Base photo: Feltin Davis, Flickr
26 Apr 2021

New podcast on humanitarian diplomacy

The term humanitarian diplomacy emerged into discussion mainly in the early 2000s, but what does it really mean? A new CMI podcast series explores the concept.  

Providing humanitarian assistance is often associated with risks and requires support to succeed. Particularly in conflict areas and in complex emergencies, there is a plethora of things that can go wrong. How do you get access to an area in a situation where a party to the conflict sometimes even benefit from keeping humanitarian agencies out? And how can you make sure that the humanitarian workers can perform their job as safely as possible?

This is where humanitarian diplomacy comes into play. In practice, it describes the process of persuading decision makers, leaders and key stakeholders to act in the interest of vulnerable people, and to do so with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles and the international humanitarian law.

In a new podcast series delving into humanitarianism and humanitarian diplomacy, CMI doctoral researcher Salla Turunen and research professor Antonio De Lauri invite practitioners, policy makers and scholars to discuss the concept. And there’s ample room for discussion according to Turunen:

- Academics, practitioners and policy makers have grappled with these seemingly practical and down to earth questions for as long as humanitarian action on a larger scale has existed.

There’s also more philosophical side to the concept of humanitarianism, centered around ideas such as morals and neutrality. What happens when practical work and its challenges meets the world of ideals and principles?

In recent years, academia has opened its eyes to humanitarian diplomacy and is getting gradually more involved in the field. How can we best have a productive and inclusive conversation about a topic where stakeholders from different backgrounds bring so many different perspectives into the debate?

- There are some tentative studies on humanitarian diplomacy, most of them focused on the humanitarian diplomacy of the International Committee of the Red Cross, but it’s early days for the topic as a scholarly field and exploring a variety of actors involved. We need more research and studies to better understand how humanitarian diplomacy manifests in the world. Practitioners, on the other hand, have been engaging in humanitarian diplomacy for years, but the discussions have perhaps not had the level of cognizance that could contribute to tackle and overcome challenging aspects of, for example, humanitarianism and its related political contexts. So the different actors in the field will benefit from discussions and exchanging experiences on humanitarian diplomacy, says Turunen.

With the new podcast series, Turunen and De Lauri hope to provide a platform where different actors can come together to voice different percectives on the topic.

- In this podcast series we seek to strike a balance between practitioners, academics and policy makers to get the most fruitful discussions. We also look for this balance thematically, exploring academic and philosophical ideas, practitioner engagement and realities in the field, policy making and organizational reasoning, and state-actor perspectives, says Turunen.



The Humanitarian Diplomacy podcast is a part of the Chr. Michelsen Institute’s research project ‘Humanitarian Diplomacy: Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy’, led by research professor Antonio De Lauri and funded by the Research Council of Norway. 


Popular Dissemination | 2021

Episode 1: Ethics of Humanitarianism

In the first episode of the Humanitarian Diplomacy podcast Doctoral Researcher Salla Turunen discusses humanitarian ethics with a philosopher, Senior Researcher Kristoffer Liden. Can humanitarian principles be implemented in a...
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Episode 2: Humanitarian Diplomacy at the Field Level – Where Gender Matters Too

How do practitioners use humanitarian diplomacy at the field level? What is required of them in dealing with non-state armed groups, in particular? In the second episode of the Humanitarian...
Salla Turunen (2021)
Popular Dissemination | 2021

Episode 3: State Humanitarian Diplomacy: Turkey and the United Arab Emirates

In this new episode, Antonio De Lauri, Meliha Altunisik and Deniz Gokalp discuss the ways humanitarian diplomacy becomes increasingly relevant in defining states' foreign policy in the context of protracted...
Antonio De Lauri, Meliha Altunisik, Deniz Gökalp (2021)
Popular Dissemination | 2021

Episode 4: The Case of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

In this episode, Hugo Slim, Senior Research Fellow from the University of Oxford, discusses the art of humanitarian diplomacy and the history and experience of the ICRC. Hugo is known...
Salla Turunen (2021)
CMI Brief | 2018

Humanitarian Diplomacy: A New Research Agenda

Improving access to humanitarian aid in conflict and complex emergencies has always been a major concern for policy makers and humanitarian actors. Historically, humanitarianism has been conducted in situations of...
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Humanitarian Diplomacy: Interview with Jan Egeland

Humanitarian diplomacy surrounds the field of humanitarian action and aims to meet humanitarian objectives by diplomatic means. The term itself is most often used by humanitarian practitioners, and as a practitioner-driven...
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CMI Brief | 2020

Everyday humanitarian diplomacy: Experiences from border areas

The term humanitarian diplomacy (HD) emerged in early 2000s. HD recognises the role of humanitarian actors when negotiating access, assistance and protection for civilians in situations of extreme insecurity and...
Cristina Churruca Muguruza (2020)
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The Helpers and the Helped: Troubling Ideas of Human Worth in Humanitarianism

Article 3 In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be...
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(Public Anthropologist)
CMI Working Paper | 2020

The UAE’s Humanitarian Diplomacy: Claiming State Sovereignty, Regional Leverage and International Recognition

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the world’s third-largest donor of humanitarian aid relative to Gross National Income in 2016. The country was among the top five humanitarian assistance state-donors...
Deniz Gökalp (2020)
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Humanitarian Diplomacy

Jan 2019 - Dec 2022