15 March, 2016
Research Fellowship at the University of the Free State
Dr. Marina Magalhães B. L. da SILVA
I recently completed a long-term research fellowship at the University of the Free State, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The research was part of the African Conflict Resolution program. The university hosted me as a postdoctoral fellow and gave me all the necessary support to conduct my research. The period as postdoctoral fellow in South Africa represented a great professional and personal experience in terms of building solid research and gathering knowledge about the African continent.
The focus of my research was the interaction between the African continent and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The aim of the research period was to gather academic information, to access official documents and to interview experts and officials at the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), and produce published work on this subject.
Over the course of the fellowship, I visited four research institutes and five cities, and conducted ten interviews. Initially, in July and August 2015, the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria (South Africa) were the bases for interviews with three experts: Dr Jakkie Cilliers - at the time Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS); Dr. Siphamandla Zondi - Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue; and Dr. Suzanne Graham - Senior Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg. In September of the same year, a visit to the political capital of the African continent, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), was also very productive and resulted in four interviews and meetings with: Dr. Berouk Mesfin - Senior Researcher of the Institute for Security Studies; Dr. Kidane Kirkos - Director of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies; Mr. Dawid Yohannes - Researcher at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies; and with an anonymous UN official. Later, in October 2015, I was able to collect data in New York (US) as well as engaging in other activities including: attending to meetings inside the UN (most notably at the UNSC); and interviewing and meeting Prof. Michael Doyle - Senior Professor at the Columbia University; Dr. John Hirsch - Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute; and Dr. Bob Zuber - Director of the Global Action to Prevent War.
I also conducted a variety of academic activities in Bloemfontein, at the University of the Free State. This included four seminars given to undergraduate students and staff members. These four seminars were conducted in August and September, to three different groups of students. To a broader audience I also made a research presentation at a conference on Trends in Global Political Development and Constitutionalism; I gave an online seminar to undergraduate students from the University of Minho, Portugal; and made presentations related to the project for SACCPS/CEAPS conferences organized by the African Conflict Resolution program in February, at Osaka University and the University of the Free State.
The period as visiting researcher and postdoctoral fellow in Bloemfontein also resulted in three articles published in recognized journals and two future publications. Personally, the experience gave me a chance to gather a considerable amount of knowledge about the current political situation in Africa in general, and about Africa's relationship with the UNSC. The proximity with my object of research and the African culture brought to the final work better understanding of African issues and better knowledge of the procedures related to the continent's interaction with the UNSC.
'Spoiler or Reformer? The Uniting for Consensus Group and UN Security Council Reform.', Seminar held at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 20 August 2015.
'The United Nations Security Council', Seminar held at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 28 August 2015.
'The Production and Trade Structure', Seminar held at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 1 September 2015.
'Lula', Seminar held at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 2 September 2015.
'The Challenges of the African engagement with the UN Security Council', Conference Trends in Global Political Development and Constitutionalism, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, 1 October 2015.
'A Reforma do Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas' ('The Reform of the United Nations Security Council'), Online seminar conducted to students at the University of Minho, Portugal, 25 November 2015.
'Together in the same objective: The engagement between the AU PSC and the UNSC', Conference African Conflict Resolution, Osaka University, Toyonaka, 10 February 2016.
'Beyond Capacity Building: The interaction between the African continent and the UNSC', Annual Osaka University – University of the Free State Conference, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 23 February 2016.
'United Nations Security Council Reform: An African Perspective', Conflict Trends (ACCORD), v. 03. South Africa, 2015.
'No Shortcuts to UNSC Reform', ISS Today, Pretoria, 6 January 2016.
'The Challenges of the African engagement with the UN Security Council', New Contree Journal, July 2016. (forthcoming)
'Together in the same objective: The engagement between the AU PSC and the UNSC', Center for Engagement on African Peace and Security, 2016. (forthcoming)
'The interaction between the African continent and the UNSC', 2016. (under planning)