Nicky works as a Regional Researcher for Amnesty International

Hans Rouw is a Programme Leader on Security and Disarmament at PAX

Profile picture Hans Rouw

"I was always interested in the question if and how the international community could help conflict resolution at a local level, of radically different countries around the world. I was aiming for a career as conflict analyst with a focus on ‘translating’ conflicts for people with the power to positively influence those conflict’s dynamics."

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"I chose to study Conflict Studies in Utrecht because I wanted to improve my understanding of conflicts and my ability to relate conflict dynamics to others. This Master’s programme seemed right, as it combined many disciplines and had a selection process that I thought would improve the relative quality of the students.

In my current job as Programme leader of Human Security and Disarmament at PAX, an international peace organisation, I have several tasks. I give guest lectures, manage several security programs in, for example, South Sudan and Libya, advise policy makers on the protection of civilians and do research on military interaction, security and disarmament, and civilian control of non-state military actors.

There are often substantial gaps between the realities in a conflict context and the international insights. My challenge is to continuously relate my efforts to people in conflict rather than deluding myself into believing that outdoing each other during international conferences is all that relevant for people in conflict. The Master’s programme has taught me to work in an organised matter, combine several academic disciplines to build an argument and to critically analyse the discourse. This provides me with a deep rather than broad knowledge, which is often of great value and much appreciated by my colleagues."

Vincent van Halsema is Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF, Angola Country Office

Profile picture Vincent Halsema

"I had applied to several Master’s programmes in conflict studies, and was accepted to, among others, Saint Andrews in Scotland. Ultimately, I chose Utrecht, because the Centre for Conflict Studies (CCS) had an excellent reputation and the work of its professors really appealed to me. I very much liked their pragmatic approach and their mix of theory and practical work as they are both academics and practitioners (from the field as well as from foreign affairs)."

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"When I graduated in 2009 it was a difficult time for newcomers on the job market. That situation has improved somewhat since then, but it is always difficult when you start with little work experience. A year after doing my thesis research in Angola in 2009, I was able to do a few consultancies in Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan (the last one was also via CCS).

I then got a job at the European Union Delegation as Project Manager. This was an extremely interesting position whereby I was responsible for identifying, designing, funding, monitoring implementation, and learning lessons and best practices for EU development projects in Angola. The analytical skills I had gained during my Master’s were very useful, because the projects I managed were extremely diverse, covering many different sectors. Fortunately, this programme had taught me to think broadly, and to approach problems from many different angles.

After almost three and a half years at the European Union I decided to take a job at UNICEF Angola as Social Policy Specialist. UNICEF aims to help the government (across all social sectors) to improve the manner in which the country provides for its impoverished and most vulnerable citizens. My tasks range from designing new policies to facilitating coordination between different sectors, and from involving and supporting academics to supporting the work of the public sector.

One of the most important things I have learnt  from my studies in Utrecht, is that it is absolutely necessary to keep learning. When you are stuck with a complex problem, dive into the literature for inspiration and to broaden your horizon! I still absolutely love picking up a good article or book related to my direct professional field or on ‘conflict studies’, which remains a fascinating subject."