Time for students to grab the microphone

On Wednesday 6th March 2019 Professor O’Malley has presented the research agenda for the Lectoraat United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice and gave a talk entitled: ‘The United Nations, From Blue Helmets to Blue Skies'.

kick-off lectoraat UN studies

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word UN? Is it just the Security Council and the ‘blue helmets’? Is there more to the UN’s history? These are some of the questions tackled by Prof Alanna O’Malley as she presented her research agenda for her combined Chair/Research Group of UN Studies for Peace and Justice to be held jointly at Leiden University and The Hague University of Applied Sciences. On the 6th of March, Prof O’Malley held a lecture at the latter where dozens of students and staff gathered

The lecture outlined the Chair’s research themes which will revolve on issues like women & peace and the invisible history of the global south in the UN. Furthermore, she highlighted that this chair will actively engage with the youth. Benita Hickson from Leiden University outlined a broad and ambitious agenda through which students from across the Netherlands and underrepresented groups will have a platform to engage with the Chair and learn about the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, two important lessons were highlighted by Prof O’Malley. First to fully understand the UN, we must look beyond the Security Council and the power politics played within. The UN system has multiple organs, agencies and programmes which engage on issues such as public health, women empowerment, innovation, and children’s rights among others. While it is true that many of these elements have had shortcomings in the past, their overall contribution has been very positive.

The second, as students, we must claim ownership over the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  As youth we now share a common understanding that most of the change we wish to see come through with the SDG’s are changes we have to promote and initiate ourselves in an extremely conservative world that is not willing to take immediate action to solve issues such as those of climate change, the refugee crisis and gender inequality. This initiative, “UN Youth Impact” is our opportunity to grab the microphone, grab the steering wheel and change the course of direction of our future by heading towards the new world we want to see ourselves living in.

Over the next few years, this chair will organise events, produce academic and practice-oriented research and engage with multiple sectors. In order to succeed, it will need the active participation of many students who bring innovative ideas and passion for the UN.