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Accountability in War - International Humanitarian Forum, Wolfsberg 2002: About the Forum


Basic information on the IHF: why a Forum?, who attends?, and contact information



 Contact - How can I find out more?  

For further information and the full reports of the International Humanitarian Forum, contact us at


 Previous Wolfsberg meetings  

1999: 13 June - Protection of the victims of armed conflicts

1998: 18 June - Political and humanitarian action

1997: 11 June - Difficulties humanitarian organizations face in carrying out their activities


About the Forum
   What is the Forum?  

The International Humanitarian Forum is an informal platform for high-level dialogue which will explore key issues and set the agenda for future humanitarian action in situations of conflict. The International Committee of the Red Cross organized forums in Wolfsberg in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

In the future the annual high-level Forum meeting will be supported by research, follow-up dialogue, a section of ICRC web site and an annual edition of the ICRC's FORUM publication  .  


People queuing for a food distribution in Burundi
©ICRC/T. Gassman

 Why a Forum on humanitarian issues?  

Humanitarian action has an impact on millions of people each year. Increasingly humanitarian crises last longer and involve a growing number of players and factors. Those involved have a responsibility to review their methods, assumptions, values and impact, and find ways to meet new challenges that will affect the humanitarian world in the future.

The Forum will act as a catalyst in that process by providing an opportunity for high-level players in humanitarian crises to consult and share their analysis of the challenges and decide on concrete solutions and priorities which will shape humanitarian action and bring about changes in the behaviour of all involved.


 What are the challenges?  

The main hope of the Forum is to achieve a more coherent and effective response to the needs of victims of conflict by bridging the gaps in understanding among the world's principal humanitarian players, from aid providers to beneficiaries.


A woman in Chechnia crying over what's left of her house
©ICRC/Eric Bouvet
 The changed nature of conflicts requires them to define how humanitarian action should adapt and how it should face up to the wars of tomorrow which may involve more advanced technologies, space wars and new forms of terrorism.
How will we deal with the new dimension of beneficiaries becoming more aware of their rights, and an international community more accountable to them? To what extent and in what conditions should humanitarian action move beyond emergency response to incorporate prevention, development and post-conflict reconstruction? How should the mandates of the increasing number of humanitarian players be redefined in the future?
How might the development of ever more effective forms of destruction affect the dialogue between humanitarian organizations and military and political authorities?
How can we achieve better acceptance of agreed values and existing law? What, in short, might future humanitarian action look like?    

 Who attends?  

The Forum brings together leaders of humanitarian organizations, policy-makers, academics, business people and other specialists. Government, agencies and other organizations are represented by senior officials and executives. There are also individuals invited in a personal capacity who are internationally recognized specialists in the field under discussion. The Forum will bring together on an equal footing representatives from regions where humanitarian operations take place and those who provide assistance and support.