Monthly Archives: September 2017

IIHA Presents Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey

Father McShane blesses the inaugural exhibition, Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey (Roberta Munoz)

New York, 15 September 2017 – The 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 the work of 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

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IIHA Welcomes New Member of Academic Team to Undergraduate Humanitarian Studies Program

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs warmly welcomes Francois Servranckx to our academic team. He joins Fordham University as an instructor of Introduction to Humanitarian Action for Humanitarian Studies Major/Minor students.

The core class for Humanitarian Studies students covers essential elements of the humanitarian system, such as the motivation to act, the role and place of the beneficiaries and local responders, project management cycles, and current dilemmas facing humanitarian actors.

These topics are essential to understand of the current humanitarian scene and think about the future of the system, said Francois.

Francois comes to the Institute with 15 years of international experience managing humanitarian projects; responding to emergencies; and designing and implementing communication and public campaigns for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

My experience with humanitarian NGOs, UN agencies and private foundations will help me present a very practical and grounded picture of the most recent challenges faced by humanitarian actors. I hope to encourage students to think out of the box, to define new solutions and pave the way for the future of humanitarian action, saidFrancois who has worked in Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Senegal.

It’s a great opportunity to meet and work with the next generation of aid workers and young people interested in humanitarian affairs and global issues. It’s a great honor for me to join the IIHA, to be able to connect the dots between practice in the field and the great amount of analysis and knowledge the Institute has built  over the years, he said.

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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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Normalizing the data revolution

This article was written by Giulio Coppi, Innovation Fellow at the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University, and originally published by Tech’s Good, a new digital publication critically evaluating the social impact of technology.

Violations of humanitarian law and human rights, displacement, human trafficking, conflict, and the forces that drive such abuses pose some of the most critical justice issues of our time. Simultaneously, technology and data have never had a more important role to play in ending and responding to crisis.

“The data, I think, will save us on many levels,” said Ms. Atefeh Riazi, Chief Information and Technology Officer of the United Nations, to a group of humanitarian workers enrolled in Fordham University’s Data and Innovation Management in Humanitarian Action course this July in New York City.

This course brought together leading experts from humanitarian, technology and design sectors as part of a bigger effort to put data science at the center of humanitarian action. This and other initiatives — like the upcoming Summer School on Big Data at the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University or the opening of the new Centre for Humanitarian Data — are nothing short of a declaration of unified support for smarter and more ethical uses of data for social good.

The full exploitation of humanitarian data sources has the potential to improve the way crises are forecasted, monitored and addressed. Proper management of data could drastically increase the impact and timeliness of humanitarian assistance and protection activities, such as identifying the needs of affected populations or distributing life-saving resources. But the path ahead is rocky and complex.

Challenges in policycapacity and implementation are many and sometimes disheartening, considering the high stakes and potentially dangerous consequences. All this, however, should not come as a surprise.

Three years ago, while speaking in front of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, Ban Ki-moon defined the “rapid access to reliable, comprehensive and accurate data” as a critical component to the activities of the United Nations and its partners.

Similarly, in 2014, while recognizing the important advancements made in this field, a report of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development published the report A World That Counts to highlight the gaps that hinder UN agencies from harnessing the full power of data.

In response to the report, Director of UNDP Human Development Report Office, Selim Jahan, urged the international community to “make sure that the coming revolution leads to the world having the right information, at the right time, to build accountability and make good decisions and so improve lives.”

Historically, however, revolutions that evolved into something lasting and stable did so in less than three years. An endless state of revolution can hardly be considered an ideal situation to aspire to, especially in the humanitarian sector.

Three years since the day the then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon drew his “ambitious and achievable mission” to leverage the Data Revolution to shape what we now call the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), humanitarians seem more worshipers of an abstract utopia, rather than victors of a revolution.

For many humanitarians, the tech world seems removed and disconnected from their own. Despite growing evidence, some still question that classic humanitarian activities like response coordination or ensuring protection of highly vulnerable populations could benefit from a more intensely data-based approach. Meanwhile, the humanitarian sector has yet to produce the policy, strategies and governance change that the data buzz has promised. Few organizations have truly embraced and incorporated data at the core of their programming or professional development activities. Even less have adopted or developed the adequate tools that would allow data (or Big Data) management to become daily routine.

The humanitarian sector, though, is hungry for projects centered on smart humanitarian data management. The frustration with the limited capacity for data-driven aid delivery is palpable. Those who are ready to evolve and take up the challenge to harness the power of data often feel their good intentions are ignored or downplayed because of institutional incapacity to adapt and internally innovate.

Moving forward, humanitarians, as community, need to tackle some core issues to truly progress in normalizing data-based humanitarianism. Potentially useful steps, though not exhaustive, include:

  1. Adopting data governance systems that can produce lasting and relevant change in internal organization management;
  2. Supporting a common language apparatus based on shared data strategies and protocols that can bridge the gap between data for humanitarian action and development (such as the HDX and HXL Standard);
  3. Ensuring that internal strategies consider Data and Innovationinterdependent;
  4. Advocating for more ethical data protection, responsibility, and management frameworks, and extending their application to public and private partners;
  5. Adopting Open Source and Open Data as mandatory approaches for all humanitarian data projects, allowing all humanitarians — but especially local actors — to access and own the most innovative tools for aid delivery and life-saving solutions;
  6. Developing shared corporate engagement strategies that can allow organic and structured innovation and cross-collaboration, beyond the current public-private partnership model.

In upcoming posts on the IIHA blog, I will further expand these points, also integrating the lessons learned on the way as we progress on new projects such as the HumanityX Summer School on Big Data for Peace and Justice hosted by the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University, and the hosting of the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit on November 10, 2017.

Note: The ideas expressed in this piece are the result of personal and professional experiences as field manager, researcher and teacher, and they do not represent anything more than a proposal for discussion. Special thanks to Angela Wells and Jorn Poldermans for their valuable intellectual contribution in the development and edit process of this piece.

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