On Monday, December 18th 2017 UVC Director, Tatiana Carayannis, gave a talk on the nature of public authority in the DRC and UN peace operations to a group of Chinese scholars, researchers, students, and faculty members at Peking University in Beijing (PKU). Hosted by Dr. Liu Haifang, Associate Professor and the Deputy Director of the Centre for African Studies at Peking University's School of International Studies, Carayannis' talk is part of the UVC's work to build and strengthen inter-disciplinary research networks and establish international partnerships that provide mutual benefits while producing high-quality, evidence-based scholarship. The UVC is planning to offer field research methods training workshops for researchers working in insecure, conflict-affected places in the near future.
UVC Director, Tatiana Carayannis, meets with Ms. Zhang Dan, Vice-President and Director-General of the United Nations Association China. Dr. Carayannis gifted Ms. Zhang Dan a book on the history of the UNA.
UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis and Program Manager Aaron Pangburn attended an NGO briefing with U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley after her October 2017 trip to Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After some brief introductory remarks from the Ambassador, participants engaged in a Q/A session about U.S. and UN policy moving forward in these three critical Africa states.”.
On 27 November 2017, UVC Program Director, Tatiana Carayannis moderated a briefing/panel discussion at the United Nations (UN) Secretariat, which took stock of the main policy issues raised at the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of a regional integrated peace and security approach in the Great Lakes region. The meeting also aimed at raising awareness for international engagement, by promoting new programmatic and funding opportunities in support for the Cross-Border Multi-Partner Trust Fund, building on the initial investment funding provided by the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). Ambassador Said Djinnit, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region, introduced the Great Lakes Regional Framework and its six pillars before highlighting the connections between the work of his office and the ICGLR. The panel discussion brought together experts representing UN Member States, from international organizations, from civil society organizations, and from within the UN system. Highlights included insight from Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, a Visiting Scholar and the Acting Director of the Institute for African Studies at The George Washington University), who spoke to opportunities for promoting a strong women and peacebuilding agenda in the region and provided reflection on the ICGLR initiative 10 years on, after having served as the ICGLR’s first Executive Secretary from 2006-2011.
On 18 November 2017, at the annual conference of the African Studies Association, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis and Program Manager Aaron Pangburn participated in a panel entitled “Resistance Strategies in Central Africa”. The panel brought together a group of scholars to analyze actions and discourses that contest, transgress, subvert or resist to international policy prescriptions and/or national public policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Koen Vlassenroot, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Conflict Research Group at the University of Ghent, presented his reflections on resistance by armed groups in Eastern DRC, and explored whether Herbert Weiss’ theory of rural radicalism  (developed after the Congolese rebellions of the 1960) could help explain the character and grievances of contemporary rebels. An Ansoms, Professor of Development Studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, looked at resistance to land policy and social reengineering in Rwanda, and the dichotomy between hidden and open forms of resistance by the Rwandan farming community. Her presentation focused on the green revolution in Rwanda, and how farmers are expressing discontent and pushing for reform in a variety of innovative ways. Carayannis served as the panel’s discussant, while Pangburn chaired the proceedings.  Herbert Weiss, Political Protest in the Congo: The Parti Solidaire Africain during the Independence Struggle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967).
On November 9th Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit at the London School of Economics (LSE), gave a book talk on her recently released book, International Law and New Wars at the Security Council Report in New York City. International Law and New Wars examines how international law fails to address the contemporary existence of what are known as “new wars” - instances of armed conflict and violence in places such as Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan. Tatiana Carayannis, Director of the Understanding Violent Conflict Initiative, moderated and provided Introductory remarks.
United Nations Secretariat On 3 November 2017, the Understanding Violent Conflict Initiative (UVC) partnered with the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations to facilitate a high-level Expert Brainstorming on "Diamonds in the Central African Republic for Sustainable Development and Peace." The meeting was co-hosted by the Kingdoms of Belgium and Morocco and by the Government of CAR. Participants included representatives from civil society, the United Nations Secretariat, and 21 Permanent Country Missions to the UN. They discussed key challenges and opportunities for building the CAR’s capacity to counter the illicit exploitation of natural resources and the role MINUSCA and other partners can play to establish the conditions necessary for the successful implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in CAR. Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve of Belgium; Ambroisine Kpongo of the Central African Republic, and Omar Hilale of Morocco provided introductory remarks on the draft national strategy to address these issues, while a group of experts comprised of Marc Van Bockstael (Antwerp World Diamond Centre), Ruben De Koning (The Sentry), Marie Lintzer, (Natural Resource Governance Institute) and Damian Lluna (European Commission) provided their expertise on armed groups operating in the CAR and the role of the sanctions regime. This meeting will support the implementation of the Plan for the Recovery and Peacebuilding in CAR and the work of the African Ministers of Mining at the upcoming African Diamond Conference in Brussels on 13-15 November. UVC Director, Tatiana Carayannis, moderated the discussions.
On 30 October 2017, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis participated in the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ (ACSS) Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar as a panelist during a session entitled, Conflict Focus: Civil War Resolution: South Sudan and CAR. She was invited to share her expertise and insight on the conflict in CAR, the status of UN’s efforts in the region and some major challenges to peacebuilding. The panel is part of ACSS’ inaugural Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar, from 23 October to 9 November in Washington, D.C. The seminar aims to provide the next generation of African security sector leaders with practical and effective tools upon which they can draw to contribute to their nations’ security and development. Around 60 mid-level security professionals from over 30 African countries are participating in the seminar.
On 26 October 2017, the Central African Policy Forum (CAPF) hosted a discussion with Kris Berwouts on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support of the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the UN. Kris Berwouts, Independent Analyst on DRC and Author of Congo’s Violent Peace, presented his assessment of the political climate in the DRC. Participants, including representatives of civil society, the United Nations Secretariat and Permanent Country Missions to the UN, then expressed their views and offered questions and comments. UVC Director and CAPF Steering Committee member, Tatiana Carayannis, moderated the discussion.
On 17-18 October 2017, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis and Program Manager Aaron Pangburn participated in a series of workshops for the Politics of Return research consortium and the Centre for Public Authority and International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE). The UVC has received two grants to participate in these research projects, and Tatiana and Aaron presented their recent progress and planned research agenda to a number of scholars and practitioners involved in the work. Director Carayannis, as co-investigator, will help provide strategic direction for both projects and lead on the research in western Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
On 26 September 2017, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis hosted a workshop on ‘citizenship and civicness’ at the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN). This workshop included members of the Congolese academic community especially faculty and researchers from the Centre d’Etudes Politiques based at UNIKIN.
On 12 September 2017, UVC director Tatiana Carayannis participated in the first red team exercise on UN peacekeeping, convened by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General. She was invited to provide feedback on the UN Secretary General’s draft strategic review report on the UN’s Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO).
On 14 July, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis participated in a workshop on rethinking United Nations engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and options for MONUSCO’s mandate. The meeting was hosted by the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and the Security Council Report (SCR), and included members of the Security Council.
On 16 June 2017, members of the UVC’s DRC Affinity Group briefed the Office of the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide on developments and risks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in advance of the Special Adviser’s trip to the region. This discussion emphasized the importance of history in understanding the tragic recent events in the Kasai provinces, but also stressed that there are number of worrying trends in other provinces that are also worthy of attention.
On 14 June 2017, the UVC, in partnership with the Security Council Report and the World Peace Foundation, co-hosted an event on “AU-UN Cooperation in Peace Operations.” In light of the May 2017 Special Issue of the African Security Review journal, a number of the authors including presented their findings from their articles, including UVC Director, Tatiana Carayannis, who spoke to lessons from the Central African Republic. The meeting also served as an opportunity to discuss the lessons from earlier UN-AU partnerships on security governance.
On 11 May 2017, UVC Director Tatiana Carayannis presented during a facilitated discussion on “Tensions between local and national dynamics: dilemmas for international interventions in the DRC” at the UN Secretariat. This was prompted by an editorial debate in the pages of Foreign Affairs between Columbia Professor Séverine Autesserre, and Tatiana and a few colleagues over the nature of conflict in the DRC. The meeting was convened by the Department of Peacekeeping’s Division for Policy, Evaluation and Training, but also brought together representatives from the Civil Affairs Unit in MONUSCO, and many others from the UN various departments, field missions and agencies. The panelists explored the relationship between the local, national and international in the DRC and discussed their implications for MONUSCO’s political and community engagement strategies.
On 21 March 2017, the Central African Policy Forum convened a meeting on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support of the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the UN. The discussion was moderated by Joseph Donnelly from Caritas Internationalis and included Congolese civil society leader Marie-Madeleine Kalala, President of the Cause Commune, H.E. Mr. Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Permanent Representative of Belgium and representatives of the Conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo (CENCO): Monseigneur Utembi, President, and Abbé Nshole, Secretary-General. Participants discussed the obstacles and opportunities that Saint Sylvestre Accord afforded the DRC, which was mediated by CENCO and signed on New Year’s Eve just three months prior.