The Observatorio Humanitario de América Latina y el Caribe (Humanitarian Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean) was created as part of the international research program “Humanitarian Governance: Alternatives, advocacy, accountability” of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. This initiative led to the establishment of several regional humanitarian observatories focusing on the different dynamics of humanitarian governance in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. The Observatory for Humanitarian Governance: Latin America and the Caribbean, has been constituted within the working agreement signed between the University of the Andes (Colombia) and the ISS (Netherlands). Convention within which the two institutions have coordinated and worked closely together.
OUR FIRST ISSUE: ¿WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?
2022 saw the birth of the Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean, as an organic and perhaps academic process in origin. Even Though the foundation of the Observatory has demanded different efforts installed at the Universidad de Los Andes and ISS, we believe that maintaining and establishing concrete actions in the future will be even more challenging. Those of us who are part of the initial team -so to speak- believe that the Observatory requires to take different actions, activities, and communication channels to make visible the initiatives and findings that result from this collaborative and co-creation exercise. Therefore, this first newsletter Solferino LAC -yes indeed, as the battle that originated the great paradigms of humanitarian action in 1859- aims to communicate and summarize what the Observatory has been and what the members have done in these months.
We are confident that the upcoming issues of the newsletter will be nourished with the input, the comments, and the work of our members and other stakeholders involved. For now, we invite you to know the milestones of 2022, in terms of the official launch of the Observatory, a brief summary of the first-year work of the reading group on "the humanitarian in Latin America and the Caribbean. And finally, we invite you to be part of the future activities of this project.
Juan Ricardo Aparicio, Rodrigo Mena, Gabriela Villacís and Laura Macias.
Official launch - memories of the event
For several months we thought of the need to organize an official launch of the Observatory, an event that allows to announce its existence and that invites more people interested to join the projects activities. Thus, on November 9, 2022, we held a hybrid event to launch the Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean. The event, then, took place at the University of Los Andes but also around the world, through the devices of each of our guests.
We had the privilege and honor of having remarkable guests as panelists at the event: Dr. Mauricio Nieto Olarte, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Los Andes University; Prof. Dr. Thea Hilhorst, director of the Humanitarian Governance Project - ISS - Erasmus University Rotterdam; Chava Elizabeth Moreno, Representative of the Consejo Comunitario General del San Juan, Chocó (ACADESAN).; Maria Matilda Rodriguez, Mamaroja Company, San Andrés: writer and human rights activist, responsible for the San Andrés chapter of the truth commission report.; Dra. Saskia Carusi: External Relations Officer for the UNDRR -Latin America and the Caribbean-; Gloria Restrepo, Sociologist with a master’s degree in History and current PhD candidate; y, Laura Victoria Alzate, head of the deputy direction at the Halü Foundation, Colombia. In addition to them, we also had the privilege of having the virtual presence of members of the Observatory who are in various countries of the world, students, humanitarian organizations and members of the academy. This enhanced the space and the exchanges produced.
The rich agenda of the event had two clear objectives. First, contextualize the audience and establish the need for a Humanitarian Governance Observatory in the region. This was done by Prof. Hilhorst who, from the Netherlands, made historical overview of the humanitarian governance paradigms and showed how these observatories seek to give a contextual view of humanitarian action and the roles local and national actors. This was complemented by Dr. Rodrigo Mena, who reviewed the Observatory's achievements to date and emphasized that the project seeks to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences of all stakeholders, without neglecting learning and strategic thinking.
The second objective of the event was to create a space to listen and learn from the experiences of communities affected by humanitarian crises. To this end, social leaders María Matilda Rodríguez and Elizabeth Moreno made valuable contributions and shared their own experiences. This helped the audience understand how communities view crises and participate in humanitarian governance. From the different, but not distant experiences of their communities in Colombia, María Matilde and Elizabeth shared raw and challenging reflections on how populations in the archipelago of San Andrés, Santa Catalina and Providencia and in the department of Chocó live and resist. They talked about history, politics, violence and how the community voice has historically been ignored.
Following their enriching participations, the panel expanded and enriched with insights from academia and humanitarian organizations. Reflecting on what the social leaders said, Saskia Carusi, Gloria Restrepo and Laura Alzate contributed their views on humanitarian action. They addressed aspects such as the nexus between humanitarian action, peace building and development. They also talked about the localization agenda, the politics of suffering and problematized the paternalistic logics of humanitarian aid from their own experiences.
To conclude, reflections on "the humanitarian" in Latin America are just beginning. we have a lot of work to do and one of the challenges is, precisely, to "take the Observatory out of the University", as a metaphor our obligation to bring the reflections and observations closer to the communities and spaces where humanitarian crises are happening. We must get to the field and work with society as a whole. The launch was a first step, but we are convinced that the road ahead is much longer, more interesting and will be fruitful.
We are deeply grateful to all the people who accompanied us to the event.
ONE YEAR OF OUR READING GROUP ABOUT “HUMANITARIANISM IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN”. REFLECTIONS
Problematize and question the hegemonic notions of humanitarian action in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is not a simple task. A year ago, a group of academics, community members and humanitarian actors began to explore some of these notions and have created a reading group to share common/different experiences and ideas about humanitarian action in our region. We present some of the results of these discussions one year after initiating a reading group on humanitarianism in LAC.
Humanitarian action in Latin America and the Caribbean:
¿Similar but different?
¿Do we need to talk about humanitarianism in LAC?
During the last decade, LAC has witnessed many crises and different responses known as humanitarian action. Paradoxically, in the region this concept is not used explicitly, it is used in an elusive and strategic manner. We must therefore ask ourselves: Is humanitarian action in LAC "similar or different" to other parts of the world? To find answers, since 2021 our reading group has been a space for fascinating debates on humanitarianism in the region. The group is now part of the LAC Humanitarian Governance Observatory (Observatorio de Gobernanza Humanitaria de ALC), a space in which we seek to explore in a more formal, but also organic and collaborative way what humanitarian action has been and is in the region.
¿What have we discussed since 2021?
Four main themes have stood out during our first year of readings and discussions: Migration and displacement seem to be the first topics that come to mind when discussing humanitarian crises in LAC, and we also discussed protection. As our discussions progressed, we noted that in LAC, as elsewhere, there is great diversity of actors involved in the humanitarian system, but in every case the role of the state stands out. United Nations and international NGOs seem to have a more secondary role and they all recognize the authority of states to guide humanitarian action.
We also discussed legal aspects of transitional justice, although these topics are less directly related to humanitarian action and are probably influenced by the interests of the group members.
The interesting thing about this was that we discovered, in the process, that these issues in LAC are always discussed in relation to humanitarianism, how humanitarian crises are directly related to social justice and how humanitarian reconstruction processes are also approached from the point of view of social reparation.
Reflections (but not conclusions)
All of the above only shows what we have discussed so far, but they do not answer one of the most relevant questions: ¿ What is humanitarian action or humanitarianism in LAC? this question is not innocent and invites us to problematize humanitarism and to recognize its limits. LAC is a large region, with more than 30 countries and great diversity, so trying to find a single answer may be a lost cause and a mistake. The historical specificities of the region and of each country make it difficult to assess a single, homogeneous picture of humanitarian action in LAC.
Much remains to be explored about humanitarianism in the region and much remains to be studied about the differences and similarities of crises and humanitarian action in the countries of the region. For now, we will continue with the reading group and will continue to work on the observatory, a space to which everyone is invited.
To read the full blog post you can visit: : Blog
We invite you to review the following news and announcements in this section of Solferino LAC. If you would like to contribute in any way to the Observatory's newsletter or blog, please contact us at: email@example.com
¿Where do we want the
observatory to go?
Planning space 2023.
We will soon invite you to a virtual planning event with members and stakeholders. The space will take place in February 2023. If you would like to join the event, please send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace Research Congress.
CLAIP - Chile - April 2023
As an initiative of Dr. Rodrigo Mena, we propose to hold a panel on the Observatory in Congress. If you are interested in contributing or participating, please write to us.
We will continue with the Observatory Reading Group in 2023.
We will share with you the invitation to our next reading group in January 2023 (we will have a break for the holidays)
¿Are you interested in proposing a reading or sharing your current research, publication or paper? Let us know and we will schedule your session.
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Universidad de los Andes | Vigilada Mineducación
Reconocimiento como Universidad: Decreto 1297 del 30 de mayo de 1964.
Reconocimiento personería jurídica: Resolución 28 del 23 de febrero de 1949 Minjusticia.