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Protecting Humanitarian Space - Drones, Politics and the Changing Nature of Conflict

  • Western Sydney University Sydney City Campus 255 Elizabeth Street Sydney, NSW, 2000 Australia (map)

The Whitlam Institute is pleased to present Protecting Humanitarian Space - Drones, Politics and the Changing Nature of Conflict with Paul White.

This is the first event in a series under the Whitlam Institute’s newly established Australia in the World public policy program. Associate Director Leanne Smith will introduce the program which aims to open up the policy debate around Australia’s engagement with the world through wider engagement and consultation with the Australian community. The evening promises to be thought-provoking, as Australian lawyer Paul White draws on his extensive experience in humanitarian crises around the world and asks, “Can civilians be better protected in conflict?”.

Based primarily on his experiences in Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian operations, White will consider whether the UN and INGOs have taken any wrong turns that have resulted in serious consequences for local NGOs and those in need of assistance. He will discuss the impact that drones, social media and other technology are having on humanitarian field work. He will question whether initiatives within the UN like ‘One UN’ and ‘Human Rights Up Front’ are arguably having a negative impact on humanitarian responses.

In response, Bethany Hender, the Humanitarian and Human Rights Advisor at the Australian Council for International Development, will examine Australia's involvement in this changing global landscape and how we should engage, outlining the case for a human security focus in foreign policy, and Australian NGO and Government responses to the World Humanitarian Summit’s Grand Bargain.

This is a FREE EVENT however RSVPs are ESSENTIAL, as places are limited.

The evening will begin at 6PM, with a welcome and refreshments, before the lecture commences at 6:30PM.

About the speakers:

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Paul White is an Australian lawyer, who has worked with the UNHCR in Asia, Geneva and Darfur, before becoming a Senior Protection Officer with the United Nations Interagency Protection Project – ProCap (Protection Capacity). In this role, he has worked with various UN agencies, including UN Human Rights, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator to build local capacity and provide strategic advice – essentially working to protect civilians in countries experiencing conflict or natural disaster. In addition to some HQ or regional postings he has been deployed to operations in Syria, Iraq. South Sudan, Myanmar, Nepal, Uganda and Sudan. Paul's last ProCap assignment was as Protection Adviser to the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis.

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Bethany Hender is the Humanitarian and Human Rights Advisor at the Australian Council for International Development, where she leads the Council’s work with NGOs on localisation in the Pacific. In this role, Bethany co-ordinates ACFID’s Humanitarian Reference Group, which is a mechanism for Australian agencies working in emergency relief and humanitarian assistance to share information, strengthen coordination, and engage in policy dialogue and advocacy to strengthen humanitarian response. Bethany has a Master of Laws, Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours, and a Bachelor of Development Studies and is an accredited mediator.

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Leanne Smith is the Associate Director at the Whitlam Institute. Leanne is an international human rights lawyer by training, with a Masters in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. Leanne has worked in the Australian judicial system, for the Australian Human Rights Commission, in the international NGO sector, regional human rights organisations, as an Australian diplomat (DFAT) and in various roles for the United Nations in New York and in the field, most recently as Chief of Policy and Best Practices for UN Peacekeeping Operations. Leanne has published a number of articles on Australian foreign policy and international human rights, rule of law and development as well as the United Nations and women, peace and security. She is a visiting fellow at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre.