New York — On Friday, Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs concluded their intensive month-long International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance program with a commencement presided over by the University President, the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and featuring the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason. In the same ceremony, the Institute also celebrated the successful achievement of two graduates in their Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA).
Speaking to the graduates in the Commencement Address, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason stressed the importance of humanitarian action in what she called an unprecedented period of international strife.
“Those of you in front of me, graduates of humanitarian studies, you are doers, not sayers. Many of you, I know, have already changed, saved lives in the field in conditions that actually shame the rest of us,” said Ambassador Byrne Nason.
“During the length of this course, 1.16 million people have been displaced. John Ging, the director of operations at OCHA, reminded us that humanitarian problems are not solved by humanitarians, but rather they are solved by politicians with political solutions. The politicians are our representatives, and it is up to all of us to reach out,” added IDHA 52 Course Director Mark Little, M.D.
IDHA 52 graduates hail from 24 countries such as Italy, Jordan, Nepal, the Philippines, and Yemen. Following graduation, they will return to their posts coordinating education projects for refugees; serving as medical responders during natural disasters; or creating communications campaigns to galvanize humanitarian funding.
“You’ve been equipped with what former UNSG Peter Hansen called, ‘a rich mix of experience to fuel reflection and learning and theory and the praxis of humanitarian affairs,” said Ambassador Byrne Nason as she encouraged them all to continue “shining a light in dark places.”
University Professor and Director Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. also presented two IDHA Honoris Causae at the ceremony.
The first was presented to Mrs. Albert J. Marchetti, the late Chief Financial Officer of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation, as a symbol of our thanks and respect for him. Ambassador Byrne Nason was awarded the second degree, recognized for her dedication to humanitarian causes around the world and to the mission of the IIHA.
Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director, welcomed the new graduates to the IDHA family — more than 3,000 alumni from 140 countries.
“Everything starts from this point,” he said, “we hope you keep us in your heart as we keep you in ours.”