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Humanitarian actors face hard ethical choices on a daily basis around the world: between whom to help and whom to let die, between ensuring their own safety and the safety of others, and between principled activism and pragmatic efficiency. This is rarely as manifest as in humanitarian negotiations. When negotiating for access, programming or protection, humanitarian practitioners experience ethical dilemmas of where to draw their red lines and how to justify non-ideal compromises. As exemplified by the recent Taliban ban on women aid workers, questions of culture and gender are often central to these dilemmas. Should humanitarians insist on universal standards of humanity and impartiality, or are these relative to their cultural and gendered contexts? This question also pertains to how humanitarian negotiations are conducted: who are represented and consulted, how do the negotiating parties behave, and according to which procedures and principles?
This roundtable invites both theoretical and empirical reflections on these questions and their interconnections (and intersectionality) with other dimensions of humanitarian negotiations in the current political climate. The panel will be organized as a roundtable with brief presentations and a joint discussion. Instead of full-fledged papers, we invite short contributions of about 1-2000 words that will eventually be considered for publication in a journal forum. The contributions may include an explicit focus on ethics, but this is not required.