Conference on Humanitarian Studies

About the Conference Theme – Humanitarianism in Changing Climates

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 Panel themes:

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

Every two years, the International Humanitarian Studies Association organizes an international conference on humanitarian studies. Our conferences take place in a different part of the world each time. We started in 2009 in Groningen, the Netherlands, and after Boston, Addis Ababa, Istanbul, the Hague and Paris we will organize our 7th conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Our conferences bring together a wide range of academics and practitioners that exchange knowledge on different topics within humanitarian studies. More information about our previous conferences can be found here.

Conference Partner
In 2023, the IHSA conference will be organized in collaboration with North South University in Dhaka Bangladesh.

North South University (NSU), the first private university in Bangladesh, was established in 1992 with the vision to fill the vacuum of higher education in the private sector of Bangladesh. The dream, during its inception, was to set up a world-class university as a center of excellence in higher education. Today, NSU has evolved into an educational behemoth in the region, with over 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students. NSU is ranked as the number one private university in Bangladesh by the Times Higher Education in 2022. NSU has collaborations and partnerships with universities, institutions and companies across North America, Europe and Asia for student and staff exchange programs, collaboration on research, symposium, conferences etc. This provides students and staff opportunities beyond borders and across numerous fields. NSU is founded on a beautifully landscaped area with state-of-the-art facilities and stands out as an eminent university campus in Dhaka. NSU contains more than 120 classrooms, lecture theatres and exam halls equipped with the latest teaching aids. It has WiFi access across campus and a fully automated library.