As the US has desended into mass protests, I sit in one of my favorite places on earth – the United Nations – and listen to hundreds of youth from around the world actively discussing one of the most pressing issues on the international stage: implementing the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.
For those that don’t know much about the UN, here is a basic overview:
Contrary to what the new US regime believes, the UN is a forum where individuals from around the world – not just world leaders, but also non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – meet to discuss topics of interest to nations around the world (not just “a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time“). Trump did get one thing right: the UN is a forum through which people are able to get together and talk, but it is not pointless. The UN is the only forum in the world – and in the history of the world – where national governments of every nation in the world (exceptions being Palestine, Taiwan, and Kosovo which are all disputed territories [if you are interested in why, let me know and I’ll happily explain!]) and civil societies (aka NGOs) are able to meet and discuss issues of importance to them.
Through the UN, the world has been able to pursue a wide variety of projects to better the quality of life worldwide. In honor of the UN’s recent 70th birthday (Octoer 24th, 2015), they released a list of 70 successes the UN has had. These include: preventing nuclear proliferation, clearing landmines, combating sexual assault in conflict zones, fighting hunger, improving global trade, acting as a global thinktank, improving literacy and education, ending apartied in South Africa, promoting the rights of disabled peoples, providing safe drinking water, helping disaster victims and refugees, eradicating diseases such as polio and small pox, etc. People can easily look at the UN and say: “Look at the world; there are conflicts all over; the UN has clearly failed.” But this is an ignorant conclusion – no, the UN has not prevented all conflicts. The world still has many issues, but those issues would be exponentially greater without the work of the UN. As previous UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld said, “It has been said that the United Nations was not created in order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell.”
Over the next two weeks, I will be participating in the UN Economic and Social Council Youth Forum (Jan 30-31) and the UN Commission on Social Development (Feb 1-10). In honor of this, I will be creating a new series on my blog: “Getting to Know the UN,” outlining the UN, how it works, and why it is so incredibly important to support. [Side note: if you have any topics you want me to specifically address, let me know. I’ve spent the last 13 years of my life studying the UN, and I’ll happily teach anyone anything they want about it!]
Also, fangirl moment: OMG I HAVE A UN GROUNDPASS AND IT HAS MY NAME AND PICTURE ON IT OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOGMOMGOMG THIS IS ALMOST AS GOOD AS SEEING BAN KI MOON (previous UN SecGen) SPEAK AHHHHHHHHHH 😁😁😁😁😁😁 Okay, enough fangirling, but really though. UN Groundpass. So happy.