SSH Rate

Research Grants "Realities and Prospects of a Humanitarian Transition in Aid Beneficiary Countries"

The French Red Cross has been a pioneer of humanitarian action for over 150 years. In 2013, pursuing its engagement for a fairer and more humane world, the French Red Cross created the French Red Cross Fund. This endowment fund is dedicated to the promotion of research work on the methods of humanitarian action in transition, and on the links binding humanitarian and social fields.

Many former international aid beneficiary countries are now able to take over humanitarian interventions on their own territories. Other countries, still dependent on international assistance, express a growing desire for autonomy and are entering a phase of humanitarian transition, more or less advanced depending on the country.

In order to support and guide this reflection and innovation effort, the French Red Cross Fund is launching in 2017 its fourth call for projects and post-doctoral research.

Thematic research areas

The transition is characterised by a new distribution of roles from an operational point of view, the formulation of new operating rules, and the emergence of many new interactions (between funders, international organisations, the private sector, civil society, supranational institutions, medias and donors). How are these mechanisms translated at the local level? How is the activity transfer being organised? With which actors and according to what standards? In this context, how can theoretical and practical knowledge be transferred? What resources are necessary to allow for an evolution of the humanitarian, charity, sanitary and social professions, with a view to providing support to ongoing dynamics?

Lastly, this new humanitarian context is at the centre of new human relations, in which the ethical dimension occupies a prominent place. Between local codes and mechanisms of appropriation of globalised ethics, is it possible to speak of universal ethics? How to formulate these principles and apply them to the humanitarian or social field?

Such mechanisms encourage knowing local actors better, gaining a better understanding of the new terms of intervention at the local level between the humanitarian sector and social sector and, finally, better anticipating the evolution of humanitarian professions. The various major issues around which the humanitarian transition is taking place are as many entries for better understanding it. Humanitarian ethical principles (in particular autonomy) may be the necessary link between these different themes and, eventually, a possible common denominator to guide any action or humanitarian policy both domestically and internationally. This is why an insight on the ethical dimension is very welcome, whatever the the me of the call addressed.

Thus, the overarching theme can be addressed globally or in one of the following aspects:

Focus 1. Knowledge of the local humanitarian landscape: configurations and dynamics

There is very little research analysing the spaces of intervention of international aid in order to understand their specific characteristics. And yet these spaces exist in a large variety of configurations, in terms of the number and nature of invested actors, local or  international, the relationships between them and with the local authorities, the scale, type and sector of activity (water, nutrition, health, insertion, migration, education, risk exposure, suppression of civil liberties), the objectives and character of the programmes put in place (emergency, development), the motivations, organisational methods, functioning and financing of the actors, the capacity and standards of action, and the diagnosis of humanitarian issues and population needs. Furthermore, over the course of time, each of these spaces has witnessed different configurations of international aid, evolving on the one hand according to political, economic, social and cultural dynamics of their own, and on the other, according to the international aid system’s logic of development.

How to explain the specifics of a local humanitarian network and its development? Which kind of analysis can be applied to the configurations and dynamics of the spaces of intervention of humanitarian aid whilst simultaneously taking into account the past, present and future humanitarian needs of populations, and the opinions and aspirations of local actors (NGOs, state)?

Focus 2. Humanitarian action, social action: transition practices and human development

The fields of emergency aid, development and the social are evolving as semantic issues, measures, spaces of action and imagined realities. They are also characterised by the new interactions between them, rendering established borders increasingly uncertain. Over the past 150 years, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has witnessed the juxtaposition of humanitarian aid, social and development issues, in developed and developing countries, through people, skills and principles. Thus the transfer of activities between national and external actors is at work today in a number of developing countries seeking a renewed solidarity which places communities at the heart of the action and provides each person with the essential tools to sustainably rebuild their lives.

How, for a specific case study, does the connection articulate itself between humanitarian and social action, collective and individual action, one-time and sustainable action – between exported, integrated and invented actions? What kind of analysis can we bring to the state of this connection with regards to the objectives, opinions and aspirations of the different actors of solidarity (local and international)?

This aspiration for autonomy leads international aid actors to reinvent themselves, to question their action on ethical grounds as well as the practical arrangements of this transition. Which ethical principles might guide the reinvention of humanitarian action in transition? Which practical translations of these principles, which adjustments, adaptations, reconfigurations, and levers are necessary today for the elaboration of a sustainable form of intervention?

Focus 3. Globalisation and new geopolitics of international aid

From mobilisations in international civil society, to the development of humanitarian law and diplomacy, by way of the emergence of sponsors of action on a planetary scale, the humanitarian sector has progressively carved out its own space and dynamics in an increasingly globalised world. Hence, in its action it must adapt to major transnational issues: geopolitics, international conflicts, corruption and organised crime without borders, forced migration, etc. This globalisation complexifies the understanding of the international aid system, including in its local configurations, by the multiplication of actors, the speed of changes which they bring about, and the scope of their action from one continent to another. Understanding the international aid system therefore requires a global perspective.

How do the actions of actors and transnational organisations reconfigure the humanitarian apparatus, and how can they help us to explain local configurations of international aid? Which strategies do different actors from developing countries (institutional, political, associative, etc.) resort to in order to negotiate their insertion into the global system and benefit from multifaceted aid? How do these macro-political logics impact on local humanitarian and development agents? To what extent is the humanitarian consensus built up between actors or, on the contrary, by which mechanisms is this consensus shackled, particularly in conflict situations? Comparative approaches between countries or regions are strongly encourage

Geographic research areas

These topics will be addressed either transversally or with a specific geographic focus on one specific area or country. The Fund has identified 14 priority countries on which to focus the 2017 research. They are:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Union of the Comoros
  • Ivory Coast
  • Ethiopia
  • Lebanon
  • Madagascar
  • Mali (residing researchers only)
  • Morocco
  • Mayotte (France)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo/DRC (residing researchers only)
  • Chad
  • Senegal

These target countries represent an empirical start ing-point for research. They do not correspond to eligibility criteria with regards to nationality.

Access to the field will be determined by a precise risk evaluation submitted along with the application and updated before departure, with prior reference to the recommendations of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development.

Application conditions

Funding allocated by the Fund is intended to cover the cost of one year of research, in the framework of an individual postdoctoral fellowship. Postdoctoral researchers are awarded a fellowship according to a base scale of 20,000 € per year.

It is possible to submit one application per call. However, each candidate may receive only one fellowship and, if necessary, will have to choose.

Only those candidates complying with the following conditions may apply:

  • Candidates must hold a doctorate (French doctorate, Ph.D. or foreign doctorate of equivalent level) in the field of social science (in particular in political science, anthropology, sociology or philosophy) or medical science (medicine, public health);
  • Candidates must have defended their thesis less than 10 years ago;
  • Candidates must not hold a permanent position more than half-time;
  • Candidates must contribute to advancing research on the themes or geographic areas selected by the Fund, or must have published in other fields, thereby showing their capacities in conducting high-quality research.

There are no conditions concerning nationality. The Fund will nevertheless give priority to applications from researchers living in the countries corresponding to the priority geographic areas.

Projects presenting a multidisciplinary approach are strongly encouraged.

Generally speaking, a researcher wishing to apply must:

  • Write the research paper in French;
  • Be presented by a research or academic institution;
  • Demonstrate motivation in the application (value of the proposed research and impact for the institution);
  • Comply with the award conditions and terms of use of the funds granted by the Fund, as stated in this document;
  • Pre-enrol in accordance with the requirements below before 23 March 2017;
  • Return the completed application form to the French Red Cross Fund with the attached documents before 17 April 2017.

Funding regulations and requirements

The Fund does not provide researchers with any financial or logistical support beyond the allocated fellowship. Each researcher is solely responsible for the logistical management and material conditions of his or her work.

All selected researchers commit to respecting the requirements, signing the charter and allocation convention for Fund financing.

Researchers commit to respecting the laws and regulations in force in the research country, especially concerning their entries and departures from the field, and to subscribing to civil responsibility insurance, health and repatriation cover in the event of movement abroad and to all obligatory social security contributions applicable in their home countries.

Researchers commit to respecting the Fund’s scientific calendar regarding the deadlines for report submissions and working papers. They will have the opportunity to present their work orally, during the day workshops organised by the Fund.

The financing or cofinancing by the French Red Cross Fund and its partners would be mentioned in the event of any articles or books being published based on the research carried out in the context of the fellowships. Reciprocally, any use or dissemination by the Fund of research carried out would be credited to the author, who remains the owner of his or her work.

The Fund transfers 90% of the fellowship in three instalments: in the first month of research, and on reception of each of the two progress reports. The remaining 10% is transferred on receipt of the two working papers by the Fund.

The financed research period begins on September 1st of the fellowship year. However, the transfer of the first instalment of the fellowship is determined by written confirmation by the researcher indicating the beginning of their research. Any delay following September 1st must be justified and will result in a delay of the first instalment until this confirmation is received. Any delay or breach of professional ethics which calls into question the trust between the researcher and the Fund by its unjustified nature, or the feasibility of the study within the limits defined, may lead to the cancellation of funding.

The allocation of the second and third instalments depends on the expressed will, reaffirmed on behalf of the researcher, to continue their research, by means of two progress reports to their supervisor and to the Fund’s scientific advisor. The researcher must notify the Fund without delay of any premature end to their research. Hence, in the absence of reaffirmation of their expressed will to continue with their research, the transfer of funds will be suspended. The Fund reserves the right to ask for the reimbursement of all or part of the funds already allocated. In the same way, any delay in submitting the reports, and any breach in professional ethics which calls into question the trust between the researcher and the Fund by its unjustified nature or scope may lead to the cancellation of funding.

The applicant commits to reporting any possible conflicts of interest.

It is understood that the views and opinions expressed by the researchers in articles or books based on this research are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the French Red Cross Fund.

Application date
23 Mar 2017
Date of residence
1 Sep 2017
1 year
Europe France Paris Île-de-France
Humanities Philosophy Social sciences Demography Economics Environmental Sciences Geography Law Political science Social Anthropology Sociology Other Medicine
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 10 years
Award granted
€ 20.000