ICR SUMMER RESEARCHERS PRESENT RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM SUMMER 2012
Twenty SIPA students spent summer 2012 participating in the International Conflict Resolution (ICR) Practicum. The students took a course in Spring 2012 with Professor Marc Jacquand preparing them for their summer research. The ICR Practicum program then supported the students’ independent research for CICR. Partnering with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), students researched the impact of foreign investment in natural resources on peacebuilding and state legitimacy. In 2012 the students were hosted by UNDP offices in Colombia, Haiti, Liberia, and Zambia. The students presented their findings on November 12 at SIPA. More details on each of these projects is provided below:
SIPA students Julien Barbey, Aly Jiwani, Pushkar Sharma, Delaney Simon, and Victoria Webster spent the summer on a consulting project for the UN Development Program in Colombia. Due to the heavy emphasis that the Colombian national government has been placing on mining, the team focused their work on understanding how foreign investment in mining is affecting stability in Colombia. The team investigated gold mining specifically due to the historical and contemporary significance of the commodity in Colombia. Narrowing the focus of their work, the ICR team researched in the departments of Antioquia and Nariño, and discovered that gold mining is central to many of the major issues facing the nation today, because it exacerbates a rift between the national and local governments, creates major competition between small-scale Colombian and large-scale foreign miners, and helps to fund the efforts of armed actors.
SIPA students Kayoko Ajlani Hashimoto, Audrey Hanard, Keenan Mahoney, Valentin Olivry, and Seisei Tatebe-Goddu spent the summer consulting for the UN Development Programme in Haiti. The team members were assigned to three projects in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes ranging from election monitoring and governance, to private sector reform and development, to the reduction of vulnerability through environmental protection. The ICR team conducted research throughout the south and central departments of Haiti, culminating in deliverables that supported the work of three different units within UNDP.
SIPA students Minhwan An, Hande Apakan, Joshua Keller-Fish, Sue-Ann Foster, and James Meisenheimer spent the summer conducting research in Liberia as part of the ICR Practicum. The team analyzed the impact of foreign direct investment in the timber sector on local communities and state-building efforts. They chose this topic in part due to the role of timber in Liberia’s conflict, and also because of the award of over 25% of the country’s land to logging companies in the past two years through questionable means. The team performed field research through focus groups and interviews with affected communities and local government officials in four different counties in Liberia, in addition to meeting with government officials and civil society organizations in Monrovia. In their report, the team gives recommendations to the government of Liberia, UNDP, UNMIL and other stakeholders on how to manage the timber sector and to ensure equitable division of benefits.
SIPA students Carlyn Cowen, Zhiyao Ma, Edward Janis, Jesse Forsythe, and Tarik Carney worked as interns for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in their Zambia Country Team Office. Under the guidance of the UNDP, the students researched the impact of the copper mining industry and the practices of the Zambian Wildlife Authority and Forestry Departments on traditional communities living within the North Western Province. The required methodology for this research included first hand community interaction, interviews, surveys, and focus groups. The students spent one month in the rural villages of the North Western Province conducting research, in addition to a month in Lusaka completing interviews with agencies and ministries of the Zambian Government. The final portion of their time in Zambia was dedicated to data analysis at UNDP headquarters. Given the tremendous influence of the mining industry on the Zambian economy, as well as Zambia’s current rank as one of the most deforested nations annually, the research undertaken by these students aims to allow the Zambian Government to better understand what opportunities exist for improved relations and mutual benefit sharing between stakeholders from the mining, wildlife and environmental protection sectors, as well as the local communities.
CICR WELCOMES THE SIPA CLASS OF 2014!
The Center welcomed the SIPA Class of 2014 with a number of orientation activities, including introductory briefing sessions on the ICR Specialization and a happy hour for first-year SIPA students interested in conflict resolution.
The ICR Specialization held its annual student-retreat in the Catskills Mountains on September 22rd and 23nd. The retreat provided a get-away from New York City and allowed students the opportunity to directly engage practitioners in the field of international conflict resolution. The retreat featured presentations by Professor Jean-Marie Guéhenno (CICR Director), Robert Dann (Chief of Mediation Support Unit, UN Policy and Mediation Division), and Dr. Fiorella Triscritti (CICR Postdoctoral Research Scholar). Guéhenno shared specific details of his recent work on the ground in Syria. Dann’s talk focused on his work on peace negotiations in Cyprus, Israel-Palestine, and Syria as well. Triscritti’s talk focused on her research on corporate-community conflicts related to large-scale gold mining in Peru. In addition to these in-depth conversations, students participated in a conflict-styles workshop led by ICR Coordinator Jessica Baen, and took advantage of the hiking trails and kayaking available at the camp.
RECENT EVENTS HOSTED BY CICR
Transition Period: Justice and Reconciliation in Libya
On September 6, three members of the Department of State-sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program engaged in Libya’s transition spoke to SIPA students. In an event moderated by CICR Director Professor Jean-Marie Guéhenno, they discussed their involvement in the Libyan uprising, describing the evolution of the opposition movement and the euphoria resulting from the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The discussion revolved mainly around their efforts to reconstruct Libya’s civil society and support the development of national institutions. The three speakers emphasized the challenges faced in implementing effective change to Libya’s processes and institutions after the revolution.
Afghan Civil Society During the Transition Period 2011-2012
On September 24, CICR hosted a presentation by Mr. Arnault Serra-Horguelin, who worked with the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to support civil society development and improve aid effectiveness. In his remarks, Mr. Serra-Horguelin sought to broaden the definition of Afghan civil society by understanding its existence within a fragile state context in which informal and traditional actors are the dominant forms of social organization. Mr. Serra-Horguelin outlined the support UNAMA provided to nurture of Afghan civil society by acting as a neutral facilitator that sought to enhance access to information and promote links with the Afghan government. Mr. Serra-Horguelin focused on issues critical to the development of a more organic Afghan civil society, such as ways to balance liberal and conservative values, develop coalitions around pressing issues, encourage the government to recognize the importance of civil society actors to the country’s development prospects, and influence donors to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations as reliable long-term development partners, rather than as temporary actors implementing donor-driven projects.
Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping
On October 1st, CICR hosted a presentation by Tiffany Easthom on Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP). Easthom, Country Director for the Nonviolent Peaceforce’s program in South Sudan, explained the principles and practice of UCP, a relatively new innovation for protecting civilians and reducing violence without the use of armed force. Easthom’s presentation focused in part on the creation of an all-women’s peacekeeping team in South Sudan to protect women from sexualized violence. Dirk Salomons, Director of the Program for Humanitarian Affairs at SIPA, Betty Reardon, Founding Director Emeritus of the International Institute on Peace Education, and Kiryn Lanning, duel-degree student at SIPA and the Mailman School of Public Health, participated in a respondent’s panel, which made for an engaged and thoughtful conversation.
CICR Panel Discussion on the Environment, Natural Resources and Peacebuilding
On October 2nd, CICR Scholars Fiorella Triscritti, Elizabeth Wishnick, and Marta Debolini presented their work in a panel discussion on the Environment, Natural Resources and Peacebuilding. The presentation was supported by the Fund for Global Environment and Conflict Resolution, a joint initiative between CICR and the Italian Ministry for the Environment that seeks to enhance understanding of the global environment and conflict resolution in order to support peace and sustainable development. Fiorella Triscritti presented on corporate-community conflicts in Peru related to the gold-mining industry; Elizabeth Wishnick shared her research on potential conflict on water-related risks in China; and Marta Debolini discussed conflict dynamics and conflict resolution possibilities related to land management and land use in peri-urban areas in Morrocco.
The discussion was moderated by John Mutter, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Earth & Environment Sciences. Marc Levy, Deputy Director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at the Earth Institute, Robert Barnett, Director of the Modern Tibet Studies Program, and Jacqueline Klopp, Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at the Earth Institute, served as respondents to the presentations.
“A First Glimpse of North Korea”
In May 2012, SIPA’s Conflict Resolution Working Group partnered with the United Nations Studies Program to take a trip to North Korea, the first of its kind sponsored by an American university. UN Studies Program Director Elisabeth Lindenmayer and 15 SIPA students, including many in the ICR program, traveled on a six-day research trip to North Korea, regarded by many as the most isolated nation in the world. On October 2, 2012, CICR co-hosted a panel in which Professor Lindenmayer and the students presented their findings. Included here are a number of the students’ impressions.
“As we visited museums, cultural heritage sites, universities, and farms in Pyongyang and Wonsan, the divergence between depictions of the DPRK vis-à-vis what I was experiencing firsthand became more pronounced. Discerning the truth behind the stories we were told at the war museum or the USS Pueblo, or the extent to which the universities we visited were legitimately educating students was and is impossible to know. What I learned before arriving was that everything I would be told in the DPRK was likely to be either fabricated or greatly embellished. What I felt while listening to our guides was that they were honest, kind, and genuine human beings, although their political leanings could not be more different than mine.”
— Samir Ashraf (MIA ’13, USA)
“I have returned from the DPRK, and still cannot measure why every North Korean I have seen wears a small red pin over their heart, depicting the same image of the “Dear Leader.” Whether it is worn out of love, fear, pride, or nostalgia in remembrance of more prosperous times, I cannot say. In a country where the truth seems to exist in small hints and subtleties, rather than large gestures or rehearsed rhetoric however, it’s easy to find yourself seeking further answers in the fog.”
— Tarik Carney (MIA ’12, Jamaica)
“On the road outside Pyongyang, I saw a Korea similar to the province my mother had been raised in the south. On the foot of the mountains and on either side of the road our bus travelled on, there were farmland for rice paddies and other crops. There were a number of people traveling on foot between the roads connecting cities and children roaming in groups unaccompanied. No field was left unattended to by the laborers who were heavily represented by the elderly population.”
— Sandra Choi (MIA ’13, USA)
“I approached our trip with the expectation of visiting a communist regime similar to Eastern Germany prior to reunification…. DPRK is an extremely controlled country, but it was also peaceful and is one of the most organized countries that I have visited. It is clearly a communist country, but it might not be worthy of all the negative press received throughout the world.”
— Michelle Hanf (MPA ’13, Germany)
“As we visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) the stationed soldiers told us repeatedly that this was the most dangerous place in the world. And yet it was a tourist attraction, we spent several moments taking group photos, and the western tourists in front of us had even brought their baby. It is hard to image that happening in Somalia or Syria.”
— Mara Ladewig (MPA ’12, USA)
“The pictures of large groups of people walking what looked like very long distances due to the lack of fuel, the nearly omnipresent scenes of “collectives” of individuals working gigantic fields with their bare hands, sunk in deeply…. Even though we could not directly interact with these people, this second experience made me realize how truly resilient and hard-working a people North Koreans are.”
— Patrick Martin-Menard (MIA ’12, Canada)
“There is an inherent pressure to craft a memory of the DPRK that fits into the narrative Western media has created about the nation; to articulate a horrifying and trying experience. The more wrenching of an image the narrator creates the more attention the narrator commands, the more the listener feels they are hearing the ‘truth,’ and the more praise the narrator receives from the listener for having ‘survived’ a trying experience. Monsters and monstrous behavior make the most compelling (and simplest) headlines. And so it may come as a disappointment to some when I write that the biggest surprise for me in my trip to the DPRK was simply that I had fun.”
— Pushkar Sharma (MPA ’13, USA)
“The isolation, loneliness, together with the huge pride, strength and resilience DPRK demonstrated are all too similar to China in the past.”
— Jin Zhou (MIA ’13, China)
To Syria and Back: Why We Must Not Give Up
On November 13th, 2012, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, CICR Director and Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice, presented to a crowded hall at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). SIPA professor Dipali Mukhopadhyay served as a discussant. Mr. Guéhenno spoke of his experience as Deputy Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on Syria. From March to July of this year, Mr. Guéhenno worked with former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to seek a negotiated resolution to the conflict. Mr. Guéhenno shared his insights on the current situation in Syria, the role of international actors, and the conditions that might promote an end to the civil war.
Mr. Guéhenno identified some of the challenges facing Syria, including a fractured UN Security Council, regional polarization, and deep divisions within Syrian society along sectarian and generational lines. Mr. Guéhenno’s analysis of the divisions within the Security Council referenced the oft-cited objection by China and Russia to foreign-led regime change under any circumstances, but included additional considerations. He explained that Russia might accept changes in Syria through internal negotiations, but was doubtful that a foreign-led intervention would lead to a smooth transition. On the contrary, Russia feared that such an intervention would cause further instability in Syria, leaving the country vulnerable to extremist Islamist influence.
Mr. Guéhenno asserted that the only sure means to protect civilians is to have a government that protects them, ultimately making a political solution essential to humanitarian efforts. He recommended engaging in political negotiations even as the armed conflict continues because the chances of achieving a complete cease-fire prior to substantive negotiations are low. He explained that mutual consent within the Security Council and various actors in the region will be necessary to achieving an end to the violence, and emphasized that the P5 nations do have a common interest in avoiding an extremist regime in Syria.
CICR Holiday Party
December 10, 2012, 6-8PM, at Havana Central (2911 Broadway) in Manhattan
More information on CICR can be found here.