Behind the UN curtains
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February 8, 2013—
On February 1st, LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement unit welcomed Anna Halpine, founder of the World Youth Alliance (WYA), to share with students her fourteen years of distinguished work experience in the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Students from diverse academic backgrounds attended the event, though much of the captivated audience was made up of the Global Classrooms LAU Model United Nations (MUN) secretariat members. The following day, Halpine gave a second talk to the 350 MUN delegates who gathered in Irwin Auditorium to expand their knowledge base about human rights.
“Creating positive change for youth around the world remains my greatest accomplishment,” Halpine said when asked about her greatest achievement in the United Nations. “When I witness the essence of our mission in WYA, summarized in advocacy, education and culture, I consider my journey worthwhile and for that I am proud,” she continued.
The WYA is a global alliance of young people under the age of 30 who are involved in promoting the dignity of the person and building solidarity among developed and developing nations. The organization is concerned with the following questions: How is the UN development agenda set? Who decides how much money goes where? Does this agenda really respond to the needs of people at the national and sub-national levels?
A relationship was first forged between OCE and WYA in summer of 2012 when twenty LAU students were given the opportunity to attend the UN leadership and International Diplomacy Workshop, where they obtained intensive leadership training.
“Since then, the OCE unit has maintained close ties since both our organizations rest on the same pillars of leadership, international outreach and youth engagement,” explains Joseph Kanaan, OCE project management coordinator.
WYA has recently opened a regional branch in Lebanon and Halpine invited the students to become acquainted with the organization and outlined internship opportunities.
“The level of interest and eagerness to learn among the students present here is testament to the success of the MUN program,” enthused Director of LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement unit, Elie Samia.
Hayder Ghandour, third- year LAU political science student said the event was quite thought provoking: “As Lebanese students, it is important for us to remember that philosopher and diplomat Charles Malik was instrumental in the drafting of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this is something that all youth should support and defend,” he added.
“As a global gathering of youth under the banner of upholding human dignity, the WYA reminds us that there are abiding universal values in all cultures that respect this dignity and protect it against all forms of abuse, whether overt or subtle,” says Dr. Habib C. Malik, associate professor of history and cultural studies at LAU Byblos. As a member of the International Board of the WYA, Malik was instrumental in facilitating the legal process of creating a regional branch office of the WYA in Beirut.
The WYA currently represents over one million young people in over 160 countries.
Other stories in: Outreach and Civic Engagement Office.