Archive for the ‘Master in International Relations (MIR)’ Category



As this is an introductory post, I guess I should start by introducing myself.  My name is Aaron Thornburg and I am an American with fascinations regarding all things international.  Whether it simply be traveling the world, further understanding the international inter-connectivity of it all or even the importance of diplomacy in this globalizing world, I realize I am drawn towards international relations.  I also have interests in furthering myself and my marketability—really gaining a continuing and deeper knowledge concerning all topics related to IR.  Thus, for the academic year of 2011, I ll be studying at IE in pursuit of my Masters in International Relations (MIR).  It makes perfect sense as Madrid is an amazing capital city, in the heart of Europe and also IE is a globally respected institution recognized for quality graduate studies. 

The MIR program is young, but already I have seen a return in value.  The students with whom I study come from all over the world and are open and happy to share their perspectives and ‘cultural takes’ on anything I might ask them.  The professors have very impressive backgrounds and experience in various fields of IR and the classes cover a wide variety of subjects related to IR.  Speaking of the many different subjects…I have readings to get done for tomorrow, a memo to prepare, and a group meeting to go to, so I should go.  But before I do, I’ll just say that I look forward to posting my experiences and perceptions of the MIR at IE in hopes that I can help those reading to see that IE is a great place to study, and Madrid a great place to live.  Hopefully this blog helps to attract those in pursuit of an IR degree—I recall having some doubts when I was browsing for IR graduate schools and I would have benefited greatly with guidance from others who have been through similar situations.  One thing I don’t have doubts about is that I am completely happy here in Madrid.


By Diego Sánchez de la Cruz, Master in International Relations Candidate at IE*

In February of 2006, Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Five years later, the deal is still waiting to be implemented. Recent events in the US have sent mixed signals to Colombian decision makers regarding the future state of this arrangement. On one hand, during his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama made the following remarks: “Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks”. However, only a few days later, the US Congress allowed the expiration of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which gave access to Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador to a trade preference agreement. How will this complex situation end?


President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative hopes to double US exports by 2015. The strategy acknowledged the intention to promote the “enforcement of international trade laws to help remove barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting free and fair access to foreign markets”. In this sense, advancement in the FTA with Colombia is a logical step towards a more open trade relationship with Latin America. Colombia is the third-largest market for US exports in Latin America, only behind Mexico and Brazil.

As highlighted by the US International Trade Commission in 2006, “the pending trade agreement would eliminate about three quarters of the duties on industrial and agricultural goods immediately”, while all other duties would be gradually reduced over the next following years. It is important to point out that Colombia is currently applying tariffs to US goods that are well below its WTO binding limits. This could obviously change some day according to political criteria, but implementation of the FTA would completely turn the situation around, binding Colombia’s tariffs to zero and creating more security for US exporters.

Some voices in the US have brought up the issue of violence against trade unions in Colombia as a reason to not pass this agreement. However, murders of Colombian union member leaders have gone down steadily in the last decade, in correlation with the overall decrease of violence and terrorism in the country. While 200 union leaders were killed in 2001, the number was four times smaller in 2010. Additionally, judicial convictions for this crimes have gone from 10 to 80 in the last eight years. Therefore, this argument needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Read more… 


*Diego Sánchez de la Cruz holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Universidad Antonio de Nebrija plus a Postgraduate course on Political Communication from Universidad Pontificia Comillas/ICADE. Diego was an international exchange student in the University of San Diego, in California (USA), and completed a Seminar on Political Communication from George Washington University. Over the last years, he has collaborated with Public Affairs firms like Llorente & Cuenca or media outlets like El Correo Gallego.


By Diego Sánchez de la Cruz, Master in International Relations Candidate at IE*

After 18 days of popular protests, the Mubarak era came to an end last week, captivating the attention of the International Community while opening a new chapter in Egypt’s history. However, the democratization process is far from over: in fact, it has only just begun. In that sense, analyzing Egypt’s Constitutional Reform is fundamental to understand the short-term future of the country.

 Article 82 is very relevant to analyze the transition of power after Mubarak’s goodbye. In article 82, the Constitution states that, “should the President be unable to perform his duties due to any outstanding circumstances, his duties will be performed by the vice-president (…). The person performing these duties may not request constitutional amendments, dissolve parliament or dismiss the cabinet”. Therefore, just like Mubarak’s resignation was the best way to start the transitional process, his decision also helps the Constitutional reform process. After all, under this Article, Mubarak could have stayed in power, simply calling for a temporary shift in authority which would have had no powers over the Constitution and could have been over-turned at any time.

 Also, Article 76 will be relevant for the organization of free and fair elections. The article provides the grounds for nominating a presidential candidate. In order to incorporate all elements of the political spectrum, changes have to be made in this particular point. Currently, the requirements to run a presidential candidacy are so strict that only a few parties could actually pursue it. Given the fact that a presidential candidacy is linked with legislative election results, we cannot forget about the latest electoral process, which were obviously fraudulent. Such contest, which took place last year, saw the ruling party claim 81% of Assembly seats, followed by a ridiculous 1,1% awarded to the New Wafd Party (Hizb al-Wafd-al-Jadid) or the 0,9% given to the Progressive National Unionist Party (Hizb al Tagammo’ al Watani al Taqadommi al Wahdwawi). Also, the Muslim Brotherhood’s result was obviously fixed: it went from 88 to 1 single seat. Therefore, to ensure that the upcoming elections are held properly, the conditions laid out in Article 76 would certainly have to be modified. Otherwise, the representative component of democracy will remain out of the picture. In this sense, Article 88 lays out the rules for the supervision of elections. As general fraud was the case in earlier stages, a significant reform will be necessary in order to improve the rules of the game and make elections truly fair and free.

 Finally, Article 77 establishes six year-long presidential terms, something the opposition forces expect to change in the upcoming revision of the Constitution. Obviously, limiting those periods to five or four years would seem more appropriate. Additionally, term limits could also be considered: after all, Egypt has had only three presidents in the last fifty years.

 In the long term, many more changes will also be necessary in several other areas. Perhaps, a new Constitution may be the answer once the transitional process is finished, as some opposition leaders have argued. In any case, reform should also cover issues like the protection of individual freedoms and liberties or the application of martial law will be fundamental for the long-term.

 Also, after President Sadat’s reforms, a certain ideological mandate can be felt in many different articles, mainly those concerning economic issues. Besides, the 1980 amendments, which tied Shari’a law to the country’s legal system, may have to be revised, since this aspect obviously means a departure from earlier Egyptian constitutions. Finally, religious freedoms will certainly be relevant in this reform process. These are the basic Constitutional components that can “make it or break it” for Egypt.

 The military power will have to guarantee these changes, yet it is hard to determine if they will live up to the expectations. After all, as Shadi Hamid from the Brookings Institution has said recently, the Egyptian army does “bear some responsibility for the past decades of repression”. The military has benefited from very profitable enterprises over the years, and like every privileged group, it is not likely to support very profound changes in all areas that may confront its own interests.

 In any case, a proper constitutional reform will be necessary to address the new reality and to guide both the transitional process and the future of the country. Building strong democratic institutions will be fundamental to avoid radicalization and promote freedom and prosperity. And, of course, to the extent that Egypt is successful in this task, other countries in the region will ultimately follow.

*Diego Sánchez de la Cruz holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Universidad Antonio de Nebrija plus a Postgraduate course on Political Communication from Universidad Pontificia Comillas/ICADE. Diego was an international exchange student in the University of San Diego, in California (USA), and completed a Seminar on Political Communication from George Washington University. Over the last years, he has collaborated with Public Affairs firms like Llorente & Cuenca or media outlets like El Correo Gallego.


MIR Alumni Updates!

Written on December 13, 2010 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Master in International Relations (MIR), News

Keep up with the latest news about MIR fellow alumni. Take a look at what some of them have been up to lately (where are they working, what are they doing, and what do they want to tell us)…


InésEsteban González (Class of 2010), Coordination and Outreach Unit, Division for the Advancement of Women -UN Women (New York, USA)

Working at the United Nations is a unique experience. I could probably use this tiny space in the blog to briefly describe the duties that I am in charge of at UN Women, the department I work for; underline the incredible step that the creation of this organization has meant for the fight toward gender equality, i.e. human rights, or even highlight the valuable body of professionals that congregate there. However, any experience at the United Nations implies an unbeatable learning process not just at a professional level, but in fact at a more personal one. The truth is that the United Nations as an organization allows you to uncover the best and worst rooted deep inside of our own selves. The UN bluntly faces you with prejudices that you never thought you would have; it pushes you to appreciate how your core beliefs might change over time and even dare to question whether those customs and norms that ruled your life are as universal as you once thought they were. In the end, you get to realize that the merry-go-round on which we all get ourselves on daily, always comes back to its starting point, i.e. back to ourselves and our beliefs. But the ride is still there. To enjoy that ride to the fullest and learn from it is the hardest and most important lesson that all of us who work at the UN take home with us every day. This, however, is not my thought; it is Gandhi’s: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”


Elizaveta Erokhina (Class of 2009), Global Management Trainee, AB InBev (Moscow, Russia)

The Global Management Trainee Program is for young well educated professionals who love challenges and want to build their own careers. It has a very tough selection process but, once in the program, you know that you can grow fast: “a program that pushes you to prove yourself earlier, so that you can rise faster.” The program is basically about learning the core business of the company. In short, you visit production plants and sales offices around your country, or even different ones. You learn the principals of how beer is brewed and packed on the plant, and how it is sold through the sales offices. During the learning process, you receive various projects from plant managers and sales managers. After successful completion of the program, you choose the professional area where you would like to develop yourself; it may by any department within the company. The higher you grow within the company, the more possibilities you have to build an international career at any of AB InBev offices in 30 countries around the world. As people in our company say, the sky is the limit.

AB InvBev is the biggest international brewing company. It is a good place to start one’s career and it gives many opportunities for future development. Global Induction of GMT program was held in St. Louis, US, where our largest brewing plant is placed. Now I am on my stage in Russia. I visit brewing plants and learn business of the company from the inside. Right at the moment I am on the plant in Volzhsky city. It is great experience and I enjoy my work).


Leila Pinto Campillo (Class of 2010), Director of Business Development, Online Programs, IE Business School (Madrid, Spain)

Leila Pinto has joined IE as Director of Business Development for online programs. In this new responsibility, Leila searches and analyzes potential corporate partners in order to sign collaboration agreements, with the objective to maximize global business opportunities. On addition, she has created Compra en América SL (Spanish for “buy in America”), an import Company in the motor industry, with offices in Madrid and Miami, which facilitates access to American made models not yet available in the European Market. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, USA.  Leila has over twelve years of experience in International Banking, having lived and managed projects in the United States, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama, as  Head of Private and Corporate Banking for the IF Group in the USA.


Mina Catherine Lakrafi (Class of 2010), Research Analyst, AFA Press (Istanbul, Turkey)

Mina has recently joined AFA-Press as a Research Analyst. Mina works on the field 11 months a year. Moreover, she interacts and interviews top government officials and key business leaders in the country. Her appointment requires extensive research about the business environment in order to stimulate international partnerships and investments. Mina is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, which is Europe’s fastest growing economy. Together with her team, Mina is now working on a report that will be featured in the Guardian British Daily newspaper, and therefore promotes UK-Turkey future relations. AFA-Press specializes in the production of social and economic country reports for some of the world’s most prestigious media, and aims at promoting emerging economies.

Mina has also launched MOB, her own not for profit association in 2009, which is highly and mainly supported by the city council of Paris, her hometown, and major French business Schools like the EDHEC group and ESC. This charity event association is also sponsored, among others, by Youpress, Generation 88, a local radio, and Adidas. Mob aims at supporting events that bring together: ambition, implication, action….and FUN! Mob also helps facilitate development projects by promoting events that combine both initiative and innovation. Mob has recently participated in “the rose des sables” trophy which is a 100% female competition from France to Morocco through Spain. It is an orienteering competition that brings together a driving skills test and support for Moroccan desert children. About 180 participants were involved in the trophy and managed to bring 15 tons of school supply and hygiene products to the Moroccan children! More events are coming soon; we will keep you posted on the blog.

Want to learn more about what other MIR alumni are up to? Take a look!


Payal Mulchandani, Co-Founder and Business Head of The 4th Wheel.


After having spent almost a year in Spain while pursuing the Master in International Relations at IE, Payal started her own venture, “The 4th Wheel”, with two of her friends in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India. The 4th Wheel is a Corporate Social Responsibility Consulting and Research firm.  

About “The 4th Wheel”: Who Are They?

Three women, with a passion for learning, understanding and working for economic, social, and human development decided to enter the exciting world of entrepreneurship. The 4th Wheel brings a contemporary edge to the world of entrepreneurship. We share a passion for excellence and understanding and represent the new generation of social entrepreneurs who love to swim across the tide. Each of the three of us come from a different background and our experiences put together makes “The 4th Wheel” a whole and complete organization ready to tackle the myriad aspects of social enterprising. Out to look at issues which deserve attention and make a difference in the prevailing scenario in the development of the underprivileged and poor, we strive to be agents of change and be a part of that “team‟ (development entities) which will lead to a brighter and better future. Fuelled by innovation and foresight, we are driven to make an impact with our ideas for a wide-scale change. We work together with our strengths and resources to set up an enterprise which focuses on a missing link (the business sector) in the fight for progress and against distress. Businesses have gained immense clout in the prevailing form of capitalism. The role of businesses in facilitating development has long been debated. We have progressed to a society, where businesses are no longer based on the sole motive of profit maximization. There has been an acceptance of the role they can play in making the effects of globalization and business operations, positive and reducing the ill effects by conscious efforts. These efforts in a broad sense are termed as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Corporate Social Responsibility is an evolving concept and is no longer random charity or philanthropy but is now looked as key to business operations, sustainability and development. Read more…

More news about MIR alumni after the jump.

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