By Tien Phan
On February 23, 2018, the United Nations Association at Seton Hall University had the privilege of being a part of the United Nations Global Engagement Summit with other world leaders. Gathering together in front of the U.N.’s building, Daniel Kim, a senior in international relations with a minor in business administration, says, “I believe that this particular summit is the single-most important event to not only our country, but also the world in general. This summit brings people together and presents them an opportunity to solve essential issues such as women’s rights, inequality, human rights, and of course, our survival as human species.”
Usually known as Members’ Day in previous years, this once a year event gives United Nations leaders and advocates an opportunity to participate in a series of dynamic and informative discussions regarding challenging issues facing every members of the United Nations.
Excitement can be seen very early in the summit as participants started to engage in not only casual conversation, but also professional dialogues. To keep that the excitement of that atmosphere going, Chris Whatley, executive director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, opened with a passionate joy to see members from every corner of the world. He emphasized that the General Assembly Hall is the only place where the world comes together in order to solve issues for a better world.
The event was then followed by Munira Khalif, U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, and Her Excellency Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary of the United Nations. They both emphasized the impact the youth can have on shaping the future of not only the United States, but also every country on the planet. Deputy-Secretary Amina Mohammed also focused on female involvement on the international level for world developments, and she encouraged more and more individuals to stand up for their human rights as well as others with the escalation of the Rohingya crisis regarding human rights issue.
The program was continued by a series of different breakout sessions with different focuses. These focuses were divided into two tracks: the issue track and the action track. The issue track was mostly compiled of panel discussions to further highlight existing issues such as global warming, the U.N.’s priorities, the private sector, and refugees. Moreover, the action track tackled deeper various paths for sustainable developments. These actions can be through arts, standing up for human rights, and most importantly, the use of social media as it is a growing platform for raising awareness and taking actions.
His Excellency Miroslav Lajcak, the President of the 72nd U.N. General Assembly, spoke at one of the issue tracks about priorities at the United Nations. He reintroduced the issue of migration around the world and expressed his disappointment with the U.S. for not being a part of the process. He hoped that the U.S. side would eventually come back to dealing with the migration along with the rest of the world. President Lajcak further stated the importance of the United Nations to be the mediator for world peace and human rights as the U.N. is pushing for sustainable developments throughout the planet.
The Seton Hall delegates were thrilled and honored to be a small fraction in a bigger equation. This summit gave the students additional knowledge and experience about world problems as well as what it means to work in the United Nations. Father Brian Muzas says that “this summit broads horizon, extends network, educated the mind, and inspired these young spirits.” Noelle Sorich, a junior Diplomacy major, shared her thoughts as well saying, “This summit is important because Seton Hall has been to this event for five consecutive years, and it is one of the first chapters to be delegate at the United Nations. This gives Seton Hall students a chance to communicate with other delegates in the assembly, and be a part of the conversation.”
At the closing plenary of the summit, a collective of well-known speakers summarized the challenges the U.N. is facing including the refugee, climate change, and inequality of wealth issues as well as how these challenges actually impact the U.S. and the world as a whole. Notably, Honorable Teta Banks, Chair of the UNA-USA National Council, concluded with her appreciation for all active UNA chapters across America. She stressed the importance of the willingness to take action from wherever each individual is for hope for a better tomorrow, “If not now, when? If it is not us, who else?”