I quickly discovered that the mission is a mosaic of diverse characters facing unique challenges and chasing different dreams. For example, in my role as UN Volunteer Public Information Officer, I hoped to use my writing to highlight the collective challenges, as well as accomplishments, of a nascent nation like South Sudan to a global audience. But I never really considered what I was doing as humanitarian work.
UN Volunteer Lucy Tabot Akabum is a Human Rights Officer at the UN Joint Human Rights Office of MONUSCO in Bukavu, in eastern DRC. She was one of ten UN Volunteers who contributed to the Volunteer Initiatives for Peace and Development (VIPD) project to provide clean water for 39 orphans.
I have a law and human rights back ground, and I strongly believe that bullets have never been a source of peace in any setting.
The Government of Malawi has responded to this challenge by seeking to institutionalize a mechanism for sustainable peace through a National Peace Architecture (NPA).
Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the NPA is a national initiative that will provide an institutionalised platform for proactive collaborative dialogue, peace building and conflict prevention in Malawi.
What motivated you to work in international cooperation?
In communities hardest hit by conflicts, such as Bambari, Bangassou and Ndelé, UN Volunteers are at the heart of social cohesion, awareness raising, the restoration of state authority, capacity building activities or access to economic opportunities for populations suffering from the crisis.
The Guatemala Peace Accords were signed in 1996, ending a 36-year-long civil war, but some challenges remain in the construction of a peaceful and inclusive society. During the last years, Guatemala has witnessed an increase in social conflicts related to land disputes, lack of access to public services and natural resource management, among others.
It was in this context that I initiated my UN Volunteer assignment as a Conflict Resolution Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
I first became a UN Volunteer in 2004 when I accepted an assignment with the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) as a Support Officer. I was excited about the opportunity. I still remember practically jumping from joy in my office when I received the offer. My enthusiasm was quickly dampened by the words of caution from colleagues and friends—some of them calling me crazy for being happy to land a role in a warzone.
In the process of finding a right programming partner, I was able to get in touch with UNLIREC- the Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean, part of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. UNV was investing in programming under its five Global Programmes, and together with UNLIREC, we assessed the possibility of submitting a proposal that would align with our respective mandates under the UNV Global Peacebuilding Programme.
I arrived in a country where nearly all public infrastructure and most private houses were destroyed. Timor-Leste at that time was a country without a state—a nation where most civil servants had withdrawn. The UN, through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), was there to fill an empty space. As UN Volunteer District Field Officer, I was the face of the UN administration in the sub-district of Laclo. I was responsible for delivering basic public services. Over time, it quickly became apparent that there was much more to it than that.