January 28, 2013 - by Peter
Written by Mahnoor
heard the ancient Latin expression, “si vis pacem, para bellum,” meaning, “If you
wish for peace, prepare for war.” This expression was created in either the 4th
or 5th century and to the modern eye, may seem antiquated in an era
of multilateralism and interdependence. Unfortunately, the principles behind
this expression are still at full force today, with countries overwhelmingly
using war as a tool for resolving disputes in the name of maintaining peace.
So, when Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, president of the UN Security Council,
started his speech at Adelphi with the words, “if we desire peace, we must
prepare for peace,” he sent out the strong message that working towards attaining
a peaceful society means restructuring our ways of thinking. Desiring peace
means that we must invest in creating agents for peace.
theme of his talk, which took place during this past fall semester, was the
centrality of peace and equality in an increasingly tumultuous world. He framed
the entire discussion around how peace-building efforts need to keep two
important considerations in mind:
inclusion and equal participation of women in political and economic discourse.
sustainable development in mind so that we won’t forget the generations after
us in trying to better ours.
adamantly proclaimed, “Without women, none of the UN’s Millennium Development
Goals will be accomplished.” Women have long been successful in creating
solutions for sustainable development, such as Rachel Carson, the American
author whose book Silent Spring exposed
the dangers of pesticide poisoning and spurred the environmental movement. Ambassador
Chowdhury spoke precisely about the unique role women play in creating peaceful
solutions and using dialogue as a platform in doing so.
that in mind, the ambassador offered some ways in which we can go about
including women in peacekeeping efforts. First off, he said that it’s crucial
to focus on gender inequality, which leads to income inequality, and bars women
from reaching positions in which they can contribute to dialogue. He suggested
that countries’ budgets should be examined to see how much a government is
spending on initiatives for empowering women. A crucial piece of legislation
that he mentioned was the UN Security Council resolution 1325, which reaffirms
the essential role women take part in conflict-resolution, especially in
war-torn regions. The initiative urges member states and different entities to increase
representation of women in different fields.
in the audience that morning, I took the Ambassador’s words to heart. Right now
we are lacking the unique female youth perspectives in dialogue. The inclusion
of such voices gives room for diverse and fresh solutions, which are critical. After
the Ambassador’s lecture, I felt even more grateful for my position as a Youth
Representative. This unique opportunity has allowed me to start becoming part
of this dialogue and work towards offering my own voice.
May 22, 2012 - by Peter
Written by Michelle Consorte
"They will remember that we were sold,
but not that we were strong.
They will remember that we were bought,
but not that we were brave."
- William Prescott, former slave
Between the 16th and 19th centuries 15-20 million Africans were forcibly moved from their homes and sold for considerable profit into a life of slavery. By the 17th century the trade was in full swing, reaching its peak towards the end of the 18th century. In 1807 the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was passed in the British Empire, and in 1833, slavery as a whole was abolished. However, by that time, innumerable damage had been done, the effects of which are still felt today. Yet, we must not dwell only on the struggles of the past, but on the successful outcomes of those struggles, and on those who were victorious (both the famous and nameless) despite their suffering.
“But in those who opposed slavery then and now, we also celebrate people at their best: the brave slaves who rose up despite moral risk; the abolitionists who challenged the status quo; the activists today who fight intolerance and injustice. Whether renowned or unsung, these heroes show that the pursuit of human dignity is the most powerful force of all,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a speech made in 2011.
“I would like to pay homage to the nameless heroes who took the future into their own hands so quickly [indicative] of hope and optimism…Millions of heroes who were creators of families, arts, cuisines, languages...Their impact is extraordinary,” said award-winning historian Sylviane Diouf during the briefing.
In light of Women’s History Month, assistant professor at Quinnipiac University Sasha Turner discussed the violent crimes enacted specifically against enslaved women: control over their bodies and childrearing practices. This was a very compelling topic which is, to the best of my knowledge, not often explored. Dr. Turner described how slave masters sought to control their slaves’ reproductive habits and denied mothers’ claims to their children past the age of 12 months. This was a new system of domination, and a disturbing one at that, which masters used to achieve their own goals.
African American writers like Phyllis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) were highlighted during the briefing for their great accomplishment of publishing their works during a time of terrible racial inequality and oppression. Now, what does all of this mean for today?
It means that we need to work together to abolish modern forms of slavery like human trafficking and child soldiers. It means we need to break down racial barriers and stereotypes — ramifications of slavery still widespread today. How can we do this?
By teaching ideals of equality and human rights to all people, especially young people. By changing the landscape and creating open dialogue. By emphasizing and building upon the work of civil society, the UN and similar bodies. By asking why humans enslave other humans at all, and getting to the root of problems of social inequality. Most of all, by being vigilant as individuals and coming together as a society to complete the transformation to full equality that those we are now commemorating began so long ago.
This particular briefing was conducted on March 23, 2012 in honor of the National Day of Remembrance on March 25; it was part of a week of commemorative events. Many other activities on this theme also continued throughout the spring. Plans are currently underway to create a permanent memorial at the UN celebrating the unsung heroes of this time period.
"Real life heroes" <http://www.un.org>
April 30, 2012 - by Michelle
Written by Michelle Consorte
Whether you’re working on that research paper or exploring an issue to satisfy your own curiosity, sifting through all of the information provided by the United Nations can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are whole bunch of useful and simple tools to help you get the information you need from the right source.
Here are just a few:
Let’s start from the very beginning. The United Nations website, www.un.org, is available at all times in six different languages.
The UN Yearbook, published annually, is another great starting point. This source provides a comprehensive overview of the UN’s major concerns and notable activities, as well as all major General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council resolutions. To view all yearbooks since 1946, go here: www.unyearbook.un.org/.
Press releases issued by the United Nations can tell you about new and important events at the UN, as well as public announcements. These can be accessed here: www.un.org/en/unpress/index.asp.
For documents and other items catalogued by the UN library, check out this link: www.unbisnet.un.org/. For Adelphi students, this works similarly to the ALICAT system at Swirbul Library.
In addition to all of the above, another educational tool is: www.cyberschoolbus.un.org.
If you’re more of a fan of paper products, there are a ton of printed United Nations resources too. These include, UN Handbook created by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs; A Global Agenda: Issues Before the United Nations created by UNA-USA; Sixty Ways the UN Makes a Difference, published by the UN Department of Public Information; and Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About (http://www.un.org/en/events/tenstories/08/). Of course, there’s always the original United Nations Charter available in the UN gift shop and online at www.un.org/en/documents/charter/.
There are also a handful of social media platforms you can check out for daily-updated information. The United Nations has a Facebook page, Twitter account, RSS feed, Tumblr page a blog called UN Pulse), Flickr account, Slide Share and YouTube channels, just to name a few.
Really lost? Fear not! The United Nation’s Dag Hammarskjöld Library offers in-person trainings you can schedule and online tutorials you can take any time. The latter are available on the UN’s YouTube and Slide Share channels 24-7.
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” –Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
April 18, 2012 - by Peter
Written by Michelle Consorte
Next to an exhibit presented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) celebrating International Women’s Day (March 8) was a small sign that read: “Please do not touch.” While obviously an appeal to visitors not to touch the exhibit and run the risk of damaging it, for me, the sign also had another meaning: no more violence against women. On a secondary and more metaphoric level, I thought the sign was an important and telling part of the exhibit itself.
The UNFPA crafted this exhibition as a tribute to the strength of women and a promise to give them the support and protection they need to take care of themselves and their communities.
This year’s International Women’s Day was devoted, not just to women in general, but specifically to women in the world’s rural areas. Although more women than ever before are gaining greater empowerment and are realizing their potential, this particular population continues to be discriminated against, oppressed, violated, and held back in fulfilling their potential at some of the highest rates around the globe.
Not only does the maltreatment of rural women hurt individual women, it also harms society as a whole. “If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise by 4 percent, strengthening food and nutrition security and relieving as many as 150 million people from hunger…Investing in rural women is a smart investment in a nation’s development,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his official message on International Women’s Day.
The exhibit, besides the tiny sign, featured facts about women which are both extremely important and terribly disturbing to learn. These included the fact that 70 percent of women experience some form of violence in their lifetimes and that a woman in South Africa is raped every 83 seconds—only 1 in twenty of these acts is ever reported to the police. Another fact: women perform about two-thirds of the world’s work, but only earn 10 percent of the world’s income and own only 1 percent of its property. A third: 80 percent of today’s 30 million refugees and internationally displaced persons (IDPs) are women and children. These numbers are staggering.
Also featured in the exhibit were several quilts created by over 150 women from 12 different countries including Kosovo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. Three organizations spearheaded the quilting project. To learn more about them, visit: www.advocacynet.org, www.whiteribbonalliance.org, and www.quiltforchange.org.
Although we’ve come a long way in working towards full-fledged women’s rights, there is still much that needs to be done to reach full gender equality. The landmark resolution, UNSCR 1325, passed by the UN Security Council in October 2000 is an essential stepping stone in calling for governments to protect women from violence during wartime and to make them leaders in keeping peace and rebuilding societies after the fighting. Yet, unless we continue to move forward it will remain just that: a stepping stone without a subsequent level.
“…There is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity that are their birthright and that will guarantee their well-being…I urge Governments, civil society and the private sector to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women – as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable and untapped natural resource,” added United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
This exhibit is currently on display in the UN’s lobby and is open to visitors. For more information on this and other exhibits, go here: http://visit.un.org/wcm/content/site/visitors/lang/en/exhibits/
Be an advocate and an example for women’s right. Be a part of the solution.
April 18, 2012 - by Peter
Written by Anustha Shrestha
The transition of a country into democracy usually is not smooth; it requires a lot of nurturing to establish strong democratic institutions within a country. The UNDPI/NGO briefing on Feb 23, 2012 focused on the role played by civil society in strengthening democracy in a nation, especially those that are still in a phase of transition. The panel consisted of the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Tunisia to the United Nation, Nejmeddine Lakhal, Senior Political Affairs Officer in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations covering South Sudan, Sajid Khan, the Executive Head of United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), Roland Rich and New York and Representative and Advocacy Officer at Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), Henrietta Williams. All the speakers presented examples from different parts of the world, but reached to a similar conclusion that civil society does play a crucial role in the smooth transition of a nation towards democracy.
Mr. Roland Rich’s presentation spanned across different countries all around the world and gave an overview about the correlation between civil society and democracies. Mr. Rich stressed the importance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in bringing positive reforms in the society and expressed that civil society is inextricably linked to democracy. He referred to Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century political thinker, and held that a strong civil society serves as a boulevard against tyranny and is required to raise awareness and voice, for the contestation of ideas and to build social capital. He gave examples of UNDEF funded NGOs all over the world — in Egypt, Tanzania, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Mongolia, Myanmar — to clarify how civil societies have been bringing positive changes in the countries.
However, he also stressed one specific deterrent to the free development of civil society. Ironically, the major impediment to the growth of strong civil societies, he believes, is what he calls the GONGOs - Government Operated Non-government Organizations. GONGOs are organizations that are often organized and supported by governments. They do not advocate for radical changes and just comply with the current system. Such organizations are well-funded and also prevent other more radical organizations from fostering. Furthermore, other governments also create real barriers to the free development of NGOs. He gave an example of the Community Radio Project at Ghana, which involves setting up radio stations in order to allow people to get involved in effective discussions on various topics in their local dialects. However, the government did not give a license to such radio stations, and instead only allowed commercial radio stations to be set up. He concluded that although civil societies have manifold positive impacts on the society, they face many challenges. Therefore, he appealed to the audience and asked us to raise voices in defense of civil societies in a global context.
Although we have come across the topic of civil society may times and must be aware about its important connection to democracy, I personally never thought about GONGOs being enemies to the efficient growth of civil society. After listening to Mr. Rich elucidate his concerns, I now understand his point and can think of examples of how different opposing factions might emerge in a young democracy in transition and might mislead people to advance a particular agenda. Therefore, it becomes very necessary to make people aware about these risks and help them figure out the best ways to safeguard their newly founded democracies. But the question still remains — how can we effectively spread awareness in regions around the where the vital medium of spreading information, the GONGOs, may actually misguide people?
April 17, 2012 - by Peter
Adelphi University is proud to announce that students Michelle Consorte ’12 and Anustha Shrestha ’15, have been selected to serve as the University's "UN Youth Representatives,” as part of United Nations Department of Public Information’s (DPI) "NGO Relations Youth Initiative." The United Nations now allows affiliated NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to annually appoint two representatives to serve as youth liaisons. This new opportunity is being coordinated by Adelphi’s newly formed International Leadership Coordinating Committee.
Consorte and Shrestha will have the opportunity to attend weekly briefings on international affairs at the UN Headquarters in New York City, and will write a blog for Adelphi about relevant developments, which will allow them to communicate and distribute information about UN NGO activities to the Adelphi
community. The representatives will act as a link connecting Adelphi's student body to the UN. Additionally, they will engage and work with other UN Youth Representatives from fellow NGOs from around the world in collaborative projects and initiatives at the UN, bringing the voice of the youth to the forefront of conversations (and debates) on international affairs and the Millennium Development Goals. Consorte and Shrestha will participate in youth representative training, as well as specialized training in NGO strategic communications.
Michelle Consorte, from Greenlawn, NY, is an English major with a communications minor. She is a proud member of the Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) Program and has “thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity it's presented [her] with.” Consorte has a number of outstanding accomplishments and has participated in Adelphi’s Community Fellows Program and Bard College’s Program on Globalization and International Affairs. She has made the Dean’s Lists every semester (2008-2011) and has been inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society. Over the past five years, she also has raised significant funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Anustha Shrestha is an economics major and international student from Kathmandu, Nepal. Shrestha is involved on campus as a member of Circle K International, International Student Society and Student Government Association. Her other honors include a first place win in the Ambassador of Pakistan Essay Writing Contest (2009), and a Best Speaker award in the United Nations Development Program and Pragya Foundation National Debate (2008).
The UN Department of Public Information acknowledges the importance of youth in its work with Non-Governmental Organizations. Over the past two years, it has increased its youth activities and has allowed for more visible participation of youth representatives in its work. The initial step was to ensure that NGO delegations to the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference had a youth representative participating. After the successful participation of youth during the 62nd UN DPI/NGO Conference that took place in Mexico in 2009, it was decided that the youth participation should be increased. Now, designated youth representatives can also participate in regular UN DPI activities throughout the year.
For more information on Adelphi University, please visit adelphi.edu.
To learn more about Adelphi’s involvement with the UN, please visit adelphi.edu/ilcc.
To find out more information on the UN Youth Representatives, please visit un.org.
About Adelphi University: Adelphi is a world-class, modern university with excellent and highly relevant programs where students prepare for lives of active citizenship and professional careers. Through its schools and programs—The College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, and the Schools of Nursing and Social Work—the coeducational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and its centers in Manhattan, Hauppauge, and Poughkeepsie, the University, chartered in 1896, maintains a commitment to liberal studies, in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.
About Adelphi’s International Leadership Coordinating Committee (ILCC): The ILCC coordinates activities with all of the elements at Adelphi working to actualize the University goal of increased relevance in a changing world. More specifically, the committee proposes guidelines and priorities for the University's international activities regarding the following areas: education abroad, international partnerships, international population services, international faculty development, internationalization of the curriculum and co-curricular activities.