Humanitarian accountability: stuck in the slow lane?

Humanitarian accountability: stuck in the slow lane?
29 January 2020, 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Montague Room, G26, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Seminar Series: Humanitarian Accountability in Displacement Contexts

A series of seminars examining humanitarian accountability in displacement contexts, hosted by the Refugee Law Initiative at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The series provides a forum for discussion open to academics, practitioners and those with an interest in humanitarian and forced displacement issues.

Humanitarian accountability: stuck in the slow lane?


A full quarter of a century ago we heard the first institutional call for humanitarian actors to examine themselves and be assessed according to the effectiveness of their actions. The JEFAR report (Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda (1996)) gave rise to grand initiatives -- HAP, the Sphere Project, People in Aid, ALNAP, the CHS – and to countless conferences, tools, papers and critiques. Even with sector-wide support for the idea of humanitarian accountability, neither JEFAR nor the intervening years of accountability action have given rise to any significant practice of humanitarians being held to account.  Perhaps it is time to think less about building accountability mechanisms and more about the nature of the blockage.  This discussion will examine why it has proven so difficult for humanitarians to make themselves accountable to people in crisis such as refugees. 


Marc DuBois is an independent humanitarian analyst and consultant based in London. Recent publications include The New Humanitarian Basics (ODI/HPG), Rapid Real-Time Review: DFID Somalia Drought Response and The Ebola Response in West Africa: Exposing the politics and culture of international aid (ODI/HPG). He is also a Senior Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS University of London. 

Prior to consulting, Marc spent 15 years at Médecins sans Frontières, becoming the Executive Director of MSF-UK/IE (2008-14). Marc blogs regularly at and can be found on twitter @humanicontraria.

We're pleased to announce that we will be live-streaming Wednesday's seminar presentation through this link. You will be able to watch live and engage in the discussion. 


Refugee Law Initiative
020 7862 8668