Class XVI Uppsala Peace Fellows are steadily wrapping up their Applied Field Experience. In this blog, we provide you with glimpses of their exciting journeys. More of their stories will follow so stay tuned!
Since early June Henrique has been posted with the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action in Tajikistan and Ukraine, with a short in-between stop at headquarters in Geneva. He has been working with weapons and ammunition disposal, mine clearance, non-technical and technical surveys, and mine risk education. Parallel to that, Henrique carried out independent research on the mine contamination along the Tajik-Uzbek border and the consequences of lacking specific legislation for the mine action programme in Ukraine.
Photo Courtesy of FSD
“This experience brought me into both the frontline and backstage of the political, social, technical and managerial challenges of mine action.”
Yin Yin has been doing her AFE in a form of an internship with the Rakhine Advisory Board, based in Bangkok (Thailand).
“My role as intern has been to research on constant changing and challenging sphere of Rakhine state in Myanmar, speak with local stakeholders involved with the implementation of peace process, and putting together the information, which will feed into the advice given to the Myanmar government. This AFE has been an eye-opening experience, as well as one which will [hopefully] allow me a way forward after my time with the RPF program.”
Juan Diego’s research AFE has been embedded within a research project of DPCR regarding the impact of gender-specific provisions of peace agreements on women’s physical security and empowerment during the implementation phase. Juan Diego has conducted an explorative case study on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in the Philippines, which has been internationally recognized for the women’s roles in the peace negotiation and its early implementation phase.
“Diving into the Muslim Mindanao struggle and how Moro women and men have relevantly participated in the peacebuilding process, made me realize the amount of challenges we still face in creating more gender-equal post-conflict societies. I have seen that participation of women in Mindanao peace process is not a sufficient guarantee for the implementation of the gender-specific provisions as mean to promote a more gender equal Mindanao. Although the Bangsamoro agreemement displays a positive example of how negotiations could include comprehensive gender-sensitive measures, these provisions have not been implemented even four years since the settlement. The gender awareness by the parties at the table was not automatically transferred to the normalization phase. Therefore, it is seems necessary to include strong third parties to monitor the implementation of these gender provisions, as well as to strengthening the civil society actors to independently advocate for more gender parity decision-making spaces towards a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.”
For his applied field experience, Jasper supported the USAID Partnership for Peace project, a capacity-building and networking effort that supports West African regional institutional frameworks, national governments civil society to more effectively counter violent extremism in the Sahel region. Based in the regional office in Accra, Ghana, he helped develop concept notes for upcoming activities, supported the development of communications and organizational strengthening mechanisms.
“I am grateful to be connected to a world-wide Rotary Peace Fellow Alumni network of dedicated and generous peace and development professionals who inspire me to cultivate my interests and become a leader in peace work. Having had the opportunity to work directly with a USAID West Africa supported project was an unprecedented and inspiring opportunity for me to meet and work with a range of highly experienced peace and conflict resolution experts while leaning in-depth about leading US government approaches to combating violent extremism. I look forward to incorporating this inspiring and learning intensive experience into my future peace and conflict resolution work.”
Kaitlin spent her AFE in Cambodia and Laos conducting qualitative research on the impact of Laos’ large dam development on local and regional peace in the Lower Mekong Basin. Her research primarily looked at the environmental and social impacts of dam development, and used these as indicators for peace.
“My AFE was significant and informative for a number of reasons. First, it has enhanced my skills as a researcher, which will help me both academically and professionally. The AFE is a once-in-a-lifetime experiential learning opportunity. Fellows are given freedom to design their own projects and gain expertise in an area of personal interest, while also being supported by the Rotary Peace Center.
Secondly, what I learned during my AFE expanded my understanding of water management. Based on previous work and desk research I knew hydropower was a controversial issue, but I didn’t realize just how relevant this topic is to the field of Peace and Conflict Studies until my AFE. Some of the insights I gained were only possible by being in the field.
Thirdly, AFE has encouraged me to pursue environmental peacebuilding. I saw an enormous need for environmental peacebuilding in Lower Mekong Basin. The relationship between energy, economic development, politics, environmental protection, and social well-being is complex, requiring investment in terms of research, peacebuilding and mediation. It is a field I’d like to contribute to.”
Masumi is doing her AFE internship with an NGO Hand in Hand for Syria, which has been delivering humanitarian aid inside Syria. Masumi’s role is to support the MEAL team and has so far helped to write/edit one post-distribution monitoring report and one end-line survey report both on an UNMAS-funded project of victim assistance. Masumi presented the results of both surveys to the managers of the organization with the aim to improve future intervention. She also helped write one grant proposal on a project that combines both WASH and health components for humanitarian fund convened by UNOCHA, and also gave basic training sessions on R and statistical data analysis methods to the MEAL team.
“I am able to combine my work experience and newly learned academic skills to help improve the quality of intervention inside Syria.”
During his AFE, Pedro has been based in Tel Aviv, interning with the “Windows – Channels for Communication”, a grassroots organization that develops long-term Youth Programs that offer a safe space for learning, personal development, empowerment and Social Change. Pedro worked mostly with event planning and fundraising proposals.
“During my time visiting Israel and Palestine, I’ve learned and experienced so much apart from what you can read and study not being in one place. I witnessed first hand several of the allegations of Israeli practices in the West Bank and with very personal stories from local people.”
Christiana has spent her AFE interning at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Applied fieldwork experience has a connotation of working “in the field” or in a place separate from desks, offices and perhaps air conditioning. Since I had experienced, lived, and worked at that level before, for my AFE I chose to seek out the headquarters level experience. I wanted to understand how the decisions are made that affect policy and programming around the world. So, I spent about three months attending and supporting Human Rights Council meetings and side events, and explored the inner systems of the United Nations. As part of the Right to Development section, I researched and wrote reports, publications, and drafted book chapters regarding the intersection of Human Rights, Climate Change and Gender, Digital Trade in Africa, and the relationship between corruption and gender equality.Separate from the UN position, I also worked with Mediators Beyond Borders International to co-author a research brief for an expert workshop and partnership with Geneva Center for Security Policy on Advancing Women in High Level Mediation by looking at mediator qualifications.Lastly, being in “International Geneva” allowed me to interact with various Rotary clubs and groups. Through these connections, I attended Rotary meetings, and became part of an exciting Rotary Action Group for Peace initiative.”
For his AFE, Ognjen has immersed in a fact-finding research about the unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus over the disputed territories of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Ognjen has also carried out a research about the needs and vulnerabilities of Georgian IDPs from South Ossetia aiming to produce the policy recommendation for the advancement of their position while awaiting the solution to the conflict.
“The AFE research in Georgia and South Caucasus illuminated my understanding of the impact of geopolitics and major powers on seemingly locally driven disputes. Working with Georgian IDPs, on the other hand, made me aware of how such struggles take their biggest toll on innocent victims how are the least responsible for the conflict instigation. Unexpectedly, during my research in Georgia I got acquainted with the Yazidi community and even met a survivor of the 2014 Sinjar genocide. That was the kind of experience that teaches you how words sometimes may not be proper to the moment.”