UNA-USA Youth Leader
1. Why is the United Nations important to the world?
The United Nations, more than anything, acts as a stage where leaders of the world collaborate to maintain peace and promote development. The anarchical structure of politics in our global society makes it really difficult for cooperation and progress to exist without the intervention of an international body, and though regional blocs are highly effective, the United Nations is the most prominent body that works on a global scale and addresses a vast amount of issues. From economic and social revision plans, to resolutions pertaining to national security, protection of sovereignty, and human rights advocacy, the United Nations does all that which no country can do alone. Through its various committees, it helps lower rates of malnutrition in Pakistan, aids refugees in the Central African Republic, fosters cease-fires in the Middle East, saves forests in South America, helps the economy of failed European Nations and fights terrorism on a global scale. Though characterized by critics as over-ambitious and in need of improvement in terms of efficacy, the United Nations undeniably benefits both American and international interests, and global society cannot afford to be less idealistic, for its purpose is eternal prosperity. Without the United Nations acting as a means of transaction between states and an enforcer of human rights, the world would be much more unsafe and would certainly not be experiencing the period of enhanced global peace that is today.
2. How do the UN and its work affect your work or life?
I, personally, have been working with the United Nations since I was 14, so it has always been a great part of both my academic and social life. Spending time in Model UN Conferences in high school later turned into volunteering, staffing conferences, and now, in college, advocating for the UN-U.S. relationship. This led me to my major, and will be what leads me to my future career in life. The work I do for the United Nations, on a day-to-day basis, has taught me a lot about the world around me. I currently see politics in everything, I understand what one has to gain or lose from a situation, and I have learned to respect those who perform actions that do not necessarily grant them excess benefit. Of course, on a grander scale, there are many more things for which I must be appreciative of other than education. Every day, I can go to class without having to worry as much about attacks from other states or pandemics breaking out. Stability, which is something most Americans nowadays take for granted, was definitely not expected in the 1930's, or 1940's, before the United Nations was established. Safety and security, two terms that seemed ideal and unrealistic, have now become common, and that certainly has to do with the evolution and empowerment of the United Nations throughout the 20th century. Of course, that is not the case on a global scale, but I know for a fact that every day that passes, Third World countries grow a step closer to development, and because of the UN’s work in such nations, one day the entire world will experience the same prosperity that America does.
3. Why should Americans care about the UN’s work?
Americans should care about the work of the United Nations because as a country that aims to be a leader in the global spectrum, the U.S. must do all it can to enhance international success. Eliminating hunger and disease, providing people with their basic rights of speech, religion, and press, and ensuring that all are treated equally within a nation are humanitarian issues that all First World nations should aim to address, especially those who wish to lead and set an example.
Though morally the United States has an obligation to aid as many nations as it can, there are also many benefits that emerge from such aid. First, through our active membership at the United Nations, we can expand our foreign policy goals, enhance our economy, and ensure national security. Trade agreements, treaties establishing customs and boarders, and cease-fires in situations where our allies are involved, are some examples of times when the United Nations allows the United States to further its goals much more efficiently than it ever could without its membership. Of course, just like any nation, the U.S. also has to contribute to the United Nations in order for those goals to be achieved, through both voluntary and assessed funds. However, UN statistics currently say that for every $1 the U.S. contributes to the UN, it gains back $1.66, so even if the average American is not interested in the advancement of development goals, or the success of our foreign policy, though he/she certainly should be, he/ she should at least take some time and study the beneficial economic deal.
4. In your opinion what has been the UN’s best moment up until now?
There are many things the United Nations does that are praiseworthy, but what I personally deem as the most important is peacekeeping. Though food aid, refugee assistance, and development missions are extremely beneficial, I think that the UN peacekeeping forces still deserve more appreciation, for they prevent many more mishaps from happening and participate even when there is nothing to be gained, as opposed to regional blocs that only help in exchange for something else. With 15 active missions today, UN peacekeepers are the world's main source of peace-enforcement and the most effective way of preventing havoc in many nations. For this reason, I think that the first official mission of the peacekeepers, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) , authorized in 1948, and still ongoing, to monitor the Arab-Israeli cease-fire is the United Nation's brightest moment to date. It has set a precedent that has helped to save lives in more than 60 nations, like Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, Yemen, Liberia, and the Congo. Though Arab-Israeli tensions may still not have been resolved even seven decades later, it is fair to say that if it weren't for the UNTSO, the multiple cease-fires that occurred wouldn't have, and many more lives would have been lost.
5. What do you think is the most exciting opportunity for the UN going forward?
I think that the United Nations has much more left to do within this century. The collapse of many non-democratic governments in the Middle East during the Arab Spring has given the UN an agenda with which it can work within this decade, to promote democratic and economic development in those nations, and also an incentive to promote the establishment of democracies in other authoritarian regimes. By eliminating civil violations and establishing human rights in every single nation, the UN will move much closer to reaching its very ambitious goals, and the world, in return, will generally become a much more moral place. As a secondary way of defending human rights and policing civil violations, the United Nations needs to work on nuclear disarmament. By depriving regimes of such leverage and power, the United Nations will be able to negotiate and enforce policies upon them without fearing the possibility of rash retaliation strategies, and thus, help its citizens to the greatest possible extent.
6. What is the most effective element of UNA-USA’s work?
Advocacy. UNA-USA has done so much to raise awareness on the United Nations, how it works, and its relationship with the United States. Informing, educating, and involving youth within its network has made UNA-USA what it is today, and has a great role to play in how close we are to the UN as a nation. Many of our country's leaders participated in UNA-USA activities in the past, and that really allows for our successful UN-U.S. relationship. Even on a smaller scale, however, UNA-USA teaches students how the UN works and why it is that not all of its goals are achieved. Every student that participates in Global Classrooms, whether with or without an award, leaves the conference with a deeper understanding of international politics and the anarchical structure of state relations. Every Campus Advocate in UNA-USA on universities makes sure that there is a group that educated on the United Nations and teaches other students what UNA-USA has taught him or her in return. UNA-USA's advocacy network is huge and extremely successful because it trains leaders well enough that they are able to leave a legacy to help the organization in return, and is by far, its greatest element to date.