#UNGA 2019 Roundup

The U.N. General Assembly 2019 was on the 23 – 27 September 2019. It was a busy week as world leaders gathered in New York City for the 74th session of the #UNGA. 

This U.N. General Assembly comes during heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, and a worsening humanitarian situation in Venezuela. The war in Yemen as well the U.S. peace plan for the Middle East are likely to make headlines as well. UNGA also occurred days after millions of young activists and their supporters marched in thousands of cities worldwide to demand greater action on climate change. 

Nevertheless, the UN General Assembly hosts a much watched debate of leaders each year, and here at SIPA, it is a busy week for students, faculty and alumni alike.From interning to attending sessions at the UN and on campus, here’s a snapshot of what our Seeples have been up to this week: 

Supporting the Chilean Delegation for the UNGA

Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20, worked for the Chilean Delegation, specifically with Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Ribera, for the duration of the UNGA. She helped push forward the Minister’s comprehensive agenda, focused on addressing bilateral matters, deepened trade relationships and confronted regional issues, such as the crisis in Venezuela. 

Source: Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20

Understanding the impact of public-private partnerships

Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ‘20 and Victoria Zhang, MPA ‘20, attended “Advertising for Good,” an event organized by the Lion’s Share Initiative of the UNDP (where they previously interned!) that discussed how to effectively use advertising to improve biodiversity around the world. Speakers were from leading advertising firms like JCDecaux, Finch, and Mars Inc. They shared how as little as 0.5% of their ad spend helped save ecosystems in Sumatra and Africa. Nayana’s biggest takeaway? The Lion’s Share Initiative proved how impactful public-private partnerships can be.

Source: Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ’20

Columbia University World Leaders Forum hosted a speaker on multilateralism and the rule of law

Amid backlash, Columbia University hosted Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia. President Lee Bollinger wrote that “public engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution.” At the event, Tun Dr. Mahathir affirmed that affirmative action policy in Malaysia has helped many Malays succeed and prevented racial tensions, and he addressed regional cooperation. The event was widely attended by Seeples, including Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, Melissa Tan, MIA’ 19 and Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20.

Source: Facebook/Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Learning about global governance from the NATO Secretary General

Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, attended NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s address to the Columbia community which focused on the maintenance of security in a changing world. Stoltenberg remarked on the disappointing state of NATO-Russian relations but concluded that NATO’s mission of security cooperation among democratic nations was as essential as ever. He answered audience questions on subjects such as Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the future of Afghanistan after NATO’s withdrawal, and NATO’s preparedness for cyber attacks. The event was part of the Blinken Lecture. 

Supporting the Digital Financing Task Force at UNGA

As part of the Digital Financing Task Force Secretariat, Ralph Chow, MPA ‘20, aided in the organization of a high-level Summit titled “Good Servant, Poor Master: Capturing the Promise and Managing the Risk of Financial Technology for a Sustainable World” during UNGA. The Summit was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Netherlands, and was co-sponsored by the MetLife Foundation. The Summit was well attended by representatives from Member States, the Private Sector, as well as United Nations agencies and other multilaterals. 

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Digital Financing Task Force of the SDGs

A conversation on climate change, COP25 and artificial intelligence

Columbia SIPA’s Latin American Student Association – LASA hosted Minister Andres Cuove, Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation for Chile. Minister Cuove is the first Secretary of this recently launched ministry. Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20, Treasurer of LASA, reflected that Minister Cuove shared the challenges he faced to create the institution as well as his experience in the 2019 Climate Action Summit and his plans for COP25 in Santiago. He also explained how Chile is creating a policy in science and deciding priorities to use the STI for development. 

Source: Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20

Dreaming big at the African Women on Board [AWB]@UNGA event

George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20, and her fellow board members at the Sadie Collective were invited to attend the AWB@UNGA event where they rubbed shoulders with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Hon. Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor and other distinguished group of leaders, innovators and dignitaries from around the world. George-Ann met Oby Ezekwesili, Founder of Bring Back Our Girls, a movement advocating for the speedy and effective search and rescue of all abducted girls by Boko Haram. 

The board of The Sadie Collective at AWB@UNGA
Source: George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20

Georgian President Cites Dual-Nationality as Strength in Columbia Speech

President of Georgia (and Columbia alumnus) Salome Zourabichvili delivered a World Leaders Forum speech and explained her nation’s value to Europe as a cultural leader and a valuable testing ground for engagement with Russia. Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20 reflects that President Salome Zourabichvili responded to students questions and she defended her government’s assistance to regional refugees and positions on breakaway regions. She also cited her personal history – having grown up in France and becoming a Georgian citizen in 2004 – as a strength in her previous career as a diplomat and foreign minister.

Source: Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20

Learning about development and refugee resettlement from the President of Rwanda

On September 26, Shelina Noorali, MPA ‘20, had the opportunity to hear Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, speak about development, refugee resettlement, technological integration and environmental conversation in the country. Students had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the President. The panel was moderated by the Dean of Columbia SIPA, Merit Janow.

Source: Shelina Noorali, MPA’20

Exploring digital transformation as a sustainable development pathway

Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20 along with other Seeples attended UNDP’s ‘Digital Future of Development’ event which explored how digital technologies enable breakthrough solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, how trailblazers across sectors are shaping the future of development, and how the UNDP is hoping to put technology at the forefront of its efforts. 

Source: Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20

Interested to learn more about International Organizations & UN Studies at SIPA? Find out more about how that specialization provides students with a roadmap of the international organizations that inform public policy and global action across borders here. You can watch this video to learn more about Seeples Day at the UN.