Peacebuilding and Institutional Research in The Hague

by tuftsigl
Jul 18

It was only my first day at the sun-draped office and I was immediately helping lead over 200 academics to panel discussions ranging from private sector peacebuilding contribution to a case study of Burundi. What fascinated me most about the convening of this conference was that it not only included high ranking politicians and academics but also those who participated in the groundwork of peacebuilding, not to forget the bounds of intellectually curious students. It was a very warm welcome in a country known for its cold weather and brutal honesty.

            For the past month I have been a summer fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice located in the political capital of The Netherlands with a spacious friendly office nestled between Dutch embassies and international think tanks. This has been the perfect setting for my American-centric mind to expand its horizons to an international perspective. For the longest time, I believed the only way I could serve an international goal or cause is through the web of American institutions acting as a supplement to American foreign policy. I was wrong. The independence of The Hague Institute has helped me think of my active citizenship beyond an American conception and into a more universal one. I feel like I have learned so much about the European perspective and the strategy for peacebuilding operations around the world since I’ve been here, which I was never truly exposed to in my American childhood and education.

Since my first event at the Knowledge Platform, I have also participated in several other events hosted and coordinated by The Hague Institute. On the last week of June, prior to delivering speeches on the floor of the General Assembly, a panel of survivors and key players from the Srebrenica genocide convened at The Hague Institute to reflect and discuss the failures of the past and collect ideas for future atrocity prevention. It was a very powerful conference and I was greatly intrigued because of my limited knowledge of the genocide (I was only a year old when it occurred)but also to understand how Europeans remember their darkest chapter post-World War 2 as a continent. Additionally, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with the President of Freedom House, Mark Lagon, where we examined the current status of personal liberties around the globe. Though he was unable to offer a satisfying answer about whether Greek liberties were in jeopardy by the growing potential of ‘Grexit’ or default, he did provide convincing insight how influential multilateral cooperation can be in the promotion of human rights in virtually any peace agenda around the world. A special insight he offered after the event was how he believes getting women into politics is a critical step in achieving the ends of human rights security.

            Besides event coordination, I have also been assigned regular research projects within the office. The Hague Institute focuses in 3 research areas: Conflict Prevention, Global Governance, and Rule of Law. While most of my colleagues have already obtained masters and other postgraduate degrees specializing in these fields, I have been fortunate enough to assist in research and projects of every department.  In Global Governance I have started researching maritime scholars for a future oceans policy conference to be held in 2016 whereas I have completed some support research on American mass –atrocity prevention policy in recent years for the Conflict Prevention team. Also, I have been tasked with writing a research brief for the President of The Hague Insititute, Dr. Abi Williams (Fletcher school alumn), on the evolution of UN peacekeeping in preparation for a speech he will deliver to Dutch military graduates soon. My time in the office has felt a bit like a research sampler which I’ve been greatly appreciative of as I ponder where I will concentrate my studies and future career.

            This has really been my first extensive travel to Europe and I’ve also enjoyed learning how to be an international citizen outside of the office. Slowly and steadily, I’ve been trying to conform to Dutch social norms like drinking milk with every meal, washing my hands with cold water, and riding my bike ANYWHERE no matter the distance. As I enter my senior year, I am thrilled by this experience that the IGL coordinated for me so I can bring my global perspective and new knowledge back onto campus and supplement my ongoing education at Tufts. I am also very fortunate because this internship completed my trifecta of participation in politics at all levels: local, national, and international. Europe and international affairs have always been a passion of mine and these past few weeks in The Netherlands have reminded me that with an open mind, a desire to do good by people, and a curiosity to explore, I can take my passions and dedications around the world. 

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