and the humanitarian project? How can solidarity and principled approaches be brought back to the center of the humanitarian endeavor?

The drive for localisation, increasing use of cash transfers, rapid changes in the use of technologies, increasing attention for disaster risk reduction and changing approaches to accountability and participation continue to have major impact on the way humanitarianism is organized, implemented and how it impacts crisis-affected people and communities. As humanitarianism increasingly seeks to build on local capacities and people’s resilience, questions can be raised as to what this means for the protection of vulnerable people.

The ambition of this iteration of the conference is to provide a critical forum for discussing the changes within humanitarianism and what these changing political realities mean for the protection and assistance to crisis-affected populations.

Past Conferences:

  • 2009 – The first World Conference of Humanitarian Studies was held in February 2009 in Groningen, the Netherlands, and was organized by the universities of Wageningen, Groningen and Bochum (Germany). It was attended by 450 participants. During this conference the International Humanitarian Studies Association was launched.
  • 2011 – The second World Conference of Humanitarian Studies, organized by the International Humanitarian Studies Associational (IHSA) and hosted by Tufts University in Medford, USA, took place from June 2-5, 2011. The conference focused on ‘Changing Realities of Conflict and Crisis‘.
  • 2013 – The third IHSA conference took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 24 to 27, 2013. The conference was jointly organized by the Kadir Has University, the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University, and the International Humanitarian Studies Association. The focus was on ‘Human Security: Humanitarian Perspectives and Responses.’
  • 2016 – The 4th IHSA conference was organized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 5 to 8 March 2016. The main theme of the conference was ‘Changing Crises and the Quest for Adequate Solutions’.
  • 2018 – The 5th IHSA conference took place in The Hague, the Netherlands from 27-29 August 2018. The conference topic was on: (Re-)Shaping Boundaries in Crisis and Crisis Response.
  • 2021 – The 6th IHSA conference will take place in Paris, France from 3 to 5 of November 2021.
  • Will you host the next conference? Send in a Proposal to host the next conference on Humanitarian Studies to info@ihsa.info