Aspiring towards global justice – a humanitarian imperative?, 18-21 Oct 2021

Last year’s experience has shown that the virtual format allows us to reach even more people, thereby making the congress more inclusive and accessible. In 2019 and 2020 we have discussed some large topics – the consequences of the climate crisis and institutional discrimination in our sector. Both are too important to simply tick them off for the HCB 2021. What we see globally are growing instances of outcry and social movements. In situations of political oppression, economic injustices and state violence humanitarian action seems to hit a wall. The sector is on the brink of navigating its principles and practice in stormy waters.

We tackled various issues during the congress, such as how humanitarian action responds to protests and social movements, and whether it hinders or promotes social change. We continued to focus on debating the decolonization of global health, with a particular emphasis on the humanitarian impact of the pandemic and Covid-19 vaccine distribution. We also delved deeper into conversations on the humanitarian consequences of the climate crisis and elaborated on what greener humanitarian activities could look like. Additionally, we discussed how courts take legal action in case of violations of international and human rights law. 

The topic ‘Aspiring Towards Global Justice – A Humanitarian imperative’ offers a debate at the intersection of humanitarian action and global justice.None of them claims stand-alone solutions, but can complementarity offer a framework to better respond to political, social and economic causes of acute vulnerability and humanitarian need? The HCB 2021, which we hosted from 18 to 21 October, aimed to explore how the sector could position itself in light of challenges that transcend sectorial boundaries. 

In conclusion, we are committed to organizing a congress that provides a platform for sharing ideas and discussing innovative solutions to challenges faced by the sector. You can find the complete programme below. We have also selected some highlights for you. Furthermore, all recordings are available on our Youtube channel.

The illustration of this year’s HCBerlin was created by Sonaksha.


“If you take the broader social movements in India […], if you take the recent farmers protest, those are spaces where you still find a lot of doubt and dilemma on the way forward. And while Oxfam may be an expection, a number of other humanitarian organisations in India have chosen to remain silent, at a time when silence is complicit.”

Biraj Patnaik (Executive Director, NFI India)

“To say that Libya is not a safe place for migrants and refugees is definitely an understatement. Migrant population in the country is continously exposed to arbitrary detention and to a long series of human rights violation, in and out of places of detention.”

Bianca Benvenuti (Advocacy Officer, MSF)

“The pandemic turned out to be a great separator rather than a great equalizer. This becomes much more of a problem when the possibility of vaccines appeared.”

Tammam Aloudat (Managing Director, Global Health Centre)
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