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Students from Around the World tune-in to U.N. Pathways Video Conference

Students in three countries and two continents, from at least five university campuses, participated in two ITV video conferences on “Sustainable Development Goals and the Future of the United Nations,” and on “Brexit and the Future of the European Union,” on Tuesdays Oct. 11 and Oct. 25, respectively.


For the first ITV conference, of the six campuses, both New Jersey campuses of FDU attended, as well as the Post Campus of Long Island University, and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.  The two international attendees were FDU’s Vancouver campus in Canada and the University of Ghana. For the second ITV conference, the Florham campus at FDU and Long Island University were not in attendance, but Bronx Community College was. These were the first times that a university from another continent had ever tuned in to one of the conferences hosted by FDU Metro’s Office of Global Learning.


Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, a retired Pakistani diplomat, senior fellow at the UN Institute of Training, and founder of the UN Ambassadors Club, guided the discussion for both ITV conferences. The first, with Director Navid Hanif of the Office for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Support and Coordination; and the second, with Pierre Christophe Chatzisavas, a counselor to the Middle East and North Africa with the Political Affairs and Security Council of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York.


The Oct. 7 ITV conference focused on the SDG’s and the future of the UN in regards to those goals.  The UN’s current set of goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – came into effect in January 2016 and were designed to address poverty, education, energy, inequality, climate change, peace, hunger, gender inequality, job creation, sustainable communities, water ecosystems, global partnerships, health, water and sanitation, industry, consumption and production, and the environment. The idea is that by 2020, many countries would have made significant strides in achieving these goals to the best of their abilities – achievements that, as Ambassador Kamal expressed, are difficult to regulate.The director explained how the US and Europe have very different ideologies when it comes to sustainability, but that after social, food, and human rights summits, they extracted the most visible goals that they hope to address.  He further explained how each of the goals was developed using scientific analysis and Global agreements.“If you don’t look at the SDGs in totality, society can not go on,” Director Hanif said in response to Ambassador Kamal’s probes about the 2007 climate change warnings and the possible link with the worst recession since 1929.

On poverty, Ambassador Kamal said that the UN is counting it as a success if a person surpasses the $1.25 poverty line by even one cent.

Director Hanif corrected Ambassador Kamal in that the poverty line is actually $1.90 now to account for inflation.  He also said, “Poverty will always be part of our existence.  We’re trying to get rid of absolute poverty.”  He also said that by pulling people out of absolute poverty, you give them the opportunity to climb the ladder. Following the debate-style lecture, two students from each campus were able to ask questions. One student from the Florham Campus asked how the UN determines which goals take priority."The UN does not decide for countries – they prioritize,” said Director Hanif, explaining how it is the people who hold their governments accountable, thus putting pressure on governments to prioritize and implement.


The Oct. 25 ITV conference focused on 'Brexit' and its impact on the EU and the rest of the world economy. The European Community was established in 1967, starting with six original member states.  Britain joined the European Community in 1973, and later negotiated various opt-out clauses, the most notable being an opt out of the Eurozone. In 1993, the European Community turned into the European Union, and later accumulated 28 member states.  In the June 2016 referendum, the United Kingdom voted to secede from the EU, a process with takes two years to negotiate, and up to eight additional years to fully carry out. “Many people think that Britain has left the EU; that’s not correct – the only thing is that the British decided that they will exit the EU – they have not invoked the article to leave, and they are set to invoke next year and it could take two years to actually negotiate the exit,” said Ambassador Kamal.  “Brexit will only fully materialize in five or seven years from today.” Ambassador Kamal correlated the rise of Donald Trump the US with a global retreat into nationalism, something he named “Trump-ism,” that essentially states that globalism is bad and we have to retreat back to nationalism.  For example, Brexit in the EU; but it is being replicated in India, Argentina, and other parts of the world. “I agree with almost everything you said with a few exceptions,” said Councilor Chatzisavas“The EU is not a superpower based on military strength – what makes the EU strong is the capacity to represent a democratic standard of peace,” he said. He explained how the EU always had a “special relationship” with the EU and that the vote was based on a variety of components regarding the EU. “When you call a referendum, you ask voters ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question, but the vote is based on the perceptions on all sorts of questions that haven nothing to do with the question that was raised,” said Councilor ChatzisavasOne student asked what signal Brexit has sent to other countries. Councilor Chatzisavas said, “Brexit questions the solidarity of the EU, but the EU will demonstrate its capacity to overcome this kind of difficulty. "He also explained that just because the UK is leaving the EU, doesn’t mean that they would completely cut off ties with the EU.  He said, “What is at stake is to build a new partnership between the UK and EU that will preserve the legitimate interests of both sides.”


There will be two ITV conferences in the Spring 2017 semester.  If you know of any universities or colleges that would like to participate, please contact Sarah Horn at shorn@fdu.edu.

 

 

 

 

Author:
Melanie Perez
 
Date:
Monday, October 31, 2016