intercross: the podcast




Welcome to Intercross the Podcast!

Listen to our introductory episode to learn more about your hosts, our vision for the podcasts and what you can expect. The ICRC operates in nearly 80 countries around the globe so the breadth of our work is expansive. We hope that this podcast gives you an indepth look at the people and places behind the ICRC, stories of those impacted by conflict, operational updates and debates and discussions concerning International Humanitarian Law, conflicts and other situations of violence. We're always happy to have your feedback and input, just email editor Niki Clark

**Intercross, the Podcast disclaimer: Just because something or someone is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with the institutions they represent. Views expressed on the platforms we may highlight don't necessarily represent those of the ICRC.**  

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Episode #1: Humanity at the Heart of Compliance with Brian McQuinn and Jonathan Somer, February 7, 2017


Brian McQuinn and Jonathan Somer talk about the challenges of working with non-state armed groups. McQuinn and Somer both have extensive experience working with non-state armed groups around the world, trying to strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law. What they both conclude: humanity is at the heart of compliance. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #2: The Long & Dedicated Path to ICRC with Charlotte Lindsey, February 7, 2017


ICRC Director of Communications Charlotte Lindsey sits down with Intercross to discuss her journey to becoming the first non-Swiss delegate with the ICRC, the changing way we communicate, and how her decades with the organization started with a simple book recommendation. Hosted by Niki Clark.

Episode #3: The Importance of IHL with Brigadier General (ret.) Rich Gross, February 7, 2017


Brig. General (ret.) Rich Gross, the former Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Intercross about the importance of international humanitarian law (IHL) and reflections on IHL after decades of service, including as the Legal Adviser for NATO ISAF and US forces in Afghanistan. Gross talks about his personal experiences in the military and interactions with the ICRC. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #4: The Missing with Olivier Dubois and Ute Hofmeister February 7, 2017


Olivier Dubois, coordinator for the Missing Persons program and Ute Hofmeister, forensics coordinator, speak to Intercross about the ICRC's work surrounding the missing. During conflicts, thousands of people disappear. How do you find them or give their family closures, particularly when it's been decades since their disappearance? How does ICRC support the families of the missing? And what motivates people to work in a field with often little answers? Hosted by Niki Clark and Tracey Begley.

Episode #5: Being Female In South Sudan With Deepmala Mahla & Alyona Synenko March 7, 2017


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we speak with two women working in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid workers, South Sudan. Deepmala Mahla serves as Country Director for Mercy Corps and Alyona Synenko is the ICRC's Communications Delegate, both located in Juba.  In honor of International Women's Day, join us for a frank discussion (and our first Skype podcast!) about being female in the humanitarian field, the women they admire most and the challenges women face living in a country in conflict. Hosted by Sara Owens. 

Episode #6: The Laws that Govern Outer Space with Dale Stephens and Pete Hays, March 14, 2017


Dale Stephens and Pete Hays discuss the intricacies of military operations and outer space.  There are over a thousands satellites orbiting the earth that are used in our everyday lives.  This podcast explores their military use and vulnerabilities, and the laws that govern outer space operations. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #7: Reflecting on the Clara Barton Competition with Loyola University Chicago School of Law Students, March 21, 2017


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, Sara Owens sits down with three students from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Mary Macleod, Elena Sakelaris, and Constantine Gavrillos, to reflect on their experience preparing for and competing at the Clara Barton Competition, what they took away from the competition, and advise for future participants.

The Clara Barton IHL Competition (CBC) provides law students, international students, and military academy and institution students a unique opportunity to experience the laws of war as they are applied in practice, while offering these emerging leaders the chance to network with top authorities in this field.

Episode #8: The Toolbox of Transitional Justice with Claudia Josi, March 28, 2017


Professor Claudia Josi from the Santa Clara School of Law speaks with Intercross about transitional justice. From her own experiences growing up during conflict in Peru, Josi speaks about legal dimensions of a society transitioning from conflict to peace. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #9: Influencing Behavior in War with Andrew Bell, April 4, 2017


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, researcher Andrew Bell talks about The Roots of Restraint, an upcoming ICRC report on the influencing behaviors of war. The report is a two-year research initiative intended to advance the ICRC's understanding of how norms of restraint develop and spread through State armed forces and non-State armed groups. Nine academics, including Bell, investigated sources of influence on the behavior of combatants in eight armed groups, and explored cases of community self-protection. In the podcast, Bell discusses his role in the study and how his background, an interesting intersection of theology, law, political science, security and conflict, brought a unique view to the study. Hosted by Niki Clark and Tracey Begley.

Episode #10: The Intersection of IHL and Islam with Dr. Ahmed Al-Dawoody, April 17, 2017


In this episode, Intercross the Podcast In this episode, Intercross the Podcast speaks with Dr. Ahmed Al-Dawoody, the ICRC Legal Adviser on Islamic Law and Jurisprudence. What are the connections between Islamic law and international humanitarian law? Who is protected under both areas of law? And who is excluded? Join us for a discussion on the interpretation of Islamic law, its historical roots, and its similarities and differences with IHL. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #11: The Frontlines of Famine with Jürg Eglin, April 21, 2017


After 25 years with the ICRC, South Sudan Head of Delegation Jürg Eglin has experienced pretty much everything. But the famine facing the world's newest country is one of the worst in history, even to a career humanitarian. Eglin, along with ICRC in Washington's Trevor Keck sits down with Intercross the Podcast to discuss the situation on the ground, ICRC's operational response and the humanitarian consequences of decades of conflict to the most vulnerable populations. Hosted by Niki Clark and Sara Owens.

Episode #12: From Athens to Aleppo: Shakespeare and the Rules of War, April 25, 2017


With this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we're excited to launch a new cultural series where we will explore the intersection of conflict and culture. You can find a new addition to the series on the fourth Tuesday of every month. In From Athens to Aleppo: Shakespeare and the Rules of War host Sara Owens and ICRC Legal Advisor Andrea Harrison sit down with Stephen Ryan, a lawyer who sits on the board of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Major General (Ret) Dale Meyerrose, the first President-appointed, Senate confirmed chief information officer and information sharing executive for the U.S. Intelligence Community. Both served as panelists for the Shakespeare Theatre's recent discussion exploring in-depth examinations into the roles of lawyers and legal issues in Shakespeare plays and classical theatre pieces. Listen in to their interesting discussion!

Episode #13: Colombia after Conflict with Christoph Harnisch, May 2, 2017


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with Christoph Harnisch, head of delegation in Bogota, Colombia. With more than 30 years working for the ICRC, Harnisch brings a rich and storied perspective of complex and protracted conflicts. We discuss how reaching a peace deal is really just the first step for the country, the ICRC's role in negotiations, the challenges Colombians still face, and the single most important experience that has impacted him as a humanitarian. Hosted by Niki Clark and Sara Owens.

Episode #14: Celebrating World Red Cross Day with Lynn Levine, May 9, 2017


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with Lynn Levine, Director of Communications for the American Red Cross in Boston. With the launch of the ICRC Collaborative Platform happening on what would had been Red Cross founder Henry Dunant's 189th birthday, we took the opportunity to have a conversation about what it means to be a Red Crosser, Lynn's path to the Red Cross, the Boston chapter's role in reconnecting families around the world and some of the stories that as a communicator with one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world she holds most dear.  Hosted by Niki Clark.

Episode #15/They Have Names: Photographing Refugee Children in Berlin


With this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we're excited to host the second iteration in our new cultural series where we  explore the intersection of conflict and culture.  In this episode, we sit down with Photographer Daniel Sonnentag, Penny Eifrig and her 17 year old daughter Saede. They are the minds behind They Have Namesa social media and photography campaign that began after the Eifregs met Sonnentag in a refugee camp in Berlin where they all volunteer. An exhibit of the same name is currently running at Gallery Al-Quds in Washington, D.C. until May 31st.

In the debate around migration and flight, people usually talk about the abstract term "refugees." In this conversation we talk about the individual stories of some of the people our guests have met in Berlin, how volunteering and working with refugees has changed previously held perceptions and prejudices and why photography can help us see 'others' as 'us.'  Hosted by Niki Clark and Sara Owens.

Episode #16/Best in the Game: The Dynamic Duo behind ICRC's Wheelchair Basketball in Afghanistan with Jess Markt and Alberto Cairo


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, Sara Owens is joined by two delegates who have paved the way for the ICRC to adopt sport and inclusion as a priority for the physically disabled communities in conflict-affected countries. Alberto Cairo, one of the ICRC’s most revered delegates, has been in Kabul, Afghanistan with the ICRC’s orthopedic and physical rehabilitation program for 27 years. He was recently joined in Kabul by Jess Markt, an avid wheelchair basketball player and coach, where together, they built the ICRC’s first and largest wheelchair basketball program.

The work that Jess and Alberto have done has proven that sport is not only a crucial element in the physical rehabilitation of those who have been victim to landmines, disease, and other tragedies, but is also a pivotal aspect in their mental and emotional healing. This has additionally nurtured a culture of teamwork, leadership, inclusion, and self-confidence.

Jess and Alberto have not only established an incredibly successful program, but have also cultivated a dynamic friendship. In this episode, learn more about the background and personality behind these inspiring individuals. Hosted by Sara Owens.

Episode #17: Evidence, Experience & Expertise in Humanitarian Diplomacy with Hugo Slim


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, Sara Owens and Guest Host Trevor Keck sit down with ICRC in Washington's Policy Advisor Marcia Wong and Hugo Slim, Head of Policy. They discuss how humanitarian diplomacy helps catalyze ICRC's policy work, how the organization is using evidence, experience and expertise in moving the needle on policy, and the recent urban warfare report that details what happens when cities fall apart because of conflict. Hosted by Sara Owens.

Episode #18: Diversity, Hope and Challenge on the African Continent with Patricia Danzi


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with ICRC's Regional Director for Africa Patricia Danzi. She talks about the challenges of working in a context that many perceive more as a country than a continent, the critical issues not being covered, how to make space for Africa in a crowded humanitarian landscape and the stories of hope and innovation that keep her inspired. Hosted by Niki Clark and Tracey Begley.

Episode #19: The Changing Context of Operations in Libya with Katja Lorenz


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we talk with the outgoing Head of Delegation for the ICRC in Libya, Katja Lorenz. Katja discusses the continually changing context for operating in Libya, the humanitarian needs on the ground and how the daily lives of Libyans have been impacted since fighting began. Hosted by Niki Clark.

Episode #20 & 21 This is not the Jedi Way: IHL and Star Wars with Hirad Abtahi


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we're excited to host the third iteration in our new cultural series where we explore the intersection of conflict and culture. In this episode, we sit down with Hirad Abtahi. Since 2004, he has headed the Legal and Enforcement Unit of the Presidency of the International Criminal Court and has some twenty years of experience in international criminal justice. In addition, Hirad is a HUGE Star Wars fan. He recently published an article in the Huffington Post called This is not the Jedi Way: Exploring International Humanitarian Law through Star Wars. 

In the first part of a two part conversation, ICRC resident Star Wars experts Austin Shangraw and Erika Moyer speak with Hirad about what we can learn about the rules of war, and how they could possibly apply in a galaxy far, far away.

In the second part of the conversation, Hirad discusses the role that culture plays in our perception on war, and how the basic tenets of the rules of war can be find in not just film, but also comic books and television.

Episode #22: Classifying Conflict with Chris Harland


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, ICRC in Washington's Legal Advisor discusses the classifications of conflict. How are conflicts classified? What is the impact of classification? Are they binding according to the Geneva Conventions? What's ICRC's role in classification? A great primer conversation. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #23: Firsthand Perspectives of Syria with Pawel Krzsiek


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with ICRC's Head of Communications in Syria, Pawel Krzsiek. Pawel has been on the frontlines in Syria both leading up to the conflict and again since 2015. What is the latest situation on the ground? The recent ICRC report on Urban Warfare, I Saw My City Die, found that nearly half of all civilian war deaths worldwide occurred in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the main focus countries of the report. In light of this, how are the needs and response different in urban contexts? How do civilians determine whether to stay or flee? And how do we work in areas of limited access? Pawel shares some of his harrowing firsthand perspectives of working in cities under siege. Hosted by Niki Clark and Sara Owens.

Episode #24: The Future of US Detention with Tracey Begley and Andrea Harrison


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we discuss the future of US detention in armed conflict. In May 2016, the ICRC’s Washington delegation, Harvard Law School’s PILAC, and the Naval War College’s Stockton Center held their inaugural joint IHL workshop on the same topic. About 30 experts convened for two days to discuss, debate and explore the issue. An outcomes report was just recently released. Join Tracey Begley and Deputy Legal Advisor Andrea Harrison in a conversation about the main issues that were discussed, which are most hotly contested, where are gaps exist in IHL and what other law we can turn to in times of gaps, the main take-aways from the workshop and why ICRC brings together these groups. Hosted by Tracey Begley.

Episode #25/Survival at Stake: The Crisis in the Lake Chad Region with Patrick Youssef


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with Patrick Youssef, ‎the ICRC Deputy Regional Director in Africa. With media attention focused on the famine in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria, Patrick helps us dive deeper into one of the areas of crisis, the Lake Chad region. What's driving the chronic fragility in Lake Chad? How do you rebuild the eroding sense of solidarity in communities? How is ICRC operating in the area? And with such dire headlines dominating, how does one remain hopeful? Hosted by Niki Clark and Sara Owens.

Episode #26: The Legal Frameworks of Self Defense in Armed Conflict with Erica Gaston


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we speak with Erica Gaston, an international lawyer and project manager at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, to discuss the legal aspects and humanitarian consequences of the use of self-defense in armed conflict. International humanitarian law addresses the rules for soldiers, armies and States, when they conduct offensive attacks, but it does not directly address the rules governing self-defense. So what are the limits on the use of force when individuals and units are defending themselves in combat situations? Hosted by Niki Clark and Andrea Harrison. 

Episode #27: Unpacking Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis with Ret. Ambassador Stephen Seche and Oxfam's Scott Paul 


In this episode of Intercross the PodcastICRC Deputy Communications Director Trevor Keck speaks with Stephen A. Seche, former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 2007 to 2010 and current Executive Vice President at the Arab Gulf States Institute, and Oxfam's senior humanitarian policy advisor, Scott Paul. In this fast paced conversation, our guests discuss the Yemen crisis, the origins of the crisis and current state of play. They also discuss the humanitarian problems, including the cholera epidemic and how the situation got so bad. Finally, they address possible policy solutions and potential steps that parties and the international community can take towards a political settlement and to help better protect civilians. Hosted by Trevor Keck. 

Episode #28: The Test of Time: Are the 1949 Geneva Conventions Still Relevant?


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we are joined by ICRC Deputy Legal Advisor Andrea Harrison to discuss the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The first Geneva Convention was signed in 1864, the year after the founding of the ICRC, and it was for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field with 57 States Parties.  Most recently, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 were added, in part as a reaction to the tragedies of World War II.  How have the content of the Geneva Conventions changed over time? Every State in the world is party to the Geneva Conventions. What does this say about their significance and importance? And 68 years after the 1949 Conventions, with the nature of conflict radically evolving, are they still relevant and can they still stand the test of time? Hosted by Tracey Begley and Niki Clark.  

Episode #29: Hurricane Harvey Updates with American Red Cross's Jenelle Eli


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we are joined by American Red Cross's Director of International Communications Jenelle Eli. Hurricane Harvey has dumped the equivalent of Lake Michigan on south and central Texas. What is the situation on the ground? How is the American Red Cross responding? What can you do if you find yourself in an emergency situation? And how can you help? Hosted by Niki Clark.

Episode #30: Diversity in Delegates: Recruiting within the ICRC with Markus Dolder


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we are joined by ICRC's Head of Human Resources Marketing Markus Dolder. In the 1990s, the ICRC's staff was composed of about 80 percent Swiss. Now, that number is closer to 15%. Why has this makeup changed, and how had diversity contributed to furthering our mission? What skills are needed to be a successful delegate? Plus Markus shares the influence of the Iraq war on his career and the joy of bringing great people into an organization he's proud to work for. Hosted by Sara Owens and Niki Clark.

Episode #31: When War Comes to Cities with Jenny McAvoy and Sahr Muhammedally


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we are joined by Interaction's Director of Protection Jenny McAvoy and Center for Civilians in Conflict's (CIVIC) Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, Sahr Muhammedally. Nearly 50 million civilians are affected by urban warfare, mostly in the countries of Yemen, Syria and Iraq. As warfare moves more and more to populated areas, civilians bear the brunt, facing much greater risks and much higher fatalities rates. What are the challenges of this increasing trend? How can militaries prioritize civilian protection?  What are civilians experiencing in places like West Mosul and Raqqa? And how can the rules of war and the protection of civilians be integrated and respected more broadly in these contexts? Hosted by Trevor Keck.

Episode #32: Introducing ICRC Spokesperson Marc Kilstein


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, Head of Communications Anna Nelson sits down with our newest team member, ICRC in Washington's Spokesperson Marc Kilstein. Anna and Marc talk about nerding out over radio, the importance and honor of storytelling, Marc's hopes for his new position and their (not-so-secret) dreams of being poached by This American Life's Ira Glass. Or at the very least, making him a dedicated Intercross the Podcast listener. Hosted by Anna Nelson.

Episode #33: Policy and Peacekeeping in South Sudan with Trevor Keck and Lauren Spink


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with ICRC in Washington’s Deputy Head of Communications Trevor Keck and Lauren Spink, the Center for Civilians in Conflict Peacekeeping Advisor. Trevor recently returned from a brief mission to South Sudan and Lauren is headed out to the country this week. We took the opportunity to chat with them both about the current challenges facing aid worker and peacekeepers. What are some of the protection issues? Are aid organizations able to secure humanitarian access? And as the largest donor to South Sudan (is that true)—the US has spent nearly $10 billion since independence 6 years ago and pays more than a quarter of all international aid to the country each year—what does the current U.S. policy review for its approach to South Sudan mean for the situation on the ground? Hosted by Niki Clark. 

Episode #34: Behind the Lens: Witness to War in Afghanistan with Louie Palu and Finbarr O'Reilly


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we are excited to add another iteration to our cultural series, where we explore the intersection of culture and conflict. In this episode, we sit down with war photographers Louie Palu and Finbarr O’Reilly. Palu’s works have been featured in the New York Times, BBC and Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He recently released Front Towards Enemy, a book which examines the five years he spent covering the war in Kandahar, Afghanistan. O’Reilly is currently London-based, having spent 12 years in Central and West Africa as a photographer for Reuters. He recently released Shooting Ghosts, a memoir co-written with retired USMC Sgt. Thomas James Brennan, reflecting on the experiences of the war and the unlikely friendship they formed. In this podcast they discuss issues like: How do we consume and engage with images of war? What are the psychological and emotional costs of war for those who photograph conflict? How can photography change the perception that people have of war? Why is this visual documentation important? What is the role of journalists as independent witnesses to war? And how does rocker Henry Rollins represent--for at least one of our guests--how social media and connection has changed the playing field? Hosted by Sara Owens

Episode #35: The “Forgotten Child of IHL”: Why We Should be Talking about the Future of Naval Warfare


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, ICRC in Washington’s Deputy Legal Advisor, Andrea Harrison, sits down with three naval warfare experts on why we should be talking about the rules that govern conflict at sea. Professor Julian Ku, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Faculty Director of International Programs at Hofstra University School of Law, Lt Commander Peter Barker of the British Royal Navy and Associate Director for the Law of Coalition Warfare at the Stockton Center for the study of International Law, and Lt Colonel Jeffrey Biller of the U.S. Air Force and military professor at the U.S. Naval War College discuss the looming “hotspots” for naval conflict, the vulnerability of shipwrecked sailors, and how the cyber domain is driving an entirely new set of issues for conduct of naval warfare. Much has changed since the Geneva Conventions were written in 1949 - Where are the most realistic possibilities for a conflict that will be governed by the Second Geneva Convention? What happens when the responsibility to take “all possible measures” to find shipwrecked sailors creates a risk of detection out at sea? Can a vessel be shipwrecked purely through cyber means? Hosted by Andrea Harrison.

Episode #36: Pushed to the Limit: Healthcare in Conflict with Esperanza Martinez


In this episode of Intercross the Podcast, we sit down with Esperanza Martinez, the ICRC’s Head of Health. Esperanza, who is based at the ICRC HQ in Geneva, Switzerland, has spent most of her life working in the health sector in the humanitarian sphere. She has brought her expertise all over the world, but most recently to Washington, DC to speak with other influential actors on a variety of challenges facing the health sector today, many of which take a heavy toll on communities affected by armed conflict and violence – the devastating and ongoing cholera outbreak in Yemen, the deterioration of public health services due to prolonged conflict, and the psychosocial effects of violence, displacement and gender-based violence, especially on women and children. In this episode, Esperanza helps us break down some of the complexities related to health and health systems and brings us back to the importance of one of the most basic aspects of our humanity. Hosted by Sara Owens and Anna Nelson.