Clara Egger – Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead – and two members of HE governance bodies signing articles in Humanitarian Alternatives review!

The ninth issue of Humanitarian Alternatives bilingual review was launched in November under the thematic “1968-2018 Breakdown and continuity”.

The editorial is signed by Clara Egger, Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead.

Then, in the forum space, François Grünewald, member of the Advisory Board speaks about “Aid workers and the uprooted: chronic of a parallel evolution”, and Oscar Gomez, member of our Scientific Committee elaborates on “Sovereignty as responsibility in East Asia response to crisis”

Enjoy the reading!!!

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia third governance meeting took place in Geneva from 19th to 21st November 2018

Both the Advisory Board and Scientific Committee gathered this week in Geneva to take stocks on past months project evolutions. We had enriching discussions and debates, alternating plenary session with workshops sessions.

Tuesday morning session was dedicated to a joint meeting for the two instances, where the methodology leading to the selection of 126 key humanitarian concepts was presented and adopted. We reached an important milestone that will drive our next research phases.

We want to thank all our governing bodies members for their active participation and their active engagement around the Humanitarian Encyclopedia initiative.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all the humanitarian practitioners who contributed to March 2018 survey, and to the workshops that were held during the Summer in India, Malaysia, Mali, Kenya, Lebanon and Iraq. The survey and the workshops results together with text analysis led to the selection of the 126 concepts through a combination of the three methodologies.

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The Humanitarian Encyclopedia taking part to the HEW2018

This year again, we are pleased to contribute to “The Humanitarian Evidence week”, aka the HEW2018!

HEW2018 is an initiative led by Evidence Aid, in collaboration with the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, to promote a more evidence-based approach together with many other organisations. During the HEW organisations provide webinars, blogs and debates to highlight topics related to generation, use and dissemination of evidence in the humanitarian sector, details of which you will find in their timeline – scroll through to November 23rd and you will find our contributions:

The HEW2018 takes place from November 19th to 25th. If you missed some of the events,  you can consult most of the contents online, on evidence aid website.

Public conference « 1968 – 2018 : Humanitarian concepts across time and spaces » November 20th, campus Biotech 18h30 – 21h

Fifty years after the Biafra war, which set the stage for the “without borders” movement, humanitarian aid has become a resolutely strategic sector, both in terms of action and of image, encompassing an increasing number of players with ever more diverse profiles and practices. This double movement of expansion and diversification has profoundly affected the conceptual frame of humanitarian action. In this context, participants will explore contemporary reconfigurations on humanitarian action by exploring how concepts central to humanitarian action have evolved across time and spaces.

This event will see the launch of the ninth issue of Humanitarian Alternatives : “1968-2018: disruption and continuities”  and confront the perspectives of seasoned practitioners and researchers and doctoral on humanitarian practice, taken as a field of investigation.


Marie Luce Desgrampchamps, Lecturer, History Department, University of Geneva

Duncan Mc Lean, Senior researcher, The Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH or Research Unit) of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Switzerland – “A reassertion of state sovereignty? Humanitarian implications”


Fabien Cottier, Post doctoral researcher, Department of political science and International Relations, University of Geneva “A Climate of Exclusion ? Environmental Migration, Political Marginalization and Violence”


Despite alarmist claims in the public discourse about the consequences of environmentally-induced migration for security, little empirical research has attempted to evaluate the contention. My Ph.D. dissertation, therefore, sets out to examine the linkage between environmental change, rural-urban migration, and nativist violence. To do so, I present new data on rural-urban migration for 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. The findings unambiguously indicate that climate change does affect rural-urban migration flows, but only to a limited extent. In turn, these migratory flows may cause a moderate increase in the probability of nativist violence, particularly when the native population is marginalized by the central government. The findings, thus, reject the alarmist predictions. Climate change is unlikely to cause mass migration and, as a consequence, to substantially destabilize states.


Janine Bressmer, PhD candidate in political science and international relations, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, “The Spatiality of Risk Management in Aid: Manuals, Walls, and (In)Visibility”


Over the past two decades, humanitarian action has arguably experienced a shift in terms of its conceptualization and physical manifestations on the ground. Debates over a shrinking ‘humanitarian space’ levy accusations against an increasingly dangerous environment in which aid is not given the physical space to operate and humanitarian principles are not respected. Rather than siding in this argument, it can be said that the space in which humanitarian organizations operate, characterized by warfare and violent non-conflict settings, has generated an environment in which such organizations work (conceptually and practically) reactively vis-à-vis the security and risk implications on the ground. Changes in humanitarian discourse and norms, practices such as remote- and risk-management and the separation of aid workers and beneficiary through material and space provide an interesting entry point, this presentation argues, through which to better understand some of the spatial considerations attached to delivering aid in volatile environments


Claudio Todisco, PhD, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The Graduate Institute Geneva  “So far and yet so near: the production of difference in humanitarian action”

The most diverse international stakeholders who operate in South Sudan display different understandings of humanitarian action, peace- or state-building and development, and through a variety of policy frameworks. This notwithstanding, they share a common heritage of representations about the indigenous people which, while readjusted to the current globalization of politics, can be traced back to the colonial state. Drawing on long-term professional experience with Médecins Sans Frontières and on ethnographic research among the Murle people of South Sudan, this talk will examine processes of differentiation among aid actors who negotiate definitions of humanitarian concepts and related practices within a common system of international governance. The call is both for practitioners and scholars to review current paradigms of knowledge and practice.


Chairs and moderators

Sadio Ba Gning, Assistant Professor, Université Gaston Berger, Saint Louis (Sénégal), Co-Chair of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Scientific Committee

Clara Egger, Research lead, Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

Doris Schopper, Director, Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur – Excellent meeting with Mercy Malaysia staff

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia team carries on its Asian Journey in Malaysia.

We organised our second workshop with Mercy Malaysia staff. An incredible and interactive session, thank you all!!!


Oscar A. Gomez (Research fellow at JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency | Research Institute) was supporting the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team in the facilitation process. Oscar A. Gomez is a member of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia scientific committee.


Tomorrow, we will have a second meeting in Kuala Lumpur with humanitarian practitioners from Malaysian organisations.

Both these workshops would not have been possible without the support of our partner Mercy Malaysia, and the strong commitment of its president Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, member of the Advisory Board of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia.


Workshop in New Delhi – August 6th

20 participants from diverse humanitarian organisations took part to the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Workshop in New Delhi on August 6th.

It was the first inter-organisational workshop of a long series, and this event was made possible thanks to our partner organisations: AIDMI and SEEDS.

If you connect on Facebook you will hear Mihir Bhatt, Director of All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, talks about how Humanitarian Encyclopedia has helped build coherence to ideas between global and local actors, on how it has enabled effective collaboration between them, and took joy in having met people who will continue to build the project together, in India and across the world.

Manu Gupta, Co-founder of SEEDS India, expressing his delight in having co-host the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Initiative in Delhi.

‘It meant a lot to us and the humanitarian world here in India to have participated in this program’, he said. ‘We are now part of a new global architecture of a common universal language.’

Next workshops will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 9th to August 11th.

Keep posted!

Summer time and regional workshop tour !

Dear Humanitarian Encyclopedia friends and followers,

It’s Summer time and many of you will enjoy some Holidays.

Meanwhile the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team is preparing a regional workshop tour, gathering humanitarian practitioners in Asia (India and Malaysia), Africa (Mali and Kenya) and Middle East (Lebanon and Iraq) from August to September.

A real opportunity for every humanitarian practitioner to shape her/his humanitarian encyclopedia.

Follow us on the Encyclopedia website,  and twitter #ShapeMyHE


Enjoy a well deserved break!

Your Humanitarian Encyclopedia Team

Humanitarian Encyclopedia – Practitioners workshop

Are you a Humanitarian Practitioner?

Come and join us on June 21 st for an interactive workshop

It will be an opportunity to :

  • Define the Encyclopedia’s structure. Participants will be invited to shape their own Humanitarian Encyclopedia, using the terminology they use in their daily practices
  • Explore how concepts are differently framed in different languages
  • Assess YOUR expectations and needs towards the contents of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia
  • Investigate how Humanitarian practitioners can become active users and contributors to this living repository of humanitarian knowledge.

WHO? We are looking for Humanitarian Practitioners

from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

WHERE? CERAH – 22 Rue de Rothschild – 1202 Geneva

Please register on Eventbrite

Places are limited; candidatures will be checked upon registration

Make the Humanitarian Encyclopedia yours : take our online survey!

Have you ever been left with the impression that, while we all use the same words in the humanitarian sector1, they don’t have the same meaning to all of us? To analyse this diversity of “humanitarian languages”, the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH) and its partners are launching an Encyclopedia for Humanitarian Action.

To explore what humanitarian practitioners perceive as priority concepts, we are launching a consultative survey.

The survey is available here.

This survey will contribute to the selection of the entries of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia. By answering the survey, you will ensure that the Humanitarian Encyclopedia addresses your priorities and you will contribute to defining the structure of the Encyclopedia. When answering the questions, please refer to your current experience as aid worker. Quotes may be cited anonymously in the report.

The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to be filled. It is part of a four stage participatory approach to select the entries of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia.

1 We define as part of the humanitarian sector any actor, regardless of organizational affiliation, profession, geographical origin or value, who undertakes most of his activities in crisis situations and self-qualifies the activities as belonging to “humanitarian”, “relief”, “emergency” work and to “disaster” or “crisis” response.

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia awarded by the International Studies Association

Together with Dr Simone Lucatello and Dr Oscar Gomez, Dr Clara Egger will chair a Global South Workshop entitled « Humanitarian institutions in/and Global South: contestation, translation or regionalization? ». The proposal put together by Dr Clara Egger received the award of the ISA International Organization section ($ 5000).

The main objective of the workshop is to understand how Global South organizations conceptualize humanitarian action and relate to Western-led humanitarian institutions. Clara will present insights from the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Humanitarian Organization Dataset whereas Simone will analyse narratives about humanitarian action in Latin America and Oscar, local perceptions of human security in the ASEAN+3.

Close to 15 participants coming from various world regions will present how humanitarian institution in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe engage in humanitarian action. Follow up activities will include a panel at the International Humanitarian Studies Association upcoming world Congress in the Hague (27-29th August).