Category: 2016

Reflections of a CCNY NGO Youth Representative: Interview with Anasimon Takla

Please briefly introduce yourself.

My name is Anasimon Takla. I am a Political Science and International Studies student at CCNY. I was a Youth Representative of the CCNY NGO at the UN during the Fall 2016 semester.

How did you earn the position of Youth Representative of the CCNY NGO at the UN?

I simply applied by sending my resume and cover letter to ccnymodelun@gmail.com

What was it like to represent the CCNY NGO?

It was a wonderful and humbling experience. The CCNY NGO itself is newly formed. The school, however, is one of the most prestigious schools in New York. The experience instantly opens your eyes and makes you comprehend what a great responsibility it is to represent a whole institution from the student body to the staff and faculty to everyone else on campus. Also, City College is not just any academic institution. Being located in Harlem, we were approached several times from activists who not only wanted student or NGO involvement in their causes, but particularly Harlem students whom they believed would add a great value to their campaigns.

What were some highlights of your experience at CCNY?

As a Youth Representative of my school’s NGO, I needed to be acquainted with struggles that CCNY students face daily in order to help shed light on them during the numerous events that future Youth Representatives will be attending at the United Nations. Myself and my NGO colleagues organized a meeting with the school’s Undergraduate Student Government’s President, Safat Chowdhury, the Vice President of Finance, Radwa Ahmed, and Senator Taimoor Arif. We asked them to explain to us the main plights of CCNY students so that we can use our platform to bring awareness to them. A more detailed summary of this meeting can be found here.

What were some highlights of your experience at the UN?

During my many visits to the UN headquarters and while attending several events on different causes as well as weekly DPI NGO briefings, I was fortunate to meet influential leaders, inspiring role models, and tireless NGO representatives eager to achieve their own organizations’ goals. Being a female myself, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting numerous prominent female figures. For instance, it was truly inspiring to attend the Climate Neutral Now event in September and chat with the current and first female FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura. Likewise, it was interesting to hear about the General Assembly’s efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance from Thailand’s perspective through Counsellor Maratee Andamo, representative of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United Nations. Also equally fascinating was meeting Minister Counsellor Veronica Garcia Gutierrez who spoke about improving women’s issues from the perspective of the Permeant Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations. The examples of impressive female figures whom I met at the UN are far too many to be listed and this experience has made me more determined to join them in paving the roads for younger girls aspiring to enter the world of diplomacy.

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DPI NGO Youth

“Join our campaign for peace, human rights and environmental sustainability. Let us, together, create a movement … a movement for change, a movement of all nations and all people, united, to advance the great causes of our day.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 2011

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The Department of Public Information sees young people as a critical group in its work with non-governmental organizations. We encourage young people already involved with a DPI associated NGO to become their organization’s Youth Representative at the United Nations.

Become a Youth Representative

Are you 18-32 years old?

Do you belong to an NGO associated with DPI?

Do you want to help make positive social changes – in your community, in your country and in the world?

Would you like to gain experience to help reach your education and career goals?

Encourage youth participation

Are you a current NGO that would like to get more youth involved in your cause?

Would you like to learn how to better support and encourage your current youth representatives?

How to get involved

If you are interested in serving as a youth representative of a DPI associated NGO, contact the head of your organization who will need to nominate you. Each DPI-NGO associated organization is allowed 2 youth representatives annually.

Some of the benefits and activities include:

  • A yearly UN Grounds Pass which allows access to the UN Headquarters, in New York.
  • A one-day Orientation Programme for DPI/NGO Youth Representatives
  • Access to documents promoting youth activities at the DPI/NGO Resource Centre
  • Access to youth-related public information events at the UN
  • Participation in the weekly Thursday Briefings
  • The opportunity to be a youth panellist at the weekly Thursday Briefings
  • Active involvement in two bi-annual Communications Workshops
  • Membership in the Youth Subcommittee as part of the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference Planning Committee
  • The chance to be a youth speaker at the Closing session of the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference
  • The opportunity to participate in social media coverage of the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference
  • Involvement in establishing a youth blog by and for youth
  • Organizing and promoting NGO youth events publicising issues and campaigns on the UN agenda using both traditional and new media
  • Providing opportunities for intergenerational cooperation and collaboration
  • Cooperating with UN programmes such as the UN Volunteers

Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

We invite you to visit the website of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth for more information on the work that they are doing and the events taking place at the UN involving youth.

Website of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Working Together for a Greater Good: A Global Citizen’s Vision of the World in 2030 ( A guest post from Rabita Tareque)

Rabita Tareque, the president of United Nation Association (UNA) of CCNY, is currently majoring in International Relations and minoring in Public Policy & Public Affairs at CCNY. She is a 20 year old Muslim woman who advocates for gender equality and youth involvement on global issues. These issues are very closely tied with her ethnic background. The following is an article she recently wrote about her experience at the UNGA and the importance of the SDGs.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by prominent world leaders in 2015 has been bringing countries, communities, and local organizations together to work towards reducing poverty, hunger, inequalities and climate change. I was born and raised in Bangladesh, a developing country where these global challenges have been a critical aspect of our everyday lives. As a result, I personally find a very strong and personal connection with the SDGs. This has motivated me to become a global citizen, who advocates and inspires our generation to unite and take action towards reaching the global goals for sustainable development.

The importance of achieving all the SDGs was one of the most vital topic of discussion at the recent 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week, which was a filled with conferences, meetings and events, joined by Heads of States, Foreign Ministers, CEOs and many influential leaders.

On September 22, 2016, I was thrilled to spend my afternoon at the Pathways to Zero Hunger, a high-level UNGA side event which took place in the Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) of the United Nations. The event was surrounded by the conversation of achieving Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In his opening remarks, United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon made a correlation between the SDGs and zero hunger by stating, “with the 2030 agenda, we have the opportunity to silence once and for all, the cry of hunger and malnutrition.”  The Secretary-General later asked world leaders and agricultural organizations to take the challenge and work together until Zero Hunger is a reality. Followed by the Secretary-General’s speech, H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of the 71st UNGA, H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana and H.E. Mr. Faure Gnassingbe, President of Togo also made remarks regarding the SDGs and asked for more resources and leadership initiatives to be made, in order to achieve zero hunger goal by 2030.

The next day on September 23, I had the opportunity to attend another high-level UNGA side  event, Leaving No One Behind which advocated for the SDG 5: Gender Equality. This conference was joined by Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister for International Development, Liberal Party of Canada, Bangladesh Permanent MIssion to the UN as well as grassroots organizations to discuss the importance of sustainable development goals and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and young girls. One element that every panelist were advocating strongly on was local and grassroots support towards ending issues like child marriage, violence against women and young girls as well as social, political and economical inequalities.

After attending these conferences at the UN and witnessing such influential people speaking up to end global crisis through the SDGs has given me tremendous hope. As a global citizen, I am not only motivated to engage and take action towards the SDGs but also confident that these global goals can be achieved, if we all take the initiative. I am now certain that the global crises will be alleviated not only from my home country of Bangladesh and other underdeveloped nations but also from the rest of the world.

Global Education Monitoring Report

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon over a year ago. Goal 4 On September 6, 2016 UNESCO published the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.img_9426 Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, said that “without education, we will not achieve any of the Sustainabke Development Goals.” Education ties all goals together. For example, according to Sachs, in order to have stable and inclusive societies, secondary education is required. The GEM Report, however, makes clear that education is underfunded. A yearly funding gap of $40 billion exists, equivalent to two weeks of US military spending, according to Sachs. Admittedly, colleges all over the United States do feel the funding gaps. Students at CUNY have been struggeling with tuition increases, and are facing more in the future. What will the future of affordable education look like?

img_9429Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, believes that “edu
cation is a human right and saves lives.” This is especially important in the contact of the refugee crisis. Bokova demands education has to be part of he humanitarian response for refugees. Education can be an engine of change. 36% of children that are out of school live in conflict countries. But education is crucial to empower individuals, to teach them life skills, to teach them positive values. Youth should be given tools to bring along change. Children everywhere are waiting to have a full life and education is the path to it.

 

2016 Human Rights Education and Arts Internship Opportunity

Background on Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE):

Launched in June 2011 in New York City, ARTE is a nascent, innovative organization that uses art, design, and technology to empower young people to develop creative solutions and bring awareness to local and global human rights challenges, fostering leadership opportunities to train others. For its efforts in the fields of human rights and arts innovation, ARTE has received both local and international publicity and recognition.

In fall 2016, we will continue this work by empowering groups of high-school aged youth in a formal classroom or informal after-school setting in New York City. After voting upon and researching a human rights issue of their choosing, youth will have the opportunity to work with community muralists to produce a public mural focusing on human rights.

Major Roles of the Human Rights Education and Arts Program Intern:

The role of the ARTE Human Rights Education and the Arts Program Intern is two-fold:

First, supporting the capacity-building and growth of the organization. The ARTE intern will support the organization’s efforts in one or more of the following ways:

  • development of an evaluation system for our programs,
  • conducting relevant human rights policy research,
  • cultivating community partners and networks,
  • assisting the Executive Director in pursuing fundraising opportunities through grant-writing and other development initiatives.

Secondly, based on the skills and interests of the intern, along with the program needs of the organization, there exists potential facilitation opportunities with youth in both our classroom and out-of-class programs. This may include:

  • facilitating lesson plans from existing ARTE curriculum with youth,
  • contributing to the ARTE curriculum through research, writing, and/or editing;
  • implementing pre- and post-surveys of the ARTE curriculum.

Overall, this internship is an excellent experience for anyone seeking to learn how the foundation of a non-profit organization is built through the guidance and direction of a seasoned non-profit professional. Interns will also have the opportunity to work directly with local human rights organizations, professional mural artists, and youth-based community centers. ARTE is committed to supporting the professional development of their interns whenever possible (e.g. invitations to conferences, skills-building workshops, etc.). This is an important opportunity for anyone looking for hands-on experience working with young people in the field of human rights education, arts education, and community organizing.

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Background and Experience:

  • Current college and graduate students are encouraged to apply.
  • Artists, designers, human rights educators, engineers, teachers, community organizers, researchers, data evaluators, and the technologically-savvy are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Must possess a strong interest in advocating for human rights and in arts education (including design and technology) and a passion for creating positive change in the world
  • Prior experience working with youth in a community-based and/or school setting is preferable.

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Knowledge and Skills:

  • Purpose-driven, organized, and self-sufficient
  • Willingness to critically analyze their own privilege (e.g. racial, gender, ability or otherwise) and/or the privilege embedded in our society to better understand how it structurally affects the diverse communities that we work in.
  • Demonstrated communication and collaboration skills and the ability to take on and manage different projects simultaneously
  • Willingness to take initiative and contribute to the organization’s programs and development
  • Excellent computer skills, including experience with Office programs and Google sites, and social media platforms. Experience with Photoshop and other design programs and website development preferred.
  • Sense of humor and creativity

Based on the candidate’s skill set and expertise, we will determine a focus for your internship. Some possible roles include: Social Media and Communications, Fundraising and Development, and Curriculum Development.

Requirements:

  • Commitment of at least eight hours/week for the duration of the academic year.
  • Start date is mid-September 2016 and end date is late June 2017, but flexible if necessary. Administration will consider semester-long internships.
  • Internship can be conducted remotely, with the exception of weekly or bi-weekly intern meetings and
  • While enrollment in an academic program is not required, students are encouraged to receive course credit and/or a stipend from their institution, as ARTE is unable to provide full financial compensation at this time.

-Students that might be interested in an internship with them, please contact the NGO.

Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict: 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council

On September 8 2016, The Secretary-General released a report on human trafficking, entitled “Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict: 10 Ideas for action by the United Nations Security Council” at the United Nations Headquarters. This report provided an in-depth analysis of the inextricable network of connections between human trafficking and conflict. As such, it emphasized opportunities for concrete solutions whereby the UN Security Council could leverage its clout to strengthen international response to human trafficking in conflict zones. Back in December 2015, the Security Council held its first debate on Trafficking in Persons in Situations of Conflict and adopted a Presidential Statement which demonstrated the urgency for resolution and hence willingness for action within its framework. There are real practical and political limits to actions on their part in regards to the issue of human trafficking, but the Security Council took the commendable first step. As such, the recent September report is a positive development in the fight against global human trafficking.

CCNY NGO had the privilege to be a part of this special launch with many permanent missions of different states, experts and panelists including James Cockayne, the head of the United Nations University Office in New York and lead author of the report. The organizer kicked off the event by presenting a short video clip which featured experts addressing human trafficking issues in conflict zones, and calling on member states to increase monitoring of armed groups’ involvement in human trafficking and a new UN framework for action. Of note during the panel discussion, Mr. Cockayne highlighted the strong evidence suggesting the indispensable role of social media in both the recruitment and trading of enslaved Yazidi and other peoples in Middle East. Mr. Cockayne also made note of the 5000 persons, including women and children, from the Yazidi religious minority who are thought to have been enslaved by ISIS terrorists in Iraq. Warrick Beaver, Managing Director of Customer and Third Party Risk at Thomson Reuters highlighted the important role of the private sector in monitoring and disrupting human trafficking in conflict.img_3288

Human trafficking, forced labour and slavery have long been associated with conflict, but this ancient problem is still with us and it seems to be getting worse. The International Labour Organization estimates that global profits from forced labour surpass US $150 billion per year, indicating that slavery, forced labour and human trafficking are more profitable than the global arms trade. There is an estimation of 45.8 million people live in modern slavery as well. The impact of human trafficking is highly destructive and the issue itself is very complex. The eradication of human trafficking cannot be done overnight, but there is clearly a moment now, a huge opportunity to raise awareness. The 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council is a global movement to fight against human trafficking and will boost development and strengthen security around the world.

Climate Neutral Now

Climate Neutral Now is an initiative launched by the United Nations’ Climate Change Secretariat a year ago. The platform is promoting climate action by all stakeholders, not only governments, to measure the greenhouse gas emissions, to report, and reduce them as much as possible. The event was attended by FIFA’s Secretary General, Ms. Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, and Mr. David Nabarro, UN Special Adviser on Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, representing the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well the Senior Director of Strategy from the UNFCCC secretariat.

Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, will be convening a high level event in New York on September 21, 2016 for world leaders to deposit their instruments of ratification or to commit publicly to joining the agreement of Climate Neutral Now this year. In 2015, Ban Ki Moon called on UN agencies, funds, and programs to lead by example and become climate neutral by 2020. “Today, nearly every United Nations entity measures its climate footprint and is taking actions to reduce it. 23 United Nations organizations are already fully climate neutral,” Ban Ki Moon said in an address delivered by Mr. David Nabarro.

Ms. Samoura commented on FIFA’s commitment to climate neutrality stating,

“As an international organization, FIFA takes this responsibility seriously and will set a good example to others, blessing sustainability at the heart of everything we do. We aim to inspire great awareness of standard and best practices in sustainability, not only with regard to the FIFA World Cup, that is as you know watched by one billion people for the final session, so what a great tool to really raise awareness among young people.”

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CCNY NGO’s Youth Representatives, Fnu Duojizhandou and Anasimon Takla, alongside Fatma Samoura, the current and first female FIFA Secretary General, at the Climate Neutral Now event organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

Climate neutrality is not about zero emissions, but about reducing current emissions to the point where we reach the ultimate balance between emissions and the absorptive capacity of the Earth.

To live in a climate neutral world:

  1. Measure your climate footprint
  2. Reduce your emissions as much as possible
  3. Offset what you cannot reduce with UN certified emission reductions

First, in order to really understand your effect on climate change, measure your carbon footprint using this online calculator. Once you realize your impact on the world, identify areas where you can reduce these emissions. Offset what you cannot reduce with UN Certified Emission Reductions by contributing to the climate change battle when buying offsets online from CDM projects.

Watch the webcast of the full event here!

Education is Not A Crime

CCNY NGO had the pleasure to meet Ayana Hosten and Saleem Vaillancourt. Both are activists for the organization #Not a CrimeYou may have seen the murals in New York City. Murals such as the one shown below by TatsCru in a schoolyard on Madison Avenue and 127th Street. This is not the only mural. More can be found all over New York, including Harlem and East Harlem. These pieces of art were created in an effort to help raise awareness about the fact that thousands of young people in Iran are being denied access to higher education because of their beliefs. Started by #Not a Crime organization, the street art campaign is not just restricted to New York. Other murals were created in Rio De Janeiro, Salvador, Cape Town, etc.

tatscru-2223Iran’s largest religious minority are the Baha’is, who have been persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian government prevents Baha’is from teaching or studying at public universities. As a result, the Baha’is formed their own informal university in 1987, the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. However, the community is still being harassed and denied opportunities due to their faith.

The upcoming high-level General Assembly meetings of the United Nations offer a special opportunity to raise awareness about human rights violations. Education should not be a privilege. After all, Sustainable Development Goal 4 is calling to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Let us also keep in mind that the theme of the general debate of the 71st session is “The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world.”

Here at The City College of New York we need to keep in mind that there are countries in which young people are being denied the access to education. You can show support as well, by visiting the murals and sharing a picture via social media. You can also create your own piece of art and share it. Do not forget to tag #NotACrime.

2016 CCNY NGO Youth Representatives’ Commitments

 

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We, the Youth Representatives of CCNY NGO to the United Nations, commit to:

  1. Participate in UN Open Meetings, especially those related to issues concerning Education, Youth, Human Rights, and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Speak on behalf of CCNY NGO in an appropriate manner and to the best of our abilities.
  3. Participate actively in discussions, Q&A sessions, and open mic sessions, in order to highlight the work of CCNY NGO.
  4. Dress in a professional manner, whenever representing CCNY NGO.
  5. Report on every meeting and/or event attended (this includes social media presence).
  6. Publicize a monthly report and/or article concerning event participation.
  7. Weekly attendance of UN DPI NGO briefings.
  8. Give back to the CCNY student community through informal and formal channels, such as: on-campus information sessions, club events, roundtables, among others.
  9. At least one on-campus event during the semester, sharing our experience as Youth Representatives to the United Nations.
  10. Build a foundation for following CCNY NGO Youth Representatives to the UN.
  11. Proactively bridge the work of City College, as an academic institution, and the United Nations.

SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind

On August 26th two of our CCNY NGO Youth Representatives visited the exhibit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations. The exhibit is titled “A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind” and runs until September 7th, 2016. Emphasis is placed on the inclusive process which was used in order to come up with the 17 SDGs. The SDGs were built on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired in 2015. In the largest global option survey, My World 2015, over 10 million people expressed their hopes and dreams. The MDGs had demonstrated that sound strategies, adequate resources and political will could bring along change. Additionally, the MDGs also showed that “climate change and environmental degradation undermine progress achieved, and that people from low-income communities suffer the most.” An expansion of the initial MDGs was therefore necessary. The result was the list of 17 SDGs, ratified by 193 countries in September 2015. The 17 goals include 169 targets and 231 indicators.

Find the full list here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/

The exhibit did not just include background on the SDGs, but videos of SDG advocates from all over the world. The video “Own Your Voice” is introducing the female Change Ambassadors who inspire to raise awareness about the SDGs. 2 billion, 29% of the population, are aware of the SDGs. 700,000 individuals, 0.01% of the population, are serving as advocates. Reality is that everyone is needed in order to increase awareness about the SDGs. Every single action counts.  After all, the SDGs are a people-powered agenda, and we are the ones that have to hold leaders and each other accountable. The exhibit also gives each visitor the chance to take the world survey, which lets you report on goals that are important to you and your family. You rate if the situation addressed by these goals has improved, stayed the same, or has gotten worse in the past year. Additionally, you have the chance to take a picture with your favorite goal. No goal is a stand-alone goal. The goals build on each other and are interdependent.

Goal 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities” and Goal 4 “Quality Education” are of particular interest to CCNY NGO.

FullSizeRenderGoal 4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The goal has ten targets, one of them being to “ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” The New York City Department of Education has made free pre-K a success with its campaign “Pre-K for All”. This program is a great example for the path towards achieving one of the targets. Quality education is of course of interest to college students as well. While we may complain of the scarce choice of classes we have at CCNY, we cannot forget that in some countries young adults, especially girls, do not even have the opportunity to go to school.

Goal 11 aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” This goal also has ten targets, one of them being to “provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.” A reliable transportation system is also key for ensuring that individuals can get to their education centers. Someone living in a rural area should not be prevented from attending school, because it would take her hours to walk to her school. Of course this is just one aspect, but it should provide an idea on how these goals and targets are connected.

The agenda is an ambitious one and the goals are supposed to be achieved by 2030. However, we cannot just rely on politicians and leaders to achieve these goals for the global community. We are an integral part of this community, and therefore it is also our responsibility to leave no one behind.