Rotary Duke-UNC Peace Center

Posted By Brad Walker

Worldwide, Rotary International sponsors only seven Peace Centers, and one happens to be right here in the Triangle: the Duke-UNC Peace Center.  With a mission to train candidates with the potential to have a “lasting impact” upon world peace and conflict resolution, the program offers graduate work specifically tailored to each as well as other fellowship benefits, such as full tuition, monthly room, and board stipend, transportation, summer internship, academic conferences, and the chance to build an incredible global network, professionally as well as personally.

Currently, the Duke-UNC Peace Center program includes 17 Fellows, from all over the world and “all walks of life.” Nathalie Contreras Pardo, from Columbia, is one.  She arrived in the US only a month ago, following an 8-month delay imposed by Covid restrictions for traveling, so she is still “settling in” to American culture.  However, she said she finds the people here to be very welcoming.  

Aided by a Powerpoint presentation, Nathalie started her primary focus as the following: “I am interested in studying the intersection between transitional justice, sustainable development, and peace-building and then providing a model to improve interventions in those fields.”  Her work will mean a great deal to all of us, especially as all clubs work toward implementing Rotary’s Peace Initiative to resolve conflict, whether at home or abroad.

Nathalie received her bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences (2008) and Law (2009) from Universidad de Los Andes, and her Master in Law degree (cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame (2016). Her professional experience includes teaching assistance and lecturer on human rights and constitutional law at Universidad de Los Andes Law School, and public policy adviser for the advocacy of subjects such as transitional justice, reconciliation, and political participation. Furthermore, between 2012 and 2015, she worked as a researcher at the National Center for Historical Memory and at the International Organization for Migrations on initiatives related to the right to truth, justice, reparations, guarantees of non-recurrence, and reconciliation.

President Elect Leah Flach (Left) and Nathalie Contreras Pardo via Zoom

More recently, she joined the Barometer Project conducted by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies of the University of Notre Dame. By mandate of the Colombian Peace Accord, the Barometer provides technical support to the parties (Government, FARC, and international actors) to, continuously, improve the quality of the implementation of the Accord. There, as a senior researcher, she monitored the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms, victims´ rights, and legal reforms. Before being awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship, she worked as a specialized attorney at the Appeals Chamber of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.

Through the Global Studies Master’s program, Ms. Contreras Pardo hopes to gain the necessary tools to ensure peacebuilding initiatives are more robust and effective. Particularly, to design a model that identifies the challenges that arise from, simultaneously, addressing past atrocities and pursuing development goals, as well as, formulate measures to overcome those. In addition to her career goals, she has volunteered with non-profit organizations in Colombia, such as Techo, which builds housing solutions for vulnerable families, and with animal protection projects.

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