Every semester Professor Hugh Dugan organizes a visit to the United Nations. Last semester, Professor Dugan took his class “UN Security Council Issues” for the United Nations special tour. The first meeting was with Dr. Youseff Mahmoud, a Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute (IPI). He authored the Secretary-General’s first initiative last year, the concept of “a surge in diplomacy for peace.” Dr. Mahmoud asked the students what their takeaways from the meeting would be. In response to that, he talked about sustaining peace, positive peace, the role of women and the participation of smaller countries in decision making. For him, the UN Charter is the UN framework, especially Chapter 6 – Pacific Settlement of Disputes which has measures to settle conflicts by peaceful means, such as negotiation, mediation, and confidence-building. Dr. Mahmoud believes we should exhaust the means from Chapter 6 before using any kind of force. According to Dr. Mahmoud, the maintenance of peace and security starts at home, it should not bet anyone’s business because prevention is a governance role, prevention is everyone’s job. In the regard of peace, Dr. Mahmoud explained the difference between negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace is the absence of violence; however, it does not infer that there is peace. Whereas positive peace is filled with construction, restoration, and creation of relationships, social systems, and infrastructure to the whole population. He also explained the concept of peace mapping, which is a need for assessment that can identify the immediate action before the peacebuilding process. The starting point should be the common aspirations the involved parties share. What they want to leave for their children and grandchildren, for the future. This is how we develop the capacity for sustaining peace, not dividing and segregating people.
After that, we attended the UN Noon Daily Press Briefing which is conducted by UN spokesman Stephan Dujarric. The briefing was very concise and diverse. The conflicts in Gaza, Syria, and Myanmar are constantly on the agenda. Besides, issues in Lebanon and Mali, as well as Venezuelan refugees, were mentioned. To conclude the briefing, Mr. Dujarric flagged a new report on Energy and the Secretary‑General’s travels to China. When the briefing was over, we had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Dujarric’s daily schedules and make questions. When Dujarric is corned by journalists, he says that it is better to look stupid than saying something stupid. The UN Press team starts working at 5:30 am. By 8:45 am the team gathers a 10-page briefing. From 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, Dujarric meets the Secretary-General and his staff to brief them. At 12:00, Dujarric gives the UN Noon Daily Press Briefing. According to him, he has the best job in the building, he is passionate about his work and his family. Dujarric gives great importance to the journalists that cover the UN explaining how it works. He mentioned that the UN is the only place where you will find Cuban and Iranians journalists.
In the afternoon, we had our last meeting with Dr. Jehangir Khan who is Director of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. Dr. Khan has worked for the UN for over 30 years, he says the most difficult diplomacy is the UN diplomacy due to its multilateralism. Finding consensus and solving the world’s issues collectively is an art. About the criticisms and budget cutoffs, Khan said that the UN works as a scapegoat for the member states. If the UN has good outcomes, the member states have the glory. If the UN has not so good outcomes, the fault lies with the UN. Although the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) was established in 2011, it was Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres that created a Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact together with 36 UN entities, including the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), as well as Interpol and the World Customs Organization in February 2018. The Global Compact carries out counter-terrorism projects around the world. Terrorism is a universal challenge, fueled by the ideologies of extremism. Khan mentioned that the terrorist groups are targeting young people, 18-25 years old. The terrorist groups ISIS and Al-Qaeda recruited people from more than 100 countries. These numbers are alarming. According to Khan, the answer to combat terrorism lies in prevention. He wants to engage with the youth to hear them and work with them to bring the world together. Because the UN is at the forefront of collective responsibility, Khan hopes the member states can work together, in consensus. He concludes by saying that the UN is much bigger and stronger than the Security Council. There is a perennial optimism that drives the UN staff.
This blog post was written by Patricia Zanini Graca. Patricia is a first-year graduate student at Seton Hall’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Patricia graduated in Business Administration and she holds an MBA in Business and Marketing. Patricia is a UN Digital Representative at the Center for UN and Global Governance Studies, the Executive Director at the Journal of Diplomacy, and the director of International Affairs at the Graduate Diplomacy Council. She specializes in International Organizations and Global Negotiations & Conflict Management.