ICRC Announcement: Launch of the Humanitarian Law & Policy blog

A digital forum on how to better protect and assist people affected by conflict and violence
About the blog

Humanitarian Law & Policy is an ICRC blog powered by the International Review of the Red Cross. Focusing on the interplay between international law and the policies that shape humanitarian action, it gathers academics, lawyers and aid workers concerned with improving humanitarian action and limiting the effects of armed conflict and violence.

Today’s posts

The blog is being launched on the occasion of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which starts on Monday. We open with a video interview with Head of Policy Hugo Slim, outlining how the ICRC approaches the upcoming Summit. It also features a post by Jennie Phillips on how to empower local communities through Digital Response Networks. Last but not least, Marc DuBois sheds light on an overlooked aspect of the principle of Impartiality, reminding us that in the world of humanitarian relief, people sometimes must be left behind.

Critical history of humanitarian photography on display

From 23-24 May, 2016, as part of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, an exhibition that takes a critical historical approach to looking at humanitarian photography. This exhibit is part of the ODI-HPG ‘Global history of modern humanitarian action’ project.

Beyond icons: subjects and stereotypes in humanitarian photography


Looking at photographs of humanitarian crises, we often get a sense of déjà vu.

This familiarity stems from the repeated use of stereotypical depictions of people-in-crisis over the course of 150 years of humanitarian imagery.

This photo exhibit features a range of ‘icons’, or visual tropes, such as ‘The mother and child’ and ‘The boat people’.

Featuring both historical and contemporary photographs, this exhibit invites critical reflection on how people in emergency settings — from refugees to aid workers to famine victims — are typically portrayed. It also explores the purposes, aims and power dynamics underpinning humanitarian images.

This exhibit is one in a series organised by the World Humanitarian Summit, on the theme of ‘reflections’. It forms part of our ‘Global history of modern humanitarian action’ project and was curated by Valérie Gorin (University of Geneva) and Sonya de Laat (Western University/McMaster University).

Photo credit: Joe Wenkoff/joewenkoff.com

Zika through a bioethics lens: a documentary



This documentary has been directed by Debora Diniz, a bioethicist. It illustrates the various challenges that the Zika virus presents to women in Brazil. The documentary is available in Portuguese with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9tqt0jaoG0                    


Este documental ha sido dirigido por la bioeticista Debora Diniz e ilustra los muchos desafíos que presenta el virus del Zika presenta a las mujeres en Brasil. El documental está disponible en portugués son subtítulos en inglés: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9tqt0jaoG0. Una versión en español se hará disponible pronto.

Suscripción a lista Public Health Ethics                                      Suscription to list Public Health Ethics                                        

Programa Regional de Bioética                                                   Regional Program on Bioethics                  

www.paho.org/bioetica                                                                www.paho.org/bioethics

Gestión del Conocimiento, Bioética e Investigación                    Knowledge Management, Bioethics and Research

Organización Panamericana de la Salud                                      Pan American Health Organization

Shared by Dr. Carla Saenz, PAHO.

Dr. Samantha Nutt to speak at McMaster U

The Program for Faculty Development (PFD), in the Faculty of Health Sciences
invites all to consider attending — 

WONG Forum in Medicine lecture with Dr. Samantha Nutt who will be speaking on:

Health Care Professionals as Advocates: 
Lessons from the Trenches

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

McMaster University’s

David Braley Health Sciences Centre – Room 2032

100 Main St. W. (corner of Main & Bay)

Hamilton, ON

Reception @ 6:00 p.m. (outside lecture room)

A flyer with additional info. is available here: 


To RSVP, or obtain additional information about our 9th Annual DAY in Faculty Development that will also be held on May 4, 2016, please see:


Health Policy Student Conference

Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at CHEPA’s New Frontiers in Health Policy Research Conference, being held on Monday April 25 at McMaster University’s CIBC Hall.

Liu, shown in photo, is a Canadian pediatrician born in Quebec City and a graduate of McGill University School of Medicine. She was appointed MSF’s international president in 2013.

In addition to prominent keynote and panel speakers, an exciting central part of CHEPA’s annual multidisciplinary conference for graduate students will be hearing an array of selected graduate students from area universities presenting their own innovative health policy research for discussion and critique in a supportive environment.

Examples of relevant research areas include:

  • Access to/quality of health care
  • Determinants of health
  • Disparities in access/health status
  • Economics of health care and HTA
  • Global health
  • Health funding
  • Health politics
  • Health reform
  • Health workforce
  • Knowledge translation
  • Public health or prevention
  • Research methods

The audience for this annual event is geared to graduate students and post-doctoral students from a variety of health disciplines and programs including political science, economics, sociology, health research methodology, health professions and health management, as well as policy makers.

For more information:


New book: Global Bioethics: An Introduction.

“What should concern us is not only the disease itself but the people who are ill. Health is negatively related to poverty and ecological degradation. Social, economic, and political conditions make people vulnerable….an ethical framework is needed that values common interests more than private or national ones.”

Henk ten Have 

Henk ten Have, Director and Professor at Duquesne University’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts’ Center for Healthcare Ethics, has published a new book: Global Bioethics: An Introduction.

He also authored a short blog post about its topic: ethical questions emerging from recent infectious disease outbreaks around the world.


Panel Discussion on Peace & Health

Panel Discussion on Peace & Health
Panelists: Mark Loeb, Ellen Amster, Lisa Schwartz, Harry Shannon, Anne Niec
McMaster University, Thursday, January 28, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, HSC 4E20
What is the role of health care and health care practitioners in questions of peace and conflict?  Public health is the first to suffer in war and civil conflict–the destruction of water and sewer systems, loss of electricity, wounding and suffering of civilians, disease and food shortages.  Health care practitioners like Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) have literally transcended conflicts and politics to care of populations most in need.  Doctors, nurses, and other practitioners have created networks for cooperation, even between countries at war.  In this panel, we consider how health and health care have been and can be a powerful force for peace and social justice.  What is the role of health in solving global problems and issues?  What is the effect of conflict on health and health systems?  How can health care practitioners negotiate conflict, create peace?  What are innovative strategies and histories of health care practitioners to promote and create peace?  Peace is close to home as well as between nations–how can medicine promote peace in the family, the community, and in the individual as well?
Anne Niec: Violence too Close to Home. I will discuss conflict through the lens of family violence, recognizing that most violence occurs at home – what do we mean by this; what is its impact; what as health care providers can we do – recognition and action; and above all the role of compassion within ourselves and each other.
Harry Shannon: Reframing Health? The impact of political violence on Palestinians. I will summarize the results of several studies of Palestinians that I have worked on, looking at health effects of conflict.  One particular question arises: should psychological responses to conflict be seen as ‘abnormal’ or are they normal responses to abnormal situations? 
Mark Loeb: Conflict and Infectious Diseases. In order to fully appreciate how healthcare can serve as a powerful force for peace, it is important to understand what the health implications are in conflict situations. This presentation will describe the key enablers of the spread of potentially lethal infectious diseases in conflict situations and will describe what is required to mitigate the spread of outbreaks and treat affected persons.  Such a broader understanding might help reduce the threat of conflict when the impact to the populations involved are fully understood.
Lisa Schwartz: Intervals of Peace during Conflict. How can patients and healthcare providers be protected in conflict zones? Just war theory has radicalized care, politicization of public health interventions has endangered the protections of the Geneva Convention, and Humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality have been misinterpreted in some contexts. Recent guidance proposes strategies which can enable aid access when peace is scarce.
Ellen Amster: Global Health vs. Inter-National Health as a Basis for Peace. Public health arose originally at the level of individual states, as a relationship between the citizen and the body politic.  International health arose from WWI and WWII, but the WHO suffers from the same limitations as its birthplace, the UN.  What are the limitations of international health and the promise of global health?
Where is HSC 4E20? Take Red elevators to the Fourth floor. After exiting elevator, go straight down the main corridor towards the Yellow section. The room is on the right hand side, between the red and yellow elevators. McMaster University is in Hamilton, Canada.