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The sounds of silence: listening to localisation.

Presentation Description

Based on research with key stakeholders, this paper analyses modes of listening during three phases of localisation activity in the lead up to the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. The central focus of this paper is the middle phase – a  2 year consultation in which headline figures note 23,000+ people, mainly from the global south were consulted. This phase is bookended by the pre-consultation period where calls for power sharing and localisation were largely unheard, and the WHS itself, which some interviewees claimed amounted to a re-silencing. This paper presents rich details from the consultation phase, which give weight to the widely-held perception of it as a ground-breaking process, of critical mass in debate in the humanitarian system, evoking a sense of optimism among the participants, and centring the urgency of the localisation agenda more broadly.  While the consultations demonstrate a significant sectoral investment in an ‘architecture of speaking’ (McNamara 2016) this was not matched by a corresponding ‘architecture of listening’ which participants considered necessary to transforming the locus of power within the humanitarian system. The paper outlines the ‘architecture of speaking’ and the insights it generated for the humanitarian system to listen to.

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