Access to Resources and the International Community

15th International Humanitarian Conference

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

18 - 19 February 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

Project details

Webster University, under the patronage of the Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey, and the Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva is organizing the 15th International Conference Humanitarian 18 and 19 February 2010. This year's conference will be access to natural resources, water and food, health and sanitation, and humanitarian rights and justice - elements necessary to sustainable development.

Through its tradition and through the presence of major international humanitarian organizations and NGOs, Geneva is intricately involved in worldwide humanitarian action. Thus, as has been the case from the start in 1995, the program of next year’s Webster event is being prepared in close consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). We hope that as in every year since the 1st Webster Humanitarian Conference, the 2009 edition can also be held under the auspices of the Government of the State of Geneva.

Humanitarian action is a demonstration of hope and of humane values. Its focus is on individuals and communities in situations of vulnerability, risk, need and oppression, regardless of national origin. Victims of displacement, forced migration, persecution, man-made humanitarian crises or natural disasters, requires physical and material aid, such as food and shelter, but increasingly consists of access to medicine and health, as well as Justice.

For the past 15 years, the paradigms of “Human Security” and “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) have led us to define 7 categories of basic needs, in the wake of the UNDP’s 1994 Human Development Report: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security.

Considerable research demonstrates that the single most important cause of international armed conflicts is poverty and access to limited resources. This is due to the fact that most natural resources are geographically defined. Their possession and control may lead to territorial disputes, tensions, and occupation (geopolitics).

To a lesser extent, but still to a substantial degree, internal conflicts are also motivated by territorial control over these same resources: energy, food and water, mines and industrial production centers, agricultural lands and transit/communications routes.

International Relations

Fulfilling the basic needs (food, water, shelter) as well as the basic human rights are recognized as a fundamental basis for development. However, in the wake of these declarations, many areas around the world suffer from a lack of access to one or more of these vital resources. These unbalances are only widened by the global financial and environment crises. International divides (the North-South gap) as well as internal ones (rich and poor) will be addressed, through the lens of unequal access to resources and rights.

The program of the Conference will be organized around three major themes:

  1. Access and Outreach to Victims and Communities at Risk;
  2. Access and Value of Political and Civil Rights;
  3. Access to Natural Resources, Economic and Social Development.

The support and encouragement of UNHCR, ICRC, of other major organizations and of the Geneva authorities have greatly contributed to the success of these annual meetings dedicated to important current topics of interest to both the humanitarian community and to a broader Geneva-based and international public. As usual, beside experts from UNHCR and ICRC, there will also be speakers from of other major international organizations and NGOs and from national governments, universities as well as other organizations. We hope that as in previous years the papers presented at the 2010 conference will also be published in Refugee Survey Quarterly, a journal of UNHCR and Oxford University Press.

The conference will be held at the International Conference Center (CICG). English-French simultaneous interpretation will be provided throughout the conference.

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