TH 539/IN 539 Human Rights, Humanitarian Crises and Refugees: Ethical, Political, and Religious Responses
Boston College
Fall, 2010, Tuesday, 2-3:50
McElroy Commons 208
David Hollenbach, S.J.
Office: 21 Campanella Way, Room 318
Office hours: Monday and Tuesday. 4:30-5:15 p.m. or by appointment 
Phone:  617-552-8855;  E-mail:
Web site:

Michael Delaney, Oxfam America (email will be provided)

Teaching Assistant: 
Kevin Ahern
Office: 21 Campanella Way, Cubicle 360C

AIM:  to understand the significance and requirements of human rights in the face of contemporary humanitarian crises and the forced migration that results from such crises. The relation between such crises and both warfare and economic justice will be explored. The ethical perspectives that should guide responses by political, religious and civil communities to humanitarian crisis and the plight of refugees today will be considered throughout the course.  Registration is limited. 

METHOD.  The course is based on common reading of selected writings and documents, lectures by the professor, critical discussion of the readings and lectures both in small groups and in the class as a whole , and personal appropriation through written analysis..

1. Completion of assigned readings in advance of class. It is very important that you study the readings before class so you can follow the lectures and participate in the discussions in a well informed way. Be sure to bring the readings with you to each class.
2. There will be a quiz on the assigned readings at the beginning of most classes. You are expected to have the entire week’s reading done before class each week. There will be no makeup quizzes and misses will be averaged as a grade of zero. Absences due to medical causes, with a note from your physician, will not be averaged into the grade. 15% of final grade. Extra credit will be given for a 2 page paper on a relevant lecture given on campus throughout the semester. An excellent paper on such a lecture will ordinarily raise your quiz average by about 10% (the equivalent of the value of each quiz)
3. Take home mid-term exam, due in instructor’s theology dept mailbox by 4 pm on Monday, October 25 (30% of final grade)

4. 10 page study of a “practical” issue directly related to one of the topics treated in the course.

The topic for this project should be determined by preparing one (1) page containing

a. A statement of the question the project seeks to answer, stated in whole sentences.

b. Preliminary list of resources that will be used to pursue the project (including a brief bibliography).

c. This one page should be discussed with and approved by the TA or one of the Professors by November 9.

5. Final comprehensive exam (35% of final grade). The exam is on Friday, December 17, at 9 a.m. Make all travel plans so you can be present at this exam time. The exam will not be given at any other time.


ReliefWeb website, sponsored by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at:
International Committee of the Red Cross, at:
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at:
United National High Commissioner of Human rights, at:
Amnesty International, at:
Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice, at:
Catholic Relief Services, at:
Columbia University, resources on human rights and humanitarian affairs, at:
Forced Migration Online, at:
Human Rights Watch, at:
International Crisis Group, at:
International Rescue Committee, at:
Jesuit Refugee Service international at: JRS USA, at:
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), at:
Oxfam UK, at:
Oxfam America, at:
Oxford Refugee Studies Center, at:
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, at:


Readings marked with (*) are available at the B.C. bookstore and are also are also available on reserve in O'Neill Library.  Those marked (+) will be available on the course site at Blackboard Vista. Log on via the Agora Portal site or at:   Some other materials are available online via the link indicated on the Syllabus. An electronic version of the syllabus is on the course Blackboard site and also on David Hollenbach’s home page ( ) Some recommended material will be available through the course reserve link on the BC Libraries webpage.

9/7     Introduction to the Course. 

Video in class:
Excerpts from “Living in Emergency,” documentary on MSF, online at:

Suggested questions for small groups:

1. What was the image that struck you most?
2. What is one point that you learned?
3. One word that represents how this (these) video(s) made you feel?

Video’s for possible viewing outside of class:

Condition Critical, excerpt, on the crisis in eastern Congo, online at:

CRS, Hope for Haiti, online at:

9/14     Human rights and humanitarianism—what do these terms mean?

Required readings:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
+Mary Ann Glendon, "Knowing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Notre Dame Law Review 73, no. 5 (1998), pp. 1153-1176.
International Committee of the Red Cross, “The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent,” online at:$File/ICRC_002_0513.PDF

ICRC, What Is International Humanitarian Law, online at:$File/What_is_IHL.pdf


Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation,” 2006, online at:

International Committee of the Red Cross, Discover the ICRC, online at:$File/ICRC_002_0790.PDF

Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

9/16— Thursday September 16, 2010. 5:30 p.m.  Higgins 300. Special on–campus event (attendance required for all in the course):

Humanitarian Intervention and the "Responsibility to Protect"


David Hollenbach, S.J., Boston College; Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University; and Alan Wolfe, Boston College.

What is the world to do when a particular government cannot, or will not, stop large-scale violence and human rights abuses within its borders? What if the state itself is the source of this violence? For the past twenty years "humanitarian intervention" has been the key concept in the debate over international military action to stop such violence within a state. But a new concept called "the responsibility to protect" is gaining ground in the world community, seeking to reframe the debate on state sovereignty and the warrants for military intervention. Join our panel of distinguished scholars as they consider the implications of the "R2P" paradigm for U.S. foreign policy and the international community.

9/21     Human rights and humanitarianism—some practical challenges today

Required readings:

Sphere Project, The Humanitarian Charter, online at:

Hugo Slim, “Not Philanthropy but Rights: Rights-Based Humanitarianism and the Proper Politicisation of Humanitarian Philosophy in War,” online at:

*Michael Barnett and Thomas G. Weiss, eds., Humanitarianism in question: politics, power, ethics, chap. 1, Michael Barnett and Thomas G. Weiss, “Humanitarianism: A Brief History of the Present.”

+Oxfam International, “OI Policy Compendium Note on Humanitarianism,” May 2008.

Video in class on the Humanitarian Charter from Sphere:, “On the Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes.” Online at:,english


+Ray Offenheiser and Susan Holcombe, “Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing a Rights-Based approach to Development: An Oxfam America Perspective.”

Inter Agency Standing Committee, “Human Rights Guidance Note for Humanitarian Coordinators,” June, 2006, online at:

September 21, 2010 Recommended event on campus:
Dexter Filkins - The Forever War
Merkert 127 - 7:30 p.m.

New York Times foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins won a 2005 George Polk award for his coverage of the eight-day assault on Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. The attack left 51 Americans dead, six of them marines in the company with which Filkins was embedded. Author of The Forever War, Filkins was part of a team of reporters who won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

9/28     Refugees—the situation today, refugee law, asylum

Required readings:

The 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention (1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees), esp. Preamble and Chaps. and 4 (arts. 1-4, 12, 16-17,  26, 31-34) available online at: (scroll down to link on right side of this page).

*David Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home: Protecting the Rights of Forced Migrants, essays 1 (Martin), 2 (Orobator), 7 (Abizadeh).

+Oxfam International, “OI Policy Compendium Note on Protecting Refugees, IDPs and Asylum-seekers,” November, 2007.


+Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home, essays by Tomasi, Kanstroom, Brennan,

Organization of African Unity, Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, 10 September 1969, available online at:

Cartagena Declaration on Refugees.  Adopted at a colloquium entitled "Coloquio Sobre la Proteccíon Internacional de los Refugiados en Américan Central, México y Panamá: Problemas Jurídicos y Humanitarios" held at Cartagena, Colombia from 19 – 22 November 1984.  Available online at:

Daniel Groody, “Crossing the Divide: Foundations of a Theology of Migration and Refugees,” Theological Studies 70 (September 2009): 638-667.

Luke Bretherton, Christianity and Contemporary Politics, chapter 3, “ National: Christian Cosmopolitanism, Refugees, and the Politics of Proximity,” pp. 126-174.

Gil Loescher, Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis, chaps. 2-5, pp. 32-128.

DVD in class:  UNHCR,  Global View 2002: A Foundation for the Future (17.5 min.).

Class discussion of the IDP context and how are they protected: case studies from Darfur, Ethiopia

September 28 Recommended event on campus.


Adios Ayacucho
Performance by Peruvian Theater Troupe Yuyachkani
8.00 PM, Bond Theater
Center for Human rights and International Justice, In collaboration with the Theater Department

September 30, 2010 Recommended event on campus.
5:30 p.m. Fulton 511
The Heart's Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience  John Neafsey of Loyola University, Chicago, joins us to set the stage for the C21 Center's yearlong series on vocation. From an interdisciplinary, ecumenical and interfaith stance, he will discuss what it means to hear a call in the heart and respond to vocation by becoming more just and compassionate as individuals and communities.


10/5   Critiques of humanitarianism and responses; Oxfam as case study.

Required readings:

Dangers of bureaucracy:

+Barbara E, Harrell-Bond. "Can Humanitarian Work with Refugees Be Humane?" Human Rights Quarterly 24, Number 1 (February 2002): 51-85.
Cultural critique:
Mahmood Mamdani, “Beware of Human Rights Fundamentalism,” Pambazuka News, no. 425, Mar. 26, 2009, online at:

Political critique:

David Reiff, “How NGOs Became Pawns in the War on Terrorism,” New Republic, August 3, 2010, online at:

*Stephen Hopgood, “Saying ‘No’ to Walmart? Money and Morality in Professional Humanitarianism,” in Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home, chap. 4, pp. 98-123.

How do humanitarian organizations respond? Oxfam as a case looking at specific examples: Darfur, Zimbabwe, Pakistan

Oxfam materials see Oxfam:

Thursday, October 7, 2010 | 5:00 p.m.   Recommended event on campus
Profits and Prophets: Economic Development and Interreligious Dialogue
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons

Professor Paul Knitter, Union Theological Seminary, is
this year's keynote speaker at Boston College's Symposium
on Interreligious Dialogue. He will speak on the topic of
"Profits and Prophets: Economic Development and
Interreligious Dialogue."


10/12   Religious responses  

Required readings:

+Jon Sobrino, Where Is God: Earthquake, Terrorism, Barbarity, and Hope, chapters 1, 2, 7, and Epilogue (pp. 1-28, 124-152).

+Albert Nolan, Hope in an Age of Despair, chapter 4 (“The Service of the Poor and Spiritual Growth: Compassion and Relief Work,” pp. 37-46.

Drew Christiansen, “Movement, Asylum, Borders: Christian Perspectives,” International Migration Review 30, no. 1 (Spring, 1996): 7-11.  Available online via the BC Library electronic journals, at:!xrn_1_0_A18378842?sw_aep=mlin_m_bostcoll8842&dyn=18!xrn_1_0_A18378842?sw_aep=mlin_m_bostcoll

Case Study in class: El Salvador; the war and how the earthquake brought it to its end. ( The view from someone who was there.)


National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Today’s Immigrants and Refugees: A Christian Understanding, essays by Miller and Hoppe pp. 1-42.

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the
Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity, available online at:

Drew Christiansen, SJ, “Sacrament of Unity: Ethical Issues in Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees,” in National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Today’s Immigrants and Refugees: A Christian Understanding, 81-114.

+David Tracy, “The Hidden God: The Divine Other of Liberation,” Cross Currents, spring, 1996, pp. 5-16.

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Recommended event on campus
5:30 p.m.  Corcoran Commons, Heights Room
Hope in a Wintery Season
Michael J. Himes, professor of theology, Boston College
Hope, which should never be confused with optimism, is much more about the present than the future. This lecture will discuss how it is not a matter of keeping one's fingers crossed about tomorrow but rather of remaining attentive today.

10/19 Practical case studies of religious NGOs--Jesuit Refugee Service, CRS, Worldvision

Visiting presentation: Maryanne Loughry, Research Professor at BC Center for Human Rights and International Justice and Associate Director, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia.

1. JRS

Required readings:
Materials from Everybody’s Challenge: Essential Documents of Jesuit Refugee Service, online at: ) including:

Jesuit Refugee Service, Charter, in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 13-16.

Pedro Arrupe, “The Society of Jesus and the refugee problem, in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 28-30.

Mark Raper, “Pastoral accompaniment among refugees,” in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 84-92.

Mark Raper, “JRS and the Ignatian Tradition,” in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 111-117.

Mark Raper, “The causes of forced displacement: the breakdown of sustainable global community,” in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 136-141.

Joe Hampson, Jesuit Refugee Service, Thailand, “JRS Accompaniment — a new way of being present?” online at:

+Frank Turner, “A Model of Ignatian Advocacy,” Promotio Justitiae 101 (2009/1): 35-40.


Jesuit Refugee Service Guidelines, in Everybody’s Challenge, pp. 17-25.

JRS, God in Exile.

2.     Catholic Relief Services
Required readings:
See: CRS Website,  especially the links under  “Who We Are,” ( on “Guiding Principles,” “Mission Statement,” and the links under “How We Serve” ( on Public Policy, emergency Response, and Peacebuilding.

Michael Wiest, “Catholic Relief Services and Fordham University: Faith, Justice and Solidarity in the 21st Century,” online at:

CRS Campus Connection, at:

On CRS "Justice Lens" see R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred, pp. 50-56.

Discussion in class: secular NGOs working in coalition with religious organizations; are they different? Cases on Cuba, Central America, and the Humanitarian Enterprise

Recommended additional faith-based organization: Worldvision (largest US NGO working of relief/development issues, with an evangelical Protestant orientation). See Worldvision website: especially links under “Our Work.”

Bryant L. Myers, Walking With the Poor: Principles and Practices of
Transformational Development.  Myers is former Vice President of Worldvision.

10/26 Ethical responses to crises on the ground.

Required readings:

*Mary B. Anderson, Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace or War, Introduction and Part 1, pp. 1-76.

Discussion in class of concrete examples of Do No Harm practices using Mary Anderson’s analysis, e.g. Rwanda, Guatemala, Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia


+Thomas G. Weiss, “Principles, Politics, and Humanitarian Action,” Ethics and
International Affairs 13 (1999): 1-21, with responses by Cornilio Sommaruga  (ICRC), Joelle Tanguy and Fiona Terry (MSF), and David Rieff.

11/2 Ethical responses to policy issues.

Required readings:

*Michael Barnett and Thomas G. Weiss, eds., Humanitarianism in question: politics, power, ethics, chap. 5, J. G. Stein, “Humanitarian Organizations: Accountable—Why, to Whom, for what, and How?” and ch. 6, M. Barnett and J. Snyder, “The Grand Strategies of Humanitarianism,” pp. 124-172.

+Oxfam International, “OI Compendium Note on the International Criminal Court,” April, 2010.
+Kenneth Hackett, “Public Funds, Catholic Mercy: Fulfilling the Promise of the Church in the World,” Rome, Nov. 23, 2003, on ethical issues in government funding of CRS

Wednesday, November 3 Recommended event on campus
Elizabeth Ferris, Co-Director Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, The Brookings Institution, “Natural Disasters and Human Rights: Comparing Responses to Haiti and Pakistan.” 
7.00 PM Murray Room, Yawkey Center

11/9     War as the problem and Humanitarian Intervention

Required readings:

*Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home, chaps. 8 (Loughry), 9 (Hehir), and 10 (Weiss).

+Oxfam International “OI Policy Compendium Note on the Responsibility to Protect,” July 2008.

+Oxfam International, "OI Policy Compendium Note on the Provision of Aid by Military Forces,"

Class discussion: What every aid worker should know when working in a conflict area (see ICRC document).


United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, prepared by the Secretary-General's Special Representative on IDPs.  Available online at:

11/16 Psychosocial, gender, and cultural issues focus on women, children, and cultural communities

Required readings:

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative with support from Oxfam America, “’Now the World Is without Me’: An Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” April 2010, online at:

*M. Brinton Lykes “No Easy road to Freedom: Engendering and Enculturating Forced Migration,” in Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home, chap. 4, pp. 71-93.

Noeleen Heyzer, “Women, War, and Peace: Mobilizing for Security and Justice in the 21st Century,” pp. 28-43 online at: (you may also want to read additional material at this website, such as the biography of Dr. Heyzer and the Q & A following her lecture).

Video in class: The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
Binaifer Nowrojee, “Sexual Violence, Gender Roles, and Displacement, in Refugee Rights, ed. D. Hollenbach, pp. 125-136.
Susan Martin, “Justice, Women’s Rights and Forced Migration,” in Refugee Rights, ed. D. Hollenbach, pp. 137-160.
International Crisis Group, “Beyond Victimhood: Women’s Peacebuilding in Sudan, Congo, and Uganda,” Africa Report N°112, 28 June 2006, online at:

11/23 Economic dimensions of crises—the relief-development spectrum

Required readings:

+Peter Uvin, “Development aid and Structural Violence: the Case of Rwanda,”
Development 42, no. 3 (1999): 49-56.

+Oxfam International, “OI Humanitarian Policy Note on Disaster Risk Reduction,” March 2009.

*Hollenbach, ed., Driven from Home, chaps. 11 (DeLorey) and 12 (Llanos).

11/30   Revising the international order and refugee regime

Required readings:

+Gil Loescher, Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis, chaps. 8, pp. 180--205.

+Oxfam International, “OI Policy Compendium Note on the Responsibility to Protect,”
July 2008.

+Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, “Key Ethical Issues in the Practices and Policies of Refugee Serving NGOs and Churches, in D. Hollenbach, ed., Refugee Rights: Ethics, Advocacy, and Africa, pp. 225-244.

+Antonio Guterrez, “Millions Uprooted: Saving Refugees and the Displaced,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2008, pp. 90-99.


Arthur C. Helton, The Price of Indifference: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century, chaps. 8, 9, 10, and Conclusion, pp. 227-302.

UNHCR, Agenda for Protection: A framework for global refugee policy, with suggested activities to strengthen refugee protection.  Available online at:

12/7 Peacemaking and the prevention of humanitarian crisis

*John Paul Lederach, Building Peace, chaps. 3-7, 11, pp. 23-97, 149-152.

Cases treated in class:

Successful historical humanitarian achievements. Exploration of how people changed the course of history.

Humanitarianism’s beginning
Henri Dunant
Florence Nightingale

Abolitionist movement and the ending of slavery

Human Rights and the Peace movement in El Salvador

Hope for Haiti

The future of humanitarianism; What we can do and why there is hope.