IDHA 56 Returns with Keynote Speaker Rory Stewart

by Ryan Heffron

Rory Stewart gives keynote address.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) kicked off its 56th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) in Amman, Jordan last month after a two year hiatus during the pandemic.

“For over twenty-five years the IDHA has been the gold standard of humanitarian education, providing needed education and reflection to humanitarian aid professionals. Held throughout the world, the IDHA has continued to evolve as humanitarian practice has changed,” says IIHA Executive Director Brendan Cahill.

The program is a four-week intensive course where mid-career professionals grow their emergency response skills and knowledge. Guided by veteran humanitarian practitioners, the IDHA offers students a holistic perspective on preventing and responding to crises. Graduates will gain extensive insight into identifying the needs of affected peoples, facilitating cooperation and dialogue, and identifying effective and ineffective practices. IDHA alumni contribute to building a more sustainable, dignified and effective humanitarian space.

The course premiered with Rory Stewart as keynote speaker. Mr. Stewart served as the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development in 2019 and as a long-time Member in Parliament for Penrith and the Border from 2010–2019. Prior to government, Mr. Stewart worked extensively for the UK Foreign Service. He served in Jakarta, Montenegro, and Iraq. On leave from Foreign Service, he walked for 21 months across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. Afterwards, he began a career in development and aid. He recently launched the podcast Rest is Politics. You can read more about Mr. Rory Stewart here.

Mr. Stewart lectured on the role of donor interests and geo-politics in the framing of humanitarian action. Discussing the links to longer term development, he provided anecdotes from his time as UK Minister of Foreign Development. He spoke enthusiastically about unconditional cash transfers as an important way forward for humanitarian aid.

Mr. Stewart urged students to reflect on their purpose in the coming future. IDHA Course Director Anthony Land spoke of Mr. Stewart’s address, “he lifted the students to view humanitarianism from above the realm of the technical and bureaucratic and to its role on the larger world stage.”

The IDHA 56 cohort is a group of practitioners with diverse experience and perspectives who will surely take up that call. The students of the course are looking forward to their visit to the Beqa’a Camp later in the program. They will certainly learn more in the weeks to come, whether through insights of the classroom or through direct experiences in the field.



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