Tag Archives: Tony Land

IDHA Returns to NYC!


IDHA 48 is off to a strong start in New York City! Last week, the IIHA welcomed 41 students hailing from 27 nations, representing 36 different organizations in 26 countries around the world. Tony Land, Ph.D. (IIHA Senior Fellow), Gonzalo SánchezTerán (IDHA 16, CIHC Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director), Mark Little (IDHA 27, IDHA Alumni Council), Angie Jackson (IDHA 27), and Al Panico (IDHA 30) return to their roles as IDHA tutors, and welcome Naomi Gikonyo (IDHA 29) to the IDHA NY tutor team. The course was opened by Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E. (IIHA Humanitarian Programs Director), Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. (CIHC President), and Brendan Cahill (IIHA Executive Director, IDHA 9) who provided welcomes and introductions to the IIHA and CIHC and offered words of wisdom, guidance, and encouragement to the IDHA 48 class.


The first week began with leadership and team-building exercises facilitated by the dynamic Pamela Lupton-Bowers and included some team bonding and discussion outside of the classroom on a sight-seeing cruise around lower Manhattan. The week also featured lectures by the IDHA 48 tutors to set the scene of the humanitarian landscape; presentations on various aspects of law pertaining to humanitarian crises, human rights, and immigration delivered by Elisabeth Wickeri (Executive Director for the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School) and James Stillwaggon, Esq., (Counsel for Alvarez, Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira LLP); and lectures given by Peter Hansen (CIHC Board Member) and Darryl McLeod (Chair of the Economics Department at Fordham University).


Now in the second week of the course, IDHA 48 students have delved into more technical aspects of the humanitarian field, thanks to various lectures and case studies given by the IDHA 48 tutors and visiting guest speakers. Over the next few days, students will attend some of the sessions of the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) being held at Fordham University. View a snapshot of the IDHA 48 class, read the full IDHA 48 update on our blog and check out some moments from the course on Instagram!

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IDHA 47 Continues in Geneva, Switzerland


The 47th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 47) commenced in Geneva, Switzerland on the 31st of January. IDHA 47 consists of 16 students from 13 countries, working with 14 different organizations.

All the students have quickly bonded and are looking forward to one last weekend of paper-writing and studying ahead of next week’s graduation.

Tony Land, Ph.D. (IIHA Senior Fellow), Theo Kruezen (IDHA 9), and Fausto Aarya De Santis (IDHA 44) came together as IDHA 47 tutors, Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E. as the Course Director, and Suzanne Arnold as Course Administrator.

Weeks 1 through 3 have welcomed back many members of the IDHA family as lecturers, including Peter Hansen (IIHA Diplomat in Residence), Tina Szabados (IDHA 2, IDHA Alumni Council Chairperson Emeritus, and CIHC Board Member), Pamela Lupton-Bowers (IDHA Faculty), Florian Razesberger (IDHA 20), Lynne JonesAnnika Sjöberg (IDHA 28), Isabelle Séchaud (IDHA 7), and Jesper Holmer-Lund (IDHA 11).

We wish all the IDHA 47 students the best of luck with all their work this weekend, and look forward to welcoming another group of IDHA graduates in one week’s time.

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IDHA 45 Lecture Brief: “The Moral Cartographer: Difficulties in the Construction of Humanitarian Ethics”

“When I introduce ‘ethics’ there’s a tendency for there to be a big yawn,” began Anthony Land, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the IIHA. “One imagines,” he continued, “I’m going to get into a very boring subject, which is only really [covered in] those big books on the bottom shelf of the library, collecting dust.” The audience laughed. But Land was quick to note that this approach was “not quite what I’m going to be presenting.” Land’s intention—far from merely picking up that old, dusty behemoth and clearing its jacket—was instead to tear out the book’s essential pages and apply them directly. From principles, to institutions, to individuals, and finally to actions, maintaining operational consistency along this vertical spectrum is perhaps the most difficult element of applied ethics. Decisions made on the local level often fail to align with frameworks constructed at the cosmopolitan. Through his presentation, Land aimed to provide students with the means of navigating this inconstancy and bridging the chasm between theory and practice.

Ethics is constructed upon standards—“legal standards, social standards—but they have to be well-founded […] grounded on something that’s solid, and they prescribe what humans ought to do—in terms of rights, but also in terms of obligations,” Land explained. The “ongoing” process of ethics is “really a question of a continuous reflection and trying to make sure that our actions” actually meet the standards of the institutions that have established them.

But “the world we work in as humanitarians,” Land noted, “is often the least perfect of all worlds.” How one is able to implement absolute rules in an imperfect world becomes the core challenge of humanitarian ethics. It would appear that flexibility is paramount, and most students in the class seemed to agree. But flexibility carries with it its own challenges, namely, the extent to which such laws and standards become malleable. “If you agree with this, [then] where do you stop bending and disregarding the rules?” Land challenged the students.

The tension between upholding and bending standards exists at the core of moral decision-making. “Ethical dilemmas pervade our work,” iterated Land, and they often boil down to this very tension between adherence and adaptation. The former is a matter of duty, of the obligation to hold oneself accountable to standards and laws (not just legal, but social and moral). This notion, that “rules bind you to duty,” is the fundamental tenant of the deontological approach to ethics. “Deontological ethics at any level,” Land explained, “tends to emphasize ‘accountability’”; it focusses on the means of a given action.

The latter viewpoint of adaptation holds standards as imperfect, flexible guidelines and grants primacy to an action’s ends corresponds to a consequentialist approach. “If you take a consequentialist view, you tend to emphasize not accountability but ‘responsibility,’” noted Land, “because whatever the outcome is—whether you predict it or not, whether it is bound by rules or not—you have to be responsible for that outcome.” The distinction between these ethical approaches, however, is not always clear-cut, and the moral ambiguities presented by a given scenario in the field often forces humanitarian aid workers to adopt a middle approach. Balancing duties and consequences remains a fundamental challenge at each level of decision making.

The Principles

Atop the “ethical cascade” stands the humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. The principle of humanity states that “the purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings” (OCHA). As Land bluntly declared, “if that principle is not accepted as the sole purpose within the organization, the individual, and the action, we don’t qualify as humanitarians”; it should be the principle most vertically adoptable along the ethical cascade. This seemingly obvious principle of humanitarian action, however, becomes difficult to qualify. Which life is one obligated to protect—which side—and what means should one go about doing so? Though the end of humanitarian action seems uniform, many points of contention lie between the prerogative to provide aid and the complex reality of relief efforts during situations of conflict.

Some may hold that the principles of humanitarian aid admit no ambiguity, that the “purpose” is uniform and its terms require no explication. The principle of neutrality, however, is anything but rudimentary. Can one maintain personal or professional neutrality in conflict zones? “I first used this slide in Beirut,” Land reflected. He was delivering the presentation to Syrian national staff at a time in which the UN was considering “pulling out completely” and leaving the local staff in charge. “I put this question up and there was just a stunned silence,” Land told the students. “Finally, one brave soul in the back said, ‘No. Of course we can’t,’ and everyone agreed.”

There’s an “enormous” cost to maintaining that professional neutrality, especially when local aid workers find themselves forced to assist neighboring aggressors —expressed in this not uncommon sentiment which Land iterated: “Why the hell are you taking aid to those people over there today, when they are shelling us tonight? Are you crazy?” Or as one young man once explained to Land: every time he sees his father he is told to “resign from that job, go pick up a gun, and go fight for the cause.” The principle of impartiality may dictate that the humanitarian works “on the side of the victim whichever side the victim is on,” but identifying the aggressor is sometimes a difficult designation to make.

The Organization

In the ‘Age of Liberal Humanitarianism’ following the crises of the early 1990’s, “the international community of humanitarians [began to question] the very essence of what it meant to be a humanitarian,” explained the professor. Three documents became the “core to the crystallization of much of this thinking”: The Humanitarian Charter, the Sphere Standards, and the Code of Conduct. These frameworks sought to reconstitute the humanitarian approach and to “recommit the international community to humanitarian values, largely as absolutes, as rules.” The three documents “all emphasized duty,” Land pointed out. They indicated a movement towards ‘accountability’ and an ethos that stood largely upon the core values of the deontologist. The “Humanitarian Imperative” was clearly defined: “The right to receive humanitarian assistance and to offer it is a fundamental humanitarian principle which should be enjoyed by all citizens of all countries” (ICRC). The language, Land pointed out, was “very absolutist” and sought to establish clear “rules binding us to duty.”

The “moral shift towards this insistence of humanitarian aid and protection” reflected the emergence of a ‘rights-based approach’ to humanitarianism. Though this concept may not appear novel, on a cosmopolitan stage of legal and social development, the approach proved quite ambitious—and unprecedented. Hugo Slim, Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, maintained that the Sphere Standards reflected a clear revaluation of the humanitarian effort. For Slim, the standards represented “‘a really quantifiable way of expressing what this ethical humanitarian duty would look like in writing.’”

The Sphere Standards are not just “moral obligations”; rather, they introduce a “latrine-based” approach to ethics—that is, one which attempts to provide clear content, i.e., providing specific utilities, rather than bold rhetoric. That being said, the standards do also seek to ensure “not just survival, but a life of dignity,” and they aim to provide this through a clearly-explicated framework, one in which human needs are founded on a “legal basis”—not just a right to life, but a right to a dignified existence. “This is an extraordinary attempt to specify rights and duties,” Land reiterated.

The “latrine-based” approach became indicative not only of the international community’s shift to a more deontological framework, but also signified something much more telling: an attempt to quantify moral obligation and, in many ways, turn duty into law. As Slim noted, such efforts embodied an extraordinary attempt to specify rights and duties that was unprecedented in international law.

But despite the bold rhetoric and ambitious efforts of these proposed legal frameworks, many in the field found the reality of such pronouncements unrealistic. “The humanitarian pragmatists, the ethical consequentialists see the Humanitarian Imperative as being blind to the complexities of the operational context,” Land explained. “Contextualization has to be used to balance this duty-based approach.” The goal is “trying to limit, trying to predict, trying to rectify ‘unintended consequences,’” under the principle of ‘do no harm.’ Oftentimes contextualization is “forced onto projects rather than designed into them,” continued Land. This structural defect in the planning process becomes problematic, especially for the humanitarian first pressured to apply given standards and then thrown into environments in which such standards no longer prove feasible.

Critics of the strictly deontological approach suggest a method containing “professional value judgements and acceptance of the responsibility for” the outcomes—interpreting the standards on a situation-by-situation basis. These “can be written into a deontological account of the framework—manuals, guidelines, checklists—but it’s essentially a consequentialist philosophy,” Land concluded. This method, though difficult to quantify and inclusive of many variables, nevertheless, presents a more flexible guideline to acting in those “imperfect” environments of humanitarian action. “‘Accountability’ is nice for a bureaucrat,” Land noted: “ I know what I have to do; I’ve ticked all the boxesthat’s job done.” But the reality on the ground calls for flexibility; it calls for the capacity to adapt to local complexities, complications that global frameworks are often incapable of foreseeing.

The Individual

The basic structure dictating the standards and responsibilities of the individual is his or her organization’s Code of Conduct. “Almost all of the Code of Conduct stems from the unequal power relationship with the beneficiary,” Land explained. Understanding this inequality and appropriately adjusting one’s attitude becomes paramount in maintaining professionalism and impartiality. “It’s very hard in the Code of Conduct to legislate attitude,” noted Land, and yet this is precisely what the humanitarian must achieve. “If you think they’re all crooks, you’ll treat them all as crooks; if you think they’re all deserving people, you’ll treat them all as deserving people,” Land put bluntly.

Frustration, group closure, and the development of negative views and stereotypes are all factors that serve to “reduce our discipline in unequal power relationships.” One’s ability to maintain this discipline dictates the nature of one’s actions. “How we behave then in an unequal power relationship—recognizing all these risks—defines whether our conduct is ethical or unethical,” the professor concluded.

Dilemmas faced at the level of the individual appear the most clear cut—given that individuals adhere to a strict set of rules to which they are legally bound through their signature—and yet such scenarios often prove the most ambiguous due to variables difficult to address through the Code of Conduct alone. The dilemmas faced at this local level of decision-making challenge the consistency and applicability of ethical frameworks forged atop the “cascade.”

Despite the outlines of academic ethics—the deontological or consequentialist systems of thought—the humanitarian on the ground is often forced him or herself to play the role of the moral cartographer and trek forward without clear guidance from such broadly-constructed academic maps. It is here, on the ground, where the moral quandaries of humanitarian action unapologetically reveal themselves and illuminate the difficulties of translating theory into practice.

And perhaps the best way to understand such ethical complexity is not through the analysis of systems at all, but rather—as the humanitarian—through these very individual cases. To culminate the lecture, Land gave the students precisely this task. One such example incited much discussion among the students, and it is here, within this challenging dilemma, that the lecture concluded:

As a nurse working with an NGO in a small, remote region you are approached by a young pregnant woman (possibly due to rape). A member of a deeply conservative society, the woman fears for her life should the birth take place, but is unable—due to local laws—to abort the pregnancy. She asks you for a salary advance so she can go into the city for the procedure. Such illegal operations are incredibly dangerous due to the lack of sanitary conditions and proper medical equipment. You know a doctor in the town who you have worked with before and who operates under relatively sterile conditions. He is willing to perform the operation, but only on the condition that you also aid in two separate procedures—procedures that your agency has been working to convince the population to abandon: a relatively severe form of female genital mutilation.

What will you do?


Lecture given by Anthony Land, Ph.D., IIHA Senior Fellow, to the IDHA 45 class at Fordham University, New York, June 2015

Brief written by Joshua Paul St. Clair, IIHA Summer 2015 Intern

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IDHA 48 Lecture Brief: Civil Military Cooperation

For both humanitarians and the military, working together in a disaster area can be a difficult task. The time sensitive nature of humanitarian emergencies can exacerbate ethical and cultural differences between humanitarian and military actors. The military has a strong culture of control as opposed to humanitarians who normally have a much less degree of control management within their culture and display much more flexibility. In order to explore and address some of the preconceived notions surrounding the interactions between civil and military actors, Captain Glen Diehl of the United States Navy and Director of the Center for Global Health Engagement (CGHE) and Dr. Tony Land, Senior Fellow at the IIHA, delivered a lecture to the 48th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) class. Diehl, presenting on the perspective of the military, began with explaining that CGHE is part of the Uniformed Services University under the United States Department of Defense and as such, is tasked with the mission, “to lead, integrate, and synchronize Uniformed Services University’s global health engagement (GHE) contributions to the Joint Force, Combatant Commands (CCMDs), Services, the Military Health System (MHS), and ultimately to national security objectives.”  Dr. Land, who has spent an extensive part of his career working for UNHCR and a number of other humanitarian organizations, presented on the viewpoint of humanitarian agencies. Both speakers addressed the challenges, yet crucial importance of civil military cooperation within the humanitarian field. To this end, they also discussed ways how various stakeholders such as the military and humanitarian actors may be able to understand their differences and work together in order to make the goals of both the Armed Forces and humanitarian agencies more easily accomplished.

Civil-military cooperation is a term developed by the military and can be defined as “the process and structure through which Military Forces seek to co-operate with civil authorities, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local Associations and the civilian population at large.” Using this definition as a foundation, Diehl explained how there are specific guidelines based on pieces of international legislature that regulate civil-military operations. For example, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Doctrine, also know as the “Oslo Guidelines”, explains how a humanitarian operation using military assets must “retain its civilian nature and character” and “the operation as a whole must remain under the overall authority and control of the responsible humanitarian organization.” Diehl also explained how armed military forces could be extremely useful in disaster response operations, often carrying out services that other organization cannot provide. This includes providing logistics, force protection, manpower, as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) command and control. He emphasized the point that the United States Armed Forces operate within the best interests of the United States and that his lecture was in the perspective of the United States Armed Forces. Generally, the United States Armed Forces would enter a disaster area to maintain stabilization within the area with the fear that the area may destabilize as a result of the disaster. Developing nations, who are more prone to be victim to natural disasters or conflict situations, sometimes lack a stable government. According to Diehl, the United States Armed Forces believes that weak state institutions can turn into domestic instability or violence for the nations in question. These actions can lead to a failed state, which can become a safe haven for terrorists and can also cause spillover in the region, which can be a perceived threat to United States interests. Because of this, stability operations now have the same priority as combat operations for the United States Armed Services.

Along with stability operations in disaster areas and unstable regions, the Armed Forces have begun to put emphasis on using medical approaches to assist in stabilizing regions in chaos. Diehl described these operations as “healthcare diplomacy”, in which the military uses health as a bridge to build relationships with partner nations. Examples include training healthcare workers to respond to disaster relief, as well as other services such as HIV/AIDS prevention. The United States Armed Forces has continued to strive to improve relations amongst other United States government agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. To improve both of their agendas and more effectively distribute general aid to civilians, relations have improved with fellow United States government agencies such as USAID and the Department of Defense. Diehl emphasized that the Armed Forces follows certain engagement principles while working in humanitarian relief. These engagement principals are accomplished by creating effective partnerships, reducing displacement of services, assessing the host nations and encouraging their participation, ensuring sustainable capacity building, and foresting leadership and resilience development.

Dr. Tony Land carried the second half of the lecture by speaking on civil-military cooperation from the perspective of the humanitarian agency. Along with this, he explained how the Armed Forces could assist humanitarian agencies despite how the military command culture sometimes does not sit well with humanitarian agencies. Normally, humanitarian agencies adopt a single universal position regarding the way they will or will not cooperate with the military. The position regarding their cooperation is usually agency specific. Ultimately, how the military interacts with humanitarian agencies are regulated under various international laws. This includes the NATO doctrine, Chapters 6 and 7 of the United Nations Charter and the IASC Reference paper of 2004, which gives guidelines of how they should act in conflict situations. Land acknowledged the significant contributions that armed forces can provide during humanitarian emergencies including logistics, transport, and engineering assets. Militaries can often have more access to resources than humanitarian agencies do. Therefore creating positive relationships with the Armed Forces can be imperative to a humanitarian agencies mission. The importance of humanitarian agencies taking their relationship with militaries on a case-by-case basis was also explained within this lecture. Dr. Land explained that the range of situations is so broad and complicated that how humanitarian agencies should treat militaries needs to be sought through analysis and various questions being answered. These questions include how and why has the military force been deployed, how has the deployment been seen by the local population and in the international community, and the cost benefit analysis of cooperation for the organization and operational objectives.

While the conclusion did not give a concrete solution as to how to ensure Armed Forces and humanitarian agencies can cooperate, it did explain the complexities of their relationship and possible ways both can assist each other while working within a disaster area. Both Captain Diehl and Dr. Land explained the point of view from each of their respective fields while still showing respect for their opposition. Although it can be concluded that how militaries and humanitarian agencies interact should be on a case by case basis, the lecture helped outline tactics that can be used to make their relationships better to make it more possible for both groups to work together.

Anthony (Tony) Land graduated from Brunel University in 1971 with the degree of Bachelor of Technology with Honours in Polymer Science and Technology and was awarded the degree of Master of Technology, also from Brunel University, in 1972 for research into high temperature resistant polymeric materials. Between 1972 and 1985, he worked with various NGOs in South Asia. From 1979 to 1985 he was employed by Tearfund and seconded to HEED in Bangladesh and to ACROSS in Southern Sudan, as Field Director. In 1985, Dr. Land joined UNHCR and worked with them in operational field roles and in donor relations, until his retirement in 2006. Since leaving UNHCR, Dr. Land has undertaken various consultancies and taught on courses in humanitarian subjects at Fordham University (New York) as well as Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Manchester University, University of Copenhagen and the University of Medical Science and Technology in Khartoum. In 2014, he was admitted into the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at University of Liverpool. Dr. Land now holds a Senior Fellowship at the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University, New York.

CAPT Glendon Diehl serves as the Director of the Center for Global Health Engagement (CGHE) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). In this role he advises on matters involving global health engagement policy, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), health related stability operations, security cooperation, security assistance, health diplomacy and health threats based capacity. CAPT Diehl also coordinates with the DoD, the Services, combatant commands, U.S. Government interagency, specific host and partner nations, and other organizations that facilitate mission execution on security cooperation activities as well as assessment, monitoring, and evaluation policy. Additionally, he is the principal investigator for the Measures Of effectiveness in Defense Engagement and Learning (MODEL) Study, an Office of the Assistant Secretary for Defense for Health Affairs (OASD (HA)) funded grant previously executed through the CGHE.

Lecture given by Anthony Land, Ph.D., IIHA Senior Fellow, to the IDHA 48 class at Fordham University, New York, June 2016

Brief written by Joseph Telano, IIHA Summer 2016 Intern

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