Monthly Archives: November 2017

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 University, Center of International Humanitarian Cooperation, University of Northampton, United 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 University, University 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 Sciences, Consensys and Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance.

Photos from the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit

Humanitarian Blockchain Summit

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Education in Emergencies course co-hosted with Jesuit Refugee Service

Students participate in the IIHA Education in Emergencies course in Malta (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Rabat, November 10, 2017 – With close to 30 million children living in conflict-affected countries, and hundreds of thousands of families displaced by natural disasters, education in times of crisis and conflict is fundamental to achieving the goal of universal education.

In light of the importance of quality education for individuals affected by forced displacement, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) recently co-hosted a five-day intensive course on education in emergencies with the Jesuit Refugee Service. The course, held in Rabat, Malta from 2 to 6 October, provided participants with tools to design educational projects in emergency and post-conflict situations.

Co-directed by Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán, Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director at IIHA, and Nadezhna Castellano, JRS International Education Specialist, the course specifically emphasized the mechanisms required to improve quality of education during and after humanitarian crises.

The 24professionals and practitioners who attended the course hailed from 14 different countries worldwide. The diversity of this year’s cohort offered participants the opportunity to explore a rich and more complex vision of interventions across the globe. Along with the directors and external lecturers, participants conducted in-depth analyses of current standards and examined current and past education projects and program initiatives by leading NGOs and UN agencies.

“It is essential for JRS to not only broaden but deepen our analysis of the education sector as conflicts and emergencies are complex so that our actions are appropriate and effective. The course has helped us achieve this,” said participant Louie Bacomo, a JRS International Programmes Officer.

The course was aligned with many of the core principles of JRS’s Global Education Initiative (GEI), a campaign in which JRS has committed to raising 35 million dollars and doubling the number of people served in its education projects to more than 240,000 by the year 2020.

For displaced persons, quality education is an essential asset that JRS and IIHA will not allow to be overlooked.

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

A World Food Organization (WFP) staff member carries a bag of rice for distribution to the victims of the tropical storm Ike, which struck Haiti in 2008. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Become a skilled and knowledgeable humanitarian professional
Beginning fall 2018

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

Five-Year BA or BS/MS in Humanitarian Studies

The five-year BA or BS/MS program in Humanitarian Studies allows select Fordham University Juniors from any undergraduate major to earn both their Bachelor’s degree and the Master of Science degree in Humanitarian Studies in five years. For more information, please consult the Early Admissions web page on the GSAS website or attend our upcoming information sessions:

Rose Hill Campus: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | Campbell Multipurpose Room | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Lincoln Center Campus: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | 140W Room G76A | 12 – 2:30 p.m.

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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.

A complete publication of the speakers’ contributions will be published by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs in November 2017.

You can watch the first lecture commemorating his legacy here:

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