Despite the hope that came at the end of the Cold War, the world is still torn by a great number of political and natural crises. An assessment of these in the mid-90s highlighted a certain number of points:

  • Complexity and diversity in crises appears to have replaced the previously dominant linear (continuum) interpretation of crisis resolution.
  • The idea of a more stable and peaceful world proved to have been a pipedream. Aid programmes are increasingly affected by crises and turbulence, which then has repercussions for the development sector. The complexity involved in resolving crises and their tendency to become long-lasting has meant that the practices of aid organisations and funding agencies have been called into question.
  • Development continues to generate, or fails to prevent, inequalities and injustices which can engender conflict. The ’development = free market = peace’ equation has failed to prove its relevance in practice or to limit the deterioration of living conditions amongst populations in different parts of the world.
  • That conflicts have become more frequent and longer-lasting is evidence that there are problems with classic models of crisis management.
  • With regard to the continuum model, strategies to support the resilience of populations are weakened by methodological and administrative barriers.

Thus, the working methods, the objectives and the issues at stake in development projects and humanitarian programmes, as well as the links between them, will have to be rethought in the light of changes that have taken place in recent years.
The Autumn School also focused on the outbreak and resolution of crises with regard to the protection of civilians and the security of aid workers.

The 2004 Autumn School brought together 70 representatives of humanitarian and development organisations, funding agencies, academics and several independent actors. The following organisations were represented: Région Rhône-Alpes / the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs / JICA / the Sphere Project / ICRC / Coordination Sud / Programme NOHA UCL / CAM / Columbia University / CESH / CNEARC / MDM / Handicap International / Solidarités / VSF-CICDA / GREF / AFD / Université d’Evry / Oxfam Sol. Belgique / Institut International de Droit Humanitaire / Association internationale de la médecine des catastrophes / ReMeD / Norwegian Refugee Council / Ingénieurs Sans Frontières / Pharmaciens Sans Frontières / GRIP / Institut Français de Géopolitique.