Inside the United Nations

Ursinus students took part in a historic moment recently when members of the United Nations Security Council met with several hundred students from colleges and high schools around the world to exchange views on the major global issues of their generation.

“Some of the students traveled from Europe and China for the event while others were from New York City and the surrounding region,” says the Hon. Joseph H. Melrose, professor of International Relations and the College’s Ambassador-in-Residence. He invited Ursinus International Relations students to attend the Dec. 23 event. “The students packed the Economic and Social Council Hall and their presence attracted a great deal of attention from both U.N. staff and other U.N. diplomats who were able to watch on UN TV.”

Melrose, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone and a member of the Ursinus class of 1966, is Acting U.S. Representative for Management and Reform, U.S. mission to the U.N., and was President of the model U.N.

“This experience was amazing,” says Carolyn Smith 2011, who plans to attend graduate school for International Relations and work for an international nongovernmental organization to promote human rights. “The students at Youth Day were able to listen to members of the U.N. Security Council discuss issues that students brought to the table. Countries like China, Japan, the United States and Lebanon expressed their views on international peace and security problems such as the situation in North Korea, shortage of food and water supplies in war zones, and the Iranian nuclear program,” says Smith, an International Relations and French double major from Harrisburg, Pa. The three most pressing problems for her generation, Smith believes, are nuclear weapons, global climate change and terrorism.

“It was pretty cool to be in a place where you know that 192 states meet to talk about world problems,” says Tim Blaine 2012, who is from Alexandria, Va. “It was my first time at the U.N. and a little different than what I expected. I was waiting for this huge, grandiose hall with a bunch of flags. It was pretty normal though, at least around the Security Council,” says Blaine, who plans to pursue a career in the military.

“One highlight was probably a question one young girl asked who was born in China but immigrated to the U.S. and is now a citizen,” says Blaine, a political science major with a minor in history and international relations. “She asked what the U.N. was going to do about the North Korean “problem” a day after they had an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the North Korean artillery strikes against South Korea. All of the delegates looked at each other and said they would come back to that question.”

Blaine thinks the major problems facing the world are terrorism and nuclear proliferation. “Terrorist organizations getting their hands on nuclear weapons is the most pressing and dangerous thing to me,” he says. “The UN is an important institution where states participate in diplomacy and discuss the world’s problem.”

Alanna Coyle 2011, an International Relations major from Fairfax County, Va., appreciated the chance to see “inside the Security Council and some of the other rooms where the different bodies of the UN function and to hear the representatives views on different issues that our generation will face when it comes to ensuring peace and security on an international level.”

Jessica McIlhenny 2011 says it was interesting to “be a part of something that brought together the whole world’s youth… to create a dialogue among the world and get us to start thinking of problems and concerns that we, as a world, will have to take on as future leaders.”