UN Staff Pitch in for South African Model UN

08 November 2014
Model UN students

UN staff in Pretoria joined the South African Model UN (SAMUN) 2014 in Cape Town where 36 “born frees” from all nine provinces of the country as well as a team from Namibia came together to take on the roles of UN Member States in three debates over two days.

The generation of South Africans born after the country’s first democratic elections of 1994 are often referred to as the “born frees” as they did not live under apartheid. These students had been selected by UN adjudicators at debates around the country in August. 

During the competitions, students engaged in dynamic debates on the controversial issues of “Fracking for natural gas”, “State-sanctioned homophobia” and the “Ebola crisis”, which is currently plaguing several West African countries. Teams of four students (two from a resourced school are matched with two from an under-resourced school) argued their respective UN Member States policies on these issues.

UNDP Resident Coordinator a.i. Opia Kumah joined UNIC Director Helene Hoedl as “adjudicators”, assessing the performances of the teams. Head of the UNEP Office Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, who had presented on fracking, and UN Women Representative Auxilia Ponga, were impressed by the learners.  “It is remarkable how these learners grappled with the complex issue of fracking and how eloquently and convincingly they presented their countries’ positions”, said Ms. Njenga.  UNIC National Information Officer Sudeshan Reddy conducted individual interviews with the students who were in the running for an international Model UN conference in New York in February 2015.

It was encouraging to see the alumni of this 16 year-old programme, organized by the NGO Education Africa with the UN Information Centre Pretoria, taking on the role of tutors to the high school teams. Local media, including radio reporters and television crews, followed the debates and interviewed the UN representatives. 

Participants had the rare opportunity to spend the night on South Africa’s iconic Robben Island, where the late president Nelson Mandela was confined for 18 of his 27 years in prison. Students found themselves being treated like the political prisoners during apartheid, even eating the dreadful prison food. 

Ms. Hoedl and South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Education, Enver Surty, addressed the closing awards ceremony on Robben Island, where a team of 12 students was selected to participate in the MUN conference at Cornell University in New York. “We are very pleased that these students are learning so much about the UN”, said the Deputy Minister. “The UN has played an important role in eliminating apartheid and supporting us in the transition to a multi-racial democracy."

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Categories: Pretoria
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UNIC Bujumbura organized the "UN4U" educational outreach campaign on the UN Day 2014

27 October 2014
Student asking a question

To commemorate the United Nations Day, UNIC Bujumbura organized UN4U briefing sessions for students from the Lycée of Rohero and Lycée Nyakabiga secondary schools, respectively on 24 and 27 October 2014 in the UNIC compound, and made good use of UN Day visual materials, based on the "Happy Birthday UN" concept. 

For each educational outreach session, the UNIC NIO made welcome remarks to the students, asked some UN knowledge questions and gave awards for good answers, made of UN books. The UNIC made full use of the UN4U information materials: reading of the Secretary General Message on the above Day and screening of its video version, as well as screening of the DPI Outreach Division’s animation on the United Nations.  The PowerPoint presentation entitled "United Nations Overview was translated into French and screened for the students.

A PowerPoint on the UN System in Burundi which includes information on the history of the UN Agencies in Burundi, their opening dates in Burundi and their respective mandates and main activities in the country, was also screened. 

Students showed very much interest in the UN Organization’s origin, mandates and key priority issues that are being addressed now. They asked many questions and made a couple of comments on the UN successes and mitigated results achieved. 

UNIC also printed the photo and graphic design DPI materials in big sizes and exhibited them in UNIC internal places including the conference room, Library, Offices, compound, etc…

Around three hundred students participated in the activity. They were accompanied by their Historic and civic and leadership courses’ teachers. 

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Celebrating UN Day in Azerbaijan

24 October 2014
Learning about the United Nations

On the occasion of United Nations Day, 24 October 2014, UNO Baku organized a “UN4U” outreach campaign at Qafqaz University in Baku by given a comprehensive presentation to students about the organization. The event was joined by the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations (ASAN Service) and brought together more than 50 students specializing in International Relations and Public Administration. 

During the opening remarks the Secretary General’s message was read out on the occasion of UN Day. It said: “The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises.  At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable. On United Nations Day, I call on governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good.” 

 The event continued with a video screening about UN activities, its aims, structure, and ideals of peace and social and economic progress which have remained the basic goals of the organization since 1945. 

The UNO Baku team followed the message with a presentation on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and briefed the audience on MDG success in the country based on statistical facts provided by the government of Azerbaijan.  The audience was also informed about its post-2015 Development agenda and the current consultations with the Azerbaijani government for setting immediate priorities for Sustainable Development Goals. 

In the same context, a presentation was delivered on the most advanced system of public service delivery in Azerbaijan, by the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations (ASAN Service). ASAN is a new innovative model of public service delivery, where many services from various governmental departments and private companies brought in a single administrative building called “ASAN service” centres.   

During the event it was also mentioned that as part of MDG 9 - Establishing and Strengthening Good Governance, ASAN Service enables citizens of Azerbaijan to have more straightforward, efficient and transparent access to public services.

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UN Honors Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for her efforts to end maternal and new born deaths

24 October 2014
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with the award

The United Nations family in Kenya commemorated the 69th anniversary of the United Nations with pomp and color at the UN offices in Gigiri, Nairobi by selecting and presenting the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta with the United Nations Award of the Year.

The First Lady earned the coveted title for her efforts to stop preventable maternal and newborn deaths in the country. She was selected for successfully raising awareness and funds to address the plight of women and children in need of quality healthcare.

The First lady, moved by the gesture by the UN family, in her acceptance speech said, “I am humbled with the recognition that you confer on me today, and I would like to dedicate this award to all of you, the Kenyan men and women who join me every day in the fight to reduce maternal and early childhood deaths .... We are not there yet but we shall get 'Beyond Zero'.”

The UN also recognized, Fanice Lisiagali of Health Care Assistance Kenya (HAK) for her commitment and efforts in creating a rapid response system for survivors of Gender Based Violence(GBV).  

Other features included exhibitions by various UN agencies, entities and programs on the work of the United Nations. 

In her speech Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, UNON Director-General praised Kenya for being a unique base for UN activities, “Kenya is home for a unique United Nations presence: United Nations offices at Nairobi, UN head quarters in Africa and the global head quarters of two very important programs United Nations environment Program, UNEP and UN-Habitat. 

The Resident Coordinator Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, in her presentation took stock of Kenya’s progress in the attainment of MDGs.  

From the Kenya Government, Ambassador Amina Mohamed said “We are impelled and compelled to reform the United Nations if it is to effectively speak to the pressing challenges we are all experiencing today. At the political level, we need a democratized model of decision making. This is why Kenya is a champion of universal mentorship of UN bodies.” 

Other guests included members of the diplomatic core, Joan Clos, Achim Steiner, Executive Directors of UN Habitat and UNEP respectively, UN staff members, high school and university students.

Over five hundred guests attended the function.  UNIC Director, Nasser Ega-Musa moderated the days programme.

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Categories: Nairobi
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