Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus will host two multi-day conferences next week for academics, students, and leaders in the fields of humanitarian affairs.

The first conference, “Human Rights in an Age of Ambiguity,” will take place June 13-15. Fordham is co-sponsoring the event with the International Studies Association and three other groups. The conference will address recent trends in the global human rights landscape, such as the emerging trend of pushbacks against human rights, the global refugee crisis, and transnational threats to human rights.

Following that, “Meeting the Challenges of Development and Dignity” will take place June 16-18. The conference serves as the annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System and is co-sponsored by Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. It will focus on the role of education as an engine of development, how to best achieve gender equity to ensure development and dignity, and the role of faith in development and dignity.

Melissa Labonte, PhD, associate dean for strategic initiatives and associate professor of political science in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said the topics were ideal to address so closely together.

“Development and dignity are two sides of the same coin in creating a stable, more peaceful world where people can realize their own human potential and do it within frameworks that are responsive to their needs,” she said.

“Those frameworks can be governmental, global, or they can be community-based.”

Among the highlights of the week will be talks by Jan Eliasson, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, who will deliver the keynote address on Thursday, June 16, and Ibrahim Gambari, Co-Chair, Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance; former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the U.N. and  former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, who will speak on Friday, June 17.

Gambari was a member of the U.N. Security Council in 1994, when the Rwandan genocide was unfolding. Labonte said he “almost singlehandedly” persuaded other council members to reinstate a lapsed peacekeeping mission to Africa—a move that saved many lives during the rampant killing.

“Had he not been there, it probably would have been worse,” Labonte said.

“Those speakers are the two anchor events for that program, and we’re thrilled that we have both of them with us.”

For more information on the conferences, visit and


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.