The politics of aid

  • October 14, 2014
The politics of aid

Can foreign aid be neutral? Who should deliver aid in situations like Ukraine, Syria or Palestine? Does all aid come with baggage? A workshop on foreign aid will be the centrepiece of the Gates Alumni Weekend which begins on 18th October.

Can foreign aid be neutral? Who should deliver aid in situations like Ukraine, Syria or Palestine? Does all aid come with baggage? A workshop on foreign aid will be the centrepiece of the Gates Alumni Weekend which begins on 18th October.

Ela Drazkiewicz will lead the session. She says: “Recent months and international developments in Ukraine, Syria, or Palestine have once again brought people’s attention to the problems concerned with humanitarian crises. From various sides we can hear calls for humanitarian intervention. But who should deliver aid, and how? Who has the capacity to do that? Whose aid will be welcomed and accepted by recipients?”

Neutrality is one of the central planks of development and humanitarian aid practice, but she will ask if aid without “agenda” is possible. “Perhaps, the regimes of neutrality which govern the world of aid agents only mask political, religious and other connotations and push their aid ideology to the foreground,” she says. “In the light of these contemporary politics of aid, what can we make of a Russian convoy supposedly taking humanitarian aid to Ukraine, accusations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency not being “neutral enough” or commercial companies like Total getting involved in aid initiatives to South Sudan?”

The workshop will debate whether the paradigm of neutrality in aid has ended and if the current global situation requires new solutions. It will also attempt to understand the various positions and agendas of different stakeholders involved in the process of aid delivery and distribution, from international aid agencies, NGOs, governments and local authorities to military forces and other parties involved in the conflicts.

Ela [2007] did her PhD in Social Anthropology and is now a Marie Curie Fellow in the Anthropology Department of Maynooth University in Ireland. The session begins at 1.15pm.

Other sessions at the Weekend include small group discussions on subjects such as how to create a 30-second ‘elevator pitch’, the challenges of balancing a career with having a family, how to get a post-doc, leaving bench science for industry and how to write a CV. There will also be a discussion about how Alumni and scholars can better use the network of the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, which has organised the Weekend, for mentorship opportunities.

To register, click here.

Picture credit of Syrian refugee camp: Wiki Commons and Voice of America News.

Latest News

Affecting change for the Māori community

Self-determination lies at the centre of Māori culture. “It’s a way of life,” says Chris Tooley. That idea is also at the heart of his PhD studies at Cambridge and his subsequent work in Parliament and in the community. Chris grew up with a strong sense of being part of the Māori community. He has ancestral […]

On the COVID frontline

Three Gates Cambridge scholars who have been on the medical frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be speaking about their experiences at a virtual event next weekend. The event, organised by the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, will be moderated by Elizabeth Dzeng, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the […]

New game tackles Covid conspiracies

A new online game that puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news is the latest tactic in the UK Government’s efforts to tackle the deluge of coronavirus misinformation that is misleading many and costing lives across the world. Launched to the public today, the Go Viral! game has been developed by the […]

“Democracy does not work on a ‘trust me’ basis”

When Jennifer Gibson started her MPhil at Cambridge in 2001 as part of the inaugural class of Gates Scholars, no-one knew what it meant to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Twenty years later, Jennifer is now a human rights lawyer focused on national security issues, something she never could have anticipated, but which she credits in no small part […]