Seminar Series: Humanitarian Ethics, the COVID Crisis and Black Lives Matter by Hugo Slim, PhD

Monday, Oct 26, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Hugo Slim, PhD
Humanitarian Ethics, the COVID Crisis and Black Lives Matter
Passcode:  Slim

The art of managing a crisis well is to contain an emergency and build back better. This means using short-term measures and people’s new crisis consciousness to shape long-term improvements. This seminar looks at how the twin crises of COVID and racial injustice have shown a clear path to structural improvements in the ethics and practice of humanitarian aid. It will examine the key ethical problems that have been exposed by each crisis, and the clear calls for new ways of working in humanitarian aid which emerged (or re-emerged) in each crisis. Finally, it will make an initial assessment of the likelihood of real and sustained change in humanitarian ethics and practice. Will the “humanitarian system” really change or simply revert to business as usual?  

Hugo Slim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) at the Blavatnik School of Government.

Between 2015 and 2020, he was Head of Policy and Humanitarian Diplomacy at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, where he led humanitarian policymaking and diplomacy on protracted conflict, migration, internal displacement, urban warfare, new weapons and climate and conflict. He also coordinated the ICRC’s delegation to the United Nations in New York.

Before joining the Blavatnik School, Hugo held positions at the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University, and visiting positions at the University of Oregon and the Graduate Institute in Geneva. He has held operational and policy positions with Save the Children, the United Nations and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and been a board member for Oxfam GB and the Catholic Agency for International Development (CAFOD).

Hugo’s research focuses on an analysis of the 21st century battlefield from outer space to intimate space and its implications for future humanitarian policy. It is commissioned and funded by the ICRC, British Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and German Red Cross.

His latest books are Humanitarian Ethics: A Guide to the Morality of Aid in War and Disasters in 2015, which thinks through the applied ethics of humanitarian action, and Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War in 2007, which analyses the causes and ethics of civilian suffering in war.

In 2001, the MSc on Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University, led by Hugo with Nabeel Hamdi, won a Queen’s Prize for Higher Education for its ‘exceptional innovation in the education of humanitarian professionals’.