Category Archives: IHA Book Series

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.

 

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Bound by Conflict: Dilemmas of the Two Sudans

Bound by Conflict

Since its independence on January 1, 1956, Sudan has been at war with itself. Through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, the North–South dimension of the conflict was seemingly resolved by the independence of the South on July 9, 2011. However, as a result of issues that were not resolved by the CPA, conflicts within the two countries have reignited conflict between them because of allegations of support for each other’s rebels.

In Bound by Conflict: Dilemmas of the Two Sudans, Francis M. Deng and Daniel J. Deng critique the tendency to see these conflicts as separate and to seek isolated solutions for them, when, in fact, they are closely intertwined. The policy implication is that resolving conflicts within the two Sudans is critical to the prospects of achieving peace, security, and stability between them, with the potential of moving them to some form of meaningful association.

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About the Author:

On August 1st 2012, President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan appointed Dr. Francis Mading Deng Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and the Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations. Five years earlier, Dr. Deng was named by UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon as his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide at the level of Under-Secretary-General. He also served as Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons from1992 to 2004. Dr. Deng was a Human Rights Officer in the United Nations Secretariat from 1967 to 1972 after which he served as the Ambassador of the Sudan to Canada, the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden and the United States and as the Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. After leaving the Foreign Service of his country, Dr. Deng became affiliated with leading think-tanks and research institutions in the United States, including the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the United States Institute of Peace, the Kluge Center for Scholars of the Library of Congress, and the Center for International Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was the first Distinguished Fellow of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Dr. Deng was also a visiting Lecturer at Yale University Law School, a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a Research Professor of Politics, Law and Society at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Francis Deng graduated with an LL.B (Honours) from Khartoum University, was appointed to the Academic staff of the Faculty and pursued post-graduate studies at London University and at Yale University Law School, where he obtained the LL.M and the JSD degrees in 1965 and 1968 respectively. Dr. Deng is on the Board of Directors for the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and is an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) Honoris Causa Recipient. Dr. Deng has authored and edited over thirty books. His most recent book is Bound by Conflict.

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