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Current role: Research Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies, American University of Iraq (Sulaimani)
Graduation year: 2016
Prior to starting the PhD I had worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 6 years as a Protection Officer. I completed assignments in Indonesia, Malawi, Jordan and Afghanistan. I decided to do the PhD so I could reflect on these experiences, and ideally return to a field role better equipped to respond to issues associated with displacement, post-conflict justice and recovery after conflict.
My PhD thesis examined how transitional justice can support displaced persons in their claims for justice, and looked in particular at lessons from Liberia and Afghanistan. The research component was supported by coursework which provided a strong base for research methodology.
What I found invaluable about RegNet was the range of opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement – we had frequent reading and discussion groups, weekly seminars, and all the academic staff were incredibly generous with their feedback and guidance. I went in identifying as a lawyer or humanitarian worker but left feeling much more like an interdisciplinary researcher. That has been a helpful perspective in my professional life since because I feel much better equipped to speak to a variety of audiences, and to think outside the confines of a single discipline.
Being at RegNet also opened doors for me - I was able to meet academics not only in my discipline of international law but also in political science, international relations, criminology and social science. Many of these academics also had substantial experience as practitioners in related fields. Since graduating, I’ve drawn on these networks in order to collaborate on both academic and professional projects.
After graduating from the PhD in 2016, I took up a role as Conflict Advisor with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq. IOM’s focus was on areas affected by ISIS occupation and by high levels of displacement (i.e. people fleeing ISIS occupation or the military campaign). My role was to undertake research and analysis to understand the political and social context within which early recovery efforts were taking place, in order to ensure that these interventions did no harm, for example by exacerbating power imbalances. This work entailed engaging with local communities to design programs that suited their needs and priorities.
At the beginning of 2018 I started in a new role as Research Director at the Institute for Regional and International Studies, American University of Iraq (Sulaimani). In this role I conduct fieldwork, research, provide policy advice and engage in public forums with the goal of generating dialogue and influencing key policy debates. My experience at RegNet has been instrumental in shaping the way I now try to manage the connection between research, policy and practice.