Faces of Clingendael: Moneera Yassien
22 Feb 2024 - 12:00
Source: @Clingendael

Who are our hard-working researchers and trainers and what drives them? You might have seen them in the media, explaining geopolitical topics or putting them on the agenda. We offer you a peek behind the scenes in our new series Faces of Clingendael. Today with researcher Moneera Yassien.

What is your role? 

I work as a Junior Researcher. My role is very dynamic and diverse, although I keep a primary focus on the Horn of Africa. I’m looking at the relationship between business and peace, examining how private sector developments contribute to stability. We consider the Horn of Africa not as isolated, but as part of the geopolitical and economic developments in other regions like the Sahel and the Middle East. I use data and digital tools to understand intersections between the private sector and peace efforts, and to uncover the underlying factors leading to conflict in the region.

What motivates you to do this job?

As someone who grew up and lived her whole life in Sudan, I have gained a deep understanding of the Horn of Africa. Nevertheless, I recognise that there is always more to learn about this volatile region. My strong connection to the region fuels this desire. My ultimate goal is to make a positive impact and improve living standards. Having witnessed disparities up close myself, this serves as a powerful motivation for me to engage in this work, because I acknowledge the privileges I have been fortunate to have.

Do you have interests outside of work?

I have a passion for handcrafting and engaging in do-it-yourself activities, such as renovating my house and organising my living space in various styles. Recently, I have also developed a newfound love for running, something that previously disliked. Since living in the Netherlands, where I noticed a culture of people running outdoors, it has become something I really started to enjoy.

What advice would you give to people aspiring to work in your field?

I used to work in the ‘field’ in Djibouti, implementing projects and doing a lot of practical work. This often left me feeling frustrated, because the rigid procedures often left little room for innovative ideas. That’s why I transitioned to research. If you are looking for an opportunity to influence policy and have meaningful impact on the region, I recommend making this choice as well. Results are not always immediate, so you also need to be patient. Once you have a great research job, challenge yourself to formulate the recommendations you want to make in such a way that you can not only convince policymakers, but also inform a wide audience. 

Hans Wurzer, our previous guest is this series, left this question for you: Looking back at her research: what was something from Moneera’s research that blew her hair back? Something she totally did not suspect, but provided for her a new understanding.

I am always amazed by how much there is still to learn and discover about this diverse area. Take for instance the ongoing conflict in Somalia - it is incredibly complex, with so many layers I had not even realised existed. Uncovering these new dimensions of developments is both astonishing and humbling. That’s why I try to always stay updated on every development, whether it is through social media or other channels. This underscores the fact that being a researcher is an ongoing occupation, one that demands continuous learning and engagement, also beyond working hours.