NGOs & Corpses workshop

18th March 2013, University of Manchester, UK

Organisers
Elisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France) and Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)


Humanitarians and corpses: the NGOs and the disposal of dead bodies in situations of mass violence, war and genocide

18th March 2013, Renold Building, The University of Manchester

This workshop is a collaboration between the EU funded research programme “Corpses of mass violence and genocide” and the HCRI. It will consider how humanitarians engage with and dispose of corpses in situations of mass violence, war with civilian victims and genocide.  Although the study of humanitarian aid has grown exponentially in recent years, the ethical, political, economic and logistical questions raised by the presence of corpses hardly feature in the narratives produced by humanitarians or scholars of humanitarian aid. Yet, there is mounting evidence that in some circumstances such as the civil war in Chad or the Genocide in Rwanda, NGOs had to organize in urgency the collecting of corpses. In the streets of Ndjamena, it was done with a bulldozer. In Kigali, during the Rwandan genocide, the government called the NGOs, and mostly the ICRC, to organize the disposal of corpses in mass graves.

Most humanitarians have been the helpless witnesses of violence. The International Committee of the Red Cross is present in most crises and its role is often central in the disposal of corpses. INGOs such as the ICRC often have to take responsibility for the recording and identification of victims.

As a preliminary, methodical workshop, this gathering will draw together both experienced humanitarians and social scientists. It will address simple but fundamental questions:

•          What is the fate of corpses under NGO responsibility?
•          Do procedures exist within NGOs to prescribe the treatment of dead bodies?
•          What is the true risk to the living from the unburied dead?
•          Are the corpses given back to the family? In which conditions (clothes, coffin etc)?
•          What happens when there is no family? Do humanitarians bury the bodies themselves? With or wihout religious rituals? Have NGOs in some cases been involved i the exchange of corpses?
•          Can differences be noticed in the treatment of corpses in various situations: sporadic events linked to civil wars, long lasting political violence or mass atrocities occurring in situations of genocides or natural disasters?

 

Programme:

9.30 registration

10.00 Welcome and objectives of the day: Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Elisabeth Anstett

 

10.30-12.30  Dead bodies in humanitarian circumstances: Chair Bertrand Taithe, respondent Jean- Hervé Bradol

Jean-Hervé Bradol (CRASH, Médecins sans frontières, France)

Caroline Reeves (Fairbank Center, Harvard University, USA). Grave Concerns: The Chinese Red Cross Society Burial Corps in Republican China (1911-1927). Harvard University Fairbank Center

Tony Redmond, (HCRI, The University of Manchester), From Lockerbie to Haiti: public health, dead bodies in humanitarian emergencies

Edith Rogenhofer, (Médecins sans frontiers, Germany): Burial of the dead – reality  in the field

 

12.30-1.30 lunch

 

1.30-3.30 Dead Bodies in situation of war: Chair Caroline Fournet, respondent Claire Magone

François Grünewald (Groupe Urgence Réhabilitation Développement) : trading dead bodies in Bosnia a foreground for peace talks ?

Andrea Michelle Skzil (University of Sussex, Brighton), “We’re here for assistance”: a consideration of the International Commission on Missing Persons and its work in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Claire Magone (CRASH, Médecins sans frontières)

 

3.30-4.00 tea – coffee

4.00-6.00 Dead bodies and the evidence of atrocity: Chaired Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Elisabeth Anstett, Response Rony Brauman

Kjell Anderson, (The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Netherland)

Morris Tidball-Binz, M.D., (Forensic coordinator, Assistance Division, International Committee of the Red Cross)

Concluding remarks