AfREC Postgrad Fellow completes productive fieldwork trip to the US and Africa

AfREC Postgraduate Fellow Seth Appiah-Mensah, a UWA PhD candidate in Political Science & International Relations (School of Social Sciences), recently completed a productive research fieldwork trip to the United States and three African countries to inform his project on African peace and security.

Seth is also a veteran peacekeeper and UN staff member. Prior to coming to UWA in October 2017, he was the Chief of Mission Support Planning Service at the UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For over ten years, he worked in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN Headquarters in New York where he played a lead role in the planning and management of several UN and African Union (AU) missions, such as UNAMID (Darfur), MINURCAT (Chad), AFISMA (Mali), MISCA/MINUSCA (CAR) and AMISOM (Somalia). He also served in peacekeeping operations in Liberia (ECOMOG) and Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

Seth was a member of the Ghana Armed Forces (Navy) for more than 23 years and held senior positions, including Commanding Officer Ghana Navy Ship YOGAGA, Military Advisor AMIS (Darfur) and the Aide de Camp to the President of Ghana (2002-2004). He has published articles on maritime security and peace and security issues across Africa in international journals. Seth has a masters degree in maritime policy from the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is also graduate of Britannia Royal Naval College, UK, US Naval War College, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Command and Staff College, Jaji, Nigeria.

Below, Seth reports for AfricaNarratives on his recent PhD research field trip:


As part of my PhD project, I spent the first year of my candidature combing through extensive literature to develop my theoretical framework and thesis statement, which is to interrogate the concept and practice of security partnerships in Africa with the aim of identifying how pan-African responses to grave circumstances, such as political violence, can be more efficient and effective. In my second year, I then embarked on fieldwork from 14 January-30 March 2019 to validate and, in most cases, challenge some of these theoretical ideas. My fieldwork took place in four countries: the United States, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Gabon, with the last two being my research case studies.

In the United States, I met more than 90 per cent of my target sample, including several UN officials who work extensively on Africa. I also met with several academic experts in New York and Washington, D.C., to obtain their insights on my topic.

I then flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and home of the African Union, landing on the same day the annual AU Summit was taking place. All attempts to visit the AU compound during the summit to see African leaders at work failed miserably as the AU had gone high-tech this time round and provided delegates with photographic ID for this year’s summit (although I later learnt I did not knock on all the right doors). However, after the Summit I co-located to the AU Commission and the rest, as they say, is history. I met with key people working on different aspects of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and other senior AU and UN officials. The collaboration was excellent but very time consuming as most meetings couldn’t be confirmed ahead of time. I also engaged with academics and other analysts from the Institute of Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, and Amani Africa.