In view of its 27th issue, which will be published in November 2024, the Humanitarian Alternatives review is launching a call for papers for its special feature on a topic with the provisional title of “Ukraine-Gaza: exchange of views”. If you are a participant, researcher or observer of the international humanitarian field, and wish to submit an article proposal on this topic, please send a summary of your argument, a draft plan and a short biography of the author(s) (2 pages maximum) before 22 February 2024 to the following email address: email@example.com. You will receive a reply by 29 February 2024 at the latest.
The final article – to be written in English or French – must be submitted by 9 September 2024. The article should be around 2,400 words in French or 2,200 words in English (including footnotes). Around six or seven articles will be accepted for this Focus.
For each issue, we also take on article on themes related to humanitarian action other than the one of the Focus; these are published in the Perspectives, Transitions, Innovations, Ethics, Reportage or Tribune sections. We invite you to send us your proposals.
Ukraine-Gaza: exchange of views
Issue main theme co-directed by Rony Brauman – doctor, former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (1982-1994) and director of studies at MSF France’s Centre de réflexion sur l’action et les savoirs humanitaires (CRASH), and Jean-François Corty – doctor, vice president of Médecins du Monde and an associate researcher at IRIS (French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs) have teamed up for this dossier/focus, with Boris Martin, Editor-in-Chief
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was violently reignited following the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October 2023, has practically pushed the Russia-Ukraine war off the geopolitical map.« L’Ukraine menacée d’être une victime collatérale de la guerre de Gaza », France Inter, 9 novembre 2023 … Continue reading The eyes of the world have since turned to the Gaza Strip, that narrow strip of land boxed in by Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
It is understandable that the world’s attention has switched to Gaza, given the large numbers of mainly civilian victims affected by the conflict since it began. However, the impact of the crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has not diminished: six million refugees are still living outside the country and five million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine.« Le dilemme des réfugiés ukrainiens face à l’intensification des frappes russes », Les Échos, 3 janvier 2024, … Continue reading The Russia-Ukraine war’s “relegation” has prompted the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to go out of his way to keep the media and political focus on his country at a time when the conflict is getting bogged down in fighting, and his fear of a drop in international support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion is mounting.« Comment le conflit à Gaza affecte la guerre en Ukraine », BBC, 11 novembre 2023 https://www.bbc.com/afrique/articles/c9r679yr1nvo ; « Guerre Israël-Hamas : la grande peur des … Continue reading
If truth be told, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to have caused the vast majority of ongoing armed conflicts worldwide, which includes the Russia-Ukraine war, to sink into oblivion, it is important to remember that the latter had the same effect when it broke out in 2022. And it’s worth reiterating that the “forgotten crises”, those in Afghanistan, Sudan, Myanmar, Yemen, DR Congo, the Central African Republic or Haiti, for example, have always outnumbered the crises that constantly make the headlines.
So, what is particularly shocking, worrying and telling about the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine? Conflicts that furthermore – and this is a major factor – are subject to competition and trade-offs in budgets both military (of protagonists and their supporters) and humanitarian (funding body resources being limited) which only hike up tension and push into the background other humanitarian crises around the world.
Plainly, this is not a “classic” scenario of a wave of compassion and media coverage that vanishes the moment the next major crisis occurs: these two conflicts challenge us because they say something about contemporary geopolitics, a certain kind of global reconfiguration, how international humanitarian law is applied and the place given to humanitarian workers by the warring parties. These two conflicts are already making their mark on the already too-long list of conflicts that the world has experienced over the past decades.
From Ukraine to Gaza, two “competing”« Gaza, Ukraine : deux guerres en concurrence », Dernières nouvelles d’Alsace, 20 octobre 2023, https://www.dna.fr/defense-guerre-conflit/2023/10/20/gaza-ukraine-deux-guerres-en-concurrence wars are taking place at the same time at the borders of Europe and in the Middle East. The war zones and military operations differ greatly, as do the protagonists, but TV images of war come thick and fast, aren’t that dissimilar and in many cases can almost blend into one another. There is nothing like another massacre to bring back memories of a civilian massacre.« Ukraine, Gaza : la solitude de l’Occident », Les Échos, 29 novembre 2023, https://www.lesechos.fr/idees-debats/editos-analyses/ukraine-israel-meme-combat-2025593 The media coverage of both conflicts at times draws a parallel, with the complexity of the situation giving way to emotion and a dangerous comparison between the compassion of some and the suffering of others.« Ukraine, Gaza : les certitudes du « camp du Bien », Le Point, 10 décembre 2023 https://www.lepoint.fr/monde/ukraine-gaza-les-certitudes-du-camp-du-bien-10-12-2023-2546405_24.php“As Gaza reels, Ukraine war feels suddenly distant in Global South nations”, Al Jazeera, 12 December 2023 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/12/as-gaza-reels-ukraine
From the Donbas to the Middle East – although what is happening in the Caucasus (Nagorno-Karabakh) can be included too –, wars are both global and local: they break out and echo each other over a short period of time in a small Euro-Mediterranean area that is at stake in a new power struggle, which could ultimately lead to widespread unrest and a major reconfiguration of the world as we know it.
Humanitarian workers therefore need to ponder the new world taking shape and the role that they may play in it within the boundaries that these conflicts may draw. These conflicts are not solely about territory. Instead, they have a social and identity aspect, as they fall into the category of “existential wars” that trigger collective trauma in their populations: Shoah for the Israelis, Nakba for the Palestinians, Holodomor for the Ukrainians, without forgetting Medz Yeghern (the “Great Evil Crime”) for the Armenians. The memory of genocide and other tragedies – the memory of colonialism comes to mind – lingers in people’s minds and is passed down through the generations.« Trois guerres en interaction, en Ukraine, à Gaza et dans le Haut-Karabakh », Le Monde, 2 novembre 2023 … Continue reading
The tragedy being experienced by the Middle East, and fears of the conflict spreading, are reminiscent of the bewilderment felt around the world following the events of February 2022 in Ukraine. However, they also further underscore the questions raised by both situations, like mirror images, in a clear context of a resurgence of high-intensity and high-mortality conflicts. Indeed, a significant number of analysts already predicted it, specifically in the Humanitarian Alternatives issue on international humanitarian law.“International humanitarian law: the great step…backwards?” , Humanitarian Alternatives, issue 23, July 2023, … Continue reading
Clearly, these two conflicts are affecting us due to their scale, and raise questions with regard to the multiple dimensions involved in the rollout – or the obstruction – of humanitarian aid based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, in accordance with the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid. They are calling into question compliance with international law and respect for humanitarian principles; these have been flagrantly violated since they were declared,François Audet, Sara Germain, Stéphanie Maltais, “The state of affairs in Ukraine: flagrant violations of humanitarian principles”, Humanitarian Alternatives, 17 March 2022, … Continue reading including by the EU member states themselves, whose policy of double standards towards Ukraine and Gaza is patent and shocking.
Humanitarian Alternatives has decided to make this call for papers in order to take part in the much-needed debate about the humanitarian response to the impacts of the Israeli-Palestinian and Russia-Ukraine conflicts, as well as the discussion about what the repercussions of these conflicts will be. The relevance of the call for papers is being borne out by the respective developments that violently echo each other, even if these self-same developments may well prompt us to review different perspectives on the matter and speak with the authors so that their papers are as relevant as possible come the publication date of November 2024.
At the time of writing, this call for papers is inviting authors to take different points of view, moving away from political stances that are totally legitimate but can be expressed in other publications. The aim of this issue is to build an analytical bridge between the two conflicts, so as to put into perspective the explosive situation that they represent for the humanitarian sector, and all the issues that they raise, how humanitarian workers are coping with and adapting to them,Sara Germain, Janyck Beaulieu, Stéphanie Maltais, François Audet, “One year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine: humanitarian needs are as great as ever, Humanitarian Alternatives, 24 February … Continue reading the difficulties encountered, and action taken to address them, and improve the fate of conflict victims. How are the Israeli-Palestinian and Russia-Ukraine conflicts changing the humanitarian sector, and is any change irrevocable? How are they making the sector review its ways of working and call into question the whole raft of humanitarian principles, and what debates have they sparked in humanitarian non-governmental organisations?“For some aid workers, internal Gaza tensions unearth long-overdue debates”, The New Humanitarian, 11 December 2023, … Continue reading
Many thanks to Vincent Léger and Pierre Gallien, members of the editorial board, for their work on the first version of this text.
Translated from the French by Gillian Eaton