Seward Smith
Senior Political Economy Advisor
Scott Seward Smith is the Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School for International and Public Affairs.

Prior to joining USIP, Mr. Smith worked for the United Nations for thirteen years. He began his UN career as a researcher in the Decolonization Unit of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) in 1998 as a researcher. In 2000, he was deployed to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, as the political advisor to the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville. In that capacity, he played a key role in negotiating the agreement between the Bougainville rebel movement and the Papua New Guinea national government that ended the war and provided for a long-term political settlement based on political autonomy for Bougainville within the Papua New Guinea national framework.

In December 2001, Mr. Smith was appointed as the desk officer for Afghanistan for the Department of Political Affairs. He oversaw the creation of the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMA) in Afghanistan under the leadership of Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, and participated in the organization of the key early events of the Bonn process, including the Emergency Loya Jirga. In 2003, after a six-month transitional deployment to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) during the transfer of UNAMA from DPA to DPKO, he returned to DPA to lead preparations for the 2004 Afghan presidential elections and 2005 parliamentary elections on behalf of the Electoral Assistance Division (EAD). Between 2005 and 2006 he worked on a variety of elections supported by EAD, including missions to Ghana, Lebanon, Mali, the Netherlands Antilles, and Tajikistan. During this period he also led EAD's project to support Lebanon's electoral reform process (the “Boutros Commission”) and served for six months as the Special Assistant to Gérard Stoudmann, the High Representative for Elections in Côte d'Ivoire.

In 2007, Mr. Smith returned to DPKO to lead a much expanded team supporting UNAMA. He oversaw several expansions of the UNAMA budget as well as a significant revision of its mandate. In 2009 he was appointed as the Special Assistant to Kai Eide, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, and was part of the team that contributed to the resolution of the 2009 presidential election crisis.

Between 1993 and 1995, Mr. Smith worked on Afghanistan, first as an advisor to the Peshawar-based Afghan NGO Coordination Body (ANCB) and later as a project coordinator for Solidarités, a French humanitarian NGO. In the latter capacity, he led a mission to Kabul in 1994 to set up Solidarités first urban project in Kabul aimed at improving public health through increasing access to fresh water and reducing waste in the city. He ran this project between January and November of 1995, greatly increasing the number of beneficiaries that it addressed.

Mr. Smith has an undergraduate degree in international relations from Georgetown University (1991) and a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University (1998). He is the author of Afghanistan's Troubled Transition: Politics, Peacekeeping, and the 2004 Presidential Elections (FirstForum/Lynne Reinner, 2011), which covers the early years of the Bonn process, the 2004 and 2005 elections, and provides an insider's perspective on the contentious 2009 election and the UN's attempts to avert a political breakdown. He is the author of numerous articles on Afghanistan, democratization, and peacebuilding as well as several published pieces of short fiction.

Selected Publications, Reports and Lectures
Afghanistan's Troubled Transition: Politics, Peacekeeping and the 2004 Afghan Presidential Election (First Forum Press/Lynne Rienner, 2011).

“The Bull in Afghanistan's China Shop”,, March 27, 2013.

“Kabul Bankrupt? Verdict Portends Broad Consequences for Afghanistan”, March 11, 2013,

“Making More out of Less: How NATO States Can Seize the Opportunities of Shrinking Resources in Afghanistan” (with Michael Harsch), International Relations and Security Network,, July 24, 2012.

“The Post-Mortem on Tokyo: What did it mean for Afghanistan”, July 12, 2012,

“Believing in the Ritual? Or why the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan must be followed by a 'dialogue of deeds'”, July 5, 2012,

“Lost in Transition: A Political Strategy for Afghanistan” (with Andrew Wilder),, May 22, 2012.

“The 2004 Afghan Presidential Elections” Encyclopedia Article for Afghanistan Analysts Network (forthcoming).

“Making Withdrawal Work: A Smaller U.S. Footprint Will Make Afghanistan More Stable” Foreign Affairs online, 5 August 2011.

“International Electoral Observation as a Means of Evaluating Democracy and Promoting Respect for Civil and Political Rights” (with Gérard Stoudmann), in The Emergence of a Holistic Approach in International Affairs, eds. Maurice D. Voyame, Walter Kälin, Robert Kolb and Christophe Spenlé, (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2010).

Thematic specialisations

Conflict analysis, Elections/Democratization, Peacebuilding, Political Economy

Regional specialisations

Afghanistan/South and Central Asia, Latin America, Francophone Africa


English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dari

" TrustWorks and its Director, Josie Lianna Kaye, are very insightful and passionate about their work on trust building. Their unique methodology is very engaging and effectively translates trust into a business critical issue. Their approach is value-adding for any organisation seeking to increase its trust building capability in complex operating environments. "

Mutiu Sunmono
Country Chair Shell Companies in Nigeria and Managing Director Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC)

" The TrustWorks team is an invaluable partner in analyzing complex and sensitive conflict contexts, capable of identifying both drivers of conflict and opportunities to address the most intractable cases. Our recent experience working together in the Horn of Africa demonstrated that they are quick to adapt to new environments, swiftly applying their global expertise to specific contexts. "

Yann Lebrat
Manager, Extractive Industries Governance Adam Smith International (ASI)

" TrustWorks speaks everyone's language and is in the best position to connect business and development / peacebuilding actors; we share with TrustWorks a keen interest to help businesses have a positive impact on conflict-affected and fragile contexts. "

Andrea Iff
Senior Researcher/Project Coordinator, Business and Peace

" The TrustWorks' team members are among the most experienced in the world in their professional fields. Making their knowledge and expertise available to businesses in conflict-affected countries is an invaluable asset - for businesses and conflict-affected countries alike. "

Francesco Mancini
Senior Director of Research
International Peace Institute

" TrustWorks' approach, which links conflict prevention with sustainable economic development in conflict-affected, fragile and developing contexts, has been overlooked for too long. Bridging the gap between the private sector, local communities and national authorities alike - in order to create shared value - is an area in which Alleco Ltd. is proud to cooperate with TrustWorks. "

Jouni Leinikki
CEO, Alleco Ltd