Read the latest IIHA Humanitarian Newsletter featuring a letter from Executive Director Brendan Cahill about the upcoming departure of Program Officer Kasia Laskowski from the IIHA team, news about Fordham University and the IIHA‘s new partnership with the International Organization for Migration, and articles by CIHC Board Member Lord David Owen and IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow Alexander van Tulleken, M.D.! This edition also includes updates and reunions from our wonderful IIHA alumni around the world, a list of our upcoming training courses, jobs and internship opportunities in the humanitarian sector, and our monthly Innovation Corner by High Tech Humanitarians!
Category Archives: IIHA Team
The UN estimates that 65 million people in the world today have been displaced by violence or armed conflict. In this editorial for the BMJ, IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, Alexander van Tulleken, M.D., explores how the refugee crisis presents a paradox to healthcare providers: “Our efforts will always exacerbate the problem of ‘the camp’: the better the services are in a camp, the more people it attracts, reducing the pressure on other states to accept refugees for longer term resettlement.” He suggests healthcare workers find the balance between meeting immediate medical needs, while resisting becoming the mechanism by which the mass containment of people is justified.
In a recent article for The Huffington Post, CIHC Board Member Lord David Owen emphasizes that Turkey has the potential to be a “crucial balancing factor in Syria by taking urgent humanitarian action with their troops and air power in relieving the siege of Aleppo,” as long as the world helps. Lord Owen also authored an article for the Guardian, “Peace in Syria is possible. Here’s how it can be achieved,” in which he echoes his claim that the “humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.”
Last month, Fordham University had the honor of hosting the 2016 Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Annual Meeting – an event that coincided with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs’ (IIHA) 48th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA). The ACUNS Annual Meeting, “Meeting the Challenges of Development and Dignity,” explored a myriad of topics across the spectrum of humanitarian affairs and international development, including justice, security, human rights, dignity, gender equality, education, international cooperation, conflict prevention and reconciliation. Throughout the conference, these themes were contextualized within the current global landscape, particularly given the early challenges faced in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recent World Humanitarian Summit that brought together United Nations Member States, Heads of State and Governments, and representatives from civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to chart the future course of humanitarian action.
The Annual Meeting was opened by ACUNS Chair Lorraine Elliott, IIHA Executive Director Brendan Cahill, and Fordham University Provost Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., who offered welcome remarks and an introduction to familiarize attendees with not only the work of ACUNS, but also the well suited location of Fordham University in New York – a University bolstered by its Jesuit mission and ultimate commitment to social justice.
UN Deputy Secretary General and former Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) Board Member Jan Eliasson delivered the Keynote Address, “The United Nations in Today’s and Tomorrow’s Global Landscape.” In his address, Eliasson described his role as Deputy Secretary General: “to reduce the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be [which] won’t happen overnight.” Citing particular factors that can help the international community deal with today’s current challenges, Eliasson highlighted the evolving trend and essential need for women’s full empowerment and the advantageous power of youth. Eliasson emphasized that “rather than thinking what can we do for youth, we should also be asking the question, what can we do with youth.” In addition to the enormous potential of women’s empowerment and youth engagement, Eliasson addressed the importance of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as they provide the groundwork for horizontal development, especially in the crucial areas of knowledge, science, technology, health and sustainable energy. According to Eliasson, the word “together” may be the most important word in the world today. Nations must work together in order to achieve universal goals, such as conflict prevention and reconciliation. After all, “we are all developing countries,” Eliasson reminded the audience. He noted that it may not be easy in the short run, “but in the long run, closing up the world is much more dangerous than opening up the world.”
The following day, H.E. Ibrahim Gambari gave the John W. Holmes Lecture, “Security and Justice at a Crossroads: The Future of Global Governance.” Gambari began the lecture by describing the concept of “just security,” the fusion of global security and justice which “aims to forge a mutually supportive global system of accountable, fair, and effective governance and durable peace.” He stressed the importance of both security and justice “if humanity is not only to survive but to thrive with dignity.” With terrorism at an all-time high, battle deaths at a 25-year high, the number of refugees and displaced persons at a level not seen in 60 years, and the continuing presence of grave human rights violations and discrimination against women, children, and minorities, Gambari emphasized that “the world [has] approached a critical crossroads: both global security and justice face severe, in some areas unprecedented threats and challenges.” While acute crises and conflicts can often detract from long-term political culpability, Gambari believes the main foundational problem of security and justice today is rooted in the uncertain, weak, and corrupt governance at national, regional and global levels, which have time and again been “a gateway to insecurity and injustice.” In order to achieve global systemic change, UN Member States, global civil society and international civil servants must all work together, according to Gambari. Citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful maxim, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Gambari underlined the need for international cooperation in creating a just and secure world. Gambari is currently the co-chair for the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, a joint project of The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center. He previously held positions as the Permanent Representative of Nigeria, and as Foreign Minister of Nigeria, respectively.
Throughout the meeting, IIHA and CIHC staff were frequent contributors. The plenary on “Education as the Engine of Development and Dignity” featured, among other panelists, Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán (IDHA 16), CIHC Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director. Sánchez-Téran spoke knowledgeably about the SDGs, drawing attention to the essential need for education in emergencies – what is and can be a life-saving intervention. Noting that the SDGs do not adequately target refugee or displaced children, Sánchez-Téran emphasized that until this gap is addressed, education for all will remain a goal rather than a realization. Throughout his presentation, Sánchez-Téran continued to stress that “we must place forcibly displaced children at the heart of the international development and humanitarian agenda.” According to Sánchez-Terán, “with children representing half of refugees worldwide, the refugee crisis is therefore, a children’s crisis.”
The workshop panels were also home to familiar faces, such as Jana Lozanoska (IDHA 16), Ph.D. Candidate at the United Nations Mandated University for Peace, who presented her paper, “Human Dignity as Core of Human Rights through Hanna Arendt Oeuvre” at the workshop panel, “Human Dignity, Human Security and Social Reconciliation.” During her introduction, Jana credited the IIHA and her participation in the IDHA program with igniting her interest and passion in human security and human dignity.
The Annual Meeting continued on into the weekend, with Saturday marked by a book talk and signing of H.E. Francis M. Deng’s Bound by Conflict: Dilemmas of the Two Sudans, which was sponsored by Fordham University, Fordham University Press, and the IIHA. Deng is the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Sudan to the United Nations and the former Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. In discussing his book, Deng shared with the audience that “managing diversity constructively means promoting inclusivity, dignity and human rights for all.” Throughout his honest and thoughtfully constructed remarks about the two nations of Sudan and South Sudan, Deng emphasized that “until we find a solution to internal differences in each country, we will not find a solution to differences between two.”
The closing plenary discussed takeaways from the World Humanitarian Summit, and included the contributions of IIHA Humanitarian Innovation Fellow, Giulio Coppi, who participated as a panelist alongside Lesley Bourns of the Policy Analysis and Innovation Section, Policy Development and Studies Branch at UNOCHA and H.E. Oh Joon, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN and President of ECOSOC. The panel was moderated by Stephen Browne, Co-Director of Future UN Development System (FUNDS) Project at the CUNY Graduate Center.
The 2016 ACUNS Annual Meeting came to a close with the eloquent remarks of Melissa Labonte, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, who reflected upon the key themes of dignity, solidarity, justice, and agency. Though the conference was in itself a great success, she encouraged further action from the audience: “I hope that each of you will continue the dialogue and forefront from this conference.” ACUNS Chair Lorraine Elliott also offered closing remarks, stating, “This has provided a valuable conversation on development and dignity with participants from over 30 countries.” She concluded by asking the audience, “Should we be hopeful in thinking forward? I very much think so.”
The last few months have been filled with honors for Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and founder of Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA). On the heels of Dr. Cahill’s 80th birthday in May, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) recognized Dr. Cahill with an Honorary Fellowship from the College. It was at the RCSI where the IIHA’s flagship course, the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), was first offered by the CIHC. Since the inaugural course, the CIHC and IIHA have held 2 subsequent courses at the RCSI, and the RCSI has been one of the institutions cited on the Diploma for every course since.
Professor Declan Magee, President of the RCSI, in conferring the Honorary Fellowship on Dr. Cahill, noted that “this is indeed a very rare event: the last time such an honor was conferred outside of Ireland was when we presented the same award to Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1995. He noted that “Professor Cahill was the longest serving full Professor in the 230-year history of the RCSI, and had taught over 4,000 medical students during his 36-year tenure as Chairman of the Department of Tropical Medicine and International Health.” Dr. Cahill then served a subsequent 10 years as the Inaugural Professor of International Humanitarian Affairs.
Dr. Cahill’s most recent book, A Dream for Dublin, chronicles the inspiring story of how, against all odds, he founded the world-renowned Department of Tropical Medicine and International Health at the RCSI in Dublin for which he was honored. In a contribution, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, notes: “I have known Dr. Cahill for almost a lifetime. His ability to see a suffering world beyond borders is extraordinary, whether those are the intellectual borders that separate academic disciplines or the physical borders that separate the citizens of this planet from one another.”
Later in May, the Maharishi University, and the dozens of related schools in India, presented their highest honor, the Maharishi award for “Health and Humanitarianism” to Dr. Cahill in a ceremony in Fairfield, Iowa. The Fairfield Maharishi Award Ceremony occurs annually, the preceding recipient being the Prime Minister of Japan, as well as various Nobel Laureates. In the ceremony, the Maharishi University cited Dr. Cahill’s long record of work for peace, health and development. Read Dr. Cahill’s acceptance speech!
Most recently, Dr. Cahill was awarded one of Fordham University’s highest honors, the President’s Medal, during the 48th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) Graduation Ceremony on July 1st at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. The occasion of the IDHA Graduation Ceremony was personally selected by Dr. Cahill due to its significance both to himself personally and to his legacy at Fordham University. In presenting the award, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University, noted that since “Dr. Cahill had received an Honorary Doctorate from this university more than 25 years ago, we now award him the President’s Medal, the highest award given by the university, and only conferred 36 times in the 175-year history of Fordham.”
As an expert in tropical medicine, Dr. Cahill’s career has taken him to four continents and 65 countries, including Somalia, Egypt, Lebanon, Nicaragua and Sudan. With a deeply profound interest in humanitarian aid and the goal of advancing the methods and framework by which humanitarian workers operate, he founded the IIHA in 2001, in partnership with the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC). Dr. Cahill continues to serve as the President of the CIHC and as a University Professor through the IIHA at Fordham.
Father McShane described Dr. Cahill as “a man who has never lost a passion for serving the poorest of the poor and the most marginalized in society throughout the world. He is, to me, a hero.” Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Cahill has published over 30 books, been a longtime UN adviser, served as a chair of New York State’s Health Planning Commission, and is on the faculty of three universities. Yet, Father McShane noted that Dr. Cahill did not deem himself worthy of receiving the President’s Medal. In large part due to Father McShane’s continued encouragement, Dr. Cahill finally agreed to accept the award, as long as it could be presented at the IDHA commencement. “He chose the ceremony that meant more to him in all the years and for the program whose work means more to him than anything else, besides his family,” explained Father McShane. “It speaks volumes that he chose to receive the medal here.” Furthermore, he praised Dr. Cahill and his program for embodying “all the principles on which the University was founded and to which it devotes itself every day.”