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A Student’s Perspective on the UNA Mid-Atlantic Conference / Members Day at the UN

February 19, 2013

This blog entry is written by a a member of blogging community and expresses his personal  views.

Michael William, Saint Peter’s University Undergraduate, Business Management and Economics Major and  Philosophy Minor

Yesterday (February 4), I attended the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) members’ day. Held in the North Lawn Building at the UN Headquarters in NY, the venue could not have been more ideal for this event. I found myself immediately impressed with the UNA-USA staff’s professionalism and knowledge.

The UNA-USA Members’ Day program included speakers like the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, United Nations Foundation President Kathy Calvin, the Permanent Representative of France to the UN: Ambassador Gérard Araud, and many other distinguished guests. Such an illustrious cast of speakers really made the day a great experience.

The Hon. Jan Eliasson gave the first keynote address. In it he delivered a very candid look at the current and future role the UN must play in world affairs. He highlighted the need for greater global cooperation and further even development in many developing nations. He argued, that there is a link between stability, development, and prosperity stating; “There can be no peace without development, and no development without peace.” A statement that he later backed up by adding, “Without respect for human rights and the rule of law, all our efforts will fail.”

From the UN’s views on climate change, to the future role of UN peacekeeping efforts, the entire day was filled with informative and enlightening conversation. Often I found myself scrambling to write down something of interest, just as something else, equally important, was being said. By the end of the day my notebook was full and my hands ached. Regardless of the potential “early onset” of arthritis, the all-day of taking notes may have caused, I can’t help but feel it was worth it.

Going into this UNA-USA Members’ Day, I felt as if I had a brief understanding about some of global issues we would discuss, but after today, that understanding increased significantly. The speakers were great, the staff was well organized, and I got a chance to meet people of all different kinds of backgrounds, who shared both my enthusiasm and passion for global affairs. I think you could definitely say, “I had a good time.”

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