CSE Hosts Lecture with EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič

Janez Lenarčič addresses a crowd at the BU Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering on September 23, 2022.
Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, discusses the war in Ukraine and how it exacerbates global humanitarian crises during a Center for the Study of Europe event on September 23, 2022. (Source: Pardee School)

[Updated October 20, 2022] On September 23, 2022, the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies’ Center for the Study of Europe (CSE) hosted European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič for a lecture on the war in Ukraine and Europe’s response to global humanitarian crises. 

The event, titled “Responding to a Perfect Storm of Crises in Ukraine and Beyond: A European Perspective,” was part of CSE’s Europe in the World Series and sponsored by the Jean Monnet Chair. Ambassador Vesko Garčević, Pardee School Professor of the Practice of International Relations, moderated the session.

In his remarks, Lenarčič spoke about the war in Ukraine as well as its impacts on global humanitarian efforts. According to him, the “perfect storm” of global crises – conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic – has created an explosion of humanitarian needs around the world and stretched existing resources to the breaking point. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lenarčič said that there were 170 million people in need of humanitarian assistance around the world. After two years, that number increased by 30%. Today that figure stands at 280 million and it is expected to surpass 300 million before the end of 2022.

With this increased demand for aid – from Ukraine and other struggling areas – how can the international community more effectively respond? Lenarčič argued that there are three main actions that should be taken to strengthen global humanitarian efforts.

First, international humanitarian law must be upheld and bolstered. Lenarčič stated that most of the misery in the world and the need for humanitarian aid stems from conflict (at least 80%). What the world is seeing in Ukraine is a clear breach of humanitarian law and the rules of war, which has amplified the need for aid greatly.

Second, the world needs improved multilateralism. The United Nations (UN) is currently hampered by the war in Ukraine because the perpetrator of the crisis – Russia – holds a seat on the UN security council and can veto any action the body takes. Well-endowed countries need to come together in support of countries in crisis because the international order that the UN and similar bodies represent is under attack and must be defended.

Third, the pool of donors for humanitarian aid needs to be broadened. Lenarčič stated that the United States, European Commission, and Germany currently comprise 2/3 of global humanitarian funding. With aid requests continuing to rise, this current funding model is not sustainable. There is a desperate need for other countries to share in these crises because, whether they like it or not, their impact is felt around the world.

A recording of the lecture can be viewed below or on the CSE YouTube channel.

The mission of the Center for the Study of Europe is to promote understanding of Europe through its cultural heritage; its political, economic, and religious histories; its art, literature, music, and philosophy; as well as through its recent emergence as a new kind of international form through the European Union (EU). Operationally, the center provides a focal point and institutional support for the study of Europe across Boston University through coordination of teaching missions, support of research, community-building among faculty and students, and outreach beyond the University. Visit the center’s website for more.