Staff from three UN agencies in Lebanon attended a UN Day at a school in a Beirut suburb and spoke to large crowds of students, parents, teachers and news media representatives about the organization, its work and activities in Lebanon and the region.
Director of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Beirut Bahaa Elkoussy, together with Soha Boustani of UNICEF and Nabil Rawdah of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) were the main speakers in the daylong event at the Doha High School in the southern outskirts of the Lebanese Capital.
UNIC Director opening the exhibition
The event included an impres-sive exhibition on the world organization and the main fields of its work and activities.
After inaugurating the UN Day, Elkoussy explained to students and visitors the considerable attention given to youth by the United Nations, citing the General Assembly’s resolution that had declared 2010 an International Year of Youth and the fact that youngsters were the top priority in the UN’s communication and outreach efforts. He sketched out the outreach and awareness campaigns conducted by the UN system in Lebanon for students of all levels around the country to promote better understanding of the UN and to encourage youngsters to engage in community-level volunteer work.
Rawdah, for his part, briefed the students and teachers about the UN bodies and offices dealing with human rights and the most instrumental conventions and protocols governing and regulating the treatment of these rights worldwide. He then cited specific examples of the world organization’s activities and programs to promote human rights in Lebanon and the region.
The UNICEF official, Boustani, spoke to students about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right of children to a family, identity, self-expression, health, education, safe life and safe environment. She later turned to the right of children to protection during conflicts, their right to play, rights of handicapped persons, rights of children to be protected from all kinds of violence and from hard labor. Boustani then wrapped up with a few words about juvenile justice and problems.
The three UN officials answered many questions from students and their elders about details of the development and reconstruction work implemented by the world organization. Questions about the Palestinian issue, refugees, humanitarian assistance and other topics were also posed to the UN staff members after their presentations.
The school’s program for the UN Day, which is unprecedented for any school in Lebanon, featured a few cultural events that included a number of plays performed by students on such themes as the rights of children, gender equality and the rights of domestic workers. A choir of students also sang for peace on the school’s stage.
The UN Day, which was covered by some national media and attended by several local government officials, also included the screening of four short films about the world organization and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - “Common Goals,” “UN: It’s Your World,” “Make It Happen” and “Peace Is Not Just a Colored Ribbon” – which were all provided by UNIC Beirut.
Several UN publications, provided by UN agencies in Lebanon, were on display at the exhibition and were eventually handed to students and visitors. Students between six and 18 contributed numerous fascinating paintings, works of art and other creations that have revolved around the world organization’s work and operations in the fields of development, peacekeeping, human rights, environment, refugees, landmines and others.