|The sun sets on November (and the Atlantic).|
The Oxy at the UN Program concluded November with a half-week (participants got off work and classes for Thursday and Friday) that was chockfull with enriching discussions and empowering work in internships. The holiday allowed participants to put in some quality time on their end-of-term research papers and policy briefs as well as explore the late-fall, early-winter festivities in New York City.
Our discussion in Conflict Prevention this week considered the UN Peace Building Commission, created in 2005, which attempts to coordinate post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. While peacekeeping focuses on the stabilization of an insecure area and the implementation of peace agreements, peace building targets the medium to longer term measures that will ensure a country does not fall back into conflict. This involves a diversity of groups including financial investors, development experts, civil society organizations and NGOs, politicians and government officials, and security sectors. The Peace Building Commission provides a forum and mechanism for comprehensive peace creation in a cohesive framework. Most significantly, peace building efforts intend to address systemic, structural, and root causes of conflict. Though the Commission is young, it has achieved moderate success in managing transitions from conflict, to peacekeeping, to post-conflict, to peace building.
Wednesday found Oxy at the UN participants conducting their final case study in Human Development: disaster risk reduction in Bangladesh. Geographically and geologically, Bangladesh is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, landslides, and cyclones. It was in this context that we discussed how a country develops its crisis response, particularly a poor one such as Bangladesh, and its ability to absorb 'shocks' to stability to security. In this instance, creating a development and crisis response framework proves essential to supporting areas that suffer when these 'shocks' occur, for example the agricultural sector, physical infrastructure, and water and sanitation. This case study was particularly timely give the ongoing response efforts in the Philippines and will help us transition to our final human development classes next week.
The Oxy at the UN program has certainly given participants myriad experiences to be thankful for. Though our days are long, exhausting, and constantly test us, not one among us does not appreciate the opportunities this program affords to grow personally, academically, and professionally. This was special Thanksgiving then, and participants celebrated it in different ways. Some visited family in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Long Island; while, others celebrated the holiday with the Oxy at the UN family or visitors here in New York City.
After Thanksgiving, holiday decorations have cropped up all over Manhattan. The festive atmosphere and crisp air certainly make the everyday commute seem cheerier, but they're also a reminder that the end of the program is near for Oxy at the UN. However, participants are eager to make the most of their time left, making plans to go ice skating, window shopping, and strolling through Central Park. Check out the Sights and Sounds page for more pictures from this weekend.
Though every day on the program is remarkable for Oxy at the UN participants, certain experiences stand out. This week's highlights demonstrate the range of opportunities and responsibilities students take on. For example, Jean Coleman (Honduran Mission) officially voted on behalf of her country on third committee resolutions this week, which covered human rights issues. Leslie Crosdale left for Morocco on Tuesday with the UN Millennium Campaign to participate in the country's MyWorld campaign. A number of Oxy at the UN participants attending the Open Working Group on Development and heard renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs speak on the post-2015 agenda. Andrew Bariahtaris and Zach Abels (UK Mission) were in a third committee (human rights) meeting until 10:20 PM on Wednesday as the committee needed to conclude its work on twelve resolutions.
These last two weeks promise to be busy and exhilarating for the program. As the end draws nearer, participants are becoming more self-reflective and realizing that a short spring semester is all that stands between them and the "real world" that they've been a part of for three months now. It is with grateful hearts, curious minds, and confident resolve that we take on the last two weeks of the program.