Alumna Working with the UN to Combat Explosive Remnants of War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Monday, September 19, 2016TOPICS: AlumniChangemakerStudent Success

Markella-Eleonora Mantika
begin quoteThe Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice was also a valuable learning source, hosting events with internationally acknowledged peacemakers, activists, and practitioners from the field.

 Markella-Eleonora Mantika (MAPJ ’06) has been working in the field with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations since 2011. She served with the Rule of Law and Security sections as a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Officer with UNOCI, the UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire, then as a Programme Officer with the UN Mine Action Service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping operation there.  A Greek national, Markella is currently based in Goma, in the eastern DRC, where she is responsible for the overall planning, implementation and monitoring of the UN Mine Action Programme for the DRC. We asked her to answer a few questions about the impact of her work, how the MA program in Peace and Justice program prepared her and what she thinks future graduates will be facing.

What is the impact of your work with UNMAS ?

The UN peacekeeping mission works with the conflict affected communities, the government of DRC, national and international partners, key stakeholders and the donor community to minimize risk to the local population from a variety of dangers. We reduce the risk of injuries by removing explosives and explosive remnants of war, educating civilians through mine risk sessions, helping UN forces clear battle areas, destroying weapons following a Disarmament and Demobilization process, and training national police and the national army on how to secure weapons storage facilities.  These are just a few of the ways in which we have both immediate and longer term impacts.

How did the Master in Peace and Justice program help prepare you? 

Peace and justice were explored together in most of our courses, a notion which allowed enough room to debate and finally understand why they are so intertwined. In my work in post-conflict contexts thus far, I have been confronted with the never ending debate of « justice before peace » or « peace before justice » and the issue of the « winner’s justice » where justice is put aside or difficult to implement following a peace agreement.

In terms of specific classes, the international negotiation class helped me explore mediation and negotiation techniques, a real toolkit for working in the field with diverse cultures, disciplines and concepts. To name a few faculty who inspired me, challenged me and helped shape and solidify my research, I would like to mention Dr. Woods, Dr. Nadkarni, Dr. Otto and Justice Richard Goldstone. The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice was also a valuable learning source, hosting events with internationally acknowledged peacemakers, activists, and practitioners from the field.

What do you see as local or global trends that peace and justice grads will need to address?

The nature of conflict is changing. Terrorism and fundamentalism in various forms and transnational organized crime have emerged as new trends that transcend borders. They pose threats around the world and are causing forced migration and displacement.  Resource wars, the struggle for control of natural resources like water, minerals and land, is something I would like to study further since it is the root of much evil, especially in underdeveloped nations.

What is one of the most important things you have learned in the field?

To take nothing for granted and to have faith that nobody knows better than the local population what type of approaches and solutions to solving or transforming a conflict are most effective for them. International organizations and institutions tend to forget the importance of national ownership, nationally owned processes and sovereignty overall.

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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