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Saira Amar ’21: Being an NGO Youth Representative at the UN

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December 13, 2019

Saira Amar ’21: Being an NGO Youth Representative at the UN

by Saia Amar, IS Major, Class of 2021

Not many people know, but Adelphi is an NGO that is formally associated with the UN via the Department of Global Communication! One of the many programs the DGC offers is the civil society youth representative program which consists of young people (ages ranging from 18-25) that are given advocacy positions & going to civil society briefings at the UN and various other NGO events affiliated with civil society.

As this year’s youth representative, I am using this advocacy position to heighten my educational experience via studying civil society’s interactions (aka you & me) in an observatory capacity. At the end of my youth representative term, I will be writing a reflective report highlighting my thoughts on civil society and the overall highs and lows of NGO’s. So far from the briefings I have been to, I think that members of civil society work in their own way: some provide aid to those in need, while others lobby while having the same idealistic goals in mind. Those with the same mission to collaborate/partner with each other in order to have a bigger voice to achieve their goals. These approaches are in many ways such as evoking pathos, and logos.

One event I will treasure during my term is attending the United Nations General Assembly twice – I saw 24 world leaders speak from 2 PM (the morning session ran late) to 10:30 at the 2nd day’s afternoon session and attended a briefing. To list a few of the 24… Australia, Ireland, Germany, Fiji, Kenya, Kuwait & Zimbabwe. Unlike other UN bodies, the UNGA gives everyone equality, unlike the typical hegemony of the international system in other UN bodies. Each leader talked for around 15 minutes to an hour (going above the scheduled time) stressing their commitment to the United Nations, as well as local, regional, and climate change concerns. Representatives from island states like Fiji stressed the sinking due to climate change, while the Kenyan representative talked about regionalism (Sudan & South Sudan). But, by 10:30 however, it was agreed everyone wanted to go home to prepare for the next day’s session.

This position overall feels both very intimidating and extremely exhilarating to be at the center of the international diplomacy, sitting at the same seats as well-known NGOs, and delegates alike. Personally, I’ve always dreamed of working in the UN when I grow up, so it definitely feels like a preview of the future, especially having that lanyard on your neck on the walk to Grand Central to 1st Avenue to come if I work hard enough.

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