Skip to content
Topics
Stories

Conflict resolution goes beyond peace agreement

Sarah Lombardo

Sarah Lombardo, SSH’15, is Northeastern’s first-ever recipient of the prestigious Pickering Fellowship. She'll continue the work she started on co-op in Bosnia as a graduate student in the law and diplomacy program at the Tufts University Fletcher School this fall

Elec­tions in the fall of 2014 cap­tured the interest of recent North­eastern grad­uate Sarah Lom­bardo. But it wasn’t the midterm elec­tions here in the U.S. It was the gen­eral elec­tions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lombardo’s atten­tive­ness to the polit­ical land­scape in the Balkan country, which is home to about 3.8 mil­lion people, stems from her co-​​op there in 2013.

Lom­bardo, SSH’15, worked for the Office of the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, which has been the face of the country’s inter­na­tional peace efforts since the Bosnian War in the 1990s. There, the Inter­na­tional Affairs major helped design a for­ward plan­ning process for the OHR, which out­lined how it would handle cer­tain issues in the coming elec­tion year, such as cor­rup­tion, par­lia­men­tary stale­mates, and elec­toral cam­paigns char­ac­ter­ized by nation­alist rhetoric.

It was a time when a lot of dif­ferent points of con­tro­versy that had been building up for a long time were coming to a head simul­ta­ne­ously,” Lom­bardo said. “But I saw the influ­ence diplo­mats have in a post-​​conflict setting.”

Her work in for­eign ser­vices did not end with that co-​​op. Ear­lier this month Lom­bardo was named one of 20 recip­i­ents of the 2015 Thomas R. Pick­ering Grad­uate For­eign Affairs Fel­low­ship, making her the first North­eastern stu­dent to receive the honor.

Admin­is­tered for the U.S. Depart­ment of State by the Woodrow Wilson Foun­da­tion, the Pick­ering Fel­low­ship iden­ti­fies and cul­ti­vates out­standing col­lege stu­dents and recent grad­u­ates whose aca­d­emic back­grounds match the skill set needed by the State Depart­ment and who are ded­i­cated to rep­re­senting U.S. inter­ests abroad.

Lom­bardo will enroll this fall at the Tufts Uni­ver­sity Fletcher School, where she will study for her master’s degree in law and diplo­macy. As part of the fel­low­ship, she will also com­plete two intern­ships: one at the State Depart­ment and another at an embassy abroad. After grad­u­a­tion, Lom­bardo must com­plete at least five years of ser­vice as a For­eign Ser­vice Officer.

It’s cer­tainly a very intim­i­dating com­mit­ment,” Lom­bardo said. “But after working in Bosnia, I didn’t want to leave and I enjoyed the work. It con­firmed for me that I could see myself doing this as a career.”

During her studies and For­eign Ser­vice Officer com­mit­ment, Lom­bardo plans to focus on con­flict res­o­lu­tion, with a par­tic­ular emphasis on the post-​​conflict period. She acknowl­edged that those involved in nego­ti­a­tions often think they can move on once a peace agree­ment is reached. But she dis­missed that notion, saying that’s when the work really gets started.

I gained a pas­sion for that in Bosnia, because it has been 20 years since the peace agree­ment and there are still so many prob­lems and a real tan­gible lack of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” Lom­bardo said.

– By Joe O’Connell

More Stories

Photo of the Capitol Building at night

High stakes for politics, SCOTUS in 2018

01.04.2018
Photo of the crashed truck that was used in the October 31st attack in Manhattan.

Weaponizing Language: How the meaning of “allahu akbar” has been distorted

11.08.2017
Northeastern logo

Why I love studying Spanish

05.29.20
Uncategorized