About the Humanitarian Congress Vienna

The Humanitarian Congress Vienna was initiated in 2010. One of the key aims of the Humanitarian Congress Vienna is to address changing humanitarian needs and thus to increase the visibility of humanitarian work. A second key aim is to raise awareness among decision makers regarding the relevance of humanitarian aid. A further focus is on the cooperation and coordination of actions, both at the national, European and international level.

What is Humanitarian Aid?

Humanitarian Aid is a set of measures for the saving of human life, the decrease of human suffering, and the protection of human dignity during and after armed conflicts and/or disasters as well to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations.

For further information see also:

Defining humanitarian assistance

The Principles of Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarianism/humanity: the uppermost aim is to ensure the survival of affected people in acute need and to alleviate their suffering. Correspondingly, the dignity of human beings must remain guaranteed.

Neutrality: humanitarian aid favours no side (party) in an armed conflict or any other confrontation.

Impartiality/non-discrimination: humanitarian aid is based exclusively on need without discrimination of the recipients (meaning unconditionally and without discrimination based on ethnic origin, sex, religion, social status, nationality or political opinion).

Independence: humanitarian aid is given independent of political, economic, military, or religious circumstances or the aims of the parties to the conflict.


The 5th Humanitarian Congress Vienna is organised by the following humanitarian organizations:

Doctors Without Borders, Caritas Austria, the Austrian Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, as well as the Austrian Platform for Development and Humanitarian Aid – Global Responsibility and in collaboration with: Arbeiter Samariterbund, CARE, Diakonie, Hilfswerk Austria International, HOPE´87, Jugend Eine Welt, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, Volkshilfe Solidarität and World Vision

The Path from 2011 to 2019

After almost a year of preparation the first Humanitarian Congress Vienna was held in 2011 and since then the congress successfully takes place every two years bringing together experts from international humanitarian organisations, policy makers, media, academics and students of various disciplines, displaced persons, beneficiaries from affected countries and humanitarian aid staff who have been witnessing humanitarian crises up close. With around 1200 international participants and speakers’ onsite and online in 2015, the Humanitarian Congress Vienna is now an important forum in the world of humanitarian aid and thus provides rare network opportunities. The congress offers a unique mix of humanitarian and political keynote speeches and innovative debates and thereby strengthens existing structures in order to reach new insights.

From the beginning it was important for the organisers that the Humanitarian Congress Vienna serves as a platform where both acute and protracted humanitarian crises are addressed. Based on this outlook the themes of the previous congresses were developed and lively debated in panel- and round-table discussions:

2011: “Humanitarian Aid — Quo Vadis?”
2013: “Humanitarian Aid — Gender Matters”
2015: “Humanitarian Aid under Fire”
2017: “Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run”

The Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2019: “The Future of Humanitarian Aid”

When talking about the future of humanitarian aid, only uncertainty seems to be certain. There is an increase in both the complexity of conflicts and their effects, as well as an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. More places are becoming more dangerous and today’s world has more protracted crises, some of which last decades. These factors as well as major changes in geopolitics create a complex landscape for future humanitarian responses. How can those working in the field of humanitarian aid deal with this complexity?
Although we cannot predict the future, we can nevertheless prepare to navigate uncertainty and complexity. This year’s congress asks leading experts from a wide range of sectors if the current humanitarian aid structures are ready to meet the challenges – foreseen and unforeseen- for the next decade and beyond. Furthermore, we ask what changes are going to be required in order to ensure that the humanitarian aid system is “future-proof”.

To try to capture all of this under the theme “The Future of Humanitarian Aid”
the following six panel discussions will take place:

Panel 1: The Future of Humanitarian Aid
Panel 2: Triple Nexus = Triple Challenge?
Panel 3: The Humanitarian Sector in the Media: Worthwhile Struggle or Lost Cause?
Panel 4: Tech for Good – Or Not?
Panel 5: International Law in Tomorrow´s Wars
Panel 6: Investing in Humanity

Continue on page 2: About Austrian Humanitarian Aid Policy