Live Debate | Humanitarian Action and Protection – Lessons from Sri Lanka

Wednesday 01 April 2015, 18:00 – 19:00

Live Policy Debate

Co-organized by the journal International Development Policy (DevPol) and the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH).

Please register here.

Follow the debate in live on


  • Sir John Holmes, Director, Ditchley Foundation | former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
  • Norah Niland, Research Associate, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding
  • Introduction and Moderation: Gilles Carbonnier, Professor, Graduate Institute | Editor-in chief, International Development Policy

The live debate addresses the protection dimension of humanitarian action in the Sri Lankan Civil War. Some observers argue that the end phase of this long-standing war illustrates the limited capacity of the international relief system to protect civilians. Is the relief system’s lack of agency to blame for failing to safeguard humanitarian space and protected status for civilians? Did this aggravate the shortcomings of the intergovernmental crisis management and human rights machinery? Did relief actors largely ignore the instrumentalisation of humanitarianism, sovereignty and Global War on Terror narratives to rationalise the slaughter of thousands? And what lessons can be learned for current (e.g. Syria) and future humanitarian crises?

The live debate draws on the policy debate published by DevPol.

Read the e-debate with inputs by Norah Niland (Researcher, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding), Sir John Holmes (Director, Ditchley Foundation | former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator) and Miriam Bradley (Assistant Professor, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionales).


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