As part of our “Americans in the UN” project to share the stories of Americans who work for the United Nations, we connected with Raluca Eddon, the Peace Consolidation and Transition Advisor in the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire.
Prior to joining the UN, she was an academic. A resident of New York City, she received her Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College and her PhD from Yale.
What is your message to Americans about the importance of the UN?
Raluca Eddon: Find out what it does – once you do, that will take you one step closer to understanding why it is important, why multilateralism matters, why it is important to bring people together around common agendas and not go it alone, even when you can go it alone. Although it can sometimes be more complicated to reach a negotiated solution to a crisis, its value comes from the negotiation and the inclusivity of that process.
After almost 13 years with the UN, I am convinced the UN does a lot of good work that goes unrecognized. Investigate before you draw any conclusions, and, when possible, travel the world to see for yourself.
Can you tell us more about your work?
RE: My area of work is political analysis, which is in a sense, more abstract, but perhaps also more wide-reaching than some of the other areas of UN intervention.
My first overseas assignment was in East-Timor in Asia where I worked for a UNDP project supporting the young Timorese Parliament. The impact of this project was significant, as it supported Members of Parliament on everything from the budget to issues of reconciliation to the drafting and analysis of legislation affecting all areas of governance, from security to service delivery to infrastructure to anti-corruption.
In Côte d’Ivoire, I support the UN Resident Coordinator on all aspects related to the transition. Côte d’Ivoire suffered a series of political crises from the late 1990s onwards, which culminated in a serious electoral crisis in 2010-2011. Since then, it has made impressive progress, and the UN Peacekeeping Mission closed in 2017, but challenges remain. My role is to support the head of the UN in his efforts to harness the strength of the UN system to ensure that the country remains on the right track.
Can you give us an example of how someone’s life has been changed by the UN’s work?
RE: The answer, I believe, is both simple and complicated. On the one hand, you have the UN’s impact during humanitarian crises and the impressive achievements of development projects that have changed the lives of millions of people for the better.
On the other hand, you have UN diplomacy and the UN’s work on governance, for example, that are a lot less tangible, yet are making a difference in many countries, even though it may not be as easy to pinpoint individual beneficiaries.
In all the countries where I have worked, I have found that one of the most important investments is in the rule-of-law – this, in many cases, is a long-term undertaking, but it has the potential to lay the foundations for good governance.