Tag Archives: United Nations

Older Persons: A Priority to Protect

Angela Wells / Jesuit Refugee Service

January 30, 2018, New York City – The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 proved to be one of the most devastating natural disasters of the century. For the nation’s men and women aged 65 and over, who made up nearly a quarter of its population, the disaster proved severely catastrophic. Unable to evacuate or secure shelter and under precarious health conditions, older Japanese people faced disproportionate insecurity, as reported by the Guardian.

The aftermath of the Japanese disaster brought to light the vulnerability of ageing populations affected by humanitarian crises. This unsurprising yet deeply neglected reality is one humanitarian responders struggle to address in protracted and emergency crises globally.

Around the world, older persons hold the social fabric of their communities together – especially when crisis strikes. They serve as family guardians and community leaders, advocates and teachers. They are also the first to fall through the cracks of the humanitarian safety net – with limited mobility and frail health as they struggle more than most to reach safety, rebuild their homes, and continue their lives in dignity.

While the number of older persons living in protracted or emergency crises is unknown, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has reported that by 2050 the global population of individuals over the age of sixty will more than double to comprise a quarter of the world’s population. In countries susceptible to climate change-induced disasters and conflict, older persons are sure to face greater protection risks, barriers to healthcare, and vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.

Despite this evident risk, the humanitarian infrastructure continually falters in its attempts to provide dignified response to older persons – as reported by the UN Refugee Agency. Immediately after fleeing, they are the first to be split up from their families and lose access to lifesaving medical services. As they begin to start life anew, they face age discrimination when pursuing employment opportunities, health care, and social services.

In a humanitarian sphere with competing interests and rapidly evolving crises, older populations are simply not a top priority. This leaves a huge gap in assistance and creates an environment where older persons struggle to prevail.

Furthermore, in urban areas, where more than 80 percent of the world’s displaced reside, older persons are extremely marginalized and unable to access basic services. Whether the hurricane in San Juan or conflict in Mosul, cities are increasingly becoming hubs for disaster and their older and displaced residents the most affected.

“The elderly are largely invisible in disaster preparedness programs, rescue efforts and reconstruction projects. Too often, they are the forgotten ones whom no one bothers to inform, check on or assist….Older persons are particularly at risk if they live in sub-standard or overcrowded housing, in shantytowns, or in areas with badly designed infrastructure, poor transport systems, or ineffective local leadership,” wrote Ann Pawliczko, PhD IIHA Research Fellow on Ageing in a soon-to-be-published book on urban disasters.

Fortunately, the international community has made a concerted effort to address the plight of older persons affected by crises.  In 2002, the United Nations adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing which urged humanitarian responses to include older persons in project design and assessment, and to protect older individuals, especially women, from exploitation and abuse.

Fifteen years later, significant strides have been made. Non-governmental  organizations like HelpAge International and the International Rescue Committee promote the inclusion and protection of older persons amidst global crises and displacement.The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals call on the international community to leave no older person behind. Nation states have convened to form bodies like the Group of Friends of Older Persons to address their rights and needs on the UN stage.

Humanitarians are also beginning to recognize the wisdom and leadership that older persons contribute to their communities in the aftermath of crises.

“Older people are more likely to be aid givers than receivers. Their assistance to others means that supporting older people – with healthcare or income generation activities, skills training or credit – supports their families and communities. Little attention has yet been paid to how older people can be helped to fulfill such valuable roles in rebuilding communities, and recognition of their special contribution should not lead to devolution of yet more responsibilities without a corresponding increase in support,” reports HelpAge International.

Looking forward, HelpAge and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction are pursuing and promoting fourteen targets that seek to improve humanitarian response to older persons. These include involving older persons in the development of disaster and climate risk assessment, increasing access to early warning signals and information for older persons, and ensuring direct support to older persons including income support and disaster insurance.

These solutions and others will be more deeply explored by representatives of the  Permanent Mission of Japan, UNHCR, IRC, and independent experts and Fordham University at an upcoming side event of the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development: “Humanitarian Action for Older Persons: Fifteen Years After The Madrid Plan” taking place at the United Nations Secretariat next week.

The event is being convened by the Center for International Health and Cooperation and the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, the Group of Friends of Older Persons (GoFOP), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Angela Wells, IIHA Communications  Officer
Noel Langan, IIHA Communications Intern

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IIHA Hosts New York Liaison Office for the Academic Council on the United Nations System

              

October 20, 2017, New York City – The Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University is pleased to announce that it has agreed to host the New York Liaison Office for the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS).

ACUNS is a global professional association of educational and research institutions, individual scholars, and practitioners active in the work and study of the United Nations, multilateral relations, global governance, and international cooperation. As the liaison office, IIHA will serve as a contact point for other ACUNS members to connect with United Nations based organizations in New York, as well as with local scholarly communities.

In this function the IIHA will also organize functions – lectures, seminars, workshops, and conferences – in cooperation with local UN bodies, other international organizations, NGOs, and academic institutions.

Brendan Cahill, the Executive Director of the IIHA who will also serve as the Liaison Officer, said, “This is the logical next step in our work with ACUNS – promoting its mission and sharing our own academic and nonacademic work with so many partners throughout the world.”

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) prepares current and future aid workers with the knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively in times of humanitarian crisis and disaster. Our courses are borne of an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines academic theory with the practical experience of seasoned humanitarian professionals.

This partnership opens new academic possibilities for students and humanitarian workers engaged in the range of humanitarian educational opportunities offered by the IIHA, including: a Master of Arts in Humanitarian Action, Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies, and an Undergraduate Major/Minor in Humanitarian Studies.

 

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World Humanitarian Day: Civilians Are Not A Target

 

August 18, 2017, New York – On World Humanitarian Day, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs stands with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the broader humanitarian community to denounce attacks against civilians and health and humanitarians workers in conflict – a rising and disastrous trend around the world.

According to the UN, “Over the past 20 years, 4,132 aid workers have been attacked. In 2016, 91 aid workers were killed, 88 were injured and 73 were kidnapped in the line of duty. The majority of these attacks took place in five countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.

Attacks against aid workers are deplorable and represent clear violations of international humanitarian law. In addition to endangering aid workers, these attacks threaten humanitarian operations and the lives of millions of people who rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival.”

Join us in calling on world leaders to protect civilians and those offering lifesaving assistance by joining the #NotATarget campaign. You can show your support by engaging in the conversation on social media, signing the World Humanitarian Day Petition, and reading the toolkit to learn more.

 

 

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Diplomacy Then and Now: Prevention is Always Better Than Treatment

The Boutros Boutros-Ghali Memorial Lecture

New York, March 21, 2017 – Aid workers and healthcare providers working amidst the ravages of war understand all to well the crucial importance of stopping conflict through diplomacy and negotiation before it starts or escalates.

Perhaps no one advocated for preventive diplomacy more ardently than founding member of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Yesterday, representatives of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and CIHC joined together to commemorate the life and noble efforts of Mr. Boutros-Ghali.

At the event, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President of the CIHC and University Professor and Director of Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), was part of a high-level panel together with H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for UNOAC and Diplomat-in-Residence at the IIHA, Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Africa, Tomas Christensen, Chef de Cabinet of and Ambassador Amr Aboulatta, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations.

“Almost in the role of a public health professional, he opened his talk by noting that in matters of peace and security, as in medicine, prevention is self-evidently better than cure. It saves lives and money and it forestalls suffering,” said Dr. Cahill of Mr. Boutrous-Ghalis’ powerful address at the 1995 UN Conference.

Dr. Cahill served as Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s physician and personal advisor for many years, including during his time as UN Secretary-General. Mr. Boutros-Ghali was also a founding member of the CIHC in 1992, which is now celebrating its 25th year.

His approach to preventive diplomacy was guided by four elements: fact-finding, confidence building, early warning and preventive deployment.

“He described preventive diplomacy as ‘action to prevent disputes from arising between parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of the latter when they occur’,” said Mr. Al-Nasser.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s landmark 1992 report, An Agenda for Peace, has become a guiding document for diplomats and UN representatives in their pursuit of sustainable social peace throughout the world..

“In our ever more dangerous world, in the throes of both inter- and intra-state conflicts, the need for a new approach in international relations, seems obvious. Preventive Diplomacy should deal with — and even direct — where a nation can move towards peace rather than replaying where it has been in endless wars. That surely was our intention in promoting this option, and neither Boutros nor I ever abandoned that dream,” concluded Dr. Cahill in his speech.

Twenty-five years later as the international community struggles to remedy and end dire conflicts and complex humanitarian crises in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and beyond world leaders should be reminded of this call to action.

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Upcoming Briefings at the United Nations

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Attention Fordham University Students! Over the next few months, Fordham University will be organizing a series of UN DPI NGO Briefings at the United Nations. Attending students will be met at the United Nations by Fordham’s NGO youth representatives and escorted to the briefings. All briefings will run from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM.

You must be a current Fordham undergraduate student in order to register! 

October 27th: “One-on-One Conversation with Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information” Please RSVP here.

November 3rd“Special Session: Meet the DPI/NGO youth representatives Steering Committee + Youth led Briefing: 1+4=16 Targeting Poverty and Education for Peace” Please RSVP here.

November 10th: “NGO Partners and Resources: Educational Institutions at the Forefront” Please RSVP here.

November 17th: “Sustainable Cities and Communities” (SDG#11) Please RSVP here.

December 1st: “World AIDS Day” (Organized on the occasion of World AIDS Day) Please RSVP here.

December 8th: “Communications Workshop: Effective Campaigning for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” (Organized in partnership with the NGO/DPI Executive Committee) Please RSVP here.

December 15th: “Income Inequality: Looking at the World’s Wealth Distribution” (SDG#8) Please RSVP here.

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Humanitarian Newsletter: September 30 – October 14

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Don’t forget to check out our latest humanitarian newsletter featuring Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán’s thoughts on the Zero Draft, the document proposing the Global Goals for Sustainable Development just approved by the United Nations this past Friday. Gonzalo is a graduate of IDHA 16, a frequent IDHA tutor, and CIHC Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director. He will also be directing our Education in Emergencies course which will begin in Amman, Jordan this Sunday!

The newsletter also features IIHA alumni updates, humanitarian jobs and opportunities, and upcoming events!

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