Professor Robin Geiß (PI), Dr Giedre Jokubauskaite (Co-I) and Dr Asli Ozcelik Olcay (Co-I) have received a prestigious research grant (£315,960) from the AHRC/DFG Funding Initiative in the Humanities in support of their project The Law of Protracted Armed Conflict: Overcoming the Humanitarian-Development Divide”. In collaboration with Professor Heike Krieger and Dr Andreas Buser from Freie Universität Berlin, they will research the humanitarian-development nexus in the context of protracted armed conflicts. The project promises to make fundamental advances towards the operationalisation of the humanitarian-development nexus in the pursuit of sustainable peace, by examining how an integrated and sustainable humanitarian and development response can be anchored in and promoted by international law. 

For more information on the project, please visit the project website:

The Law of Protracted Conflict: Bridging the Humanitarian-Development Divide

Contemporary armed conflicts have become protracted, complex and urbanised with far-reaching socio-economic consequences, such as severe damage to infrastructure, disruption of services, and protracted displacement.  The dire socio-economic dimensions of protracted conflicts, as well as the link between poverty and fragility, render the traditional divide between humanitarian and development assistance unfeasible to address the short- and long-term needs of affected communities. Accordingly, the need for an integrated humanitarian-development response to protracted armed conflicts has resurfaced on the international agenda. However, little is known about the legal drivers of the humanitarian-development divide and the legal risks that arise as this agenda moves forward. Overcoming the humanitarian and development divide remains a grand challenge in the absence of a better understanding of the legal drivers, relations, and mechanisms that shape humanitarian and development agendas in protracted armed conflicts.

Against this background, the project will provide a comprehensive analysis of the institutional and substantive legal frameworks within which humanitarian and development assistance are delivered. We aim to investigate the extent to which international law enables integrated, sustainable and accountable humanitarian and development assistance in contexts of protracted conflicts. More broadly, the findings of the project will contribute to some of the fundamental debates in international law, for example, on the evolution of international (humanitarian) law in face of the changing characteristics of armed conflicts, regime interactions and fragmentation of international law, and the expanding role and authority of non-state actors, particularly international organisations, in global governance.

Through this project, we aim to establish a knowledge base that will enhance the positive impacts of both development and humanitarian action on the ground. Through a clarified articulation of legal risks involved in the greater policy coherence, this project will also strengthen the legal position of affected local communities in contesting harmful or ineffective conflict interventions.

Our Research Objectives and Themes

The objectives of the project are to:

  • identify the legal challenges and modalities for the integration of development and humanitarian sectors at the institutional and systemic levels;
  • examine the interactions between various legal regimes relevant to the socio-economic dimensions of protracted armed conflicts;
  • assess the body of accountability standards and mechanisms present in humanitarian and development sectors in order to understand how they can be adjusted to ensure both the effectiveness and the accountability of international action under the conditions of protracted conflict;
  • develop, as an overarching aim of the project, legal and policy recommendations for the interpretation and design of international legal rules that facilitate sustainable humanitarian and development assistance in building resilience and peace.

The project will deliver on its aims through three work packages (WP) that focus on institutions, legal regimes and accountability, respectively. WP 1 charts the multitude of humanitarian and development actors operating in contexts of protracted conflicts and examines whether their mandates, principles, legal relations, and institutional structures are amenable to the creation of a humanitarian-development nexus. WP 2 focuses on the interactions between legal regimes applicable to protracted conflicts, with a view to evaluating whether international law contributes to the creation of the divide between the two sectors or can in fact provide legal common grounds to overcome the divide between them. Lastly, WP 3 assesses the need for new standards and mechanisms to ensure the inclusion of and accountability to affected communities in light of the expanding and interconnected nature of humanitarian and development responses.

UK-German Funding Initiative in the Humanities

Our research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). The AHRC and DFG have together launched the bilateral UK-German Funding Initiative in the Humanities for integrated UK-German projects, aiming to  strengthen international cooperation in the field of Humanities. 

The cooperation between the GCILS (UoG) and FU Berlin teams as part of this project will foster the growth of a transnational UK-German research cooperation and culture, and strengthen research cooperation between the two countries through joint research activities, meetings, conferences, and workshops. The project will also establish a forum for post-Brexit cooperation between the domestic public sectors in the UK and Germany in line with their joint commitment to a rule-based liberal international order in general, and to the sustaining peace agenda and the international commitment of both countries to the operationalisation of the humanitarian-development nexus in particular.