Our Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication is a non-profit organization committed to better communication on international development. We consider representation and discourse as integral to the production of the Global South and sees the communication on (the needs of) developing nations and peoples by government, industry, NGOs and the media in the Global North as part of the problem of (the failure of) international development and worldwide issues of poverty, inequality and injustice. In other words, we do not consider humanitarian communication as a means to an end, but as part and parcel of the end itself.
We aim to contribute to an environment in which all players in international cooperation can and will dare to learn more from each other, so that we can work more effectively towards a world without poverty, inequality and injustice that we all aspire to. On this website you can read how we try to make a contribution. Most visibly, we organize various awareness events, notably the Humanitarian Communication Awards and the Humanitarian Communication Thesis Prize, and provide international development organizations with advice on how to do their humanitarian communication (strategies) better. In addition, we often host or participate in various workshops and other events throughout the year.
Better communication on so-called ‘developing countries’ in the Global South and an open discussion on international development (ID) are needed because the average citizen in the Netherlands (and the rest of the Global North) is too often confronted with a one-sided and stereotypical image of developing countries and their inhabitants. Our expertise centre helps development organizations (as well as news media) to avoid such unbalanced and ultimately harmful imaging. In addition, there is a lot of uncertainty among the general public about what international development organizations are. Too many discussions are based on a lack of information. Our Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication is therefore committed to an open and nuanced debate in which there is room for context and that is fed with facts and personal stories from different angles.
Wouter Oomen is a Lecturer and PhD candidate at Utrecht University, working on a dissertation on humanitarian communication. Before, he obtained his master’s degree and worked as a Lecturer at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam. Alongside working on his dissertation, Wouter took an active role in the PhD communities of the RMeS and UGlobe and went to study at the London School of Economics as a visiting PhD. As the Chair of our expertise centre, Wouter aims to broaden discussions about what ethical communication on international development actually means, and he does so through education, research, advice and advocacy.
Emiel Martens is a media lecturer, researcher, and producer. He works as an Assistant Professor in Postcolonial Media Studies at both the University of Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests span the fields of Postcolonial (Media) Studies, Popular Geopolitics, Alternative Media, Diversity and Migration Studies, and Film (and) Tourism, with a particular focus on Caribbean film and visual culture. Besides his university posts and position as Secretary at our Expertise Centre, Emiel is also the founding director of non-proft organization Caribbean Creativity and the producer of impact films such as Welcome to the Smiling Coast and Gifts from Babylon.
Steyn Hoogakker is an independent action researcher, consultant and visual storyteller, with a background in Cultural Anthropology, Development Sociology and Environmental Science. His work is centred around environmental justice and climate change adaptation and mitigation in the Global South, with a particular interest in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. In 2016, Steyn founded iMPACT JOURNEY, an audiovisual platform to challenge our perceptions on a variety of complex global issues through the art of visual storytelling. In 2018, iMPACT DOC was pre-launched in Amsterdam, an physical, platform for documentary photography and film. At present, he is doing his PhD in the UK.
In his daily life Gabriel Ramirez Acevedo is working as functional manager at the University of Amsterdam. He holds a Bachelor in International Relations and a Master in International Development Studies. He has previously worked as a consultant for social and environmental projects in Colombia, as director of a non-profit organization aiming to safeguard gastronomic traditions in Colombia, and at an environmental NGO in the US. After being a nominee in the Humanitarian Communication Thesis Prize 2018, he wanted to continue exploring issues of power and representation in international development, and this is why he wanted to become a board member of our expertise centre.