Andrew Cornelius

UNA-USA Youth Leader

cornelius31. Why is the United Nations important to the world?

No single country could realistically hope to play the role that the UN does, and should never be expected to.  The United Nations is the first body created to help guide a peaceful transition to global partnership and cooperation.  There were no real previous standards to take from, no how-to book, just the obvious need.  As the UN progresses and further achieves goals, we can all benefit from the guidance of an international body that wants the best for all people, from all countries. 

2. How do the UN and its work affect your work or life?

My life and work has been focused on empowerment. The establishment of the Millennium Development Goals in particular has impacted me greatly.  Learning about these goals and the work being done during college completely changed the course of my life; from being “half-aware” and engaged in supporting global development efforts to realizing I could dedicate all of my time to making a positive impact on the lives of others.  Whether developing health education programs in Peru or advocating for immigrant worker rights, the principles and practices set by the UN has both influenced me positively and set high standards for me to aspire toward. Apart from my current volunteer efforts, I have developed a professional life that enables me to help organizations better meet their missions in global and local development while creating a better understanding of global issues.  It’s entirely possible I would not be where I am today without the UN.

3. Why should Americans care about the UN’s work?

As nations grow closer together economically, socially and technologically, it becomes less possible for a single nation to stand and grow alone.  What the United States has accomplished as a country is incredible, yet far from perfect and far from complete. The UN’s role in facilitating the peaceful development of economic partnership, legal standards in global commerce and diplomatic issues, and general peacekeeping as we hit the inevitable road-bumps will only become more essential. I know that Americans will realize the increasingly personal and real impact of events across the globe. There has never been a better time to become empowered through connecting via technology, education, and networking, and the UN enables all of this to happen on a global scale. I hope that the majority of Americans will realize that the UN can be one of our greatest assets in transitioning to a peaceful and just global community.

4. In your opinion, what has been the UN’s best moment to date?

The Millennium Summit in 2000 and the resulting Millennium Development Goals have been the UN’s best moment in my lifetime. The MDG’s address issues that can seem abstract and incredibly overwhelming, but together the UN made great strides towards sustainable solutions. The simple act of identifying universal goals that would better the situation of so many people globally was one of the largest and most successful calls-to-action we have ever seen.  Government and NGO organizations the world over now have measurement standards and a road-map to work with. They were given further legitimization of previous efforts, and had a more defined global community of friends and partners who were working towards the same end.  While we may not have achieved fully all of the lofty MDG goals, the simple fact that they exist will make the UN’s post-2015 work easier to move forward from.

5. What do you think is the most exciting opportunity for the UN going forward?

I think the utilization of new technologies will enable the UN to have a much greater impact than was once possible.  Being able to leverage the power of a communication and potential action device in the hand of every person in the developing world will strengthen vaccination campaigns, health data collection and dissemination, education, as well as  humanitarian efforts in a way that we can’t even imagine yet. I also think that as more people get involved in cross-cultural exchange on social media and other communication networks, global support for the UN will increase along with our understanding and desire to be a part of a truly positive global society.

6. What is the most effective element of UNA-USA’s work?

Sharing information is the most effective element of our work together. Whether in a newsletter, a local magazine, or a state-level congressional briefing, the information that we are able to share and disseminate to create a better understanding of the programs and principles of the United Nations can only have positive results. Rarely, if ever, have I seen someone walk away from UNA-USA programming with less regard for the UN than they walked in with. Our members have the incredible opportunity to share the word of the UN with their networks, and to pull in a lot of new and relevant minds to those networks.  It’s an exciting time to be involved!



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