Breaking Through: Dismantling Roadblocks to Humanitarian Response for Syria | Monday, October 19th | 9:00 – 11:00am | American Red Cross | REGISTER TO ATTEND | With over half the Syrian population displaced and civilian casualties increasing, international concern continues to grow. As this crisis intensifies, however, barriers to access, relocation, and justice hinder the humanitarian response. Join the American Red Cross on October 19th to discuss these roadblocks and how the humanitarian community can overcome these challenges. Speakers include: Jana Mason, Sr. Advisor for Government Relations & External Affairs, UNHCR, Hind Kabawat, Director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, Center for World Religions & Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC), George Mason University.
- The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Balancing Humanitarian and Security Challenges | Monday, October 19th | 11:00 – 12:30 | Bipartisan Policy Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND |The civil war in Syria has caused one of the largest displacements of persons in recent history, creating humanitarian, political, and security challenges that the United States and its allies now confront. More than half of Syrians—some 12 million—are displaced. Of that number, more than 4 million have fled Syria’s borders, with millions living in neighboring countries in the region. As EU and U.S. leaders work to address this flow of refugees, the Islamic State extremist group has boasted of disguising thousands of terrorists as refugees in order to infiltrate them into Western countries, and a recently released report by the House Homeland Security Committee’s bipartisan task force found that international efforts to secure borders and stem the flow of foreign fighters have been woefully ineffective.Join the Bipartisan Policy Center for a discussion on the humanitarian and security dimensions of the refugee crisis and how the two can be balanced and should be reconciled to create a coherent U.S. and global policy response. Speakers include: Kelly Gauger, Deputy Director, Refugee Admissions, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, DOS, Larry Yungk, Senior Resettlement Officer, UNHCR, Adnan Kifayat, Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund, Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, Director, Program of Extremism, GWU’s Center on Cyber & Homeland Security, Brittney Nystrom, Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
- The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence | Monday, October 19th | 12:30 – 2:00 | Stimson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons are now central to the debate about the future of nuclear deterrence, owing to the efforts of a new global movement. Just within the last few weeks, Pope Francis has called for complete nuclear disarmament on ethical grounds and the new leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that, as prime minister, he would never authorize nuclear use. Join us for a discussion about the morality of the possession and use of nuclear weapons. Is there indeed a contradiction between the strategic goals of nuclear deterrence and its moral dimension? Could the use of nuclear weapons ever be justified? And do humanitarian considerations have any implications for states’ nuclear posture or employment policies? Speakers include: James M. Acton, Co-Director of the Carnegie Endownment’s Nuclear Policy Program, Drew Christiansen, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Development, Georgetown University, Elbridge Colby, Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security, and Thomas Moore, Independent Consultant.
- Beyond the Headlines Obama and Putin: Battlefield Syria | Monday, October 19th | 6:00 | Women’s Foreign Policy Group | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Karen DeYoung is the senior national security correspondent and an associate editor of The Washington Post. In more than three decades at the paper, she has served as bureau chief in Latin America and London, a correspondent covering the White House, US foreign policy and the intelligence community, as well as assistant managing editor for national news, national editor and foreign editor. She was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the 2009 Overseas Press Club award for best coverage of international affairs, the 2003 Edward Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting, and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize awarded to The Washington Post for national reporting.Steven Lee Myers has worked at The New York Times for twenty-six years, seven of them in Russia during the period when Putin consolidated his power. He has witnessed and written about many of the most significant events that have marked the rise of Vladimir Putin: from the war in Chechnya and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine to the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He spent two years as bureau chief in Baghdad, covering the winding down of the American war in Iraq, and now covers national security issues. He has also covered the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House during three presidential administrations.
- Will the Afghan State Survive? | Tuesday, October 20th | 1:30 – 2:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The recent events in Kunduz have lead experts to speculate about whether Afghanistan can defend itself against the Taliban. While the political and security aftermath of these events continues to unfold, questions are being raised about the Taliban’s next moves and the resilience of the Afghan state institutions. Is there a new threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which may shift the focus in a region known to reject foreign presence? Will further troop reductions in prospect under President Obama’s withdrawal schedule lead the United States to rely more heavily on its European partners? What can we expect from the NATO Warsaw Summit and the Brussels Conference? Can the United States, China, and Iran work together towards peace for Afghanistan? Speakers include: Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, special representative of the European Union to Afghanistan, and The Honorable James B. Cunningham, senior fellow and Khalilzad chair, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.
- Dangerous Intersection: Climate Change and National Security (2015 Eli-Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum) | Tuesday, October 20th | 3:30 – 5:30 | Environmental Law Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND |While addressing the graduates of the Coast Guard academy last spring, President Obama told the assembled ensigns that climate change would be a defining national security issue for their time in uniform. Earlier this fall, in a village facing immediate threats of sea level rise, he told Alaskan Natives that “if another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect it… climate change poses that same threat now.” The president has raised a red flag over an issue that has concerned defense officials and the national security establishment for several years now, as well as the environmental community.On October 20, 2015, over 700 environmental lawyers, scientists, engineers, economists, and other professionals will gather in Washington, D.C., to honor an exemplary figure in environmental policy. Just prior to the annual Award Dinner, ELI holds its principal policy event of the year, the ELI-Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum. This year, the topic will be “Dangerous Intersection: Climate Change and National Security.” Speakers include: Capt. Leo Goff, Ph.D., Military Advisory Board, Center for Naval Analyses (moderator), John Conger, Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, U.S. Department of Defense, Francesco Femia, Founding Director, The Center for Climate and Security, Alice Hill, Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience, National Security Council, The White House, Thilmeeza Hussain, Voice of Women – Maldives, Co-Founder, Marcus King, John O. Rankin Associate Professor of International Affairs, GWU.
- Summer Practicum Report on Water and Peacebuilding in the Middle East | Tuesday, October 20th | 6:00 – 8:00 pm | American University School of International Service | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Join the School of International Service and Center for Israel Studies for a research presentation hosted by the Global Environmental Politics Program in the Abramson Family Founders Room.
- The South Caucasus Transportation and Energy Corridor: Update in Light of Nuclear Deal with Iran | Wednesday, October 21st | 5:00 – 7:00 | SAIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Several US administrations contributed to the revival of the East-West transport corridor connecting the Caspian region with Europe via South Caucasus. Functioning elements of this infrastructure are already moving significant volumes of oil and gas, but the potential of this route is only partially realized. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia are developing new elements of infrastructure that should facilitate the flow of raw materials and finished goods between Asia and Europe. But without political and security support, this project cannot succeed.This forum, with speakers from academia and business, will analyze and offer views on the commercial and geopolitical context for development of the South Caucasus transportation corridor. It will also look at the Shah-Deniz II/Southern Corridor energy project, as well as explore the impact of the nuclear deal with Iran on regional energy and transportation landscape.
- Libya: Failed or Recovering State | Wednesday, October 21st | 6:00 – 7:15 |Elliot School of International Affairs | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Ambassador Jones will discuss the current situation in Libya. Does the preliminary framework agreement to resolve the conflict that has divided Libya into two competing parliaments, governments, and military coalitions offer a legitimate path toward a stable Libya? Is there a role for the international community? If the agreement isn’t viable, what solutions are there? Ambassador Deborah K. Jones, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, was nominated by President Obama to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya in March 2013.
- Leading at the Nexus of Development and Defense | Friday, October 23rd | 10:00 – 11:30 | CSIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Save the date for an armchair conversation with General John F. Kelly. General Kelly will discuss his career serving in the United States Marine Corps and the defining challenges he faced in maintaining U.S. and regional security. He will share his experience working in areas of conflict and supporting U.S. defense policy through effective development efforts. General Kelly is currently commander of U.S. Southern Command. A four star general, Kelly presided over much of the U.S. involvement in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, later returning to command Multi-National Force–West.
Kammi Scheeler, a master’s student in my post-war reconstruction and transition course at SAIS, writes:
The World Bank hosted a panel Wednesday on the need for alternatives to refugee camps, as part of its three-day forum on Fragility, Conflict and Violence. Three themes emerged from the speakers’ presentations:
- Displacement should be treated as a development issue, not a humanitarian one. National development planning should take into account all populations in the area, including displaced persons.
- Displaced persons must be recognized as active participants in development with the capacity to contribute to host communities.
- Government capacities to process and support refugees in alternative ways need to be strengthened.
The first presenter on the panel was Steven Corliss, Director of the UNHCR Division of Programme Support and Management. He discussed UNHCR’s policy to seek alternatives to camps in as many circumstances as possible. Where not possible, the UNHCR still works to protect the rights of refugees and create living conditions that foster individual empowerment and dignity.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said “anyone who thinks refugee camps are a good idea has never lived in one.” Camps will not disappear, as they remain needed to meet immediate needs in emergency situations. The problem, Corliss believes, is when camps are used as an automatic response to displacement, or when host governments do not have the tools to provide alternatives.
One of the primary pitfalls of camps is the loss of human capital. Typical refugee camps operate as temporary, emergency relief, providing little opportunity for inhabitants to utilize or develop skills. In protracted situations, their inhabitants lose the ability to manage their own livelihoods.
There is a persistent concern among hosts that allowing refugees to integrate will deter them from returning home. Camps will remain as host governments insist upon them. But when refugees are better integrated into local communities and labor markets, they are able to contribute economically and maintain independent livelihoods, encouraging earlier repatriation and better reintegration upon return.
The second speaker, David Apollo Kazungu, is the Commissioner of Refugees for the Ugandan Government. Uganda’s shared borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan have led to a persistent influx of refugees escaping conflict since the 1950s. Uganda is now host to 415,000 refugees, with more expected from South Sudan in coming months. Refugees in Uganda are predominantly settlement-based, living alongside and sharing resources and services with Ugandan nationals. Although refugee status is meant to be a temporary solution, the persistent conflicts and instability of Uganda’s neighbors has led to more protracted situations.
This has necessitated a shift from humanitarian support to development support. Uganda’s Settlement Transformation Agenda is a uniquely comprehensive and progressive approach to refugee integration. Its key tenets include security enhancement, access to justice, settlement survey and planning, infrastructure development, refugee and host community empowerment, and peace building and conflict resolution initiatives.
Commissioner Kazungu stressed the importance of these last two programs saying, “refugeehood should be a chance to reconcile and learn to live side by side.”Since most of Uganda’s refugees fled their homes due to conflict, the government of Uganda is making a stronger effort to facilitate conflict resolution among diverse refugee populations so that they may create more stable communities upon return to their home countries. Although Uganda has shown a great deal of openness and commitment to receiving and integrating refugees, they face challenges such as encroachment, land inelasticity, and dwindling resources with no signs of decline in refugee inflows.
The remaining panelists included Niels Harild, the lead social development specialist for the World Bank’s Global Program on Forced Displacement, who reiterated the importance of viewing displacement as a development issue rather than merely a humanitarian one. The second half of the event provided examples of alternatives in action, with World Bank project leaders sharing data from programs in Turkey and Azerbaijan. In Turkey, the Bank is assessing the impact of Syrian refugees on host communities and recommending policies for integrating refugees outside camps. Azerbaijan has approximately 600,000 internally displaced persons supported by a Social Fund for the Development of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). This project provides settlements and services to raise the standard of living for IDPs and also creates income-generation opportunities. Both cases highlight the range of possible ways to incorporate displaced persons into longer-term national development planning.
PS: In response to a comment on this piece, here is Killian Kleinschmidt at TedX Hamburg: