IIHA Announces New Degree Program at Fordham University: Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies

UN Photo/Logan Abassi

UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Building on more than twenty years of training humanitarian professionals around the globe, Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are pleased to launch the first US-based Master’s degree dedicated exclusively to international humanitarian response.

With the unprecedented rise of humanitarian crises, the need to ensure collective and effective responses that meet the needs of affected communities has never been more pressing. Addressing contemporary challenges of humanitarian action requires well-trained professionals who possess multi-sector knowledge, cultural understanding, and practical skillsets.

The Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies (MSHS) will educate a new generation of humanitarian professionals to make meaningful contributions to humanitarian operations. Built on social justice values and humanitarian principles, this 30-credit interdisciplinary program will challenge students to examine critically the political, social, economic, and legal foundations of the contemporary humanitarian sector, and to master various techniques to engaging holistic and sustainable responses to protracted and rapid onset humanitarian crises.

The MSHS curriculum will train students to:

  • engage deeply in contemporary humanitarian issues, including forced migration, human rights in conflict, urban disasters, and education in crises
  • develop practical skills through unique experiential learning opportunities in New York and overseas
  • cultivate an extensive network of high-qualified graduate program alumni and practitioners
  • learn policy making and project management techniques from faculty engaged in humanitarian work and research
  • concentrate in one of three areas: Human Rights; Communities and Capacity Building; or Livelihoods and Institutions

In Memory of Father Miguel d’Escoto: Spiritual Sources of Legal Creativity

 

November 2, 2017, New York City – A liberation theologian, a lead advocate in a David and Goliath case for international justice, and a leader in the United Nations, Father Miguel d’Escoto was one of the great champions of social justice and humanitarianism of his time.

In partnership with Fordham’s Leitner Center of International Law and Justice, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs honored Father d’Escoto with the Inaugural Lecture, “Spiritual Sources of Legal Creativity” on Tuesday, October 25 at Fordham University. The lecture was presented by Princeton Law Professor Richard Falk with an introduction by Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. of the IIHA and a response from Fordham Law Professor Michael Flaherty of the Leitner Center.

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. who served as Father d’Escoto’s physician and confidant for over half a century, recalled the Maryknoll priest’s “incredible ability to move from being a missionary to being a political activist and diplomat.”

Father d’Escoto, who died this past June, served as a political representative of his nation as the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and later the world as the President of the UN General Assembly. But perhaps his most important achievement was in bringing a case in the 1980’s against the United States in the International Court of Justice. The historic verdict found the US guilty for its role in assisting insurgents to mine and blockade Nicaraguan harbors during the country’s revolution.

“The daring and creativity that Father Miguel brought to the law and to his work at the UN sprung from spiritual roots that were grounded in both religious tradition and existential faith as well as his unshakable solidarity with those among us who are poor, vulnerable, suppressed and otherwise victimized. Father Miguel’s spirituality did not primarily equate with peace but with justice,” said Professor Falk.

Through his unwavering commitment to “speak truth to power” and to act in a “spirit of love and humility”, Father d’Escoto lived out values worth remembering  in contemporary times rife with conflict, injustice, and humanitarian crisis globally.

You can watch the first lecture commemorating his legacy here:

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Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Training in Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, October 11, 2017 – Earlier this month the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation provided a two-day training in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – Theory & Practice in Kiev, Ukraine in partnership with the Ukraine NGO Forum and sponsored by USAID and the Danish Refugee Council.

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The course was taught by CIHC representative Florian Razesberger, an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance alumnus, lecturer, tutor and IDHA Alumni Council member. He is also the course director of Fordham University’s Human Rights in Humanitarian Crises course.

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Under Florian’s instruction, 20 Ukraine-based humanitarian and human rights workers received in-depth training on the theory and practice behind protection mechanisms for crisis-affected populations as well as basics of human rights and international humanitarian law.

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“I focused the training on enhancing participants’ understanding of the legal concepts of human rights and humanitarian law and, most importantly, on the tools for monitoring and documenting human rights abuses in the field. We thoroughly discussed measures that ensure humanitarian protection work is strategic and effective,” said Florian.

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Inaugural Fr. Miguel D'Escoto Memorial Lecture: "Spiritual Sources of Legal Creativity"

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice will host the Inaugural Fr. Miguel D'Escoto Memorial Lecture: "Spiritual Sources of Legal Creativity" on October 24 at 11 AM at Fordham University Law School, Room 3-03.

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In the 1980s, Maryknoll priest and Foreign Minister of Nicaragua Father Miguel D’Escoto was a lead advocate in a historic case before the International Court of Justice. In its final verdict, the United States was found guilty of orchestrating acts of aggression in Nicaragua during the Contra guerrilla insurgency.

"It was not only a moral and political victory, but a vindication of Miguel’s underlying belief that international law, not violence, was the basis of peace and justice in the relations among nations," wrote Richard Falk, a lead counsel in the case.

This lecture will commemorate the legacy of the priest and diplomat through the memories and reflections of:

  •   Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., University Professor, Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University 
  •  Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University School of Law
  •  Ambassador Carlos Argüello Gómez, Agent of Nicaragua to the International Court of Justice and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  •  Martin S. Flaherty, Leitner Family Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
  •   H.E. Nassir Al Nasser, High Representative, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations 

To register in advance, please RSVP here.

New Exhibition, Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey, at IIHA

 

New York, 15 September 2017 – The Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation and Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs is honored to present Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey, an exhibition highlighting the human condition and connection amidst atrocities of war.

The inaugural exhibition marked the official opening of the Institute’s new headquarters in Canisius Hall on Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus yesterday. Fordham University President Father Joseph M. McShane, SJ opened the exhibition with a traditional blessing of Canisius Hall in which he blessed the “work and aspirations” of the IIHA.

Horrors of War presents Francisco de Goya’s illustrations of 19th century conflict alongside photographs of modern-day warfare by world-renowned war photographer James Nachtwey. By bringing together two artists from centuries apart, the exhibition illuminates the cruelty and beauty that co-exists in some of the darkest parts of human history.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, a world-renowned romantic painter and printmaker, illustrated the horrific outcomes of conflict between Spain and France in his Los desastres de la guerra [The Disasters of War], a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820.  These drawings, 17 of which are on display at the Institute, showcase atrocious acts committed by both sides using ambiguous imagery to make it difficult to distinguish which side the dead and mutilated belong to.

Goya exercised a strong influence upon photographer James Nachtwey, a 21st century war photographer.

“Before I had finally decided to become a photographer I visited the Prado Museum in Madrid and happened upon Goya’s Disasters of War. They were etchings, made before the invention of photography, yet they depicted the barbarity of war with such immediacy, I saw a direction connection with the photographic images of my own time, and considered Goya to be the patriarch of war photographers even though he never used a camera,” said Nachtwey.

Nachtwey has captured images of more recent humanitarian crises, including natural disasters, violent conflicts, famines, genocide, and forced migration, on every continent. His photographs express the both the brutality of war and the beauty of life.

“It is easy, in this day and age when we are bombarded with stories of conflict and despair, to forget that mortality statistics, especially in times of war, represent a person. A father, mother, child, sister, partner, friend. Someone who had dreams and joys, desires and stories. In this exhibition, we are invited to take a closer look at aspects of the human condition in times of conflict,” said IIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill.

The IIHA expresses its sincere gratitude to James Nachtwey, who generously printed and loaned these images to the Institute for this exhibition; to Dr. John O’Neill, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books of The Hispanic Museum and Library, who reproduced original prints from the Library’s collection for the exhibition and gave critical advice the exhibition’s curation and design; to Fred Signore and the entire facilities staff at Fordham University who created the exhibition space; and to Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., our University Professor and Founder of the Institute, who acted as the impetus to bring this together.

Horrors of War is the first of many exhibitions that will explore issues of social justice and humanitarian action through art and expression.

It will be on display throughout the fall semester, Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM in Canisius Hall at 2546 Belmont Avenue, Fordham University Rose Hill.

Molly Brodowski, IIHA Communications and Graphic Design Intern
Angela Wells, IIHA Communications Officer

James Nachtwey, Rwandan genocide, 1994

James Nachtwey, Rwandan genocide, 1994

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Milestones in Humanitarian Action Chronicles Two Decades of Impact through Education

 

8 September 2017, New York – The Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC), Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), and Fordham University Press are proud to announce the publication of Milestones in Humanitarian Action by Kevin M. Cahill, M.D.

Milestones in Humanitarian Action is the tale of a quarter-century long effort to improve responses to complex humanitarian crises that emerge during or after wars, or as sequelae of natural disasters. The book chronicles the impact of humanitarian education through the reflections of the organizations’ founders, students, instructors, and tutors.

Founded in 1992, the CIHC originated from a conversation between Dr. Cahill and his friend and patient, former United States Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, about one of the main challenges he encountered as United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General in the former Yugoslavia:

“Non-governmental organizations and humanitarian workers [who] are often poorly trained and uncoordinated, causing endless and unnecessary problems.”

This insight led Dr. Cahill “down a path of inquiry and exploration.” He began developing  the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) – a formal and academically-sound training program for humanitarian workers.

“I have aimed to redefine humanitarian relief work as not merely the actions of ‘do-gooders’, but as a distinct new profession, and to confer legitimacy on humanitarians who seek to build bridges to peace and understanding in times of war,” writes Dr. Cahill in the book.

The IDHA is a comprehensive, effective, and practical training program which continues to inform the work and efforts of health workers, military personnel, lawyers, and aid workers globally. Over the course of 20 years, more than 3,000 humanitarian aid professionals from 140 nations have taken the IDHA and other humanitarian programs offered by the CIHC and IIHA in Barcelona, Geneva, Kathmandu, New York, Nairobi, and beyond.

Due to the growing interest in humanitarian studies, Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs now offers a Master’s in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) for humanitarian professionals as well as a Major in Humanitarian Studies – one of only four such undergraduate programs in the world.

Milestones in Humanitarian Action focuses on the IDHA’s impact on 12 select graduates.

“The IDHA acted as a springboard to my international humanitarian career. In my opinion, the most unique thing about the course is not only the wide breadth of experience and talent that it brings together, but also the indelible bonds it creates amongst its alumni,” writes Naomi Gikonyo, a recent MIHA graduate.

Argentina Szabados, IDHA 2 alumna and CIHC Board Member, is the Regional Director of South-Eastern Europe, Europe, and Central Asia for the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In the book, she expresses the unique value of the IDHA:

“IDHA students do not simply sit and listen to lectures; they shape the direction of the course. That is the genius of the IDHA and of an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines academic theory with the practical experience of seasoned professionals.”

Milestones in Humanitarian Action ends with a speech given by Former United Nations Secretary General and CIHC co-founder Boutros Boutros-Ghali who led UN efforts to prioritize preventive diplomacy, using “universally understood semantics of health, disease, and medicine.” When asked about his most significant legacy in a final interview at the age of 93, the former Secretary General responded, “My work with Dr. Cahill in the mid-1990s on preventive diplomacy.”

Similarly in 1993, at the first CIHC conference, Mr. Vance said, “It is only in the last year or so that I have come to understand the importance of health issues in world affairs. The CIHC – an important new organization – and the vision, dedication, and drive of my friend, Dr. Kevin Cahill have informed us all about the ways that government, private groups, and international organizations can begin to care for the health and well-being of all.”

This mission rings true today. Looking forward, the CIHC and IIHA continue building upon the remarkable contributions of its founders, instructors, students, donors, and partners to shape leaders in the humanitarian field and, ultimately, improve the global response to a world in strife.

“I find comfort in the fact that our students will soon be out in the world, aiding the vulnerable, bearing witness to injustice, advocating against the obscenity of poverty, and contributing to their communities, each in their own special way,” concludes Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director.

To engage in our mission for effective humanitarian action, consider joining us in the following ways:

Press contact

Angela Wells
Communications Officer
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
+1-718-817-5303
awells14@fordham.edu

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World Humanitarian Day: Civilians Are Not A Target

 

 

August 18, 2017, New York – On World Humanitarian Day, the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation stands with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the broader humanitarian community to denounce attacks against civilians and health and humanitarians workers in conflict - a rising and disastrous trend around the world.

According to the UN, "Over the past 20 years, 4,132 aid workers have been attacked. In 2016, 91 aid workers were killed, 88 were injured and 73 were kidnapped in the line of duty. The majority of these attacks took place in five countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.

Attacks against aid workers are deplorable and represent clear violations of international humanitarian law. In addition to endangering aid workers, these attacks threaten humanitarian operations and the lives of millions of people who rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival."

Join us in calling on world leaders to protect civilians and those offering lifesaving assistance by joining the #NotATarget campaign. You can show your support by engaging in the conversation on social media, signing the World Humanitarian Day Petition, and reading the toolkit to learn more.

Photo credit: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Photo credit: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Practitioner Profile: Naomi Gikonyo – Recent Graduate of the IIHA Master’s in International Humanitarian Action

Naomi Gikonyo ensured refugees accessed food rations in Maban, South Sudan.

Naomi Gikonyo ensured refugees accessed food rations in Maban, South Sudan.

Naomi Gikonyo has designed emergency response interventions amidst humanitarian crises around the world – from Kenya to South Sudan, Haiti to Libya – for nearly a decade. Currently she works as an Emergency Preparedness and Response Officer for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This month she also graduates with a Master’s Degree in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) through the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University.

Here she reflects on her vast experiences in the humanitarian sector.

How did you get started in the humanitarian field?

Like many people in the humanitarian field, it was purely coincidental. I first began to intern with International Medical Corps (IMC) and as a result, I ended up working with them for almost eight years in a variety of areas including finance, logistics, and then finally programs.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

I enjoy working in the humanitarian field to contribute to something larger than myself. Each emergency is different so it is difficult to specifically say which is my greatest accomplishment, but I have participated or led several emergency responses in relatively difficult contexts.

I have been deployed at the height of emergencies to set up operations from scratch, and I have bonded and worked with individuals from all different walks of life, which I am proud of. It is humbling to be able to offer assistance to people who are vulnerable and looking to you to provide support in their time of need. This is what drives me.

The most fulfilling mission I have ever had is working in South Sudan. It is a difficult country to work in, but overall each of the missions is different and I do not categorize them as one being better than the other. Each experience is important to me in a variety of ways. It is more the people you work with – this is what is crucial in this line of work.

What is the most difficult experience you have had?

At the height of an emergency there is a great deal of pressure, usually in life or death situations. The most difficult task for me was setting up operations in South Sudan right after the conflict began at the end of 2013. It is a particularly difficult country to work in, not only in terms of access, but security as well. This includes harsh working conditions in the middle of nowhere without any of the resources you usually take for granted. It is basically you, your team, limited supplies, and one vehicle. Essentially you have to hit the ground running. Setting up operations, with heightened tensions, along with limited resources is always a challenge.

In addition to being a student, you served as a tutor during last year’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) course in New York. What were some of your main take-aways from this experience?  

It is fascinating coming back as a tutor after being a student. The IDHA is a very enriching course for most people, because students and lecturers come together to cross-pollinate ideas. It is a mid-career course where all of the participants have significant (humanitarian) field experience or some experience in other sectors. It is therefore a very interactive environment. The students learn as much from the faculty and lecturers as they do from themselves. They build networks for life with people from different perspectives and different backgrounds. There are 40 people from 29 different countries who participated in IDHA 48 and as a result there is a lot of diversity and perspective in the group. I experienced this as a student as well and I am still in touch with most of my classmates from IDHA 29, seven years later. It is definitely one of the more interesting courses offered at Fordham and in the humanitarian sector.

What was your favorite part of IDHA 48?

I find the case studies very interesting. I also enjoyed the guest lecturers. It was interesting to get perspectives from different areas of work that I did not have previous exposure to, such as the Ebola response or the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, which I found fascinating. I also enjoyed reflecting and gaining new perspectives about contexts I have worked in. It is hard to pick one highlight, but what I find most useful in the course is being able to listen to and reflect upon so many different perspectives. I also met some colleagues from WFP in the course and it was interesting to interact with them and hear their various experiences from the field.

What is one of the strengths of the IDHA course?

A strength of the course is that it is very adaptive. It is not rigid, but rather quite fluid. A lot of content shared on IDHA 48 is very different from when I was a student. When the faculty and students bring their current experience to the course, the content changes accordingly because of the knowledge in the room. It is nice to see the evolution of this sharing and learning.

What are largest challenges in humanitarian work today?

A lot of people say it is issues of access or funds, but I would say the level of complexity of the problems that we are dealing with is so great that the system has not necessarily been able to evolve as quickly in order to properly address these needs. We are struggling to adapt as fast. The game has changed but the players have remained the same, whether this be the scope of migration issues or politicization of aid. In general, these issues have intensified, but the humanitarian architecture has stayed the same. There have been attempts to evolve or adapt but they have not been sufficient enough to match the level of complexity we are dealing with. It remains a fundamental challenge to the system overall if we are to deal with future issues.

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. and Robert De Niro Address IDHA 50 Graduates

The Centre for International Humanitarian Cooperation and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) reached a meaningful milestone on Friday with the graduation of 25 humanitarian workers from the Institute’s 50th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance course and four from the Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action at Fordham University.

Surprising the graduates, Hollywood actor and IDHA commencement speaker Robert De Niro joined for the occasion to honor their commitment to humanitarian action in a world increasingly challenged with a “lack of humanity.”

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Hollywood actor Robert De Niro praises humanitarian workers and IIHA graduates for serving with “compassion and dignity”

July 3, 2017, New York – The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) reached a meaningful milestone on Friday with the graduation of 25 humanitarian workers from the Institute’s 50th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance course and four from the Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action at Fordham University.

Robert De Niro poses with IDHA 50 graduates and CIHC President, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D.

Robert De Niro poses with IDHA 50 graduates and CIHC President, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D.

Surprising the graduates, Hollywood actor and IDHA commencement speaker Robert De Niro joined for the occasion to honor their commitment to humanitarian action in a world increasingly challenged with a “lack of humanity.”

“You’ve found your own inner humanitarian and you have let it guide you to making our world better. You serve with compassion and dignity while you make sacrifices that take heroic risks. Now you’ve gone through this program so you can perform your work even more effectively. You have distinguished yourselves here and you will take these lessons with you for the rest of your lives,” said Mr. De Niro.

The graduates join a network of more than 3,000 alumni who hail from 140 countries, each making significant strides in responding to conflicts, natural disasters, displacement and other crises worldwide.

“My head is full of little videos, of vignettes, of cameos, of heroic deeds, that you have written to me, which have been involving you in the field. Ambushed in Syria, taken hostage in Afghanistan, crossing frontlines under fire, emergency medicine in makeshift hospitals, opening schools in remote camps. Of simply staying on when others have left, of fighting fear, of overcoming despair, feeding the hungry, holding the hands of the vulnerable. We are in that unique position that we’re not in uniform, but we fight in the frontline. Our enemy is poverty, hunger, homelessness and our allies are the beneficiary,” said IDHA 50 Course Director Larry Hollingworth, CBE in commemoration of the cumulative impact of the IIHA alumni network.

IDHA 50 and MIHA graduates work as medical professionals, logisticians, communicators, operational managers, military officers, among other roles in response to humanitarian crises and emergencies in South Sudan, Niger, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Mexico, North Korea, and beyond.

For the past month, they paused their work to take a step back from the field and study topics crucial for effective humanitarian response.

“We were all on a ship named IDHA 50, together floating on a wide ocean of experience with an incredible depth of knowledge. Luckily, we had superb and skilled captains on board with us, who navigated the ship in the right humanitarian direction and provided us with professional lectures, professional personal experiences, in quality and quantity, in form and content,” said Bart Vermeiren, IDHA 50 Student Representative who came to the course with more than 15 years of experience working for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Throughout the IDHA course, 33 humanitarian experts, practitioners, Fordham academics, and leaders in the field gave lectures on topics such as humanitarian law, disaster management, communicable disease, logistics, civil military cooperation, and dozens of others. Lecturers also presented a series of case studies illuminating the complexity of today’s humanitarian interventions in Ukraine, Nepal, Palestine, Ethiopia, and beyond.

In his opening comments, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. commended the students for their willingness to “not be blocked in by academic barriers or the barriers that separate us from each other.”

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs congratulates these graduates in their successful completion of their training and warmly welcomes them to a network of innovative and impactful humanitarians.

“You are a treasured part of our IDHA family all over the world. Make use of it. Continue to give back. Continue to come back. Continue to be in touch and be involved with our programs, no matter where you are or where we are. And please, no matter where you are, remember these days as we will remember you,” Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director, reminded the graduates before they left the halls of Fordham University and returned to their posts around the world.

For more than 20 years, the IIHA has trained humanitarian aid workers in cities around the world, including Geneva, Goa, Amman, Barcelona, Kathmandu, Nairobi, New York, and more. Upcoming humanitarian trainingswill be held in Amman, Malta, Vienna and Kathmandu and are open for registration.

Press contact

Angela Wells

Communications Officer, Fordham University Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

awells14@fordham.edu

+1 718-817-5694