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What is the responsibility of humanitarian actors – organizations, aid workers, researchers – when confronted with egregious human rights and IHL violations, deliberate harm against civilians, the erosion of the asylum regime, and the general demise of a rule-based international order? Outrage and indignation about the suffering of civilians from Aleppo to Wau are widespread in humanitarian circles and beyond, but so are impotence, indifference and a great deal of hand-wringing. Humanitarians have a poor history of addressing the protection problems that are often the biggest threat to safety, dignity and survival in crisis settings. There are few channels to build on public outrage and limited mobilization of civil society to challenge policies or practices that enable the slaughter of civilians or refugee deterrence .
The panel will problematize and contextualize these questions through papers analyzing:
(a) the crisis of multilateralism and its implications for humanitarian action;
(b) historical examples of past mobilization of citizens and civil society on catastrophic humanitarian situations - Biafra, Algeria, Vietnam for example;
(c) the history of limited investment in the protection dimension of humanitarian action;
(d) the conditions, obstacles and opportunities for citizen action today;
(e) the experience of the emerging United Against Inhumanity (UAI) initiative which aims to mobilize a global movement to increase the reputational damage for states and non-state actors perpetrating or facilitating crimes against humanity and failing to meet their responsibilities under IHL and refugee law.