Eric Wyss, a student in the master’s degree programme of the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH) has been chosen to be the first recipient of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Award. The CHF 2,000 prize, funded by the SDC, was awarded in recognition of his research on Colombia: Supporting Conflict Transformation and Victims in Colombia. An analysis of the Official Development Assistance from 2002 to 2011 and beyond).
The Swiss Humanitarian Award honours and spotlights academic work of students at the CERAH written on the theme of humanitarian aid. This Geneva-based institute was created in October 2008 on a joint initiative of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID). It came into being as successor to the Interdisciplinary Programme in Humanitarian Action (PIAH), which had been created in 1998. The CERAH trains students from all over the world, preparing them for careers as humanitarian professionals.
The SDC and the Swiss Mission in Geneva have been strongly committed to supporting the CERAH from its very inception, be it by funding academic scholarships or by contributing to special activities. At present, SDC personnel actively contribute to certain courses taught at the CERAH as a way of sharing their experience and expertise. Furthermore, every year the students of the Centre are invited to spend a day visiting SDC Headquarters in Bern for an introduction on Switzerland’s humanitarian aid. Lastly, the SDC makes an annual contribution of CHF 170,000 to the CERAH to support academic humanitarian research.
This support is embedded in the desire of Swiss foreign policy to develop and consolidate the location of international humanitarian Geneva as the leading world competence centre for humanitarianism, a place for dialogue, encounters and negotiations, a welcome centre for NGOs, and a centre for academic and practical training for humanitarian professionals.
Professionalising humanitarian aid
Switzerland’s support of the CERAH is also a reflection of the importance that Switzerland accords to quality in humanitarian action. For Switzerland, excellence in the training of future humanitarian professionals is a fundamental principle in the professionalisation of humanitarian aid.