Protecting People in Conflict and Crisis: Responding to the Challenges of a Changing World
Ten years ago the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) defined humanitarian protection as including “all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. human rights, humanitarian and refugee law).” Since then humanitarian protection has received growing attention within the humanitarian sector, becoming not one of the central aims of the international community but also one of its greatest challenges. This conference, which was hosted by the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) in collaboration with the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) and with generous support from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, convened over 180 participants from more than 40 countries to discuss the current state of humanitarian protection research, policy and practice, with a view to developing new ideas for the protection of people in conflict and crisis in the 21st century. The conference revolved around six thematic tracks: concepts of protection; the politics of protection; populations at risk; protection, security and the military; national and regional responsibilities to protect; protection in practice. Eighty-four papers were presented and it is impossible to represent the depth, richness and complexity of the debates that took place. With that in mind however, a number of key themes emerged strongly, particularly around the challenges faced by humanitarian practitioners seeking to deliver ‘protection’ in a hostile world and the role which academics could play in addressing these challenges. The text below provides some reflections of those themes.