CERAH - The Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action


The Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

The contexts in which humanitarian interventions unfold are more diverse and complex today than ever before. Emergencies occur in places already suffering from chronic underdevelopment, each situation calling for specific and adapted responses. Faced with these complexities, humanitarian workers have to display and use a wide variety of skills and competences to cope with situations of armed conflict, epidemics, natural catastrophes and social exclusion.

Training and Research CERAH offers training programmes and conducts academic research projects of international repute, drawing on Geneva’s network of international institutions and non-governmental organisations.

CERAH’s interdisciplinary research projects foster critical analysis of the humanitarian sector and humanitarian work, with the aim to improve performance, and encouraging reflection on professional practices, the politics of humanitarianism and humanitarian organisations.

In recognition of the wide range of skills and broad knowledge-base that humanitarian professionals require today, CERAH’s courses provide in-depth training on subjects such as international humanitarian law, public health or project management for NGOs. Students are introduced to a variety of academic perspectives, including anthropology, economics and political science.

A modular approach to education and training for humanitarian professionals

CERAH's courses are structured to offer a number of options suited to people working in humanitarian action:

  • Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) (10 to 12 months full time / 60 ECTS credits) covers all aspects of humanitarian action and allows students also to specialise in 2 areas of their choice. The programme's core objectives focus on the acquisition of theoretical tools and practical skills applicable in present-day humanitarian operations.
  • Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) (4 months full-time / 30 ECTS credits) allows humanitarian professionals to reflect on their professional experience and gain new insights as well as analytical skills. The programme provides participants with an overview of conceptual and operational aspects of humanitarian action.
  • Several Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS) (6-7 weeks / 10 ECTS credits for each CAS) offer professionals the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and aquire skills in particular areas of humanitarian action. The intensive training courses are delivered by academics and experienced humanitarian practitioners.
    • A special 8-month
    • Distance Learning Certificate of Advanced Studies – Designing Strategies and Projects for Humanitarian Action
    • (8 months / 15 ECTS credits) allows professional to study part time via distance learning while applying their new skills and knowledge to their actual working environment, with coaching and assistance. This course includes a 10-day mid-programme residential session in Uganda.
  • One-week Thematic Seminar short courses (1 week / 2 ECTS credits for each TS)are interactive training formats that allow participants to analyse a range of issues of high importance to contemporary humanitarianism. The courses are led by senior academics and experienced humanitarian professionals who guide participants to build analytic skills and acquire practical tools.

Geneva: a centre of humanitarian action Geneva is well known as an international centre for the humanitarian sector.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Organisation for Migration and the World Health Organisations all have their headquarters in Geneva.

The city further hosts key offices of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNICEF, UNDP, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch. Dozens of international NGOs maintain offices in Geneva.

CERAH and its students benefit from unique access to these important actors in the humanitarian field, as well as from the Centre’s ties to Geneva's prestigious academic institutions.

Academic excellence Lecturers and researchers from a number of faculties of the University of Geneva (Medicine, Sciences, Law, Translation and Interpreting), from the Graduate Institute (IHEID) and from humanitarian organisations bring their specialised expertise and unique perspectives to enrich CERAH's multidisciplinary programme.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

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This school also offers:


Thematic Seminar: International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice

Campus Full time 1 - 1 week April 2017 Switzerland Geneva

Explores the historical and theoretical foundations of criminal and transitional justice efforts and provides participants with an introduction to judicial and non-judicial mechanisms available to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation. [+]

25 - 29 April 2016 The thematic seminar on International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice presents an introduction of international criminal law and international transitional law. In addition to giving participants a historical and theoretical overview of these branches of law, it offers a critical approach to international justice - today primarily presented as criminal law. It is organized in sessions with experts on international and transitional law and related fields. Both organizers and external experts will present current projects they are working on, relevant topics and institutions. Moreover, criminal and transitional cases will be discussed and analysed, e.g. Hissene Habre Case, Milosevic Cases, etc. Students are expected to participate in discussion and analysis of cases. COURSE OBJECTIVES By the end of the seminar, participants will be able to: Identify key norms and instruments of international criminal law and transitional justice Apply the law in concrete situations and use it to support victims of injustice CERTIFICATION Each seminar corresponds to 2 ECTS credits and is recognized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. [-]


Certificate of Advanced Studies - Legal Environment of Humanitarian Action

Campus Full time 7 weeks April 2017 Switzerland Geneva

Equips humanitarian a professional with the ability to analyse humanitarian action challenges from a legal perspective and to use international law to advance humanitarian objectives; and those with legal training to understand the humanitarian legal environment. [+]

In the national and international contexts in which humanitarian emergencies unfold, the legal situation is often highly complex and even contradictory. Actors may attempt to manipulate the law to present their actions in the best light possible or to discredit others. Humanitarian projects can become entangled in this situation – to steer a clear path, humanitarian workers need a good legal grounding. Human rights, applicable everywhere, is pertinent for the societies in which humanitarian action takes place as well as the behaviour of humanitarian actors. International humanitarian law strongly impacts the rights and responsibilities of humanitarian organisations. Other branches of the law also influence, directly or indirectly, the actions of humanitarian workers, who may be called upon to cooperate with legal institutions such as, for example, the International Criminal Court. It is therefore important to have a detailed knowledge of and fresh perspective on the legal environment in which humanitarian action takes place, in order to better understand the interaction between rights and humanitarian action and to develop a critical analysis of the legal tools available to humanitarian professionals. WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THIS COURSE If you are a humanitarian professional or work in an international organisation, this course will enable you to extend your knowledge of law applied to humanitarian action. If you are a legal professional working outside the humanitarian sector, this course will enable you to familiarise yourself with the legal specificities of humanitarian practice and the law’s application in the field of humanitarian intervention. [-]

Certificate of Advanced Studies - People Management in Humanitarian Settings

Online & Campus Combined Full time 7 weeks April 2017 Switzerland Geneva

Assists HR managers with the skills and specific knowledge of the humanitarian context to develop useful strategies to improve working environments and smooth delivery of projects. [+]

The growing professionalization of the humanitarian sector has created new challenges for how humanitarian organisations manage their staff. The effective organisation of local and expatriate work forces in often difficult contexts demands high levels of expertise and competence. Professionally trained human resource (HR) personnel have become indispensable for humanitarian organisations to address the needs of their employees, national and international, and of operations. Skilled HR managers with specific knowledge of the humanitarian context can develop useful strategies to improve working environments and smooth delivery of projects. The growing need to make aid operations more relevant and accountable, to improve their quality and abide by the rules of good governance is also directly related to improved HR management techniques. WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THIS COURSE For humanitarian workers in need of professional HR training, this course will deliver tools and methods to create effective HR strategies in a humanitarian setting. For HR professionals wishing to move into the humanitarian sector, this course will deliver the skills to adapt their existing knowledge to a humanitarian context, including the knowledge about how to address HR challenges specific to the humanitarian sector. This 7 week course includes 3 distance learning weeks. [-]