Transatlantic Dialogues on Humanitarian Action

The European Union and the United States of America are the world’s two largest donors to humanitarian issues. However, these two bodies give aid in very different fashions. Given the rising importance of humanitarian aid and the likelihood of an increase in both number and severity of disasters in the years to come, it is vital to integrate the American and European debates and approaches to aid. Increased cooperation between the transatlantic partners stands to benefit not just both sides, but the international community in general for two reasons: Firstly, we can learn a great deal from the different policies and experiences of each donor. Secondly, dialogue and cooperation are essential to devising joint strategies for effectively dealing with the global challenges of managing and preparing for disasters.


A key component of Raising the Bar was a conference series, the "Transatlantic Dialogues on Humanitarian Action". Designed to work in tandem with the 18 month research program, the dialogues brought together EU and US policy-makers, NGOs, multilateral organizations, researchers, and the private sector to discuss the core issues facing the humanitarian community in each of the four study group areas of this project, as well as more general issues facing the community at large. The purpose of the program was twofold: first to provide an opportunity for practitioner feedback into the research process of the “Raising the Bar” project; and second, to promote and foster the development of a transatlantic strategic community on humanitarian action by bringing together highly qualified professionals from all fields focusing on these issues. Such a strategic community is vital for developing innovative new approaches to tackle the challenges of humanitarian aid in the 21st century.

There were three sessions of the Transatlantic Dialogues on Humanitarian Action. The first was held in Berlin in June 2008. The Second was in Washington DC in December 2008 and the final Dialogue was held in Brussels in June 2009. The sessions brought together participants from all relevant sectors (including government, NGOs, business, think tanks and universities) in order to promote a strategic community for building bridges between the US and Europe; and between policymakers from different parts of the government, civil society, business and the media.