Humanitarian actors play an increasingly important role in assisting populations affected by conflict, displacement and disasters. However, doubts around performance and effectiveness as well as scandals related to misuse of funds and sexual abuse have stimulated debates over the years about how to establish more effective and wider reaching accountability practices and systems. This drive to enhance the accountability of humanitarian actors further stems from the increasing recognition that affected populations’ inclusion and participation in decision-making is key for the delivery of effective, efficient and relevant humanitarian assistance.

This project explores legal and other frameworks of accountability for humanitarian actors, and seeks to develop an improved understanding of accountability and its place and implications in humanitarian work. Focusing on humanitarian responses in displacement situations, the project also aims to generate improved insights into the ways in which accountability concepts and mechanisms function in practice through empirical field research with prominent international humanitarian organisations and local partners.

Key publications and other outputs

Key institutional activities

  • RLI/RECAP Seminar, ‘Accountability to refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the Humanitarian Response in Uganda and Bangladesh’ (2021)
  • Practitioner teaching: Developed training materials and delivered training on research methods to 30+ Save the Children staff in Bangladesh, Laos, the Philippines and the UK (2021)
  • 2020 Seminar Series: ‘Humanitarian Accountability in Displacement Contexts’, featuring Marc DuBois, (Senior Fellow at SOAS), Prof Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, (University of Oslo) and Alice Obrecht, (Senior Research Fellow at ALNAP), University of London, January-March 2020
  • RLI, 10th International Refugee Law Seminar Series (hosted jointly with UNHCR) (2020-21)
  • RLI/RECAP Panel, ‘Humanitarian responses to refugee crises’ (2019) RLI 4th Annual Conference, ‘Rethinking the ‘Regional’ in Refugee Law and Policy’
  • 2019 Seminar Series: ‘Humanitarian Accountability in Displacement Contexts’, featuring Nick Van Pragg (Executive Director and Founder, Ground Truth Solutions), Professor Dorothea Hilhorst (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Dr Naohiko Omata (University of Oxford), University of London, March-June 2019
  • RLI/Save the Children UK/Save the Children Colombia, 3-day Workshop ‘Child Participation and Accountability‘ (Bogata, Colombia, 2019)
  • RLI practitioner training to Colombia Child Protection Working Group (Venezuela response), 'Child/youth participation in humanitarian and development programming' (Bogata, 2019). Included representatives from UNCHR, War Child, IOM, UNICEF, SC and National Institute for Family Well-Being (ICBF)
  • RLI practitioner training to Save the Children Colombia, 'Child/youth participation in Child Friendly Spaces'. Series of training sessions delivered at Bogata HQ Office and field offices in La Guajira and Tumaco (Colombia, 2019).

This work between 2017-2021 was funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) as part of the RECAP Project: ‘Research capacity strengthening and knowledge generation to support preparedness and response to humanitarian crises and epidemics’, grant number ES/P010873/1.