Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Toyi Sogoyou: Inside the UN Department of Political Affairs

October 15, 2009

Toyi Sogoyou at the United Nations

A month after Toyi Sogoyou returned from his International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) assignment in New York with the Untied Nations Department of Political Affairs, I sat down with him to talk about his experience on assignment, the path that led him there, and where he plans to go after he graduates this December.

Toyi Sogoyou is originally from Togo, West Africa. While living in Togo, he completed his first Bachelor of Arts degree in German Studies, trained in the cadet school for the Togolese Armed Forces for three years and served for five years before coming to the United States in 1999. He was driven by a passion to learn more about international organizations and multilateral forces.

“I [wanted to study] conflict resolution in Africa, Toyi said. “I come from a continent that has a long legacy of war. So, I take the view that we need native negotiators and native mediators because we’re not going to wait for the west to always come and intervene in our own matters.”

This December, Toyi will earn his Master of Arts in International Policy Studies with a focus in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute.

Toyi spent his third semester at the Monterey Institute completing the International Professional Service Semester, a 6-month internship program in which students can complete academic deliverables related to their work experience for credit in their Monterey Institute degree program. Toyi completed his IPSS assignment at the United Nations Department of Political Affairs’ Mediation Support Unit in New York.

On assignment at the UNDPA in New York, Toyi’s work focused on: secure arrangement, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as mediation and strengthening capacities. His responsibilities ranged from preparation and participation in mediation focal point meetings, to drafting operational guidance notes for the “harmonization of ex-combatants in the post-conflict environment… [including peace processes, and] disarmament, demobilization and reintegration,” to analyzing “the activities of the UNDP, specifically in security reform, throughout the world.”

Toyi considers the experience a blessing. He commented that as an IPSS fellow, he was not treated as a typical intern. He was given responsibilities and tasks on par with those of a regular employee. He said, “I learned a lot, and I gave a lot.”

Toyi Sogoyou with portraits of UN Secretary Generals

A highlight of his experience was the opportunity to interact professionally with UN envoys and UN special representatives involved in peace processes.

After he graduates this winter, Toyi will apply for positions in the field within UN agencies, large non-governmental organizations, and governmental institutions. Ultimately, his goal is to work in conflict resolution for the African Union.

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