CRIC Public Lecture: The Future of Humanitarian Action – safety and security in violent environments, with Dr. Larissa Fast – University of Copenhagen

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CRIC Public Lecture: The Future of Humanitarian Action – safety and security in violent environments, with Dr. Larissa Fast

Tuesday 11 October 2016, 3:30-5pm, Room: 2.1.12, CSS Campus

NB: Registration required. Please send an email to cric@cric.ku.dk no later than 7 October. 

Introduction

In April 2016, 5 staff members of an aid agency were kidnapped in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and 4 delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross were kidnapped in Mali. All were released several days later. In recent years, medical facilities in Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere have been directly targeted, resulting in the destruction of hospitals and the deaths of medical personnel. These separate events illustrate the dangers aid workers face while providing assistance and protection to those in need.

Commentators suggest the post 9/11 environment and the politicization of humanitarian assistance have reshaped how aid agencies operate and augmented the risks for individual aid workers and aid agencies. Aid agencies seeking to protect their staff and programmes have adopted a variety of strategies. In the most dangerous places, aid workers live and work in compounds with high walls and armed guards, while in others staff manage programmes from afar. What are the consequences of such actions, both for aid agencies, the populations they assist, and for the future of humanitarian action?

Drawing on over 15 years of research about violence against aid workers and aid delivery, Dr. Larissa Fast will discuss why are aid workers attacked, how aid agencies protect their staff and programmes, and what this means for the future of humanitarian action. Fast’s 2014 book, Aid in Danger: The Perils and Promise of Humanitarian Action (University of Pennsylvania Press) explores the causes and consequences of violence against aid workers and aid agencies. Together with Christina Wille (Insecurity Insight), she co-founded the Security in Numbers Database, which tracks threats and incidents of violence against aid workers and aid delivery. Fast and Wille have used the SiND to publish several policy reports.

Join us for a public lecture on safety and security in violent environments and the possibilities for humanitarian reform!

About the speaker

Dr. Larissa Fast is a scholar and practitioner, focused on the intersection of research, policy, and practice related to humanitarianism, conflict, and peacebuilding. She is an internationally-recognized expert on the causes of and responses to violence against conflict interveners, such as aid workers and peacebuilders, and has published extensively on the topic in both academic and policy-focused formats. Her book, Aid in Danger: The Perils and Promise of Humanitarianism (2014, University of Pennsylvania Press) explores the causes of and responses to violence against aid workers. Dr. Fast has published in the International Review of the Red Cross, the European Journal of International Relations, and Disasters, among other journals. In addition, she co-founded a large-scale dataset tracking threats and violence against aid workers as part of the Aid in Danger project (http://aidindanger.org).

Fast’s professional career spans both scholarly and policy-oriented posts. She is a 2016-2017 Fulbright-Schuman Research Scholar at the University of Manchester (UK) and Uppsala University (Sweden), researching conflict data uses and standards for operational, policy, and research purposes. From 2014-2016, she served as Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working at the US Agency for International Development. During that time, she conducted research on the use of data and digital technologies in the West Africa Ebola outbreak response, and managed a project to develop a tool to analyze the policy and regulatory environment for using mobile technologies to support development outcomes. Previously, she was Assistant Professor at Conrad Grebel University College (Canada) and at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame (USA).