Authoritarian Practices and Humanitarian Negotiations

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Number of paper presentations 5


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Humanitarian organisations of all types (local, national, or international) must negotiate with a wide variety of governments and manoeuvre through myriad types of political environments. Some of the most difficult environments are those where the regimes in power utilise authoritarian practices (e.g., actions and policies constraining civic space) against a backdrop of illiberal practices (e.g., perpetuating human rights abuses) (Glasius, 2018). In this frame the type of regime is less important than the authoritarian nature of the governmental practices exhibited – how the governments of the UK and Italy constrain civil society action in support of asylum seekers fits the model as much as the conduct of the Chinese government in relation to civil society actors supporting the Uighurs. In these contexts negotiating access to populations in danger becomes even more difficult for humanitarian organisations which reference the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence, and neutrality.

This panel seeks papers exploring the theme of authoritarian practices and humanitarian negotiations, regardless of the category of the regime. Political, legal, and ethical considerations; state or humanitarian organisation perspectives; academic or operational perspectives are all welcome. We will accept both historical and contemporary descriptions of authoritarian practices which have constrained the work of humanitarian organisations.

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