On Wednesday 4/19, Tufts ALLIES met with Nicholas Birnback A '92, the current Head of Public Affairs for United Nations Peacekeeping. Starting in 1996, Birnback has been part of U.N. peace missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eritrea, East Timor and Somalia.
Characterizing peacekeepers' jobs as "the last stop before hell," Birnback explained the peacekeeper's role as not fighting wars, but rather assisting in building institutions in troubled countries and protecting the population in the transition. He spoke on the geopolitical dimensions of U.N. missions, the difficulty of holding troops from member states accountable for misconduct, and the danger of cutting budgets for U.N. programs. In closing, Birnback expressed confidence in the future relevance of U.N. peacekeeping efforts and urged students to see the U.N. as a useful tool in the interests of humanity.