The creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863 made Geneva the centre of humanitarianism and the city synonym of International Geneva

Geneva is the Headquarter of the United Nations, its main Agencies - OCHA, UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, IOM - as well as hundreds of international organizations and NGOs, centres of competencies and think-tanks.

In the 1970s and 80s, some of the larger humanitarian organizations offered operational training for humanitarian actors. In order to respond to an increasing need the following years,  the University of Geneva, supported by a number of international organizations and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, created in 1998 PPAH - a plurifaculty Programme for Humanitarian Action. The main objective of this new programme was to offer high-level, continuous education for humanitarian practitioners, meaning a diploma in humanitarian action.    

In 2004, the programme was radically transformed, under the impulse of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute, and re-named PIAH - Interdisciplinary Programme in Humanitarian Action. PIAH offered a wider course programme including a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Humanitarian Action, in partnership with ICRC and MSF Switzerland. 

CERAH - Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action was created four years later, as a result of the partnership between the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. 


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