Protest in November
Protest in March
In November 2015, I joined the FII.
In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a movement of current and former interns at the UN advocating for fair, more accessible quality internships (Quality and Equality) within the UN system. It is a relatively young movement in the phase where there’s a lot to be done, prioritites to be set and the survival to be secured. When I started, the Initiative did not even have a website and little knowledge about the possibilities to actually induce change. Now, it is much more organized, has joined forces more efficiently with the partner organisation in Geneva and has a well set-up website and social media presence, all due to the efforts of dedicated people who were willing to take up bits and pieces here and there and in total make it more coherent and efficient. However, there are many problems with the organisation of a small and constantly fluctuating initiative advocating at one of the biggest organisations with a high degree of institutional inertia – the UN. Although, I’ve withdrawn mostly from the FII since my return to Europe, I’ve learned a lot when I did my bits and pieces – about the UN, youth activism, and more.
At the end of February, my fellow scholarship holders and I, who received a stipend from German institutions to finance our stay in New York with the UN, organized a panel discussion on:
The Youth, Peace, and Security agenda and its implications for European Youth.
While the discussion did not turn out as fruitful as we had hoped, it nevertheless alluded to one of the core problems that we, and youth all over the world, face in global politics at the moment: being taken seriously – or rather: not! While I won’t mention the names of the participants and speakers (it was a rather informal discussion), I want to give you some impressions about how the discussion quickly turned out to be a signifier for the lack of voice and credibility that is given to youth.
by wallsdontlie 2013
As you know I am in New York but what am I doing here? When people ask me where I work, I have a standardised sentence by now which is very concrete, honest and will keep them from asking any further questions:
General Assembly Hall from the outside
All memberstates flags put up every day in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Secretariat Building and my 25th floor!
“I work for the United Nations Headquarters at the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the Secretariat. Within this Department, I work for the Office of ECOSOC support and coordination (OESC) and within THAT in the NGO Branch”. Deep breath!
We knew the UN is not an easy enterprise to get into, but I did a lot about it in my studies and still admit that it probably took me still2 months of my 6-months internship to get comfortable with the diverse abbreviations, responsibilities and regulations.
So here a quick overview of the UN – in a nutshell. Behind that bureaucratic monster lies one of the most glamourous and idealistic undertakings and one of the most politicized institutions of the world.
Between 30 November and 11 December this year, the leaders of the world are meeting in Paris for 21st session of the COP (Conference of Parties) to the UNFCCC, which is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Together with Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) have a special status and interest in negotiations about climate change. While SIDS are mostly threatened by a rise of water-levels due to climate change, LLDCs experience serious threats due to the melting of glaciers, their only water source. Obviously, the whole crowd of ‘stans’ is part of the latter category and Uzbekistan is together with Liechtenstein the only doubly landlocked country in the world.
While in Paris, the country representatives pledge to provide more money, commit to measurable goals etc. to manage the human-made catastrophe of climate change, there are of course also human forces that, mostly for the sake of profit, continue to work in favor of climate change, such as the Goldmining industry in Kyrgyzstan, which contaminates water resources and, together with already melting glaciers poses a threat of a flood for the country. In this post, I will address another water-related issues in Central Asia and its human origins: the Aral Sea catastrophe in Uzbekistan.