Humanitarian Intervention and Global Citizenship: Science, Media, Politics

From 5 to 8 December 2004, the Irmgard Coninx Foundation held a workshop with senior researchers, activists and journalists chaired by Vinh Kim Nguyen, Professor of Medical Anthropology (McGill University,  Montreal), physician and Member of the Board of MĂ©decins du Monde, Canada.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has been followed by an epidemic of failing states, the proliferation of “low-intensity” conflicts, which target civilian populations, and increasingly complex disasters and looming trans-national risks. 

Intervention has become a privileged instrument of foreign policy, whether in its military, peace-keeping, nation-building or humanitarian guises. Intervention deploys networks of military forces, NGOs, UN agencies and Bretton Woods financial institutions, patching together ephemeral pseudo-states that dissolve and reconstitute around the globe’s flashpoints.
As the lines between waging war and making peace, killing and rescuing become increasingly blurred. Intervention can effectively suspend a pre-existing order, creating a state of exception – in the hope of inscribing a new political regime, or with the goal of maintaining threatening or troublesome populations in limbo. In its place, we can see emerging hierarchies of citizenship that extend across national borders, ranging from those who enjoy the benefits of being citizens of robust wealthy states, to the growing masses of undocumented migrants and refugees whose only tangible form of citizenship is dispensed through intervention.

The workshop examines the norms and forms of intervention along the lines of concepts such as humanitarianism, intervention – from above – and the role of media and science.

Participants: Dennis Dijkzeul (Professor for Management of Humaniarian Crisis); Antonio Donini (Senior Researcher, Feinstein International Center); Marianne C. Ferme (Professor for Social Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley); Gerhard J. Klose (Retired Colonel and Adviser); Elisio Macamo (Assistant Professor for Sociology, University Basel); Anne Nivat (Journalist); Mariella Pandolfi (Professor of Anthropology, University Montreal); Ulrike von Pillar (MĂ©decins Sans Frontières; Berlin); David Rieff  (Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute); Tony Vaux (Consultant, Humanitarian Initiatives)