Monthly Archives: March 2017

Devex report emphasizes importance of higher education for humanitarian professionals

Devex Report, Make Your Mark, emphasizes importance of higher education for humanitarian professionals

Higher education is becoming an increasingly essential step for career advancement in international development and humanitarian fields. In their recent report, Make Your Mark, Devex identified growing humanitarian sector demands to be a key driver for specialist higher education programs.

“With emergency response needs around the world growing, international development graduate programs are increasingly focused on humanitarian education and training that can prepare students for careers with first responders, international organizations and INGOs operating on the front lines,” says the report.

This is especially true for professionals responding to medical epidemics and natural disasters.

“Responding to and recovering from a wide-range of health emergency situations, such as the Ebola outbreak, Zika scare, famines, typhoons and earthquakes, requires cadres of qualified and diversified health professionals across all segments of the development community.

Of those surveyed, 91 percent of recent graduates of Master’s degree programs in the global development sector believe their graduate studies were a worthy investment of their time and money.

Coupled with tangible experience, a Master’s degree can open up doors for humanitarians that would otherwise remain closed. A Master’s in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) offered by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs is a key to this door.

The MIHA program challenges mid-career level humanitarian workers to devise solutions alongside like-minded practitioners from around the world. Grounded in values of social justice, the Master’s program emboldens students to put the innovative approaches they study in the classroom to practice in their own careers.

Courses are designed to accommodate the hectic schedule and work patterns of humanitarian workers. They are offered throughout the year at varying locations around the world. Whether in Barcelona or Addis Ababa, Geneva or Kathmandu – we reach diverse professionals in their contexts.

Humanitarian workers can also choose to enroll in a one-month International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance or shorter individual specialized courses on issues ranging from mental health or education in emergencies to strategic issues in humanitarian response to forced migration and human rights, among others.

Visit our website for more information on how to apply for a Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action or other higher education opportunities through the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs.

Devex is “a media platform for the global development community and a social enterprise working to make the $200 billion aid and development industry do more good for more people.”

For more advice on higher education in the humanitarian and development field, download Devex’s special report.  

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Vote for GlobalMedic to Help Save Lives!

GlobalMedic is in the running to win $750,000 through Google’s Impact Challenge! The Impact Challenge rewards technological innovations that impact social problems. GlobalMedic would use the award to lead their innovative RescUAV program — using drones and other UAV technology to support communities affected by disaster around the world. 


Better information is needed to help rescuers save lives. GlobalMedic’s RescUAV program is using innovative drone technology to provide this information.

Through UAV technology, they are able to make aid delivery and monitoring more efficient.
 They provide search and rescue, situational awareness, emergency mapping and aid delivery.

CLICK HERE to vote!

 Andrew Seger, IIHA Communications Intern

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Diplomacy Then and Now: Prevention is Always Better Than Treatment

The Boutros Boutros-Ghali Memorial Lecture

New York, March 21, 2017 – Aid workers and healthcare providers working amidst the ravages of war understand all to well the crucial importance of stopping conflict through diplomacy and negotiation before it starts or escalates.

Perhaps no one advocated for preventive diplomacy more ardently than founding member of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Yesterday, representatives of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and CIHC joined together to commemorate the life and noble efforts of Mr. Boutros-Ghali.

At the event, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President of the CIHC and University Professor and Director of Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), was part of a high-level panel together with H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for UNOAC and Diplomat-in-Residence at the IIHA, Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Africa, Tomas Christensen, Chef de Cabinet of and Ambassador Amr Aboulatta, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations.

“Almost in the role of a public health professional, he opened his talk by noting that in matters of peace and security, as in medicine, prevention is self-evidently better than cure. It saves lives and money and it forestalls suffering,” said Dr. Cahill of Mr. Boutrous-Ghalis’ powerful address at the 1995 UN Conference.

Dr. Cahill served as Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s physician and personal advisor for many years, including during his time as UN Secretary-General. Mr. Boutros-Ghali was also a founding member of the CIHC in 1992, which is now celebrating its 25th year.

His approach to preventive diplomacy was guided by four elements: fact-finding, confidence building, early warning and preventive deployment.

“He described preventive diplomacy as ‘action to prevent disputes from arising between parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of the latter when they occur’,” said Mr. Al-Nasser.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s landmark 1992 report, An Agenda for Peace, has become a guiding document for diplomats and UN representatives in their pursuit of sustainable social peace throughout the world..

“In our ever more dangerous world, in the throes of both inter- and intra-state conflicts, the need for a new approach in international relations, seems obvious. Preventive Diplomacy should deal with — and even direct — where a nation can move towards peace rather than replaying where it has been in endless wars. That surely was our intention in promoting this option, and neither Boutros nor I ever abandoned that dream,” concluded Dr. Cahill in his speech.

Twenty-five years later as the international community struggles to remedy and end dire conflicts and complex humanitarian crises in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and beyond world leaders should be reminded of this call to action.

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Syrian Voices: Customs and Traditions in Humanitarian Crises

Monday, March 6, 2017 – As conflict wages on in Syria, nearby countries have opened their doors to millions of new people seeking refuge. In Lebanon, one in four people is a Syrian refugee. While Lebanon is the biggest host of the five million Syrian refugees globally, truly integrating their neighbors into society has proved challenging for the small country where economic strains and competition for scarce resources is ever increasing.

House of Peace (HOPe) in Syria is striving to understand and address the evolving relationships of displaced persons within refugee populations, amongst their host communities and with non-governmental organizations.

Their new report, Syrian Voices, aims to raise voices, analyze opinions and propose positive recommendations for advancing integration and social peacebuilding. HOPe conducted workshops with around 300 participants, most of whom were Syrian refugees living in Lebanon but also Palestinians and Lebanese host community members.

“The main impetus behind this paper is helping people concerned with the Syrian crisis to see things from the eyes of those who are suffering the most; to contribute in bringing people from different points of views closer by helping them overcoming their prejudices and self-evident beliefs,” said Elias Sadkni, Director of HOPe and International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance 39 alumnus.

Restrictions to integration. A major finding of the report was the ways in which government policy and NGO modus-operandi surrounding refugee response in Lebanon have changed the ways in which Syrian communities relate each other and their hosts.

Strict residency and labor laws for Syrians in Lebanon have made securing employment particularly difficult for men. Women, however, are more easily able to find work opportunities in the informal labor market and through the support of vocational trainings and services provided by organizations.

Perhaps even more disconcerting was the effect that strict work restrictions had on fueling forced marriage or labor on children in the country. In 2016, some NGOs estimated between 60 and 70 percent of refugee children are working and Human Rights Watch reported that more than 250,000 Syrian children were out of school in Lebanon.

“Harsh regulations that prevent most refugees from maintaining legal residency or working are undermining Lebanon’s generous school enrollment policies…With 70 percent of Syrian families living below the poverty line in 2015, many cannot afford school-related costs like transportation and school supplies, or rely on their children to work,” said Human Rights Watch.

The Syrian Voices report reiterated this point adding that “participants felt Humanitarian and UN efforts are not prioritizing educational establishments for Syrian refugees; in addition to this issue, the majority of educational establishments in Lebanon refuse to accept Syrians.”

Blurring cultures. Despite the challenges that come with displacement, Syrian participants also expressed that social solidarity amongst their communities remained strong in exile. This solidarity at times extended into their relationships with their host communities, and in turn caused the lines between Syrian and Lebanese cultures to blur.

“Many participants felt that adapting to Lebanese culture is causing changes in the customs and traditions of Syrian refugees. Some expressed dismay at these changes, fear their permanency, and believe they have been a source of intra-communal tension, whilst others embrace them,” said the report.

Improved humanitarian intervention. Other focus groups with NGO representatives examined the complex role NGOs play in the Syrian crisis.

Representatives voiced concerns that “their presence at times has contributed to existing tensions or created new ones”, because they failed to partake in adequate contextual and cultural analyses before implementing projects. Others noted a lack of transparency between donors and the community.

Syria Voices ultimately concludes in a list of recommendations for the humanitarian community to improve their continuing intervention, suggesting that humanitarian organizations begin to truly address the root causes of suffering amongst Syrians in Lebanon by:

  • Ensuring and advocating for equal access to adult education, vocational training and employment opportunities for Syrian adults of both genders;
  • Developing mechanisms for effective child protection from exploitation;
  • Enhancing educational opportunities for children;
  • Truly engaging with Syrian and Lebanese communities to better understand conflict
  • Improving communication methods between agencies in order to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices; and
  • Promoting more positive and less stereotypically harmful narratives about Syrian refugees in Lebanese media.

Ultimately, HOPe believes this report can be a guiding resource for the humanitarian sector, one that encourages agencies to question and improve their increasingly important response to the Syrian crisis.

Syrian Voices is a research-initiated project aimed at spreading Syrian perspectives on issues of social peace. The goal of the paper is to inform the humanitarian community, allowing stakeholders to implement recommendations and best practices to help resolve conflict in Syria and surrounding areas.

Andrew Seger, IIHA Communications Intern

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Filed under Alumni Recommendations, Alumni Updates, Humanitarian Spotlight, Practitioner Profile

IIHA Executive Director Named to Editorial Board of the Journal of International Humanitarian Action


New York, NY – March 6, 2017 – Brendan Cahill, Executive Director of Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs has been named to the editorial board of the
Journal of International Humanitarian Action, a peer-review journal published by the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA).

The IIHA has partnered with NOHA for years, often providing education and academic support to their European-based students at Fordham University. Mr. Cahill is enthusiastic to deepen the Institute’s academic partnership with NOHA by championing this essential tool for a community of humanitarian academics.

The Journal is a wonderful initiative, and highlights the role academia can and must play in regards to humanitarian action. The Journal is a natural outlet for our scholars, and another axis point between academia and the humanitarian sector which will complement our International Humanitarian Affairs Book Series from Fordham University Press and our education programs.

As the IIHA focuses more on multilevel education together with research and publications, the Journal allows for greater interaction with a global network of scholars and practitioners. The Institute is growing because it remains constantly innovative, and seeks to remain relevant in the training of next generations of aid professionals,” said Mr. Cahill.

The IIHA looks forward to being an integral part of NOHA’s community of thought leaders by contributing to critical analysis and research that seeks to highlight contemporary challenges and ultimately improve humanitarian response around the world.

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