History and Hope: The International Humanitarian Reader

History and Hope: The International Humanitarian Reader

History and Hope: The International Humanitarian Reader

History and Hope: The International Humanitarian Reader


The International Humanitarian Affairs Reader is a compilation of the most important chapters in the ten volume series published on this topic by Fordham University Press. Each chapter selected has been edited to delete dated material; where appropriate, chapters will have a brief addendum to present current information. The Series Editor, Kevin M. Cahill M.D., will write a substantial introductory essay explaining the academic evolution of the discipline of international humanitarianassistance. It will focus on the "Fordham Experience" - its Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) has developed practical programs for training field workers, especially those dealing with complex emergencies following conflicts, man-made or natural disasters. The book series has been as essential part of this effort. The new International Humanitarian Affairs Reader will be divided into seven sections, each introduced by a "link" page providing continuity for the text. There will be extensive appendices to assist in finding basic acronyms, abbreviations, important conventions, treaties and accepted standards. One appendix will also provide the full table of contents for each volume in the series, and all chapters are available for digital download. The International Humanitarian Affairs Reader, scheduled for publication in Spring 2013, should provide the growing number of people - both within and outside academia - with a better understanding of the multi-faceted demands posed by humanitarian assistance programs. At Fordham University there are programs at both the undergraduate (Minor) and graduate (Masters) levels. Fordham's innovative, very intense, one-month residential course for experienced humanitarian workers - the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) - is recognized worldwide. The Institute now has over 2000 graduates from 133 nations. Contributors to The International Humanitarian Affairs Reader include many of the leading figures in international diplomacy, relief and refugee operations, conflict resolution and reconciliation, and transition from disaster to stability and development, from the chaos of war to peace.


Lord David Owen

The pursuit of the goals of humanitarianism, whether through assistance or intervention, has no single way, follows no preconceived pattern. Almost by definition, each experience is different. This means, more perhaps than in any other human activity, that practitioners have to be ready to learn from experience and adapt to circumstance.

As the editor of, contributor to, and inspiration of this much-needed book, Kevin Cahill brings the insights of a clinician in tropical medicine and public health, as well as those of an academic in humanitarian studies. Standing behind the book are twelve volumes still with much relevance to present issues into which readers can delve. The Introduction warns that humanitarian professionals have to “tread softly, to offer change with great care. Attempts to introduce new methods and replace timeworn approaches can be devastating, especially in times of crises, when a society is extremely vulnerable and utterly dependent on strangers for the essentials of life.”

In the summer of 2012, the world watched as a horrendous civil war developed in Syria with appalling humanitarian consequences, and international diplomacy, hopefully only for a short time, died with it. Yet even amidst these troubled times, this book is a testament to the humanitarian instinct which demands that we develop better policies and improve our techniques, our delivery, and above all our understanding. What it also demonstrates is that the structures of humanitarian activity are adjusting, evolving, and triumphing in many diverse and challenging surroundings.

The era of unbridled humanitarian intervention in support of human rights, which began with saving the Kurds in Iraq in 1991, looks as if it has had its day and that what happened over Libya could not be repeated over Syria. The circumstances were very different, but the months-long deadlock in the Security Council carries a warning, particularly for the five veto-carrying permanent members, that diplomacy must never die.

An adjustment to the sweeping delegation of “all necessary powers,” in the language of Chapter 7 of the UN charter, was anyhow coming in the light of the mixed success rates associated with the many interventions over the past twenty years.

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