Just back from the first World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, Turkey.
As academics, we had a minor but not unimportant role. The following statement provides a normative baseline for future research and is signed by over 50 academics, many of them world leading scholars in the area of human rights. The first commitment opens Indigenous Knowledge as having an important future role in research supporting humanitarian action for our communities.
"The future of effective responses to humanitarian crises depends on developing a strong base of knowledge about current emergencies, future threats and their contexts; the populations affected by these emergencies; and the legal frameworks, institutions and interventions that seek to meet humanitarian needs and resolve these crises. Those engaged in humanitarian studies, which includes research and education, are essential to this effort.
Humanitarian studies critically examines the ways in which humanitarian crises originate and evolve, how they affect people, institutions and societies, and the responses they trigger. This field is not simply about being an instrumental partner to humanitarian actors in addressing the policy and practice issues of today. Humanitarian studies is about critically engaging with forces and factors that create positive change in order to imagine and achieve a different future for the world.
Humanitarian studies scholars present at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) make the following six commitments:
1. We commit to make humanitarian research more collaborative and inclusive, especially with non-traditional knowledge actors and affected communities, and to ensure that knowledge is relevant to policy and practice.
2. We commit to research the impacts of the WHS - both positive and negative - on those affected by humanitarian emergencies and the future of humanitarian action. This research will include assessing the fulfillment and non-fulfillment of commitments made by WHS participants; the impact of those commitments; and the process and history of the summit itself.
3. We commit to further develop and adopt evidence-based approaches relevant to humanitarian research. Member states and humanitarian actors should support the achievement of this commitment by making humanitarian research and education a political, financial, and operational priority.
4. We commit to localize humanitarian research and education within the regions and communities affected by emergencies by recognizing, establishing, supporting and collaborating with research and educational institutions in crisis-affected areas. Member states should work to remove political, regulatory, and financial barriers that impede research and prevent the development of research institutions in crisis-affected areas.
5. We commit to improve the impact and increase the use of humanitarian research by encouraging and supporting trans-disciplinary research that collaborates with non-traditional knowledge actors. To this end, we will strive to make our research accessible and relevant beyond traditional venues, such as conferences and publications, by placing the enfranchisement of affected communities themselves at the center of our work.
6. We commit to protect academic freedom, uphold scientific ethics, and be accountable for the research we do, how it is undertaken, and how it is used. We will seek to make our results and data as open and public as possible, ensuring that our ethical obligations to the populations we research and those we research them with come first."
Galya B Ruffer
Michael van Rooyen
Alex de Waal
Wolf Dieter Eberwein
|With Professor Thea Hilhorst, Professor of Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction|