Name: Mahmoud Ameen
Degree Program: M.A. program in International Affairs
Graduation Year: 2016
Occupation: Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN
Before enrolling at the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at The New School, Mahmoud Ameen (MA ’16) was working as an advisor at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations in New York City. In his job at the Mission, Ameen was tasked with following the deliberations of the UN Security Council and, though he had an undergraduate degree in Political Science, he believed a more focused degree would strengthen his work. Ameen was drawn to the M.A. in International Affairs at The New School because it was tailored to young professionals embarking on their careers and wishing to equip themselves with more academic expertise.
What brought you to The New School? What was your professional and educational background before you came?
Before enrolling at The New School, I pursued my undergraduate studies in Political Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. After I completed my Bachelor of Arts from UBC, I applied for a job at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations in New York. I was fortunate to become an advisor at the Mission, where the Ambassador charged me with the task of following the deliberations of the UN Security Council.
I applied to the Master of Arts program in International Affairs because I believed that a more focused degree, such as the M.A. in International Affairs, was the logical next step after I have chosen an international career. The program was well suited for me because its faculty members included both scholars and skilled professionals. It was also tailored for young professionals, such as myself, just embarking on their careers and wishing to equip themselves with more academic expertise in order to apply them to real-world challenges.
What are the most important things you learned through your program? How did what you learned translate into the work you did after graduation?
There are two points that I would like to highlight. Generally, I learned how to better translate my position into a more cohesive argument. This is extremely beneficial for me as a diplomat working at a multilateral organization such as the UN where for many of the issues I need to convince other member states to buy into the position I’m putting forward. The program provided me with the theoretical knowledge to articulate my positions and the practical know how to defend it.
The second point I would like to highlight is that there is a common theme that ran through many of the courses I took at The New School — the erosion of state control. This theme manifests itself differently under the various issues. For example, in peacekeeping, it means that the traditional peacekeeping of the UN has become increasingly less effective. Where in the past, peacekeeping meant having a force on the border between two internally stable countries, now it is increasingly morphing into peacekeeping in a country where the state lost control. Therefore, peacekeeping is evolving into peacebuilding. Also because the UN was established during the previous era of peacekeeping, the UN is still trying to deal with this outcome of the erosion of state control.
What is your current position? How did your program at The New School prepare you for it?
I am currently an adviser at the Saudi Mission and I represent Saudi Arabia at the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly, which is the Administrative and Budgetary Committee. The main dynamic at the Fifth Committee is defined by the development status of countries. In most negotiations, countries are split on the positions based on their development status. The New School program prepared me by giving me a fundamental understanding of how development is interconnected with all other issues such as peace and security and human rights. The arguments that I learned at The New School, I still use to this day to support the positions of developing countries in negotiations.