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100 years of Save the Children

As part of our centenary celebrations, we are working in partnership with The University of Sheffield, the LSE Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, the AHRC and RECAP to organise a two day conference aimed at learning the key lessons from Save the Children’s 100 year history.

“Politics, Humanitarianism, and Children’s Rights” Conference

8-9 April 2019, London School of Economics

Save the Children has a rich heritage and during the 100 years since its founding has played a significant role working at the interface of politics, humanitarianism, and children’s rights. Understanding this history is important in shaping the future of the organisation and of the wider humanitarian sector.

This two-day event provided an opportunity for critical reflection and for analysing and reflecting on how the organisation has evolved. It examined key moments in the organisation’s history and the values and principles that have underpinned its work. In particular, the conference explored what Save the Children’s history tells us about the interface between politics, humanitarianism, and children’s rights.


Conference Programme

Conference Report

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Panels, workshops and public event

The conference moved through the 100-year history of Save the Children, comprising of six 90-minute plenary sessions (witness seminars, a lecture, and a panel discussion), moving chronologically through the last 100 years.

The main themes were examined at key moments in the organisation’s history and addressed specifically in six workshops held over the two days. 

For the first two plenary sessions, historians of humanitarianism reflected on the first 50 years of Save the Children. They focused respectively on internationalism and Save the Children's foundation story, and on imperialism, decolonisation, and development.

Scroll down to see videos from the other plenary sessions from the conference.

The following four sessions were based on a witness seminar format. They brought Save the Children staff and alumni into conversation to recall and reflect on moments of challenge, from the Biafran war to present-day interventions in Yemen.

logos for centenary conference

With an interactive format, the thematic workshops were held between the chronological sessions, connecting them with the key themes of the conference.

The aim of the thematic workshops were to interrogate the current and future discourse and practice of Save the Children, as well as other humanitarian organisations, in the light of the past hundred years.

The duration of the thematic workshops was 90 minutes. The number of participants in each session was limited to 50. Participants in the conference were asked to sign up in advance to a maximum of three workshops to make sure attendance is balanced across the six.

Public lecture

A Public Lecture, hosted by the Firoze Lalji Centre for Africa at the LSE, took place on Monday 8th April, 2019, bringing together a panel of experts including Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Mike Aaronson, former Director General of Save the Children UK.

The panel considered the theme of politics, humanitarianism, and children's rights, and how the relationship between these concepts is changing in the light of recent transformations in the global ideological landscape.

Closing Panel

The closing panel reflected on the two days of conversation, focusing on the most interesting and important themes running through the different panels and workshops. The speakers, who closely followed the sessions throughout the two days, also considered the relevance of themes to current debates on the future of humanitarian aid. And they offered suggestions as to how the conference might contribute to the strategic discussions of Save the Children and other humanitarian agencies.

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