Course Description:
Elective course; Development Specialisation/Concentration

For half a century international humanitarian and human rights organisations have responded to recurrent emergencies involving political instability, war, nutritional crisis, large-scale displacement and unconstrained violence against citizens. Humanitarians stress ethical purpose and operational effectiveness, yet the norm for humanitarian operations is, in most respects, failure. Emergency response has been professionalised and the effects of disasters have been mitigated, but crises have become more frequent and protracted, and the extent of civilian suffering and displacement has grown. Space for civil society is constrained; human rights are under threat, both on the ground and as a political principle. Increasingly humanitarian workers and civil society activists are themselves targets. There has been no lack of analysis of these problems. The political dimensions of complex emergencies are well documented. They include misgovernment, corruption and militarisation in affected countries; inequity and exploitation in the global economy; and misconceived or maleficent interventions on the part of external powers. Are humanitarians, human rights campaigners and civil society activists helpless in the face of these forces? Are there lessons to be learned? Useful truths to be discerned? This course will examine the idea that closer attention to historical and cultural realities and local understanding of external interventions can explain some of the intractable aspects of current crises. The course will focus on narratives and case studies drawn mainly from the African continent, including the global landmine ban campaign, slavery in the Sudans, local peace processes in the Sudans, female genital cutting, and the current acceleration of out-migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the course students should:

- deepen their understanding of the challenges facing humanitarian interventions, civil society activism and human rights advocacy

- increase their knowledge of real-world disasters in Eastern Africa and attempts to address these

- gain tools for a critical approach to human rights and humanitarian operations, informed by insights drawn from practice and from research

Written responses to readings: 25%
Class participation and presentations 25%
Term paper: 50%