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The UN Studies Program: Working and Networking with the United Nations – Panel on April 6 in Room 1501 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

One unique asset available to SIPA students is our UN Studies Program.  SIPA students have incredible opportunities to learn directly from those with UN experience and participate in unique programming and here is a great example.


Ever wonder what it feels like to work for the United Nations? Whether it is fulfilling or frustrating? Whether it matches the highest ideals of public service? Or whether it is just another bureaucratic institution? Well, thanks to the DAY @ the UN initiative launched this semester by the UN Studies Program, 42 lucky students were given the opportunity to gain more insight on what it means to work for the United Nations. Elizabeth Lindenmayer, former Assistant Secretary-General and director of SIPA’s UN Studies program organized this day.

From the office of the Secretary General to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, from UNDP and UNICEF to DPA and UNWOMEN, from UNFPA to the Security Council, from UNCDF to the PBC, each student was given the opportunity to shadow one senior UN official for an entire day, attending meetings and negotiations, participating to teleconferences with the field or weighing in on policy planning among many others.

On April 6, 2011, students will share their experience during a Panel organized by the UN Studies Program in the presence of their hosts and other SIPA students. The Panel will take place on 420 W 118th street room 1501 from 6 to 8pm and will be followed by a reception creating yet another opportunity for students to thank their hosts, and of course, to network with the UN Community.  Those living in the NYC area are welcome to join.

In addition, on April 6 a group from the UN Studies Program will visit the United Nations Security Council to observe a debate on Haiti. Former President Bill Clinton, the UN’s Special Envoy for Haiti, will deliver a report, along with Haitian President Rene Preval.

Tunisia Brown Bag Panel

It is not uncommon for discussions and events to take shape at SIPA in response to very current events.  The following is an example of a brown bag panel that took place this past week based on the recent happenings in Tunisia.  This is yet another benefit of the numerous student groups, institutes, and centers at SIPA.


THURSDAY 1/27: Tunisia Before & After Ben Ali
Brownbag Panel and Q&A with Columbia University Professors Taoufiq Ben Amor and Rym Bettaieb, and SIPA alumnus (PEPM’07) from Tunisia, Rim Nour

Time: 1:00-2:30pm
Location: 1501 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street

Presented by ASA, MEI and IAS. Columbia University Professors Taoufiq Ben Amor and Rym Bettaieb, and SIPA alumnus (PEPM’07) from Tunisia, Rim Nour, share their viewpoints and updates on the recent events in Tunisia exploring topics ranging from the role that young people have played, to the use of social media, to the mechanisms of grassroots mobilization, as well as the stereotypes that the revolution broke.  A Q&A session will follow the panel.

Center for the Study of Human Rights

One of the hallmarks of SIPA is the large number of institutes, centers, and programs that reflect both the research interests of the faculty and the issues faced by today’s policymakers.  We recently reached out to the Center for the Study of Human Rights and asked them to provide a snippet of what is available through their center.  Enjoy!

Center for the Study of Human Rights
91 Claremont Avenue, 7th Floor Tower

The Center for the Study of Human Rights, which has been a focal point for human rights activities on campus for almost 30 years, is a major partner and resource for the academic work of SIPA students. The close cooperation between the Center and the SIPA program has fostered new and old synergies, which continue to benefit SIPA students as well as the University at large.

Opportunities and services that CSHR offers to SIPA students include:

Human Rights Events

Throughout the year, CSHR organizes and co-sponsors a number of human rights events on campus. Examples of events held in 2009 include:

•    CSHR’s annual welcome reception
•    SIPA brown bag lectures given by CSHR’s Human Rights Advocates.
•    Lecture series on: Indigenous Peoples’ Issues: International Perspectives & Global Challenges
•    Towards Sustainable Peace in Darfur
•    Creating a World without Poverty – Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
•    Lunch & Discussion with 2008 Human Rights Watch Human Rights Defender Awardees
•    The Battle of Ideas Still Rages: Attacks on Academic Freedom in the 21st Century
•    Combating Torture – Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment

Events Calendar
CSHR publishes a calendar of all human rights events on the University’s campus. This calendar can be found at:

Information on Human Rights Internships and Job Opportunities

CSHR sends out a regular email to inform students of human rights opportunities. To be included on this listserve, please email with “subscribe cshralum” in the title.  Please include your full name and the email address you wish to subscribe.

Work Study Opportunities

CSHR hires approximately 6 students each semester as work studies. If you are work-study eligible and are interested in working with us, please email a resume and cover letter to with “work-study” and your name in the email subject.

Human Rights Advocates Program

Each year, grassroots human rights advocates participate in CSHR’s Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP). HRAP’s comprehensive program of advocacy, networking, skills-building, and academic coursework provides advocates the opportunity to hone practical skills, develop a deeper understanding of human rights, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with influential organizations and individuals in their respective fields.

As part of this program, Advocates audit SIPA and other Columbia University courses, speak at events organized by SIPA student groups, and participate in the annual Human Rights Concentrators’ Retreat. In the past, many SIPA students have formed collaborative professional relationships with the Advocates. For example, SIPA students often complete summer internships at the Advocates’ host organizations.

Quote from a recent graduate:
“Meeting John Caulker, one of the Advocates of 2007, was in all respects a life-altering experience. Having met a few times for coffee, we soon realized we had many interests in common. I had more academic experience in some areas, whereas John had an amazing practical experience, implementing human rights work in West Africa.

He opened my eyes to his native Sierra Leone and invited me to work with him there. This was what eventually led to me founding an organization working with peacebuilding in the country and today our organizations are partnering in our work. In short, the Advocates Program offers invaluable possibilities not only for those visiting Columbia from abroad, but certainly also for us students.”

– Jakob Lund, SIPA student, MIA 2009

United Nations Study Program

Anyone interested in the work the United Nations is doing will find a wealth of opportunity at SIPA to engage with people associated with the United Nations. The United Nations Study Program (UNSP) promotes teaching, training, and career development in the pursuit of multilateral solutions to global dilemmas. Under the direction of Elisabeth Lindenmayer, the Program brings together scholars and practitioners to address the main priorities of the UN – security, development, human rights and the environment – strengthening synergies between the Columbia community and those within the UN system.

In addition there is the United Nations Studies Program Working Group (UNSPWG).


The UNSPWG assists the UNSP in the organization of a series of lectures and panels each semester through which students can get “live sources” of information and expand upon the knowledge acquired though readings they do in their coursework.

Today these two resources combine to present the following:

“Planet UN”—A documentary on the challenges of the UN in the 21st century

Speakers will include representatives from the UN in human rights, development and peacekeeping

6:00 P.M. – Kellogg Conference Center, 15th Floor, International Affairs Building

South Asia Institute: Distinguished Lecturer Series

SIPA student have access to many events each week and most of that has to do with the 20 different regional and functional institutes associated with policy analysis.  The South Asia Institute is sponsoring the following event today:


“South Asia? West Asia? The location and identities of Pakistan”
A talk by S. Akbar Zaidi (Karachi University)

While Pakistan’s geographical location has not shifted in the last 38 years, there has been a marked shift in terms of its identity and associations. In the past, what is now Pakistan was closer to, and more part of, the larger South Asian or “Indian subcontinental” identity, but it has now “corrected its direction” (apna qibla durust kar liya hai). In some ways, the Pakistani identities of the Muslim and the South Asian/Indian are competing identities, often mutually exclusive. A secular India with a Muslim minority would not wish for a stronger Muslim South Asian identity while a Muslim Pakistan may not want to belong to an idea or union, in which it would be marginalised and subservient to a power which it sees as its nemesis. With far greater Islamisation and with petro-dollars playing a critical role in Pakistan’s political economy, in some ways, it would be fair to say that Pakistan has been excavated out of South Asia and replanted into a wider Islamic Middle East.

Dr. S Akbar Zaidi is one of Pakistan’s best known and most prolific political economists. Apart from his interest in political economy, he also has great interest in development, the social sciences, and increasingly, in history. His forthcoming Political Economy and Development in Pakistan will be his twelfth book. His other books include The New Development Paradigm: Papers on Institutions, NGOs, Gender and Local Government (1999), and Issues in Pakistan’s Economy (2005). He taught at Karachi University for thirteen years, and was a visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University (2004-05). He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and lives and works in Karachi.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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