Giovanny Rincon, a master’s student in global studies, was in the Colombian Army Academy in 1999. He holds a master’s degree in political studies and has contributed to peace processes in Colombia. He has worked at the United Nations Development Programme, where he supported transitional justice projects, and recently served as the Prevention Component Coordinator at USAID’s Human Rights Activity in Colombia. Currently, he is a Peace Fellow at UNC through the Rotary Foundation.
What made you choose UNC when deciding on a program/place to study?
Well, firstly I am studying at UNC as a Rotary Peace Fellow. In this scholarship, you have the opportunity to choose among six universities around the world. My preference was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and particularly the master’s degree in global studies. I made this decision not only because it is prestigious, but also due to its scholarly rigor and practical skills components. It is a program which covers the main issues that I would like to further gain a firmer grasp on, such as: relationships between democracy, constitutional design and conflict; differing expectations of states and societies; and varying understandings of human rights and citizenship.
Tell us about your research plans.
I would like to focus my research on the prevention of violence in social transition towards peace. More specifically, I would love to more deeply explore how the consolidation of democracies and the guarantee of human rights at the local level are impacted by global dynamics of new violence and illicit economies. I want to delve into studies which examine the influence and impact of global illegal economies on peace processes. In my view, the more traditional model of negotiation between warring partners as a means to overcome decades of violence considering today’s globalized dynamics is insufficient.
What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?
The discipline is the most important lesson. Graduate studies demand discipline. In the army, you learned it because you and your partner’s life might be at risk. Without a doubt, to make the bed every morning is more than a routine in the rest of your life. It is to learn the importance of accomplishing task by task in order to transform reality. It is a path to understand that attention to the little things let you will understand the big picture also.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
I hope to gain a greater understanding of the global challenges impacting peacebuilding which will further my career endeavors. I am strongly motivated to understand the new kinds of conflicts taking place in this globalized world in which factors such as internationally linked illegal economies can overshadow negotiated agreement efforts between rival actors. Protection of civilians during conflicts has long been the focus of my work and I will continue working on this. In complement, I consider that this graduate study gives me an added value: the possibility to be part of a global discussion. I plan to focus my studies on two important issues: analysis of conflict prevention in transitional societies and new methods in peace negotiations to prevent the repetition of violence during transitional periods towards peace.