KUNO Summer Course 2023

Summary report

Interested in learning more about this session? Read the summarizing report here.

About the Summer Course

KUNO organised another Summer Course this year. During this two-day introductory course on humanitarian aid, humanitarian academics, practitioners and policymakers discussed some very important aspects of humanitarian work. A mix of practical knowledge, debates and working sessions was designed to broaden understanding of the humanitarian field, improve the efficiency of humanitarian workers and strengthen their network. The 18 participants had two intense but productive learning days.


  • Professor of humanitarian studies Thea Hilhorst from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Benoit de Gryse, Head of Operations and Advocacy at Stichting Vluchteling,
  • Rolf Wijnstra, senior humanitarian policy officer of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Pia Zeinoun, vice-president Embrace (Lebanon) and Director of the Embrace Mental Health Center (EMHC).
  • Emiel Martens (UvA/EUR) & Wouter Oomen  (UU), founders of the Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication.

The programme - Day 1

Morningsession: Thea Hilhorst, Global humanitarian governance trends

Learning goals – participants will be able to understand:

  • The different types of humanitarian organizations (Dunantist, Double Mandated etc.);
  • The relevant institutional structures in humanitarian aid and how they interact and/or compete;
  • The origins and logic of different guiding policies that structure humanitarian aid: CHS, SPHERE;
  • New actors (private actors, new volunteer movements) and the effects on the humanitarian field;
  • Trends (Covid, urbanisation, protracted crisis, a growing self-esteem of local and national actors) and the structural changes they might bring to the humanitarian sector.

Afternoonsession: Benoit de Gryse, Humanitarian aid in daily practice

Learning goals – participants will be able to understand:

  • What to expect when repsonding to a crisis;
  • How to set priorities: UN classification system (L1-2-3);
  • Coordination; UN OCHA cluster system;
  • Access & its challenges (f.i. negotiating with armed groups);
  • A growing politicization of aid and its consequences.

Programme - Day 2

Morningsession: Rolf Wijnstra

Learning goals – participants will be able to understand:

  • Humanitarian priorities of the Netherlands;
  • Politics versus impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian aid (politicization & humanitarian diplomacy);
  • The present policies that aim to reform the international humanitarian aid industry (WHS, Grand Bargain, DRA, START Network);
  • Current dilemma’s concerning quality and effectiveness of humanitarian aid (risk management, localization, unearmarked funding, nexus, etc.)

Humanitarian action from a local perspective: a conversation with a local actor: Pia Zeinoun, Mental Health Center (EMHC). Read an interview with Pia here.

Afternoonsession: Emiel Martens & Wouter OomenHumanitarian communication

Learning goals – participants will be able to understand:

  • The (neo)colonial history of international development and humanitarian communication;
  • How stereotypes have been and are still used in the communications of international development organizations, and what the consequences are of such stereotypes;
  • The importance of ethical and inclusive humanitarian communication, and how this could be achieved.

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