Humanitarian Lecture Series

Room setup of chairs with a podium, two banners, and two sets of chairs in front of a display of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), Fordham University, launched the Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series as a significant multiyear partnership between the Government of Ireland and Fordham University. The lecture series, which began in April 2019, ran until June 2020 with events in New York, Dublin, and Geneva.

The Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series speaks to Ireland’s profile as a leader in international development and humanitarian action as well as Fordham University’s commitment to research and education that assist in the promotion of justice, the protection of human rights, and respect for the environment. The series consisted of a number of distinguished lectures supported by a series of more technical lectures and workshops that are open to all.

Lectures explored the challenges facing policymakers and humanitarians as they seek to ensure that aid reaches those in need, that humanitarian principles are upheld, and that civilians are protected. Specific topics of discussion included humanitarian protection through international humanitarian law, humanitarian financing, climate and security, and more.

View and download the compendium of lectures A Skein of Thought here

Lecture #1: H.E. Mary Robinson

Speaker H.E. Mary Robinson stands at a podium to deliver a speech about the challenges of the humanitarian sector at the United Nations

The inaugural lecture of the series was delivered by H.E. Mary Robinson, chair of international NGO The Elders and the first woman elected president of Ireland (1990-1997). She is a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and an advocate for climate justice, gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building, and human dignity.

Lecture #2: Michael D. Higgins

Speaker Michael D. Higgins standing at the podium delivering a lecture for the Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series

The second lecture of the series was delivered by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland on “Humanitarianism and the Public Intellectual in Times of Crisis.” President Higgins has campaigned tirelessly for human rights, peace, democracy, equality, and justice throughout his years as a political leader.

Lecture #3: Dr. Jemilah Mahmood

Speaker, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, stands at the podium in the law school moot courtroom delivering her speech for the Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series

The third lecture of the series was delivered by Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Under her leadership, IFRC has developed a global innovation including a future and foresight unit and pioneered the use of Islamic social finance to address humanitarian crises.

Lecture #4: Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM

Vice Admiral Mark Mellett speaking at the podium in front of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations Banner

The fourth lecture of the series was delivered by Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defense Forces. For over two decades he has been a change leader, contributing to ongoing transformation and positioning the Irish forces in a post-modern setting. 

Lecture #5: Jamie McGoldrick

The fifth lecture of the series was delivered by Jamie McGoldrick, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory. McGoldrick delves into the many challenges influencing humanitarian access, namely maintaining the principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence, while engaging non-state actors. As humanitarian access in conflict zones becomes increasingly difficult during the COVID pandemic, he expresses an optimism for newfound cooperation across borders that may have lasting affects. 

Lecture #6: Dr. Caitriona Dowd

The sixth lecture of the series was delivered by Dr. Caitriona Dowd, Assistant Professor in Security Studies at Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. In Part I of this two-part discussion of Conflict and Hunger, Dr. Dowd draws on her research and experiences to explain the several pathways through which conflict drives hunger. She highlights the role Ireland has played in an international effort to combat food crises, noting the lessons learned, and proposing a roadmap for future humanitarian and political action. Dr. Dowd also reminds us that such a path forward must address the unequal burden placed on women during periods of conflict and hunger.

Lecture #7: Matthew Hollingworth

The 7th lecture of the series was delivered by Matthew Hollingworth, Country Director and Representative in South Sudan for the World Food Programme. In part II of this discussion on Conflict and Hunger, Hollingworth elaborates on the many challenges humanitarians face while navigating the complex dynamic between hunger and conflict. He challenges practitioners, donors, academics, and policy-makers alike to utilize the tools available and implement more effective measures, offering avenues of action through multilateral collaboration.

Lecture #8: Simon Coveney TD

The 8th lecture of the series was delivered by Mr. Simon Coveney TD, who serves as current Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael.