Search type

Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Past events

Explore our archive of past events to learn more about the diverse talks, seminars, workshops and conferences held over the last 10 years. 

From February 2019, we started to share some of our talks which are published shortly after. You can listen to podcasts here.

Past events 2019

HCRI Research Series: Isabelle Kidder, Jennifer Small and Julia Kiemle-Gabbay

12th November 2019

Isabelle is an International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response with French (BSc) HCRI graduate, whereas Jennifer and Julia are BSc Global Health graduates from the institute. For this seminar, the guest speakers presented their individual dissertation projects, which focussed on research outcomes and on their trajectory of coming to these outcomes to inspire current undergraduate and postgraduate students who are preparing to undertake their dissertations this academic year.

HCRI Research Series: Dr Hannah Partis-Jennings and Henry Redwood

5th November 2019

Dr Hannah Partis-Jennings is a Lecturer in International Relations and Security within the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Loughborough University. Dr Henry Redwood is a Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. For the seminar, Hannah and Henry built on the themes we engage within a recent paper - ‘Contesting and Securing War Imaginaries: The Messy Politics of One Artistic Assemblage’ - particularly highlighting modes of ambiguity in visuals of, and bound up with, war experience. They discussed ambiguity in three dimensions within very different contexts; firstly, in the work of Mark Neville, a war artist embedded with British troops in Helmand, Afghanistan in 2011. They suggest that his position on the border of soldiering, and his experience of trauma echo through the visual ambiguities of his work. They frame this as partially unintentional ambiguity to the extent that its disruptive politics was limited through being tethered to the circumstance and the mechanisms of his aesthetic engagement. Secondly, they highlight the role of images of the ‘disappeared’ in Sri Lanka, which are kept and used in acts of resistance by protesters, in delineating the experience of enforced ambiguity tied to loss and state violence in war. Finally, they will look to the work of Vladimir Miladinovi? and his engagement with silenced archives related to the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia. Here Vladimir engages in the intentional use of ambiguity mobilised in pursuit of a more open and contested form of post-conflict engagement with traumatic pasts. We suggest that these three examples highlight the modes of trauma, resistance and the political that circulate around the aesthetic imaginary of war and emphasise the complexities of the visual as an artefact of encounter with war’s violence.

HCRI Research Series: Sophie Delaunay

30th October 2019

Sophie Delaunay has been leading health and humanitarian programs for the past 25 years and became executive director of Doctors Without Borders (MSF in the United States) until 2015. Her seminar explored the following: Humanitarian organizations operate in complex environments where providing assistance to thousands of people is rarely their sole challenge. A wide range of constraints including insecurity, lack of adapted resources, management of public perception, local administrative requirements and/or hostility towards humanitarian actors may co-exist and frequently combined. These multiple challenges force humanitarians to not only focus on their specific efforts but to invest in many other activities that do not necessarily core to their social mission, but essential to conduct their work. As a result, many organizations are inclined to expand their scope of intervention, and to develop know-how in various areas from advocating for affordable and adapted medicines, to negotiating access to restricted territory, analyzing and navigating national legal environments or understanding regional political dynamics. This local complexity faced by NGOs has been in recent years amplified by growing public demands for higher standards of financial accountability, environmental preservation, or equity and behaviour on the part of humanitarian stakeholders.

All these constraints put humanitarian organizations under tremendous pressure and can contribute to uncontrolled growth and sometimes mission creep. This is when comes an additional challenge: not losing direction and finding the right balance between the need to adapt to and address prevailing obstacles, and an organization’s ability to focus on its core mandate. This is the tension that was explored in the group discussion through a series of recent examples.

HCRI Research Series: Professor Madhu Krishnan

15th October 2019

Madhu is a Professor of African, World and Comparative Literatures at the University of Bristol. Her seminar explored the ways in which literary activism currently functions in specific sites in sub-Saharan Africa to open spaces for creative responses to conflict and crisis. Literary activism itself encodes a double meaning, both referring to the sheer act of opening spaces for creative production and creativity, on the one hand, and the more targeted use of cultural forms as a means of sociopolitical intervention, on the other. In both cases, literary activism serves to engender new horizons through which publics, commons and networks of practice might be forged, enabling lateral and novel forms of solidarity and collectivity to emerge. In this talk, I focus particularly on the ways in which literary activism has functioned in the context of Cameroon's Anglophone crisis through the case study of the Bakwa collective.

HCRI Research Series: Dr Christine Eriksen

1st October 2019

Christine is a senior lecturer and research fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Christine has gained international recognition in the field of disaster geographies. The seminar built on a dozen years of research with wildland firefighters, Indigenous land stewards, wildfire survivors, and residents living in fire-prone landscapes in Australia and North America. The seminar discussed how both women and men suffer from structural biases when it comes to gendered aspects of agencies that manage fire, and highlight the potential operational benefits of heightened awareness of unquestioned gender biases.

HCRI Landmark Lecture on Kashmir: causes of crises and consequences for citizens

24th September 2019

HCRI welcomed the new term with their annual landmark lecture on Kashmir, following India’s federal government recently changing its 70-year policy on Jammu and Kashmir State, stripping the contested territory of much of its autonomy. The lecture included individual presentations and panel discussion with three experts, Dr Waseem Yaqoob (Queen Mary University), Dr Jessica Field (Brunel University and Tahir Aziz (Conciliation Resources) who shed light on the causes and consequences of this new development, with Dr Birte Vogel (HCRI) as Chair.

Guest Lecture with Dr Darryl Stellmach 

27th June 2019

HCRI was pleased to host Dr Darryl Stellmach who presented a guest lecture on, 'Emergency Ethnography: Anthropology in and of Public Health Crises'.

Darryl spent 10 years as a field worker for MSF and is currently working as an Anthropology Implementer for the Manson Unit of MSF-UK. His lecture reviewed the recent push to integrate the social sciences into humanitarian operations, highlighting some of the agendas and potential pitfalls. It examined the practice of doing anthropology in an emergency—asking how one can make rigorous, effective and ethical social science in active conflict or epidemic settings. The lecture also drew on experiences in South Sudan and Syria, with a special focus on the efforts of MSF-UK, who run a dedicated social science unit to support field operations and research.

HCRI PhD Symposium

30 May 2019

The Symposium was a full-day event of panels with presentations our PhD students. This was a lovely opportunity to acknowledge students’ passion for their research and the hard work of staff that underpins it.

Careers in Humanitarianism Day 2019

10 May 2019

Our sixth Careers Day was filled with presentations, discussion and advice from current leaders in the field of humanitarianism. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to learn, network and hear from the experts about where humanitarianism could take them.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Jen Peterson

7 May 2019

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Jen Peterson (HCRI Alumni Staff). Jen presented for approximately 1 hour, before a Q&A with the audience. Jen discussed, Laughing at Pacifists: Public Shaming and the Delegitimization of Non-Violent Tactics.

Roundtable: Humanitarianism After Liberal Order?

4th April 2019

HCRI was delighted to welcome guest speaker Professor Mark Duffield to help us launch the Journal of Humanitarianism Affairs. The journal is an exciting new open-access journal hosted jointly by The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK, and Centre de Réflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires MSF (Paris) and HCRI.

At the event, Mark introduced the theme of the first issue, ‘post-humanitarianism’, which his article in the issue speaks to. After the introduction, there was a roundtable discussion on this theme, with contributor to the issue Caroline Abu-Sada (SOS Méditerranée Switzerland), and representatives from the journal’s editorial team: Juliano Friori (Save the Children UK), Michaël Neumann (MSF) and Róisín Read (HCRI). Following the discussion and Q&A session, a wine reception was held to celebrate the launch.

HCRI Film Screening: Operation Legacy

26 March 2019

In 2009, a group of Kenyan war veterans sued the British government to reveal the truth about what really happened in their country during the so-called 'Mau Mau Emergency’. This documentary tells the incredible story of those veterans demanding truth and reparations for British crimes and exposes the depth of the establishment's attempted erasure of colonial histories of violence under Operation Legacy.

The film screening was introduced by Dr Poppy Cullen (University of Exeter), historian and author of 'Kenya and Britain after Independence: Beyond Neo-Colonialism'.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Alison Howell

21 March 2019

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Alison Howell (HCRI Alumni Staff). Alison presented for approximately 1 hour, before a Q&A with the audience. Alison discussed, From Eugenics to Resilience? Re-thinking the Connections between Race, Disability and War.

HCRI Film Screening: About a War

14 March 2019

Moving through rare archival footage and the personal accounts of Assad, a right-wing Christian intelligence officer, Ahed, a Palestinian refugee fighter and Nassim, a Communist commander, About a War unpacks the tensions between individual choice and sectarian violence in the Lebanese civil war. Without giving an official account of the conflict, the testimonies help build a multi-perspective picture of a crucial turning point in Lebanese history. What is it like to fight and can militiamen come to terms with their killings? What happens after the war and can parallel be drawn with present-day conflicts in the region such as in neighbouring Syria?

Co-producer Dana Abi Ghanem introduced and talked about the film. The screening was followed by a Q&A discussion with co-director, Dr Daniele Rugo who joined HCRI by Skype, placing some of the themes raised by the documentary into a wider conversation surrounding inequality and sectarian divide in Lebanon today, refugee flows in the Middle East and cycles of violence and conflict in the region.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Sophie Roborgh and Nat O’Grady

12 March 2019

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Sophie Roborgh (HCRI Presidential Fellow) and Nat O’Grady (Lecturer in Disaster Management). Each speaker spoke for approximately 45 minutes, before a Q&A with the audience. Sophie discussed, Medical Muhajireen - Health workers under Daesh and Nat discussed, Emergency Infrastructures, Automation and Public/Private Security Hybrid.

Panel Discussion on The State of the Humanitarian System 2018 ALNAP report

6 March 2019

Manchester launch of the 4th edition of report which covers a period during which the geopolitical landscape has changed, with powerful effects on the context and practices of humanitarian action. Panel discussants included Paul Knox Clarke, lead author and Head of Research at ALNAP, Chris Loughran, Director for Policy and Advocacy at MAG, David Wightwick, CEO of UK-Med and HCRI’s Presidential Fellow Sophie Roborgh. 

Yemen: Response and Representation of a War

20 February 2019

HCRI were joined by Hakim Khaldi (Humanitarian Projector Coordinator) and Keyan Salarkia (Conflict and Humanitarian Advocacy Advisor) from MSF and Save the Children UK, for a conversation which tried to understand the basis for the depiction and qualification of the war in Yemen by humanitarian NGOs and explore how this has impacted international responses. Panel discussants were:

Past events 2018

Aftershocks: The Armenian Earthquake and Humanitarianism at the End of the Cold War?

12 December 2018

On December 7 1988, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Armenia, killing an estimated 25,000 people, injuring 15,000, and devastating the cities of Spitak and Leninakan (Gyumri). The scale of destruction, and the extensive humanitarian need that followed, stunned the international community. In response, this earthquake saw the first delivery of international aid into the Soviet Union since the beginning of the Cold War. 2018 marked 30 years since the crisis of the Armenian Earthquake. To mark this anniversary, the event brought together an expert panel of scholars and humanitarian practitioners to reflect on the humanitarian response to the earthquake, its impact on a world divided by the Cold War, and its continuing legacies both for the Armenian population, but also the humanitarian community. The panel comprised of:

  • Emeritus Professor Tony Redmond, HCRI Deputy Director and Professor of International Emergency Medicine at The University of Manchester
  • Dr Joanne Laycock, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at The University of Manchester.
  • Mr Ara Nahabedian, MD MS BS, Orthopaedic Surgeon (retired)

No Recourse! Project Launch and Graduation

5 December 2018

The event officially launched the new partnership project between WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together) and HCRI’s Drs Jenna Murray de Lopez and Rubina Jasani. The event also celebrated 10 Peer Researchers from WAST completing their training through an awards ceremony, with special guest speakers Farhat Khan and Zahra Alijah in attendance. The celebrations were followed by a drinks reception.

TEAMS training for Emergency Medical Teams

5 December 2018

The TEAMS consortium reported on the work they are undertaking on the design, development, delivery and evaluation of the TEAMS project. The project, funded by DG ECHO, aims to create an innovative operational training package focused on teamwork and simulation exercises to assist any Emergency Medical Team (EMT) in preparing for deployment. This year TEAMs have delivered training in Germany & Istanbul including through simulation exercise such as mass casualty incidents. This event was also livestreamed.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Jessica Fields

4 December 2018

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Jessica Fields, (HCRI Honorary Research Fellow). Jessica spoke for approximately 45 minutes, before a Q&A with the audience. Jessica discussed, Legitimacy as a humanitarian principle? The history and politics of emergency management in India, 1947-present

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Rubina Jasania, Jenna Murray de Lopez and Yamusu Nyang and fellow PEER Researchers.

20 November 2018

The speakers spoke about Women Asylum Seekers Together: Capacity Building and Collaborative Research with socially marginalised women in the UK.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Catherine Arthur and Anna Vainio

6 November 2018

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Catherine Arthur (HCRI Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies) and Anna Vainio (Visiting Research Student). Each speaker spoke for approximately 45 minutes, before a Q&A with the audience. Catherine discussed, Political Symbols: How we Build Nations and National Identities and Anna discussed, Who decides what’s recovery?

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Eric Lepp and Jenny Chapman

23 October 2018

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Eric Lepp (HCRI Senior Tutor in Humanitarian Studies) and Jenny Champman (HCRI PhD candidate). Each speaker spoke for approximately 45 minutes, before a Q&A with the audience. Eric discussed, Side-by-sidedness: Resistance and Sanctuary in a Belfast hockey arena and Jenny discussed, Humanitarian Response in Thatcher's Britain, a study of the British response to the 1988 Armenian Earthquake.

HCRI Research Series: 10 Years of HCRI, Antoine Burgard and Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps

9 October 2018

For the HCRI Research Series, we were joined by Antoine Burgard (HCRI Postdoctoral Fellow) and Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps (HCRI Visiting Fellow). Each speaker presented for approximately 45 minutes, before a Q&A with the audience.  Antoine discussed, A Limited World of Possibilities? Understanding young Holocaust Survivors experiences of displacement and Marie-Luce discussed, Helping all the victims?  The ICRC and the Congo Crisis (1960-1965).

HCRI PhD Symposium

22 May 2018

The Symposium was a full-day event of panels with presentations our PhD students. This was a lovely opportunity to acknowledge students’ passion about their research and the hard work of staff that underpins it.

HCRI’s 10 Year Anniversary Official Launch: Film Screening of PILLI

16 May 2018

This was the launch event for a series of programmes celebrating HCRI’s 10 year anniversary.

PILI is a ground-breaking collaboration between the filmmakers and the women of Miono, Tanzania, whose real stories the film is based upon and who make up the ensemble cast of non-actors, 65% of whom are HIV positive. PILI is the first ever social-realist feature film to focus on women living with HIV in East Africa. It is one of the few films made in Africa that features an ensemble female cast and that uses almost entirely non-actors.

A drinks reception was held prior, to the film screening which was introduced by Professor Luke Georghiou (Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester. This was followed by a Q&A session with the film producer, Dr Sophie Harman.

HCRI Research Seminar Series: Volunteered Geographic Information and Community Disaster Resilience

23 April 2018

For the HCRI Research Seminar Series, we were joined by our very own Dr Billy Haworth.

Doctors Worldwide: In Conversation with HCRI

16 April 2018

Mr Ibrar Majid and Dr Shazaad Ahmad, trustees of Doctors Worldwide, discussed their experience in medical humanitarian work and why they remain committed to working in global health, alongside their work as NHS Specialists. They discussed the work of Doctors Worldwide, including the current medical training project in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh and offered advice to students interested in getting involved in global health and development. There was also a Q&A with the audience.

HCRI Speaker Series Decolonising Intervention: International State building in Mozambique

19 March 2018

For the HCRI Speaker Series, we were joined by Meera Sabaratnam, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at SOAS University of London.

HCRI Speaker Series: Charitable donations to disaster victims: case studies from Nineteenth-Century Scandinavia

19 February 2018

For the HCRI Speaker Series, we were joined by Andrew Newby from Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies.

A panel discussion with HCRI and Engineers without Borders on ‘How we can better manager disasters?’

8 February 2018

Three panel speakers gave 15-20 minute presentations before, a Q&A session was opened up. The panel comprised of:

  • James Shraiky – Founder and Director of InterSCT and PhD Candidate at HCRI
  • Anisa Jafar – PhD and Research Associate with WHO and HCRI
  • Rana Khalaf – Independent Researcher / Consultant PhD Candidate at HCRI

Careers in Humanitarianism Day 2018

2 February 2018

Our fifth Careers Day was filled with presentations, discussion and advice from current leaders in the field of humanitarianism. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to learn, network and hear from the experts about where humanitarianism could take them.

Past events 2017

HCRI Landmark Lecture with Pierre Carli - The 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks: Medical Management and Lessons Learned

23 November 2017

We were pleased to welcome Pierre Carli as the guest speaker at our 2017 Landmark Lecture. In 2015, the city of Paris was the target of a number of terrorist attacks, including a series of co-ordinated attacks on November 13th which targetted concertgoers at the Bataclan Theatre, people dining in cafes and restaurants, and football fans at the Stade de France. The attacks were the most deadly in France since World War II, with over 130 fatalities.

This lecture provided an insight into the response of the emergency services both during and after the attacks. 

Applying behaviour change-based health promotion strategies across the disaster cycle

21 November 2017

Dr Nancy Claxton a senior officer of health promotion in the community and emergency health department of International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) in Geneva, talked about "Applying behaviour change-based health promotion strategies across the disaster cycle"

What Inspires Humanitarian Action?

10 November 2017

Project Trust (an overseas volunteering organisation) hosted its third Education Networking Event ‘What Inspires Humanitarian Action?’ in partnership with HCRI. The purpose of the Education Networking Event was to facilitate debate on ‘what inspires humanitarian actions?’, inspire young people to take humanitarian actions, to strengthen the partnership between The University of Manchester and Project Trust. The event was aimed at Returning Volunteers (RVs) from Project Trust, current University of Manchester students, school/college pupils, school/college teachers and members of the general public. Guests at the event heard from expert speakers on what inspires humanitarian action. This was followed Q&A and networking session.

World on the Move: Migration, Societies and Change

30 October-1 November 2017

The inaugural international conference entitled ‘World on the Move’. The two-and-a-half day conference was a huge success and provided an arena for discussions, debate and the development of future research projects. The Lab also partnered with TakeBack Theatre to produce an immersive theatre production based on Migration Lab research intended to be a thought-provoking piece which asks people to question their own roles in producing hierarchies of belonging.

Responding to Emergency Crises - Personal Reflections

24 October 2017

For this speaker series, we were joined by Gareth Owen (The University of Manchester Alumni and Humanitarian Director at Save the Children) for a personal reflection on the current state of the humanitarian enterprise and offering a personal opinion on how things need to change to face the enormous challenges of the 21st Century. 

Bringing participatory development into conflict analysis – experience from Rakhine state, Myanmar

26 September 2017

We were joined by Dr Anthony Ware (Hallsworth Visiting Scholar, Deakin University) from HCRI's opening Speaker Series for the 2017-18 events programme.

Aid, Conflict and Peace: collaborative research symposium

19 May 2017

This student-led and student focused event was organised by HCRI PhD students. multidisciplinary conference will bring together researchers and students from across the University with a shared interest in issues such as humanitarianism, conflict response and development, and in doing so provide an opportunity for students and researchers alike to share their skills, knowledge and research projects.

Histories of Humanitarian Action

19 May 2017

This HCRI Event brought together three authors who have recently published works on the history of humanitarian action:

  • Martin Barber, former UN Official, speaking about his book "Blinded by Humanity: inside the UN's Humanitarian Operations" (2015)
  • Eleanor Davey, HCRI academic, speaking about her book “Idealism beyond Borders: The French Revolutionary Left and the Rise of Humanitarianism, 1954-1988” (2015)
  • Jean-Herve Bradol, MSF, speaking about his and Marc le Pape’s book “Humanitarian aid, genocide and mass killings” (2016)

Each author used their book to reflect on historical moments in the humanitarian field and promote discussion on the lessons that can be learned for current and future humanitarian practice.

HCRI Speaker Series: Abuse of Human Rights in Conflict Situations – a Legal Perspective

10 May 2017

For this HCRI Speaker Series we are joined by Bethany Shiner, Associate Lecturer in Law at Middlesex University.

HCRI Seminar: Ending the Cycle of Famine in Ethiopia

19 April 2017

In this Speaker Series, John Graham (Country Director for Save the Children and visiting academic at HCRI) discussed his work in Ethiopia and his paper on the End of Famines in Ethiopia, the 2015-16 Response.

HCRI Seminar: Out of sight, out of mind, out of bounds - The Failure of Maritime Sanctions Enforcement against North Korea

22 February 2017

In this Speaker Series, John Graham (Country Director for Save the Children and visiting academic at HCRI) discussed his work in Ethiopia and his paper on the End of Famines in Ethiopia, the 2015-16 Response.

Past events 2016

HCRI Speaker Series with Dr Ilan Kelman, Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London

08 December 2016

Dr Kelman discussed "Disaster risk reduction in 2050" with reference to climate change and sustainable development goals, but focussing on aspects of vulnerability and society, rather than technological innovation. Elements included looking backwards as well as forwards, plus the firm connection of Disaster Risk Reduction being rooted in equity, justice, and governance.

What next for Syria? Civil War and the New Cold War

30 November 2016

On 20th September 2016, and despite a ceasefire that came into effect on 12th September, a UN aid convoy in Aleppo, Northern Syria, was attacked killing at least 20 people and destroying 18 trucks. After five years of conflict, and escalating tensions between Russia and western countries led by the U.S., this roundtable discussion brought together academics, aid workers, policy-makers and activists to reflect on the recent attacks in Syria and debate what can be done next.

Panellist included:

  • Rony Brauman: HCRI Director and MSF Director of Research, former President of Médecins Sans Frontières (1982 -1994) who has worked in the field of international medical assistance since 1977
  • Rana Khalaf: Independent Research Consultant with over 12 years of professional and volunteer work experience connected with Syria; recently completed her Academy Senior Fellowship with the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House. Her work focuses on civil society, activism and governance
  • Fakhri Mansour: HCRI postgraduate student, formerly part of the UN humanitarian access team which designs and coordinates humanitarian convoys in Syria, including the one which was attacked in western Aleppo
  • Yasmine Nahlawi: Rethink Rebuild Society, Syrian Advocacy and Policy Coordinator, including research, political analysis and advocacy strategies to influence policy and practice.

HCRI Speaker Series with Gareth Owen OBE, Save the Children

19 October 2016

For this HCRI Speaker Series, we were joined by Gareth Owen OBE, Humanitarian Director for Save the Children. Gareth has worked in the aid sector for 25 years. He joined Save the Children in 2002 as an emergency adviser and became Humanitarian Director in 2007. He has led Save the Children’s responses to every major emergency over the past decade, most notably the Iraq conflict, the Asian tsunami, Cyclone Nargis, Haiti, Pakistan, East Africa, Niger and the Philippines. Gareth was awarded an OBE in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to emergency crisis response abroad.

In this Speaker Series event, Gareth talked about his work in humanitarian responses over the last two decades.

HCRI Inaugural Lecture with John Borton, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

13 October 2016

John Borton, Senior Research Associate at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and HCRI Honorary Lecturer, delivered our 2016 Inaugural Lecture. He spoke about the history of Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin).

Medical Emergency Relief International, Merlin, was founded by three friends in 1993, as a UK humanitarian agency specialising in the provision of frontline health care in areas of conflict and natural disaster, and in strengthening national health systems in fragile states. From its establishment, Merlin grew rapidly to become a significant actor in many international humanitarian operations including Rwanda, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Liberia, Pakistan, Haiti, Myanmar and Libya.

Drawing on his role as PI on the completed Merlin History Project, John Borton provided an overview of Merlin’s life, its achievements and the factors contributing to its transition into Save the Children. He concluded with a reflection on the critical changes that have taken place in the humanitarian sector over this 20 year period.

HCRI Landmark Lecture with Professor Lilie Chouliaraki, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

03 October 2016

This year's Landmark Lecture was delivered by Lilie Chouliaraki, Professor of Media and Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has written extensively on media ethics (particularly the problem of mediated suffering), digital journalism and human rights/humanitarian communication.

The lecture focused on the dominant visual culture around the recent 'refugees crisis' in Europe. Drawing on a typology of relevant images across media, map out the field of visibility within which refugees become perceptible to European publics and examined the distinct forms of responsibility, which the refugees are associated with (monitorial, effective, activist, post-humanitarian). In conclusion, it raises questions about the capacity of these forms of responsibility to engage with refugees as human others and to promote a culture of care and solidarity, outlining alternative media practices that could possibly foster different visual cultures.

Fourth Annual Conference of the International Association for Peace and Conflict Studies: Mobilities, Peace, and Conflict

15 September 2016

This conference explored the nexus between mobility, networks, scale, and (in)security. It aimed to expand our knowledge of the conditions for peace under more mobile and networked forms of agency, and the role these processes have in shaping contemporary security, development, and peacebuilding policies. What type of peace and security might mobile and networked forms of agency imply, and what facilitates and blocks such aims?

The conference took place in Dublin and was hosted by Dublin City University’s Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR) -

Contested Syria, Contested Knowledge: Insights, Challenges, and Lessons from Research and Grassroots Reporting

10 March 2016

Multiple conflicts continue to be fought in Syria, and the devastation wrought by five years of violence inflicted by states, and then non-state groups, continues to mount. It can seem difficult to make sense of what is happening, why the situation took this course, and what the prospects for justice and peace are. If anything, opinions and knowledge about Syria remain very divided.

This roundtable discussion featured insights from experts about Syria and its regional and international context. The panel included; 

  • Dr. Emilie Combaz, a researcher specialised in human rights
  • Dr. Sandra Pogodda, Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, HCRI
  • Professor Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Reseach Institute (SIPRI) and Professor of Peace and Conflict at HCRI
  • Robin Yassin-Kassab, co-author of the 2016 book ‘Burning Country. Syrians in Revolution and War’ (2016), with Leila Al-Shami

HCRI Speaker series with Hafsah Naib and Shamel Azmeh

7 March 2016

In this Speaker Series event, Hafsah introduced her short film “Departing: Arrivals”. Shot in Manchester, the film documents the stories of Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland to find sanctuary in Manchester. Following the film screening, Hafsah discussed some of the challenges and contexts surrounding the issues raised in the film and open up the event for reflections, questions and discussion.

Shamel Azmeh is a Syrian academic. In his talk "The Political Economy Roots of the Syrian Uprising and Conflict" Shamel provided a brief perspective into the roots of the Syrian uprising in the context of the post-independence Syrian state institutions and political and socio-economic developments in the two decades prior to the crisis.

Star lecture – Healthcare in Humanitarian Emergencies

3 March 2016

Dr Amy Hughes gave the University's Star Lecture on Health Care in Humanitarian Emergencies. Drawing on examples from post‐conflict in northern Sri Lanka, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the West Africa Ebola outbreak and the recent Nepal earthquake, Dr Hughes explored the complexities, challenges and approaches to delivering health care during and in the aftermath of such events.

This lecture provided an insight into the world of health care in humanitarian emergencies, highlighting the multiple factors affecting this. Attendees were provided with an opportunity to consider career pathways available for those interested in working in health, logistics and the humanitarian environment.

HCRI Disaster Dialogue series with Terry Cannon

15 February 2016

The Disaster Dialogue series, hosted by HCRI, is a regular multi-disciplinary forum that responds to the urgent challenges posed by disaster events, including their interface with climate change and sustainable development.

In this presentation, Terry Cannon discussed key areas of work that overlap between development, climate change and disaster preparedness, in relation to three myths.

  1. People share the same priority for severe natural hazards with outsider "disaster managers"
  2. The myth of "community" - Does it actually exist, or do we pretend it is there in order to enable us to do our work?
  3. Whether governments actually care about their people

HCRI Speaker Series with Stuart Bowman

08 February 2016

Stuart Bowman is a Strategy Committee member and trainer for Peace Brigades International (PBI) with fieldwork experience in Indonesia. The interactive speaker series explored how ordinary people can deter violence in areas affected by conflict to support the work of local human rights defenders and other civil society organisations. 

Careers in Humanitarianism Day 2016

05 February 2016

The fourth Careers in Humanitarianism Day event consisted of presentations, discussions and advice from current leaders within the Humanitarian sector and included;

  • Professor Mukesh Kapila – professor of Global Health & Humanitarian Affairs, The University of Manchester
  • Roland B. Berehoudougou – Regional Manager of Disaster Risk Management, Plan International
  • Dr. Unni Krishnan – Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response, Plan International
  • Jane Cocking – Humanitarian Director, Oxfam
  • Dr. Simon Mardel (OBE) – consultant in Emergency Medicine
  • Andy Wheatley – Humanitarian Adviser, DFID
  • Ligita Kondrataviciute – Human resources administrator, GOAL UK
  • Dr. Shazaad Ahmad – Doctors Worldwide
  • Juliano Fiori - Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Save the Children
  • Murray McCullough – EU special representative, UN, UNDPKO in Timor
  • William Hamden – Director, Karen Hilltribes Trust
  • David Trott – Director and Project Consultant, Impact Charity Advisors Ltd

Past events 2015

A Quest for Solidarity in a Fractured Europe

15 December 2015

A roundtable discussion that included lectures and commentaries from speakers and an engaged discussion with the audience.


  • Dr Tanja Müller - Senior Lecturer in International Development
  • Dr Haytham Alhamwi - Managing Director of Rethink: Rebuild
  • Yasser Al-Jessem - Syrian refugee and volunteer at Rethink: Rebuild
  • Professor Kevin Clements - Director of New Zealand National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago
  • Professor Sara De Vido - Assistant Professor of International Law at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Dr Müller has written two blogs for Policy@Manchester  

HCRI Disaster Dialogue series with JC Gaillard and Maureen Fordham

10 December 2015

The Disaster Dialogue series, hosted by HCRI, is a regular multi-disciplinary forum that responds to the urgent challenges posed by disaster events, including their interface with climate change and sustainable development.

This seminar with JC Gaillard (Associate Professor at The University of Auckland) and Maureen Fordham (Professor of Gender and Disaster Resilience at The University of Northumbria) explored the role of gender and indigenous people knowledge and systems in dealing with vulnerability and resilience to disasters, drawing linkages to power relations, cultures, marginality and social exclusion.

Meet the author - Michela Wrong talks about her debut novel, Borderlines

26 November 2015

Award-winning journalist Michela Wrong’s books on contemporary Africa have always spoken to both general readers and experts in the field. Borderlines, her first novel, is both a compelling courtroom drama and a gritty, aromatic evocation of place, inspired by events in the Horn of Africa.

This event was jointly hosted by the Humanitarianism and Development Research Group and the Postcolonial Reading Group.

HCRI Inaugural Lecture - Juliano Fiori

23 November 2015

Juliano Fiori, Head of Humanitarian Affairs at Save the Children UK which has been conducting research on the emergence of the ‘humanitarian effectiveness agenda’, on the politics behind it, and on alternative definitions of effectiveness. The project involves seven field studies – on responses to the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia, conflict in Syria, slow onset food crises in Niger, urban violence in Honduras and Guatemala, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, conflict, separation and blockade in the Occupied Palestine Territories, and floods in Nepal, India and Bangladesh – which offer insight into different understandings of effectiveness, how they are shaped, and what they say about how current humanitarian practices are perceived by different groups.

Juliano delivered a lecture on The Echo Chamber: Results, Management, and the Humanitarian Effectiveness Agenda

The oldest war crime in the book? Humanitarian aid under fire

11 November 2015

Hospital and medical structures around the world are under fire today. Did the airstrikes on the MSF Kunduz hospital change anything? How do the laws of war apply today? Can the humanitarian campaigns led by the Red Cross Movement and MSF make a difference?

Professor Bertrand Taithe led the discussion with a panel of experts on this topic

Additional reading

HCRI Disaster Dialogue series, with David Alexander and Kathy Oldham

November 2015

The Disaster Dialogue series, hosted by HCRI, is a regular multi-disciplinary forum that responds to the urgent challenges posed by disaster events, including their interface with climate change and sustainable development.

HCRI Speaker Series, with guest speakers from Children of Uruzgan (CoU) Programme at Save the Children

26 October 2015

Speakers from Children of Uruzgan spoke about their work. Speakers included Yasamin Alttahir, Project and Research Manager, Lynne Benson, Head of International Programs, and Abdul Basir, Technical Advisor.

HCRI Speaker Series, with guest speaker Romea Bruegger

5 October 2015

Romea Bruegger is a HCRI alumni and spoke about her career so far.

Evening public roundtable with Jane Cocking: Partnerships & Principles, Addressing the Global Humanitarian Challenge

30 Septembers 2015

Jane Cocking, Humanitarian Director for Oxfam GB, lead a debate on the options for addressing the growing levels of humanitarian need in the coming decades.

Professor Tony Redmond OBE: International Crisis - How Manchester has helped shape the world’s response to humanitarian emergencies

22 September 2015

Manchester has played an integral role in developing responses to emergency situations; from the birth of “casualty” departments during the construction of the ship canal, to the first specialist fracture clinic being set in Ancoats Hospital.

International Conference: A Quest for Humanitarian Effectiveness?

14-16 September 2015

Debating the Evolution of Humanitarian Action: History, Practice, Politics and Performance

This conference, organised by HCRI and the Humanitarian Affairs Team within Save the Children UK, was officially associated to the World Humanitarian Summit, within the theme of humanitarian effectiveness, and is also formally linked to the International Humanitarian Studies Association. It reflected on the evolution and consequence of existing approaches to understanding and improving humanitarian effectiveness. It also explored effect of humanitarian action that tend not to be captured by the conventional discourse on effectiveness. This conferences used the theme of humanitarian effectiveness of frame a critical and constructive interdisciplinary conversation on the politics and practice of humanitarian action.

Fourth Annual Conference of the International Association for Peace and Conflict Studies: Inequality, Peace and Conflict

10-11 September 2015

Inequality and the consequences of capital are back on the agenda of international relations, as well as in the public eye. Various forms of inequality have long been related to peace, in structural terms as the root and causal factor in violence, or specifically in economic and modernisation terms, as necessary or development competition, and material advancement.

Between Joyce and Remembrance - Film Screening and Director Q&A

17 March 2015

Between Joyce and Remembrance is a hard-hitting documentary about truth and reconciliation in South Africa, focusing on the family of the tortured, poisoned and murdered student activist, Siphiwo Mtimkulu.

HCRI Speaker Series with Richard Conibere

5 March 2015

In the early 2000s Richard worked at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone, managing and researching the 7,000 statements on wartime experiences that spanned the conflict from 1991 to 2000. In this Speaker Series Richard discussed his legacy work with the TRC, mapping the 40,000 violations to present an interactive history of the conflict.

Careers in Humanitarianism 2015

6 February 2015

The third Careers in Humanitarianism Day, hosted by the Humanitarianism and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI).

Afghanistan in Transition: Humanitarian Action in a Fragile Context

5 February 2015

Afghanistan is currently going through political, economic, security and humanitarian transitions. This roundtable discussion focused on the ongoing humanitarian needs of the country and on the ability of the humanitarian community to respond. Afghanistan has confronted humanitarian actors with a series of dilemmas and challenges. This roundtable offered an opportunity to take stock of past challenges and scope out future ones.


  • Kevin Davies (MBE) is Emeritus Professor at the University of South Wales. He is the author of numerous publications focusing on disaster nursing and emergency preparedness. A trained nurse, he has been a member of both the Territorial and Regular Army and, as a Reservist, has been deployed to many areas of the world, including Afghanistan.
  • Vickie Hawkins is the Executive Director of MSF UK. In February 2014 Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) published a research report 'Between Rhetoric and Reality: the ongoing struggle to access healthcare in Afghanistan' that reflects on progress made as well as the ongoing medical humanitarian needs of the Afghani people, including the serious and often deadly risks that people are forced to take to seek both basic and emergency care.
  • Boris Mahammad Fawad is an MA student at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI), The University of Manchester, studying Humanitarianism and Conflict Response. He grew up in Afghanistan and has worked as an interpreter for the British Army in Afghanistan.

The event was chaired by Roger Mac Ginty, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI). The panel of experts reflected back on more than a decade of international aid and investment and discussed what is next for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: The transition - public exhibition

John Rylands Library, 1 December 2014 to mid-February 2015

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)'s photography exhibition, in collaboration with documentary photographers Andrea Bruce and Mikhail Galustov, presented a series of highly evocative photographs capturing personal stories from MSF's Afghanistan projects to highlight the serious ongoing problems of accessing basic health care in Afghanistan.

The exhibition was on display in collaboration with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI). It was intended to inform and support policy and decision makers, and foster increased understanding and debate within the field. HCRI provides a centre of excellence for practitioners in emergencies and conflicts, delivering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The exhibition was e on display at the John Rylands Library in The Atrium Gallery, from 1 December 2014 to mid-February 2015.

Read MSF's accompanying report 'Between Rhetoric and Reality: The Ongoing Struggle to Access Healthcare in Afghanistan'

For images from the opening of the exhibition, you can read our blog post about the event.

Past events 2014

HCRI Speaker Series - Rising From Ashes

2 December 2014

The film screening of Rising From Ashes was introduced by HCRI alumni Sam Garbett and was followed by a Q&A with Rony Cohen who worked with Rwandan cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti in founding the Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Academy. Cohen's work for the Rising From Ashes foundation supports the on-going success of the Academy, fulfilling Adrien's dream of 'giving back' to his country.

Book Launch - Dr Tanja Müller's Legacies of Socialist Solidarity

11 November 2014

Dr Müller’s new book Legacies of Socialist Solidarity – East Germany in Mozambique was published in August. At the book launch, on Tuesday 11.11.2014, Dr Tanja Müller (HCRI and IDPM) spoke about her book, followed by a response from Professor Barry Munslow (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) and Professor Phil Woodhouse (Institute for Development Policy and Management, Manchester).

Understanding Ebola - Tri-Institute Lecture

6 November 2014

Held in partnership with the Brooke World Poverty Institute (BWPI) and the Institute for Development and Policy Management (IDPM), the 2014 Tri-Institute Lecture featured speakers working at the forefront of the current Ebola Response in West Africa. It brought together anthropologists, medical doctors and humanitarian workers to critically reflect on progress to date and what more can be done.


Vickie Hawkins is the Executive Director of MSF UK. She joined MSF in 1998 after 3 years working in the Emergencies Department at Oxfam. She has undertaken successive missions in a range of countries as a Project Coordinator, Head of Mission and Head of Programmes, before starting her current role in May 2014.

Mukesh Kapila (CBE) is Professor of Global Health and Humanitarianism in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences (FMHS) and Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI). Mukesh has extensive experience in the policy and practice of international development, including his time as Special Advisor to the UN and Director at WHO. 

Ann Kelly joined the University of Exeter as a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology in 2012. Prior to this she worked at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Ann's work focuses on the relevance of anthropological insights and methods for public health.

Tony Redmond (OBE) is the Deputy Director of HCRI and Director of the UK International Trauma Register (UKIETR). Professor Redmond has led medical teams to sudden onset disasters, complex emergencies and conflicts for over twenty five years. He is currently part of the team coordinating the national medical response to Ebola in conjunction with the Department for International Development of the UK Government.

Fernanda Falero Cusano can no longer attend the event as she has been deployed to work in the crisis. Fernanda is an Anthropologist and Health Promotion Advisor at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Spain. She has more than 11 years of humanitarian fieldwork experience working with emergency medical humanitarian organisations in various countries and is also completing her MPhil at HCRI.

Lecture video

HCRI Speaker Series - Bernard Manyena

4 November 2014

Bernard Manyena, Lecturer in Disaster Management spoke about his own experiences, his career path, research areas of interest, and links with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, Civil Contingencies and Resilience Unit.

HCRI Speaker Series - Jane Cocking, Humanitarian Director of Oxfam 

7 October 2014

Kicking off HCRI's events programme of the 2014/15 academic year, Humanitarian Director of Oxfam Jane Cocking gave a talk to a packed room. Talking about her career, the operational considerations of Oxfam and her thoughts on where the humanitarian sector was progressing, Jane then took part in a thought-provoking and engaging Q&A session.

Third Annual Conference of the International Association for Peace and Conflict Studies: Shaping Peace - Local Infrastructures and State Formation

11-12 September 2014

September saw the commencement of our annual Peace and Conflict Studies conference. Focusing on the role of local infrastructure and state formation in shaping peacebuilding, the conference featured keynote speeches from Professor Thania Paffenholz and Professor Keith Krause.

Recordings of the keynotes coming soon.

Careers in Humanitarianism 

19 May 2014

In May, students of HCRI held a Careers in Humanitarianism day or current, past and prospective University of Manchester students. Featuring presentations and discussions from leading figures in the humanitarian sector, members of HCRI, HCRI alumni and The University of Manchester Careers Service, the event explored the different aspects of working within the sector.

The Creation of Non-Warring Peace Systems as a Form of Peacebuilding

3 April 2014

War is not always present in human societies. Peace systems, defined as groups of neighbouring societies that do not make war on each other, exist on different continents.

In this workshop, Douglas P. Fry delivered a lecture comparing three peace systems—the Upper Xingu River basin tribes of Brazil, the Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York State, and the European Union—highlight six features hypothesized to be important in the creation and maintenance of intersocietal peace:

  • an overarching social identity
  • interconnections among subgroups
  • interdependence
  • non warring values
  • symbolism and ceremonies that reinforce peace, and
  • superordinate institutions for conflict management.

The existence of peace systems demonstrates that it is possible to create social systems free of war.

This talk was followed by an afternoon debate examining the implications for peacebuilding.

HCRI Medical Lecture Series - Medicine and the Humanities (a match made in HCRI?)

2 April 2014

In this first annual HCRI Medical Lecture, HCRI Honorary Professors Richard Williams OBE and Honorary Professor Adrian Sutton explored how an understanding of the Humanities has affected their work in Medicine, and how the limitations of Medical practice and theory can often be understood and overcome by reaching out to fields beyond. Their presentations can be found below:

Their presentations were then reflected upon by Dr Anisa Jafar, Dr Amy Hughes and Professor Tony Redmond, and an in-depth Q&A session was held thereafter.

'Does the idea of imperialism help us to understand contemporary conflicts?'

19 March 2014

Organised under the Peace and Conflict North Network, Professor Alex Callinicos (Kings College London)gave a seminar paper presentation which examined how an understanding of imperialism ties into our understanding of the causes contemporary conflicts.

HCRI Speaker Series - Selin Neilson

19 March 2014

Selin Neilson gave our third Speaker Series seminar of semester two, in which she examined the plight of Syrian refugees living in Turkey. After giving a brief history of the country of the region and how this has influenced events in Syria, Selin examined the efforts to ensure the continuing education of children inside the refugee camps in Turkey and how issues such as language learning interacts with hostilities and mistrust between the refugees and those people already living in areas of Turkey affected. Finally, she explored how the refugee situation has been affected by the home and international politics of Turkey.

Urban Risk and Humanitarian Response

5 - 7 March 2014

As part of the 11th International Conference on Urban Health, HCRI organised Urban Risk and Humanitarian Response - an integrated conference co-organised with Global Urban Research Centre (GURC). The conference explored areas including stress in the city and mental health, climate change and urban insecurities, and urban violence and conflict.

For an itinerary of sessions and speakers, see the conference programme.

You can find live tweets from the conference on the HCRI Twitter feed (search '#ICUH2014'), or longer summaries from each day on the HCRI News blog.

Global Health: 2015 and Beyond

5 - 7 March 2014

As part of the 11th International Conference on Urban Health, HCRI organised Global Health: 2015 and Beyond - an integrated conference co-organised by Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC). The conference focused on knowledge and evidence that has been accumulated in different development settings through the implementation of MDG initiatives and explore the emerging agenda beyond 2015.

For an itinerary of sessions and speakers, see the conference programme.

You can find live tweets from the conference on the HCRI Twitter feed (search '#ICUH2014'), or longer summaries from each day on the HCRI News blog.

HCRI Speaker Series - Dr Christine Ryan

5 March 2014

Dr Christine Ryan joined us as our second speaker in our Semester 2 Speaker Series for 2013/14, leading a discussion based on her research into the experiences of child soldiers in the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Examining the self-confessed motivations of previous child soldiers for joining , Christine contrasted these experiences with the common understandings held by NGO workers in the region which often victimised and denied the agency of children and their capability of making rational choices based on a political awareness that originated from their own personal experiences of war.

HCRI Speaker Series - Ibrahim Olabi

5 February 2014

We were delighted to welcome Ibrahim Olabi from the Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP) as the first speaker in our Semester 2 Speaker Series for 2013/14.

The aim of the SLDP is to formulate and deliver a number of educational programmes focused on international law which will help the Syrian people set the foundations for a future Syria. Ibrahim is a final year Law student at the University Of Manchester and founder of the SLDP. During summer 2013, he spent almost the entire summer in Aleppo providing training seminars near the front lines. In this Speaker Series Ibrahim talked about the work of the SLDP and his first-hand experiences in Syria.

University of Manchester Professorial Inaugural Lecture - Professor Mukesh Kapila

3 February 2014

Professor Mukesh Kapila is Professor of Global Health and Humanitarianism, in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences (FMHS) and Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI).

Professor Kapila delivered his lecture Can health be a bridge for peace, in a fractured world? on Monday 3 February 2014. Lecture footage to follow.

Past events 2013

HCRI speaker series - Dr Amy Hughes

4 December 2013

Dr Amy Hughes joined us this year as our new Clinical Lecturer in Emergency Response. Amy has extensive knowledge and experience of emergency medicine and the field of global health more generally.

In this Speaker Series lecture she reflects on her own experiences in the field and the lessons that can be learned for humanitarian interventions.

Please email to reserve your place at this event.

HCRI speaker series - Dr Emilie Combaz - Reflections on past and present research

6 November

Emilie joined HCRI as a Research Associate in 2012. Her PhD, awarded in 2011, examined how the issue of torture was handled at the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organization of American States from 1945 to 2009. Her current research interests are in critical human rights, autonomy and collective action and she recently returned from fieldwork in Palestine.

In this Speaker Series event Emilie discussed her previous research on torture as well as her current work in Palestine.

HCRI Inaugural Lecture - Professor Roger Mac Ginty

23 October

We are delighted to host Professor Roger Mac Ginty's inaugural lecture at HCRI on Wednesday 23 October 2013.

Roger joined HCRI in the last academic year and led on the delivery of HCRI’s first peacebuilding conference New Frontiers for Peacebuilding: Hybridity, Governance, and Local Agency in September 2012. Based on the success of this event Roger launched the annual conference series, the second conference of which Power and Peacebuilding was held in September 2013.

Retrak Seminar Series on Leadership in International Development: Rob Williams, CEO, Warchild

15 October

HCRI is pleased to partner with Retrak and the Brooks World Poverty Institute to present this seminar series on Leadership in International Development.

The third in the series, this seminar will be presented by Rob Williams, CEO, Warchild

3.30pm - 5.30pm, 15 October 2013

Room 3.213 University Place, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

For map and more information see seminar poster or email:

HCRI speaker series - Dr Anisa Nasir

2 October

A “Humanitarian” at the starting block: Which race to join? When? How?... And Why?

Anisa was awarded her MBChB(e) by the University of Manchester in 2008. Since then she has followed an academic clinical training route including gaining a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Liverpool and a rural placement in South Africa. She is now back in Manchester as an Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF) in Emergency Medicine with HCRI and studies a part-time Masters in Public Health.

In this Speaker Series event Anisa reflected on what has led her to the work she does now and the questions raised when entering this field of work.

HCRI Conference: Power and Peacebuilding

12-13 September

Following the success of the HCRI conference New Frontiers for Peacebuilding: Hybridity, Governance, and Local Agency in September 2012, we were pleased to present this conference in September 2013.

The programme is still available and you can find updates on the conference on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

You can also visit the Peacebuilding journal Facebook page and the International Association for Peace and Conflict Studies IAPCS to keep in touch with fellow scholars.

We will be uploading short interviews with our speakers on the theme of power and peacebuilding in the coming weeks.

18th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine

28-31 May

HCRI's Senior Lecturer in Global Health, Dr Darren Walter was Chair of the organising committee for this large scale conference held in Manchester on 28 - 31 May 2013.

Retrak Seminar Series on Leadership in International Development: Terina Keene, CEO, Railway Children

15 May

HCRI is pleased to partner with Retrak and the Brooks World Poverty Institute to present this seminar series on Leadership in International Development.

The second in the series, this seminar was presented by Terina Keene, CEO, Railway Children.

MSF Book Launch Event hosted by HCRI

22 April

HCRI hosted this joint event with MSF, to launch two dynamic books: “In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid, and “Dilemmas, Challenges, and Ethics of Humanitarian Action”, both edited by Caroline Abu-Sada.

Getting Away with Murder: Genocide & Politics

15 April

HCRI collaborated with the Manchester Salon to host this public discussion looking at the politics relating to genocide. If you weren't able to attend the event watch it now online.

The event was chaired by HCRI's Executive Director Professor James Thompson, with contributions from HCRI Director Dr Rony Brauman, HCRI's Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs Professor Mukesh Kapila, and The University of Nottingham's Dr Vanessa Pupavac, Lecturer in International Relations.

Retrak Seminar Series on Leadership in International Development: Matthew Frost, CEO, Tearfund

19 March

HCRI is pleased to partner with Retrak and the Brooks World Poverty Institute to present this seminar series on Leadership in International Development.

The first in the series, this seminar was presented by Matthew Frost, CEO, Tearfund.

Joint workshop - Humanitarians and corpses: NGOs and the disposal of dead bodies in situations of mass violence, war and genocide

18 March

9am - 5pm, Room E2, Reynold Building, 18 March 2013

This workshop was a collaboration between the EU funded Research Programme “Corpses of mass violence and genocide” and HCRI. It considered how humanitarians engage with and dispose of corpses in situations of mass violence, war with civilian victims, and genocide.

As a preliminary, methodical workshop, this gathering brought together both experienced humanitarians and social scientists. It addressed simple but fundamental questions:

  • What is the fate of corpses under NGO responsibility?
  • Do procedures exist within NGOs to prescribe the treatment of dead bodies?
  • What is the true risk to the health of the living from the unburied dead?
  • Are the corpses given back to the family? In which condition (clothes, coffins, etc.)?
  • What happens when there is no family? Do humanitarian bury the corpses themselves? With or without religious rituals? Have NGOs in some cases been involved in the exchange of corpses?
  • Can differences be noticed in the treatment of corpses in various situations: sporadic events linked to civil wars, long lasting political violence or mass atrocities occurring in situation of genocides or natural disasters?

HCRI Public Lecture - In/Tangible Boundaries: In and Out of Place, Professor Carolyn Nordstrom

11 February

Professor Carolyn Nordstrom from the University of Notre Dame delivered this public lecture

Visit Prof Nordstrom's profile

HCRI Masterclass - The idea of romanticizing vs enabling the local in peacebuilding run by Professor Carolyn Nordstrom

11 February

Professor Carolyn Nordstrom from the University of Notre Dame delivered this workshop

Visit Prof Nordstrom's profile

HCRI Speaker Series Fragile development, precarious peace with Dan Smith

30 January

Dan Smith (Secretary General of International Alert) presented the third seminar in the HCRI’s Speaker Series for 2012/13.

Focus: The idea of an orderly progression from something called peacebuilding to something called development is misleading. It is based more on the shape and mandate of the international institutions involved than on the needs of countries and communities. But recent discussions of fragility and of peacebuilding, tussling with the question of how best to support the emergence of peaceful states, have unearthed some important insights and findings, which highlight issues and flaws in the general idea of development that most donors and development agencies operate with. Development and peacebuilding are difficult processes. They only work when driven by national and local interests, but there are many countries where precisely such interests have more to gain in the short-term by blocking peaceful development. Outsiders need both clarity and humility in figuring out how best to give their support.

Dan Smith is the Secretary General of International Alert (since 2003). He was Chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Fund’s Advisory Group in 2010-11, Director of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (1993-2001), Director of the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam (1991-3) and Chairman of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (1992-2006). He is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and contributions to anthologies, along with several books including The State of the World Atlas (9th edition forthcoming, January 2013). He blogs on peace, development and international politics at Dan Smith's blog

Joint conference with Islamic Relief: Islam and Conflict Transformation

24 January

The conference was jointly organised by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) at the University of Manchester, and the Birmingham based INGO Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). For further information, please see the following links:

Past events 2012

Tri-Institute Lecture Humanitarian Intervention and US Foreign Policy: Why Libya? Why not Syria? Tom Weiss

26 November

BWPI, HCRI and IDPM are leading centres of research and teaching at The University of Manchester. Working in the closely related fields of poverty, conflict and development, we explore and analyse the complex and difficult areas of inequality, peace and progress.

This lecture was the second in a series of such events and aimed to provide a forum in which these issues can be considered and discussed.

Our guest speaker was Thomas G. Weiss and the lecture was chaired by Professor Keith Brown, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

Henry Mayhew 200

23 November

The programme for the Henry Mayhew bicentenary gathering sponsored by HCRI at The University of Manchester comprised 3 successive panel sessions:

  • London Labour and the London Poor (Panel Chair: Prof. Karel Williams)
  • Mayhew as Author (Panel Chair: Dr Julie-Marie Strange)
  • Visualising Mayhew (Panel Chair: Prof. Bertrand Taithe)

Visit Mayhew at 200 for details of the full programme

HCRI Speaker Series seminar in collaboration with MICRA: Ageing, Global Health and Humanitarian Crisis

21 November

HCRI collaborated with MICRA to deliver this seminar on Ageing, Global Health and Humanitarian Crisis


  • Chair: Professor Chris Phillipson (Social gerontology)
  • Professor Tony Redmond (HCRI) Elderly people: the forgotten vulnerable
  • Pascale Fritsch (Emergency Health and Nutrition Advisor, HelpAge International) The impact of humanitarian crisis on the health and nutrition of older people
  • Malcom Rodgers (Emergency Policy Advisor, HelpAge International) The neglected generation: the impact of displacement on older people#

HCRI conference: Humanitarianism: Past, Present & Future?

8-10 November

While the field of humanitarian studies is growing rapidly, it remains unclear if and in what way the research offered by historians and social scientists enters into the reflections of practitioners and policy makers.

This 2.5 day conference explored the past, present and future of humanitarianism, emphasising links between scholars and practitioners in order to forge better understanding of the humanitarian field. It provided a platform for mutual reflection by showcasing recent historical and social science scholarship, whilst also involving practitioners as respondents to such work, so as to better inform both contemporary scholarship and the practice of humanitarian intervention.

Final conference programme to follow together with short video interviews with key speakers and delegates.

HCRI Speaker Series Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo; State Violence in Peacetime: the forgotten angle

24 October

Abi Dymond from the Omega Research Foundation presented the first seminar in HCRI's speaker series for 2012/13 which will tackle both of the following issues:

  • Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Voices of the People and NGO Responses
  • State Violence in Peacetime - the forgotten angle: Security, Policing and Weapons in the Modern World

Abi graduated with an MA in Development Studies from IDPM, The University of Manchester, in 2009. Since then she has engaged in both research and practice in the field of conflict and human rights. In this Speaker Series event, Abi reflected on her previous research and discusses her current work with Omega.

HCRI public lecture: A humanitarian surge and its demise, 1997-2003 - a personal account - Clare Short

26 September

The annual HCRI lecture series is designed to provide a public forum for engagement and debate about such broad reaching humanitarian issues.

We were delighted to welcome Clare Short as our esteemed speaker for this, our inaugural, annual public lecture.

HCRI conference: New Frontiers for Peacebuilding: Hybridity, Governance, and Local Agency

13-14 September

New Frontiers for Peacebuilding conference programme. This conference inaugurated a new academic journal Peacebuilding, and a new policy-scholar network, the International Association for Peace and Conflict Studies.

You can also follow the journal twitter feed

Joint event with Dept of Social Anthropology Biopolitics and Humanitarian Citizenship Workshop

16-17 May

This workshop provided an in-depth intellectual exchange on theory and practice in relation to humanitarian citizenship and forms of biopolitical control and exploited the opportunity of having Professor Steven Robins here in Manchester as a visiting Hallsworth Fellow. A distinguished scholar in the field, Prof Robins is based in the department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the University of Stellenbosch.

For further information about the event and any outputs contact HCRI's Dr Tanja Müller.

Joint event with Dept of Social Anthropology Student Masterclass in Biopolitics and Humanitarian Citizenship

16 May

This masterclass gave PhD and MA students from the department of social anthropology, HCRI and related fields an opportunity to engage in debate and discussion with the speakers of the above workshop.

Joint event with Centre for Global Health Policy (The University of Sussex) Towards an International Political Sociology of Health and Medicine, The University of Sussex, Brighton

11 May

This workshop explored new avenues of research emerging and considered the following questions: What can the study of health and medicine tell us about the workings of international relations, security and global governance? What can an international approach offer in terms of advancing the sociology of health and medicine? What are the most pressing questions now in the study of health and medicine, and what questions arise specifically when they are approached as a matter of international political sociology?

For further information about the event and any outputs contact HCRI's Dr Alison Howell.

Past events 2011

MSF book launch: Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed

8 December

This event brought together speakers from MSF and HCRI to discuss and debate the issues raised in this bold new book.

HCRI film night: Human Terrain

15 November

Free film screening with expert panel discussion

HCRI hosted this free public screening of the film Human Terrain which was followed by an expert panel discussion, Q&A, and a drinks reception.

'Access for All': Incorporating Disability into Emergency Humanitarian Assistance 

11 November

This seminar explored disability and rehabilitation during war and humanitarian crises. Keynote speaker, Antony Duttine, Rehabilitation and Advocacy Officer for Handicap International lead this event which had a particular focus on Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa.

Experimenting with leadership: trials and tribulations - Dr Mukesh Kapila, Under Secretary General, National Society and Knowledge Development, IFRC

1 November

This lecture celebrated a pioneering collaboration between The University of Manchester (via HCRI) and The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which will see us deliver practical and affordable online postgraduate teaching in global health to the humanitarian sector around the world.

PhD masterclass by Dr Alex de Waal: Researching in areas affected by Political Violence and Humanitarian Crises

14 October

Dr. Alex de Waal supported an informal and candid discussion on his experiences of conducting research in areas affected by violence, conflict and natural disasters. Drawing on his breadth of experience in researching war, famine and disease across several African states, Prof de Waal explored the ethical, methodological and political issues with which researchers are confronted.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at Tufts University. During 2009-11 he served as senior advisor to the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and Program Director at the Social Science Research Council. His academic research has focused on issues of famine, conflict and human rights in Africa.

Tri-institute lecture 'Evidence Based Peacekeeping in Darfur' - Dr Alex de Waal

13 October

BWPI, HCRI, and IDPM hosted the inaugural Tri-Institute Lecture on 13 October 2011 "Evidence Based Peacekeeping in Darfur" delivered by internationally renowned guest speaker Alex de Waal.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at Tufts University. During 2009-11 he served as senior advisor to the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and Program Director at the Social Science Research Council. His academic research has focused on issues of famine, conflict and human rights in Africa.

BWPI, HCRI and IDPM are leading centres of research and teaching at The University of Manchester. Working in the closely related fields of poverty, conflict and development, they explore and analyse the complex and difficult areas of inequality, peace and progress. This lecture is the first in a series of such events and aims to provide a forum in which these issues can be considered and discussed.

Non-western donors and aid recipients: exploring 'hybridity' beyond the 'liberal peace'

22 June

A joint workshop delivered by HCRI and Peace Studies, University of Bradford, this event explored the interaction of non-western donors (including but not exclusive to BRIC) and local aid recipients through case study examples and critical engagement with the concept of 'hybridity'. Recent work on hybridity has focused on the interaction of liberal peace interventions and local realities - this workshop sought to expand and apply this to include an analysis of non-western donors in war-torn and fragile states to further "conceptualise" the 'variable geometry' of peace".

Led by Dr Jen Peterson (HCRI) and Dr Mandy Turner (Peace Studies, Bradford), guest speakers included Dr Roger Mac Ginty and Dr Stefanie Kappler (St Andrews), Drs Macaulay, Lewis and Buxton (Peace Studies, Bradford), Dr. Ayla Göl (Aberystwyth) and Dr. Eli Stamnes (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs).

The demise of the humanitarian: the need for dialogue in reclaiming the humanitarian space

16 June

Organised by MA students this conference addressed the most important current and widely debated issues faced by academics and practitioners in the field of humanitarianism. Speakers included HCRI's Director Dr Rony Brauman and Executive Director Prof Bertrand Taithe, who were joined by Dr Hugo Slim (CforC and University of Oxford), Dr Christopher Cushings (University of Bradford) and Dr Stephen Hopgood (SOAS University of London). Panel discussions were complemented by group work sessions on disaster response.

ESRC seminar - Trajectories of Displacement

24, 25 February

Following on from previous HCRI-ESRC seminars including ‘Who are the humanitarians now?’ and ‘Conflict, intervention and the politics of knowledge’ this interdisciplinary seminar addressed key issues relating to population movement and displacement in the modern world. It reflected the fact that displacement arises not only from various kinds of disaster, including violent conflict, but can equally be grounded in modern aspirations and global opportunities.

Key topics for discussion included: understanding the trajectories and narratives of ‘people on the move’ in different settings; encounters between refugees and non-refugees, the latter including humanitarian aid workers and other civil society actors; and the resources, material and non-material, that are available in different settings and which may indeed in some circumstances be the ultimate reason for displacement.

Chaired by Professor Peter Gatrell and Dr Tanja Müller, the seminar included a keynote presentation from Prof Peter Loizos, input from academics and practioners, and a drama workshop with refugees residing in the Manchester area.

Past events 2010

ESRC seminar - Conflict, Intervention and the Politics of Knowledge

25 - 26 November

Areas affected by conflict invariably find themselves at the centre of practices of knowledge production as a vast array of experts attempt to understand and explain the situation whilst developing appropriate responses to alleviate suffering, mitigate tensions and search for peaceful solutions. Knowledge about the causes and consequences of conflict is produced through a variety of sources and this knowledge then informs and circumscribes possible responses to the conflict, enabling certain forms of intervention whilst rendering others unthinkable. Knowledge is also produced, circulated and disseminated through the training of those individuals and organisations intervening in the conflict, such as militaries, security personnel and NGOs. The transfer of knowledge from the international community to the local population forms another integral component of many interventions, with various organisations devising strategies aimed at developing the political, economic and social foundations for post-conflict recovery (e.g. World Bank grants to community entrepreneurs, UNESCO education projects, human rights training, amongst numerous other examples).

Chaired by Drs Jenny Peterson and Alison Howell, with panel presentations from Dr John Heathershaw, Dr Vanessa Pupavac, and Professor Alan Smith, this conference brought together many PhD students and early career academics to reflect on these concepts.

ESRC event - Darfur Diaries: Message from Home

27 - 28 May

Public film screening followed by post-film discussion.

ESRC seminar - Darfur: Assessing the Assessments

26 February

The ‘iconic’ status of Darfur raises important questions for how local, regional, national and international forces intersect to produce knowledge about complex events. Assessments of the Darfur crisis have been used to demand humanitarian intervention, to defend inaction, to campaign for legal redress and to justify political, social and military interventions. They have been produced by political campaign groups in the US, INGOs in Sudan, politicians in Khartoum and circulated within rebel groups in the Darfur region. They have fed into peace negotiations and arguably worked both to facilitate and stall their progress.

Chaired by Professor Steve Reyna with panels comprising Sudanese academics and leading practitioners, the seminar evaluated current understandings of the causes, consequences, and humanitarian interventions of the Darfurian situation roughly since 1980, with an emphasis on the current situation. Specifically, it sought to appraise prevailing historical and social science accounts of the causes and consequences of the conflict as well as evaluations of the efficacy of medical, political, and economic humanitarian interventions in the conflict.

Presented papers

ESRC event - Emergency in Haiti: Where Medics, Missionaries and Militaries Collide 

26 February

HCRI's first public event. 

In the days following the earthquake in Haiti, the lead stories on our television screens changed tone. From the original focus on mass destruction and human suffering, the narrative shifted to the 'lootings' and civil violence, the undelivered supplies sitting at Port-au-Prince airport, and the problematic role of certain organizations such as the US military and church groups. Indeed, the story moved from a tale of vital needs to one of security and assistance malfunction.

With this in mind, this public seminar brought together influential speakers (including Professor Tony Redmond and Dr Rony Brauman) who have been involved in coordination and rescue efforts both in Haiti and from abroad to consider whether the above shift in focus was warranted.

ESRC seminar - Assessing Humanitarianism: Disaster and Data Dissemination

In convening this seminar HCRI adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to the evaluation of humanitarian aid. Exploring previous and current approaches we reviewed what various assessments entail, what they were aiming to measure, and highlighted what these methodologies can reveal or conceal. Case studies were utilised to provide a context for discussions.

Chaired by HCRI Director Professor Tony Redmond, the programme included input from both theoreticians and practitioners.

Speaker Slides

The following speakers kindly agreed to share their presentations from this ESRC funded seminar. These presentations reflect the views of the speakers - those interested in exploring the content in more detail should approach the speaker directly.

Past events 2009

ESRC seminar - Who are the Humanitarians Now?

24 - 25 November

There are many examples where agencies have been forced, required or felt compelled to leave a conflict or disaster zone – but efforts labelled by some as ‘humanitarian’ continue. Humanitarian and relief organisations question when they should keep working in spite of government obstacles, political pressure or manipulation of their effort. Similarly governments are increasingly asking when do international agencies overstep their remit.

This two-day event was chaired by Rony Brauman, Director of the HCRI, ex President of MSF, and Director of Research at the MSF Foundation in Paris. It offered a platform to articulate and debate these challenges and involved practitioners and scholars of contemporary and historical humanitarian crises. The seminar included keynote speeches, research papers and master classes and was aimed at students, practitioners and academics with an interest in humanitarianism and contemporary conflict.

Speaker Slides

The following speakers kindly agreed to share their presentations from this ESRC funded seminar. These presentations reflect the views of the speakers - those interested in exploring the content in more detail should approach the speaker directly. HCRI is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are entirely those of our guest speakers.