Fordham News: IIHA Welcomes new Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow

 Photo by Dana Maxson

Photo by Dana Maxson

New York —Judy Benjamin, Ph.D., is Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs’ newest Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow. Benjamin has a master’s in anthropology from Hunter College and a doctorate in anthropology from Binghamton University. Her career has centered on conflict-affected and less-developed countries, applying social science professional skills in the areas of gender, education, health, and economic development in over 30 countries worldwide.

Q: This is not your first go-around with the IIHA, correct?

A: I taught in the Institute during its first couple of years. I knew Dr. Cahill, because I had been in international work my entire career. From time to time I had visited him for my own illnesses, which were usually parasitic in nature.

Q: What have you been doing recently?

I’ve been working as an independent consultant since 2009. Prior to that, I worked for organizations such as CARE International, the International Rescue Committee, Academy for Educational Development, the United States Agency for International Development, the UN World Food Program, UNICEF, and the UN Development Programme, UNDP among others. I’ve done a lot of work looking at gender-based violence. Most of the countries that I’ve worked in have been either in conflict or post-conflict.

Q: What will you be doing for IIHA?

{I’ll be} participating in the development, management, and implementation of the Institute’s academic and training programs, along with responsibilities for teaching and coordinating the academic aspects of the Institute’s undergraduate and graduate curricula at Fordham. I’m making sure that our courses are meeting the students’ needs in this area, and also that there’s a compatibility with other programs. For our new graduate program, which we’ll be launching in the fall, I’m ensuring that we have course descriptions and professors identified to teach the courses. I’m also teaching humanitarian affairs, which is a prerequisite for some of the more advanced courses. I love to see the excitement and enthusiasm among students; they’re hungry for information.

Q: Tell us about your hands-on experience.

A: I lived for a year and a half in a refugee camp in Western Tanzania. People were fleeing genocide in Rwanda resulting in a massive movement of people into Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was a director of a HIV AIDS and reproductive health program that was funded by USAID. I lived in the camps, supervised, hired, and trained outreach educators who moved through the camps to train and educate refugees about HIV AIDS prevention. The camps kept expanding and expanding, until there were nearly 500,000 people. I originally agreed to stay for six months, but ended up remaining for a year and a half. It was quite challenging.

Q: What is the most pressing problem facing the humanitarian assistance community?

A: I’d have to say lack of sufficient funds to do what we need to do. It has also become increasingly insecure for people working in this field. I have a number of friends who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then there is a growing number of refugees who are internally displaced within their own borders. Their situations were initially meant to be temporary, but for some of them, the displacements have lasted for many, many years. That was certainly the case with the Afghan refugees who were settled in Pakistan. Multiple generations grew up as refugees. There’s a frustration and hopelessness among the young people in these camps.

Q: What draws you to this work?

A: I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It seems natural to want to make a tiny bit of difference. I’m not going to change the world, but if I can make the lives of other people just a little better, that’s inspiring.

This article was originally posted on the Fordham News website. Click here to read more.

Patrick Verel, Fordham News

CIHC and IIHA Launch Humanitarian Pulse

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The Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs are pleased to announce the launch of our new blog, The Humanitarian Pulse. The Pulse will feature news and feature stories written by our staff, faculty, and alumni about humanitarian issues of relevance to both organizations.

In the coming months, we will be focusing on stories about innovation and design for humanitarian response as well as the various complex aspects of forced migration response around the world. You can also read excerpts from our most recent book, Milestones in Humanitarian Action, which chronicles our 20-year journey educating humanitarian workers around the world.

We hope you will follow along and share with your networks.

Older Persons: A Priority to Protect

February 13, 2018, New York City - The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 proved to be one of the most devastating natural disasters of the century. For the nation’s men and women aged 65 and over, who made up nearly a quarter of its population, the disaster proved severely catastrophic. Unable to evacuate or secure shelter and under precarious health conditions, older Japanese people faced disproportionate insecurity, as reported by the Guardian.

The aftermath of the Japanese disaster brought to light the vulnerability of ageing populations affected by humanitarian crises. This unsurprising yet deeply neglected reality is one humanitarian responders struggle to address in protracted and emergency crises globally.

Around the world, older persons hold the social fabric of their communities together – especially when crisis strikes. They serve as family guardians and community leaders, advocates and teachers. They are also the first to fall through the cracks of the humanitarian safety net – with limited mobility and frail health as they struggle more than most to reach safety, rebuild their homes, and continue their lives in dignity.

While the number of older persons living in protracted or emergency crises is unknown, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has reported that by 2050 the global population of individuals over the age of sixty will more than double to comprise a quarter of the world’s population. In countries susceptible to climate change-induced disasters and conflict, older persons are sure to face greater protection risks, barriers to healthcare, and vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.

Despite this evident risk, the humanitarian infrastructure continually falters in its attempts to provide dignified response to older persons – as reported by the UN Refugee Agency. Immediately after fleeing, they are the first to be split up from their families and lose access to lifesaving medical services. As they begin to start life anew, they face age discrimination when pursuing employment opportunities, health care, and social services.

In a humanitarian sphere with competing interests and rapidly evolving crises, older populations are simply not a top priority. This leaves a huge gap in assistance and creates an environment where older persons struggle to prevail.

Furthermore, in urban areas, where more than 80 percent of the world’s displaced reside, older persons are extremely marginalized and unable to access basic services. Whether the hurricane in San Juan or conflict in Mosul, cities are increasingly becoming hubs for disaster and their older and displaced residents the most affected.

“The elderly are largely invisible in disaster preparedness programs, rescue efforts and reconstruction projects. Too often, they are the forgotten ones whom no one bothers to inform, check on or assist….Older persons are particularly at risk if they live in sub-standard or overcrowded housing, in shantytowns, or in areas with badly designed infrastructure, poor transport systems, or ineffective local leadership,” wrote Ann Pawliczko, PhD IIHA Research Fellow on Ageing in a soon-to-be-published book on urban disasters.

Fortunately, the international community has made a concerted effort to address the plight of older persons affected by crises.  In 2002, the United Nations adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing which urged humanitarian responses to include older persons in project design and assessment, and to protect older individuals, especially women, from exploitation and abuse.

Fifteen years later, significant strides have been made. Non-governmental  organizations like HelpAge International and the International Rescue Committee promote the inclusion and protection of older persons amidst global crises and displacement.The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals call on the international community to leave no older person behind. Nation states have convened to form bodies like the Group of Friends of Older Persons to address their rights and needs on the UN stage.

Humanitarians are also beginning to recognize the wisdom and leadership that older persons contribute to their communities in the aftermath of crises.

“Older people are more likely to be aid givers than receivers. Their assistance to others means that supporting older people – with healthcare or income generation activities, skills training or credit – supports their families and communities. Little attention has yet been paid to how older people can be helped to fulfill such valuable roles in rebuilding communities, and recognition of their special contribution should not lead to devolution of yet more responsibilities without a corresponding increase in support,” reports HelpAge International.

Looking forward, HelpAge and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction are pursuing and promoting fourteen targets that seek to improve humanitarian response to older persons. These include involving older persons in the development of disaster and climate risk assessment, increasing access to early warning signals and information for older persons, and ensuring direct support to older persons including income support and disaster insurance.

These solutions and others will be more deeply explored by representatives of the  Permanent Mission of Japan, UNHCR, IRC, and independent experts and Fordham University at an upcoming side event of the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development: “Humanitarian Action for Older Persons: Fifteen Years After The Madrid Plan” taking place at the United Nations Secretariat next week.

The event is being convened by the Center for International Health and Cooperation and the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, the Group of Friends of Older Persons (GoFOP), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Angela Wells, IIHA Communications  Officer
Noel Langan, IIHA Communications Intern

Humanitarian Action for Older Persons: Fifteen Years After The Madrid Plan

"Humanitarian Action for Older Persons: Fifteen Years After The Madrid Plan" 

Side Event of the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development

February 7, 2018 from 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm

United Nations Secretariat Building, Conference Room 7

The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002, emphasizes the importance of caring for older persons affected by emergencies who carry specific vulnerabilities. The Madrid Plan urges humanitarian actors to not only incorporate the needs of older persons into humanitarian programming and guidelines, but also to actively ensure their fundamental rights to equal access to food, shelter, and health care.

Fifteen years on and the world is experiencing unprecedented levels of forced migration and displacement due to humanitarian disasters. One of the more seriously affected groups in times of crises are older persons, those aged 60 years and over, as well as those who rely on their care. The protection of older persons affected by crises underscored in the Madrid Plan is crucial to offering dignified humanitarian assistance to communities.

This event will discuss the challenges and best practices for caring for older persons in the humanitarian response infrastructure. By drawing on the experiences of humanitarian practitioners, policy experts, and refugees, the event will delve into various aspects of humanitarian planning and response by bringing in the latest experience, data and contributions of older refugees and displaced persons in the context of current crises.

Agenda

Welcome and Introductions:

  • Ann Pawliczko, PhD, Research Fellow, Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs, Fordham University
  • H.E. Ambassador Rubén Hasbún, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of El Salvador
    to the United Nations, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons

Moderator:

  • Rosemary Lane, Focal Point on Ageing, Division for Social Policy and Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Speakers:

  • H.E. Ambassador Toshiya Hoshino, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations: Experiences and Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 and Other Natural Disasters

  • Andrew Painter, Senior Policy Advisor (Human Rights/Protection), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Addressing the Needs of Older Displaced Persons

  • Sandra Vines, Director for Resettlement, International Rescue Committee: The Needs of Elderly Refugees in the Resettlement Process

  • Sylvia Beales, Consultant on Ageing and ‘Inclusive Social Development’:  Overview of Current Frameworks to Ensure Inclusion

Concluding Remarks: Rene Desiderio, PhD, Research Fellow, Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs, Fordham University

Convened by the Center for International Health and Cooperation and the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, the Group of Friends of Older Persons (GoFOP), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Milestones Testimony: Florian Razesberger

This is an abbreviated version of a testimony written by IDHA Alumnus and Tutor Florian Razesberger (IDHA 20), featured in Milestones in Humanitarian Action, available for purchase on the Fordham Press website.

When I first learned about the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), I was advised that it was probably not for me. A friend was taking the course at the time, and she thought that with my profile and background, I should look for a different course. “After all, you are a lawyer,” she said.

I am, in fact, a lawyer by education, and my work always has had some connection to legal issues; however, I have never been content to sit in a corporate office, trading my lifetime away for money I did not need. To be reduced to the stereotype of a lawyer — tough but boring, a technical stickler, colorless in suit and humor, unscrupulous, and most importantly, greedy — annoys me to no end.

I decided to apply to the IDHA for the same reason I decided to study law a decade earlier: curiosity. Back then I had absolutely no idea what law was about, but when I applied to the IDHA, I thought I had at least some idea about humanitarian assistance. After all, the work I had done as a lawyer always related to the situations of conflict, but mostly from a legal side. Yet when I looked at the IDHA curriculum, subjects like humanitarian reform, logistics, or camp management did not tell me anything. Only on the “law day” was there some beacon of clarity within the whole program. The rest was unknown.

What I knew was the routine of everyday work. At the time, I was working on rule of law issues in Macedonia, preparing trainings on war crimes for judges and human rights workshops for young lawyers. It was time for something different. Winter was coming and November in the Balkans is a rather bleak affair. The prospect of learning about a completely foreign subject for a whole month in a place like Nairobi, with people I had never met, and who came from different fields and from different countries I had never visited, was a “no-brainer.” My boss initially suspected that all of this was a cover for a safari trip and a vacation on the Mombasa beaches, but eventually he agreed to let me go for the month. It turned out to be a different kind of safari. Someone once referred to the IDHA as a humanitarian boot camp, and there is certainly some truth to this. My colleagues in Macedonia suspected that I would be having idle fun among giraffes and white sand, but that was not the case.

To be basically locked up in a compound, which took the innocent shape of a convent run by caring nuns; to be put to work for four weeks in a row; to come up time and again with reasonable, presentable products; to take exams every Monday; to write a research paper over the weekends; and to sit in class 50 hours each week while staying up until the wee hours with colleagues in order to prepare presentation each Friday — that can be a hell of a ride. Especially when raw emotions take over, exhaustion caused by information-overload creeps in, and frustrations mount as, for some strange reason, your team members do not always agree with your opinions.

The formal education I received in the first two decades of my life differed vastly from the education I received from the IDHA. I had learned to be better than others, to measure myself against my colleagues and aspire to beat them; now, as an IDHA student, I had to learn to be a team player. Our teachers told us we would be together for every day of every week, and worst of all, that we would be graded as a group for out output, and not as individuals. Four long weeks lay ahead of me.

The IDHA was a turning point for me. As I moved to new places and tasks, I felt comfortable taking the lead in certain situations. I became an active leader, despite my insecurities, and over time I became a trainer, a public speaker, and also a manager. The IDHA syndicate work showed me how to communicate better, not only in the context of humanitarian aid, but also as a partner, a family member, and a friend.

Emotions often get the better of us, not only in situations of war and crisis, but also in our everyday lives. The IDHA taught me how important it is to respond constructively and respectfully, and even when you are pushed beyond your personal boundaries, to make rational decisions.

The course was an ideal way to test my limits, to measure myself in situations that push me out of the comfort zone and provide me with the opportunity to grow. It is only when our guard goes down, when we are tired, annoyed, bored, and irritated, that we are able to learn about sides of ourselves we never knew existed.

In the end, the IDHA is about the passionate moments, big and small: the moments in the syndicates, during fights or during jokes; the moments in the classroom, during the talks and during the breaks; the moments in the hours after class and during the sleepless nights. Those I take with me.

Milestones Testimony: Ferdinand von Hasburg-Lothringen

This is an abbreviated version of Ferdinand von Hasburg-Lothringen’s testimony featured in Milestones in Humanitarian Action, available for purchase on the Fordham Press website.

Many of us need a core set of values in order to anchor our lives and ourselves. I, for one, feel this profound need as I continue to provide humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, after two decades of professional experience in Sudan and South Sudan. My experience has allowed me to witness how human beings, when faced with enormous, apparently insurmountable challenges, continue to seek a way forward; we refer to this strength of the human spirit as “resilience.” Above all, I believe that my time in the Horn of Africa has taught me to reflect upon and fairly evaluate the needs of stakeholders, partners, and recipients. Three keywords have become central to my work and my life: community, reflection, and change. These words form the very basis of our humanity, and are a call to the future and to action.

“I will call you for one minute.” No seven words have held more meaning for me than these; I first heard them on the evening of July 28, 2016, through the crackle of a poor telephone connection. Years earlier, I had met Dr. Kevin Cahill in his office on the edge of Central Park. I had come for a thorough medical examination, and as he looked me over, he asked me about my work in South Sudan. Over the course of our conversation, he revealed himself as a consummate thinker, storyteller, and professional, steeped in humility, warmth and humor.

Now, as I crawled on hands and knees across the floor of an office building, ducking under the windows to avoid a storm of bullets outside — a barrage that, I later learned, killed over 250 people — Kevin’s seven words were my lifeline to someone who cared, someone who knew what I had experienced. Over the course of those four terrifying days, his daily “one minute” phone call reassured me that despite the distance, despite terrible situations and impossible commitments, human beings will persist in reaching out, in building connections, in recognizing the extraordinary gifts of others. This persistence is, in my view, the antidote to cynicism, impatience, and selfishness.

Kevin’s next call found me on the floor of the Comboni Missionaries in Juba, trapped by a second volley of gunfire. I was with half a dozen other international missionaries, and all of us lay facedown on the floor as more machine gun rounds, tank shells, and rocket-propelled grenades crisscrossed our compound–this time apparently in a celebratory mood. The minute was an hour, his words–whatever he said, I cannot recall now–were comfort and solidarity, filling my bruised and bewildered body with hope. Even after he ended the call, that “one minute” continue to comfort me, to reassure me that I was alive and loved, no matter what happened tomorrow. Kevin’s call, and the calls I received from his son, Brendan, and from family and friends, taught me that there is no replacement for love, support, and true friendship.

In the winter of 2002, I returned to my hometown, Geneva, as a stranger in a familiar land. I had entered into a new phase of my life: still lacking in confidence in my skills as a humanitarian, and shaken by the raw violence I saw while stationed in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, I arrived at IDHA 9. Unbeknownst to me, this would become a defining moment in my life. Not only did I walk away from the IDHA with the professional skills and tools I needed, but I also formed friendships with people who spoke the “aid language,” and who approached their work with spirit, enthusiasm, and genuine curiosity. Surrounded by so many like-minded people, I thought I had joined the IDHA in an exceptionally vintage year, or else the course had filled some niche in the humanitarian community. Friendships bloomed and strategies developed–bonds that, in many cases, remain unbreakable, connecting us across borders and oceans, coming together and forming actions, studies, shared analyses, and reunions in the most unexpected of places.

There was a deep-seated sense of respect and community, reinforced through the kind of honest, open reflection that inspires confidence, in spite of our faults and fears of inadequacy. I thought perhaps I had lucked into IDHA 9, but as I pursued the MIHA–attending courses in Barcelona, New York, and Berlin, all at times of my choosing, thanks to the flexibility of the program–I came to realize that Fordham and the IIHA had tapped into a critical need in the humanitarian world, and had met that need head-on, with innovation and first-call staff and support teams. When I arrived in Geneva for IDHA 9, I immediately felt at home.For many of us, it was the first time we had been afforded a chance to think about our personal experiences within the international framework, and to consider the experiences of others support and encouragement–an educational approach that held value for both students and tutors.

As an IDHA alumnus, I have a responsibility to develop this new philosophy and answer the hard questions. I now have the ability to look honestly at my life and my choices; to avoid the generalizations, the preferred political narratives, and the simplifications that stymy our efforts. The IDHA, above all, allows its students to think creatively in a field that adheres to tradition and often refuses change. In the end, the hours of reading and reflection created a space in my mind where I can question and challenge, and find myself anew.

Ferdinand von Hasburg-Lothringen

Humanitarian Blockchain Summit: Joining Together to Shape the Future of Blockchain For Humanity

November 16, 2017, New York City  —  Blockchain technology is already driving innovation in the finance and public sectors globally. Now humanitarian and technology leaders are exploring how the technology could revolutionize humanitarian response to global complex emergencies.

This transformation was explored at the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit on November 10 hosted by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University in partnership with the Centre for Innovation at Leiden UniversityCenter of International Humanitarian CooperationUniversity of NorthamptonUnited Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology, and Civic Hall.

More than 250 humanitarian workers, United Nations officials, governmental and public sector representatives, technology experts, and academics convened at the Summit to explore the vast potential of blockchain technology and grapple with the challenges.

Blockchain — a distributed ledger technology —  could be used to solve those challenges, such as storing identification, educational and professional qualifications of displaced persons; implementing direct cash transfer programs via cryptocurrencies; or managing contracts for migrant workers.

“Blockchain can have a role in not only serving the people endangered in these crises, perhaps in refugee camps or disaster response, but also in finding new ways that allow people to be more self-reliant, long term humanitarian projects to be more inclusive, and protection to be more central to long term humanitarian response.

As always the interest of humanitarians must go beyond the financial and fulfil the ultimate humanitarian principle of do no harm. The most essential objective we believe is to ensure transparency, data protection, and participation of beneficiaries by utilizing the blockchain through facilitating user centered design and ensuring their autonomy in the process,” said Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director.

Through panels, speeches, breakout sessions, and workshops attendees discussed topics such as humanitarian financing, ethical frameworks, smart contracts, gender empowerment, and sustainable development goals (SDGs) in relation to blockchain technology.

Rahul Chandran, Director of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, closed the Summit with three practical actions for humanitarians and technologists:

  • Put the good energy of the Summit to use by applying the technology to concrete real world problems;
  • Manage risks by having upfront conversations about ethics and governance; and
  • Ground change and impact in evidence and open ourselves up to scrutiny.

“We need collective effort and that does not just happen spontaneously. It takes the private sector, blockchain companies, coming to governments and actually saying we want standards, we want ethical codes…It takes an exchange of ideas, because we’re still so early in this process,” said Chandran who encouraged participants to continue engagement on the subject.

Following the Blockchain Summit, the IIHA is launching the Blockchain for Humanity Initiative alongside the Centre for Innovation at Leiden UniversityUniversity of Northampton, and University of Groningen. The Blockchain for Humanity Initiative will provide ongoing actions for further discussion and engagement with like-minded institutions and practitioners concerning the application of blockchain technology for humanitarian action.

The first opportunities for engagement include:

The Humanitarian Blockchain Summit was made possible with the generous support of  Fordham Graduate School of Arts and SciencesConsensys and Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance.

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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