Europe Field Research Plan

HQ Views of International Organizations and Peacebuilding Operations, Development, and Humanitarian Aid in Somalia


UN Office in Geneva

My research examines the combined effects of third-party peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and development interventions on resiliency of different actors in civil conflict, using Somalia as a case study.  Understanding the integrated effects of these interventions over time requires knowledge of what is happening on the ground among stakeholders and primary actors at the local and regional level, how these dynamics impact the broader conflict, and the result on both local and regional interests. I will conduct interviews with program managers and researchers at the headquarters of key international organizations responsible for some of these interventions to glean their understanding of mandates, their theoretical frameworks for program design and assessing impacts, and access to available data on interventions and their effects on capacities where possible.

Fight or Flight Effects

Several capital cities in Europe host headquarters of international organizations and research institutions with long-standing interests and programs to address the Somali conflict and its impact on human security and resiliency of actors in conflict.  The United Nations (UN) Office in Geneva, with its focus on disarmament research (through UN Institute for Disarmament Research, or UNIDIR) and refugees (through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR) are of particular interest for assessing the capacity of fighters in the conflict – including the newly formed federal government, and the impact of these ongoing conflict dynamics on displaced persons and refugees.  In addition, the Center on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding and the Small Arms Survey at the Graduate Institute of Geneva provide peacebuilding research to the UN on factors that potentially impact resiliency of conflict actors as well as the general populace.

The Diaspora

Remittances from the Somali Diaspora exceeded $1B USD in 2004 and have continued to rise ever since, representing as much as 25% of household income, with over 40% of households receiving assistance.   In conflict and peacebuilding, these remittances can be a two-edged sword – supporting local clans in times of conflict as well as local reconciliation and state building.[1]  The distribution of these remittances and impacts on human security and conflict is a key variable in my research.  The Netherlands has received one of the largest influxes of Somalia Diaspora in Europe.  Since 1998, this community has organized to provide extensive interventions involving provision of services, building social capital, and advocacy in their homeland through the Himlio Relief and Development Association (HIRDA).  These programs, which are led by Somali’s in partnership with other international actors, are of great interest.

Data Gathering and Interviews

In Geneva, I will interview program managers and researchers associated with the following organizations on their programs in Somalia:

  • UNIDIR Weapons of Societal Disruption Program – engaged since January 2014 with Federal Government of Somalia on weapons and ammunition management (WAM), as a result of the UN Security Council decision in 2013 to partially lift arms embargo in Somalia, to support the newly formed government
  • Small Arms Survey at The Graduate Institute of Geneva – conducting on-the-ground research in Horn of Africa on the presence of small arms, and factors that impact legal and illicit trade
  • Center on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute of Geneva – engaged in research on role of civil society and peacebuilding with focus on Somalia as a case study for last 20 years.
  • Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – longitudinal data gathering on distribution of displaced persons and refugees from Somalia conflict, and UNHCR programs to provide services to the displaced and refugees.

In The Netherlands, I will interview program managers associated with the relief and development programs managed by HIRDA in Somalia, with emphasis on how they mobilize the Somali Diaspora to be directly involved.

Interview and Discussion Questions:

The questions fall into three broad categories:

  • understanding perceived conflict drivers and impact from local and regional perspectives,
  • understanding the intended scope and outcomes of interventions, and factors that affect success in achieving those outcomes, and
  • relationships between peace operations, development, and humanitarian aid interventions.

Observations of the impact of interventions on resiliency of different actors, challenges and opportunities in those interventions, and unintended consequences are of particular interest.

How Information Will Be Used:

My dissertation explores how interventions impact conflict outcomes through intervening variables associated with resiliency.  Discussions and responses to interviews will inform a model to establish a baseline and examine alternative scenarios for sequencing and layering of interventions to achieve more stable equilibrium at local and regional levels.  This model will then be used to test hypotheses and explore future policy options.


[1] UNDP, March 2009, “Somalia’s Missing Million: The Somalia Diaspora and its Role in Development.”


Back to Field Studies Overview


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s