The government has donated $1.8 million to Harvard University for the creation of a new programme on humanitarian policy. The announcement came at the opening of the Swiss House, a new science and research consulate in Massachusetts.
The donation was announced at the inauguration ceremony by the Swiss State Secretary Franz von Däniken. He said the three-year grant would fund the Programme on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research, which would be conducted in cooperation with the United Nations.
Von Däniken said it was part of a continuing policy of lending expert support to UN operations in complex emergencies, and helping them to develop more effective humanitarian strategies in times of crisis.
"At a time when the international community faces an intensification in brutal crises, the programme will aim to inject innovative ideas and critical analysis to support international organisations in their efforts to respond effectively to these new realities," von Däniken said.
The programme will advise UN agencies and non-governmental organisations on conflict prevention, peace building and the protection of civilians in conflict zones.
A key focus will be the use of information technology as a platform for developing humanitarian strategies. These technologies will be used to create networks of academics, policy makers and humanitarian workers in the field.
The programme will be headed by Claude Bruderlein, a Swiss lawyer currently working as an advisor on humanitarian affairs to the Office of the UN Secretary General in New York.
"We expect it to become a significant asset in the quest for new strategies to improve the protection of civilians at the beginning of the 21st century," von Däniken said.
by Roy Probert