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Realities and prospects of a humanitarian transition in aid beneficiary countries

Réalités et perspectives de la transition humanitaire dans les pays bénéficiaires de l’aide internationale

Post-doctoral fellowships 2016 of the French Red Cross Fund

Bourses post-doctorales 2016 du Fonds Croix-Rouge française

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Published on Tuesday, February 09, 2016


The French Red Cross Fund launches its annual call for projects and post-doctoral felloships on the overarching theme "Realities and prospects of a humanitarian transition in aid beneficiary countries." This call is directed to independent researchers or research teams focusing on one of the priority countries identified by the Fund.


1. Objectives

The French Red Cross has been a pioneer of humanitarian action for almost 150 years. Continuing its commitment to a more humane and just world, the French Red Cross Fund was created in 2013 to encourage research projects that identify and analyse the practices and processes for a humanitarian action in transition, as well as the nature of the bridges linking the field of humanitarian action and that of social action.

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. How does this quest for autonomy manifest itself? What are the challenges and specific local features of this pursuit?

In order to support and guide this reflection and innovation effort, the French Red Cross Fund is launching in 2016 its third call for projects and post-doctoral research on the following topics.

2. Thematic research areas

Overarching theme : “Realities and prospects of a humanitarian transition in aid beneficiary countries”

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. 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.

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

  • Knowledge of the local humanitarian landscape: configurations and dynamics
  • Humanitarian action, social action, and human development: transition practices and ethical principles
  • Globalisation and new geopolitics of international aid

 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 specificities. These spaces exist in a large variety of configurations, in terms of the number and nature of invested actors (local, international), the modes of relation 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 implemented (emergency, development), the motivations, modes of organisation, functioning and financing of the actors, the capacity and standards of action, and the diagnostics of the humanitarian stakes and the needs of populations. Furthermore, over the course of time, each of these spaces has undergone 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 logics of the evolution of the international aid system.

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

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

The emergency, development and social fields are evolving as semantic issues, measures, spaces of action and imagined realities. They are also characterised by the new intertwinings they frame, rendering established borders more and more uncertain. During 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 the North as in the South, through people, know-how and principles. Thus the transfer of activities between national and external actors is at work today in numerous developing countries seeking a renewed solidarity which places communities at the heart of the action and provides each person with the essential tools to rebuild their lives sustainably.

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 an exported, integrated and an invented action? 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 modalities 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 mode of intervention? What can we learn from the examples of successful or unsuccessful transitions, both in terms of ethical principles and the practical modalities of their implementation?

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. The understanding of the international aid system therefore necessitates a global perspective.

How do the actions of the actors and transnational organisations reconfigure the humanitarian apparatus, and how do they help us to explain local configurations of international aid? What are the long-term effects of these actions in the humanitarian sphere?

Which strategies do different southern actors (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?

3. 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 12 priority countries on which to focus the 2016 research. They are:

  1. Burma
  2. Burkina Faso
  3. Cambodia
  4. Cameroon
  5. Ivory Coast
  6. Djibouti
  7. Ethiopia
  8. Haiti
  9. Madagascar
  10. Niger
  11. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
  12. Senegal

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

4. Application requirements

Applicants can be either:

  • independent researchers, having defended their thesis, or
  • two/three-person research teams which are based in the priority countries identified by the Fund (or bordering countries).

The funds granted by the French Red Cross Fund aim at covering either the cost of a one-year research for an independent researcher, or the expenses related to field work for team projects.

Applicants (independent researchers or research teams) 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 13 March 2016 ;

  • Return the completed application form to the French Red Cross Fund with the attached documents before 17 April 2016.


Postdoctoral researchers are awarded a fellowship according to a base scale of 20,000 € per year[1]. Only candidates complying with the following conditions can be eligible for a postdoctoral grant of the Fund:

  • Candidates must  hold a doctorate (French doctorate, Ph.D. or  foreign doctorate of similar level) in the field of social science (in particular in political science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy or ethics) 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, thus showing their capacities in conducting high-quality research.

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


Team projects are awarded grants of up to 20,000 € for a period of 1 year[2]. Projects are eligible to apply if:

  • The research teams is hosted by a research/higher education institution laboratory  or is a recognised research teams in academic and international research networks;
  • The project includes an empirical field component;
  • The project’s budget excludes wages and salaries.

Projects with a multidisciplinary approach are strongly encouraged.

5.  Pre-enrolment and application

The application process is composed of 2 steps:

Step 1 – Pre-enrolment

The candidate must first submit the following documents before 13 March 2016 (e-mail date will be considered as proof of the date of submission):

  • Cover letter (of the candidate or project coordinator);
  • Complete pre-enrolment identification sheet (document to be downloaded at the bottom of this page);
  • Description of the research theme and field  with proposed methodology (up to 5,500 characters, letters and spaces/punctuation included);
  • Up-to-date Curriculum Vitae giving details of the candidate or project coordinator’s academic and professional background (plus a short biography of team members);
  • A certified true copy of the doctoral degree (or a certificate setting out that the dissertation is to be defended before 30 June 2016), signed and stamped by the institution;
  • A proof of residence.

Plus for research teams

  • A presentation of the institution as well as of the research work conducted by the team.

This complete pre-enrolment file must be sent either by e-mail to admin@fondcrf.org or post to the Fund (see address on contact page). Pre-selected candidates will receive a pre-enrolment certificate to be attached to the application file

Step 2 – Application file

The candidate must send the previously received pre-enrolment certificate along with the completed application form (document to be downloaded at the bottom of this page) before 17 April 2016 (e-mail date will be considered as proof of the date of submission) together with the following documents:

  • A detailed presentation of the research project (up to 35 000 characters, letters and spaces/punctuation included), which must include a literature review, a research problem, a statement of research interest for understanding the humanitarian sphere and its challenges, and a methodology, a timetable and agenda for research;
  • A copy of the dissertation  report (if defended)  in French or English;
  • Two letters of reference;
  • A letter of recommendation by the scientific representative of the post-doctoral department and a letter of recommendation by the supervisor of the laboratory or institution hosting the post-doctoral researcher.

Plus, for research teams

  • A letter of recommendation  by the laboratory/institution/department director hosting the project;
  • A forecast budget (please note that communication expenses, non-justified IT equipment purchases, and permanent staff costs –with the exception of interns or temporary contracts- are not eligible);
  • A description of the grant funds management strategy (the candidate should pay attention to the feasibility of the project within the financing time frame).

This complete file must be sent either by e-mail to admin@fondcrf.org or by post to the Fund.

6. Provisional calendar

  • 20 January 2016 : Launch of the Call
  • 13 March 2016 : Closure of pre-enrolment
  • 17 April 2016 : Closure of application
  • Early July 2016 : Communication of results
  • July-August 2016 : Signing by the selected candidates of the grant awarding charter and grant agreement
  • 1 September 2016 : Research starting date

7. Funding regulations and obligations

The researcher commits to respecting the deadlines fixed by the Fund for sending progress reports and working papers. He will be asked to present the research results orally, during workshops or conferences organised by the Fund.

The researcher commits to respecting the terms hereunder and to signing the French Red Cross Fund grant awarding charter.

The researcher commits to abiding by the laws and regulations in the research country, in particular with regards to entry into and exit from the territory.

Should articles or books be published from this research work, the Fund must be mentioned as a funder or co-funder. In turn, if the research conducted by the granted candidate was to be disseminated or used by the Fund (the candidate giving its consent in advance), the Fund shall mention the author, who maintains full ownership of his or her work.

90% of the grant will be paid in three instalments: on month 1 and then after validation of each of the 2 progress reports. The balance, i.e. 10% of the total amount, will be paid on production of the 2 working papers.

The research period, as the funding period, start on 1 September of the grant year. Yet, the first payment is contingent on the researcher’s explicit written confirmation to start his or her research. Any delay beyond 1 September must be justified and leads to a consequent delay in the 1st payment until the Fund receives this confirmation. Any delay or ethical breach undermining the trust between the researcher and the Fund, because of its unjustified nature, or the feasibility of the research within the expected time limits, because of its length, may result in the funding being postponed or cancelled completely.

The second and third payments are contingent on the researcher’s reaffirmed commitment to pursue the research, by sending of 2 progress reports to his/her referent and the Fund’s scientific counsellor. The researcher commits to quickly informing the Fund about any potential premature termination. Thus, if the researcher has not reaffirmed his or her commitment to pursue the research, the funding will be revoked, the Fund reserving its right to require that any sums already paid be refunded immediately. Similarly, any delay in the progress reports deadlines or ethical breach undermining the trust between the researcher and the Fund, because of its unjustified nature or length, may lead to a postponed or even cancelled funding.

It is understood that the comments and opinions expressed by the researcher in articles or books drawn from this research project are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the French Red Cross Fund.

The researcher commits to quickly informing the Fund about any potential conflicts of interest.


Please note that all the documents to be attached to the application file have to be written in French, completed on computer (Calibri 11, spacing 1.5) and sent as PDF documents. Any missing attachment will lead to an automatic rejection of the application. No additional attachment will be accepted once the file is approved, even if the call is not closed. Candidates can submit one application only. 

For any additional information, please contact:


Hôpital Henry Dunant

95 rue Michel-Ange 75016 Paris

+33(0)1 40 71 16 34



[1] The fixed amount of 20,000 € includes management costs of 15% charged by the Fund. The net amount received by the researcher is 17,000 €.

[2] The amount granted as per the communicated and capped budget of 20,000 € includes the Fund management costs (15%). The beneficiary institution that requests it may in turn deduct its own management costs, not exceeding 7% of the net amount granted by the Fund. 


  • Sunday, March 13, 2016
  • Sunday, April 17, 2016


  • humanitaire, solidarité, coopération, développement, éthique, croix-rouge, action, aide, politique, publique, Birmanie, Burkina Faso, Cambodge, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Cameroun, Ethiopie, Haïti, Madagascar


  • Rémi Reboux
    courriel : admin [at] fondcrf [dot] org

Information source

  • Rémi Reboux
    courriel : admin [at] fondcrf [dot] org


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Realities and prospects of a humanitarian transition in aid beneficiary countries », Scholarship, prize and job offer, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 09, 2016, https://calenda.org/355352

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