Glendon MPIA students participate in United Nations Security Council discussions

Students from the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) Master’s in Public and International Affairs (MPIA) program participated in two discussions led by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York City, this fall. The two high-profile discussions on Oct. 28 and 29 featured a UNSC update on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and a UNSC discussion and resolution vote on women, peace and security.

The Oct. 28 discussion focused on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Palestinian and Israeli Ambassadors first took the floor respectively, followed by all 15 security council ambassadors. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P5 members), other elected SC members and ambassadors reflected upon the politics and political positions of their respective countries vis-à-vis events in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine.

Glendon MPIA students outside of the UN headquarters in New York

During the first colloquium, Ambassadors Louise Blais and Richard Arbeiter led a discussion on Canada’s bid for a seat on the UNSC one of two seats for a two-year term that would begin in 2021.

The second colloquium was led by Senator Marilou McPhedran, who was in NYC to participate at the next UNSC session on women, peace and security. McPhedran is a lawyer, human rights expert and has taught at York University. In her remarks, she reflected on the role of UN in human rights, gender equity and the challenges facing women in conflict zones.

The third colloquium of the day was led by Paddy Tornsey and Alessandro Motter of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (permanent observer to the UN). Both Tornsey and Motter are Canadians.

On Oct. 29, MPIA students saw the UNSC’s processes live, including the participation of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, several ministers and 15 security council members during the discussion on women, peace and security. This session was chaired by the South African Minister of International Relations and co-Operation, Limliwe Sisulu, and allowed students to see a security council vote on Resolution 2492 in support of women’s equality and rights, as well as their role in conflict and post-conflict situations, which was unanimously adopted.

The first colloquium during this discussion was led by the Director, Division of Public Institutions and Digital Government of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Juwang Zhu, and Anni Haataja, at UNDESA. UNDESA is responsible for supporting governance and public management capacities of developing countries. The presentation and discussion focused on the challenges of building resilient institutions and sustainable development.

A partnership is underway between UNDESA officials and Glendon faculty and students, whereby Glendon community members will discuss how to develop academic courses alongside UNDESA which aim to help implement Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) from an academic institutional standpoint.

The second and final colloquium was led by the Executive Director of UNSC, Hasmik Egian, who left the floor to brief the students on the machinery of the UNSC, including its role on the world stage and in international diplomacy, its mandate, how it sets its agendas, and more.

Student Courtney Smith said the visit was an enriching experience that presented a unique perspective of the UNSC.

“Being able to witness the unanimous vote during the Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security left a long-lasting impression. Some of the speeches made during this discussion were so inspirational and it was an honour to be able to applaud this in person,” she said.

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