Annual Conference 2020

Save the Date Conference

Theme: Humanitarianism in Action

Around the world, humanitarian needs are growing, as is the gap between those needs and the resources available to address them. Moreover, humanitarian crises are becoming more protracted, less predictable, and characterised by cyclical and recurring shocks that cumulatively generate need and undermine resilience over time. In response, the humanitarian system is facing calls to transform: to give greater attention to prevention, preparedness and resilience-building; to better integrate humanitarian action, actors and outcomes with development and peace; and to commit to and institutionalise local ownership and leadership, including that of women and young people, in a more accountable humanitarian system.

These calls for change are taking place against a backdrop of growing global insecurity, including increasing, targeted attacks on humanitarian actors; mounting constraints on – and in some contexts, criminalisation of – humanitarian assistance; and diverse challenges to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. In this context, the 2020 Annual Conference of Development Studies Association Ireland asks:

  • Is there is a shared understanding of humanitarianism in action?
  • What are the consequences of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus for humanitarian actors, actions, and principles?
  • Do we have a clear strategic vision to promote recovery and resilience of people?
  • To what extent should humanitarian response prioritise consistent, optimal and long-term sustainable outcomes?
  • How effective have efforts been to reform design, tools and approaches, and impact measurement, within the humanitarian system?
  • How meaningfully does humanitarianism in action take cognizance of the fragile climate context? How does it balance vulnerability of people with vulnerable ecosystems?
  • What are the power dynamics which influence the working together of different bodies within the humanitarian system, and how can these dynamics be documented, challenged and transformed?

This year, in light of COVID-19, our Annual Conference will run as an on-line programme.

A Call for Abstracts will open in August 2020. 


When:  29th October 2020

Where: Online event. Registration details will be published in August 2020.


10:00 - 11:00     Keynote Speaker 

11:00 - 12:00     Study Group Breakout Sessions

14:00 - 15:00     Keynote Speaker

15:00 - 16:00     Study Group Breakout Sessions


Keynote Speakers

dot circleProfessor Dorothea Hilhorst, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus Rotterdam University 

Dorothea Hilhorst is a professor of humanitarian studies at the International Institute for Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University in The Hague. Her focus is on aid-society relations: studying how aid is embedded in the context, impacts on governments and society, and is shaped by the manifold actions of actors in and around programmes for protection, service delivery and capacity development. She has a special interest in the intersections of humanitarianism with development, peacebuilding and gender-relations.

Her research programmes have taken place in settings affected by disaster, conflict and fragility, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka. Currently, her main research programme concerns cases where ‘conflict meets disaster’, that studies disaster governance in high-conflict, low-conflict and post-conflict societies. She was awarded an ERC advanced grant and will start a research programme on humanitarian governance in 2021.

Email: Twitter: @hilhorst_thea


ruben circleProfessor Ruben Anderson, Department of International Development, University of Oxford

Ruben Andersson is an anthropologist and Associate Professor of Migration and Development at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford. His research has focused on migration, borders and security, with specific reference to the Sahel and southern Europe. He is the author of Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014), winner of the BBC/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award 2015. His most recent book, No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019), offers a comparative perspective on securitisation and the ‘mapping of danger’ in international crisis interventions, building on his fieldwork in Mali.

Twitter: @ODID_QEH.