Archive for the ‘International Law & Organizations’ Category

21
Apr

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#MIRinBrussels Fieldwork Experience

 

By Rimpal Kumbhani and Susan Guarda, MIR 2015/2016

After 5 months of vigorous coursework, it was finally time for the highlight of the MIR Program. From March 14th to March 18th, all 29 students, Executive Director Waya Quiviger, Academic Director Dan Kselman, and Program Assistant Angel Benito took a weeklong trip to Brussels, Belgium to experience and apply what was learned in the classroom. Each day started with an early wakeup call with the smell of brewing coffee, and warm complimentary continental breakfast, which was necessary to fuel the long agenda in the heart of the capital. The trip included a variety of visits and seminars given by both public and private organizations. The visits included the EU Institutions such as the Commission, Parliament and the Council. In addition to the EU institutions, MIR students visited the lobby firm Hill & Knowlton, newspaper Politico, the U.S. Commission to the EU and the global telecommunications company Telefonica, just to name a few. We had the opportunity to meet professionals from all over the world and sit through captivating seminars regarding the EU a global actor. The seminars motivated students to be interactive and ask questions about pressing issues.

 

 

Quotes from students:

 

“The highlight of the trip was when we visited NATO. We had Q&A sessions with 4 different personnel and I was able to get further information on a topic I had been studying in term 2, NATO’s role in the Ukraine conflict. For me this was an experience that I couldn’t have had elsewhere”. –Rimpal Kumbhani

 

“I was thrilled to go to the lobbying firm, Hill & Knowlton, and get a first hand experience on how the company operates. In general, the different visits gave us insight on how the public and private sectors are connected”. –Nina Volaric

 

“It was rewarding to get an insider’s view of the workings of the EU. It was truly a unique experience to get to interact with officials and experts in the field while exploring job opportunities”. – Susan Guarda

 

 

Looking back at the trip, it was a privilege to have visited the different organizations but even bigger privilege to be there under safe conditions. Our condolences go out to the families and loved ones affected by the Brussels attacks.

 

23
Mar

I HAVE worked for the United Nations for most of the last three decades. I was a human rights officer in Haiti in the 1990s and served in the former Yugoslavia during the Srebrenica genocide. I helped lead the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, planned the mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, and most recently led the Ebola mission in West Africa. I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold.

And that’s why I have decided to leave.

The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in places like Syria, Iraq and Somalia. The United Nations is uniquely placed to meet these challenges, and it is doing invaluable work, like protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan and elsewhere. But in terms of its overall mission, thanks to colossal mismanagement, the United Nations is failing.

Six years ago, I became an assistant secretary general, posted to the headquarters in New York. I was no stranger to red tape, but I was unprepared for the blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place. If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again. Read more…

16
Feb

 

SC UFM

Pablo G. Bejerano

The end of 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona Process. That regional cooperative project was the origin of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which was finally constituted in 2008 during the Paris Summit.

Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, visited IE School of International Relations to present this organization, which plays a key role in developing the region. The UfM is not strictly Mediterranean, as he put it in beginning of a talk in Riga (Latvia): “I’m very happy to be in a Mediterranean country.”

The reason for this remark is that all the countries in the European Union are automatically members of the UfM, whether they border on the Mediterranean or not. At present there are 43 countries in this organization, which also takes in North Africa and that part of the Near East closest to the Mediterranean.

As Sijilmassi explained, the role of the organization is to balance different interests with the aim of “promoting concrete projects.”

Among the fundamental aims of the UfM, Sijilmassi stressed creating employment for young people and empowering women. “What’s happening in Tunisia is very interesting. Everyone who is in the street demonstrating is saying ‘we want jobs.’ It’s not a question of politics or religion.”

Unemployment is also linked to other problems. Sijilmassi mentioned terrorism and insisted that everyone must work together to find solutions. It is here that education plays a fundamental role. In his native Morocco, the UfM has helped create the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fez, promoted by the Ministry for Education.

Empowering women is also related to employment. One of the ways to encourage it is for young women to create their own companies. “We’ve worked a lot in the big cities, but not enough in the interior or the rural areas,” Sijilmassi recognized, adding that the empowerment of women is an indicator of a country’s development.

Channels for concrete improvements

The Secretary General defines the UfM as a “yes” organization. “How do you take on challenges beyond just speeches and words, how do you meet the needs of people?” He says concrete projects must be carried out, “tangible things, not just theoretical approximations.”

To achieve this it’s often necessary to say ‘yes’ even though one isn’t entirely in agreement. The Union for the Mediterranean doesn’t implement projects on their own but rather facilitates them through third parties. The process begins by evaluating a project based on different criteria, such as its socio-economic value for the region, and then the financial experts determine how viable it will be, and the political waters are tested to be sure the project will be approved by the authorities. Afterward, the organization uses all the means at its disposal to promote the project and oversee its completion.

25
Mar

Day 2 in Brussels:

Today the MIR students and I woke up quite early to enjoy the complimentary breakfast served at our hotel. We’re staying at the lovely Radisson Blu which is conveniently located in walking distance to most of the EU institutions. After satiating my growling stomach with french toast, eggs, bacon, and sausages, we began our walk to the European Commission building. We arrived during the middle of rush hour with a line coiling around the lobby to enter the first security check. After a quick briefing, we were led into a meeting room to participate in a very interesting series of seminars covering a range of different topics.

Topics included information about the EU and the European Commission, EU and Russia relations, Banking Policy, the EU energy union, and the EU enlargement policy. It was quite surreal to see the civil servants walking around going about their daily work life. Various languages could be heard as I walked around each corner of the Commission. One of my favorite parts of the day was the lunch in their cafeteria. The food was diverse and delicious and most of us left happily clutching our stomachs with satisfaction.

One of the other students and I got to catch a glimpse of the EU Water Conference by accident while getting lost in our attempt to wander back to our meeting room. There was a large room with seemingly important people and booths filled with translators in the back. People were rushing around with papers seemingly preparing for something important.  We were really lucky to have briefly seen the proceeding.

After a long day of seminars, most of the MIR students and I went for dinner. We had to try the famous Belgian fries and local foods! The food was plentiful and delicious. Tomorrow we will be attending a seminar with the International Organization for Migration and also the European Parliament.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Calvin

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This is part of a series where current Master in International Relations student Calvin Nguyen will share with us updates about the Master in International Relations yearly trip to Brussels.

24
Mar

 Day 1 in Brussels:

At 8:00 am the alarm clock began blaring loudly. I swiped sideways.  With the sun still not completely out yet and the rain pattering on the outside of my window, I slowly made my way out of bed. There was no time to waste because today was the long awaited day for the MIR program’s annual Brussels trip! With a quick shower and some last minute adjustments, I was out the door and on the way to the airport. At the airport I was greeted with 22 other excited, yet not fully awake MIR students. Before we knew it, we were on the way to Brussels, Belgium.  After a brief 2.5 hour flight, we had finally arrived at our destination. We checked into our hotel and had a quick one hour break before having to meet for our first event of the day.

We had the chance to meet with Director Doru Frantescu of Votewatch Europe, an NGO whose goal is to gather information on the EU Parliamentarians via data mining, compiling, and then finally presenting the information on an easy to understand platform on their website. Their goal is to provide accountability and transparency within the EU Parliamentary processes and to overall provide information to curious people and other organizations. In 2014 during election season, the NGO offered a free phone app that allowed users to answer and to share their opinions on 20 critical issues. Afterwards, the app would display matches with EU Parliament members and political parties that matches their views by matching data from the past 5 years.

After the very interesting meeting with Votewatch Europe, we went to a local bar for “Beers and Foreign Policy,” for an informal event to listen to and to discuss with Mr. Nereo Peñalver García. The hot topic and focus on the night was the situation in Iraq and Syria with the emergence of the Islamic State/Daech. Over cocktails and snacks over an informal setting, we got to hear about Mr. Nereo’s unique perspective and insights from his recent return from the region. Such an informal setting was a very different and fun way to engage in an exchange of ideas.

Tomorrow we will be up bright and early for a trip to the European Commission. It’s very rewarding to be able to not only learn in the classroom in Madrid, Spain but to see the actual institutions and talk to the actors that we have been studying about these past few months.

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This is part of a series where current Master in International Relations student Calvin Nguyen will share with us updates about the Master in International Relations yearly trip to Brussels.

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