Addressing the aid experience: 25 years of Humanitarian Studies


Founded in 1998, the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies has witnessed the profound contextual and organisational changes and the agenda for transformation that have reshaped the humanitarian sector in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide and then after the 2004 East Asian tsunami. These past two decades have been marked by new types of wars and also by the so-called “complex emergencies” in which coordination, professionalisation and new management models characterize the rise of liberal humanitarianism. Shifting to a rights-based approach, aid actors have also adopted a normative framework that calls for more accountability and standards. All these changes characterise a dynamic sector in constant evolution.

Contemporaneous to these reforms, Humanitarian Studies have since become a burgeoning field of research, training and education, focusing on knowledge production within and about the humanitarian aid sector, as well as on the expertise, governance and ethos of the humanitarian field.

Reflecting on this evolution, the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies invites you to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a roundtable of experts and practitioners to address the following questions:
  • How do we define Humanitarian Studies?
  • Is that a new discipline or a subject to research?
  • What does it mean to teach and learn the aid experience?
  • How have previous reforms of the aid system impacted the curriculum agenda?
  • Which core competencies are relevant for today’s humanitarian professionals?
  • Which forms of partnerships exist between academic institutions and aid organisations?
  • How have the profiles of humanitarian workers evolved or adapted to reflect more inclusivity?

Date: 28 November 2023
Time: 6.30 pm
Venue: Hall U600, Uni-Dufour

The evening starts with keynote speeches by:

  • Prof. Yves Flückiger, Chancellor, University of Geneva
  • Prof. Joost Pauwelyn, Head of International Law Department, Co-Director, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
  • Prof. Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President, the International Committee of the Red Cross.

At 7 pm, the panel discussion led by Dr Valérie Gorin, the Centre’s Head of Learning, will explore the development of Humanitarian Studies over 25 years.

This will be followed by a Q&A session, and closing remarks by Prof. Karl Blanchet, the Centre’s Director. The event will then transition to a cocktail reception from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m., providing an excellent chance for continued conversation, idea exchange, and networking to inspire future humanitarian collaborations.

Our distinguished panel of experts includes:

  • Mohini Ghai Kramer, Head of Learning and Development, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • William Empson, Head of Learning and Development, Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland
  • Charles-Antoine Hoffman, Section Chief, Emergency Division, UNICEF

    Joining them are our esteemed alumni:
  • Mariam Ismail, Regional Programmes Coordinator for MENA, Geneva Call
  • Eric Wyss, Deputy Coordinator of the Global Child Protection Area of Responsibility, UNICEF
  • Arjun Claire, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Tala Ezz Edin, medical humanitarian organisation.

Join us on this important occasion to reflect on the evolution and future of humanitarian studies. Your insights and participation will greatly contribute to the richness of the discussion. We look forward to welcoming you at the event.