UN End of Term Blogpost

Time flies, and Michaelmas Term has already come to an end! Hopefully, you have had a fruitful term and will find time for rest and fun over the break. In this blog post, I will briefly discuss the general successes and failures of the United Nations, and end off with informing readers of internship opportunities in the UN.

Some people are sceptical of the effectiveness of UN as they UN had failed in various missions: the 1994 Assistance Mission for Rwanda where the UN knew about the planned genocide of the Tutsi minority by the Hutus majority, but still failed to prevent the rampage of nearly a million; the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 where over 8000 Bosnian Muslims were killed in the town that was declared a safe zone; and most recently, failing to execute the seven-day ceasefire resolution in Syria’s besieged eastern Aleppo, hence failing to provide humanitarian aid to the people trapped there. Others criticize the effectiveness of the organisation due to the veto power of the Permanent 5 in the Security Council, since it is difficult for the five nations to come to consensus over many issues due to their own interests.

Indeed, the UN has failed in many instances and ways, however, UN definitely has had successes and positive influences as well. As Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon said in a General Assembly debate on maintaining international peace and security in October 2015, “In many respects, the world is shifting beneath our feet. Yet the Charter remains a firm foundation for shared progress.” Since the 1990s, many conflicts have been brought to an end either through UN mediation or the action of third parties acting with UN support, such as the success in Sierra Leone, where the combatants of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Civil Defence Force (CDF) were disarmed within a year, and where free and fair elections were facilitated in 2002. Research credits UN peace making, peacekeeping and conflict prevention activities as a major factor behind a 40-per cent decline in conflict around the world since the 1990s. Furthermore, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the UN has enacted many legally binding agreements on political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights, and UN human rights bodies have focused world attention on violations such as torture, hence generating international pressure on governments to improve human rights records.

Apart from the various missions that the UN is more known for, an integral part of their existence involves tackling complex world problems everywhere with viable policies and solutions. Although the UN does have some shortfalls, it is no doubt worthwhile to consider being part of the organisation that works hard towards ending conflict, alleviating poverty, promoting economic development, combating climate change, defending human rights, and so on. Are you interested in diplomacy and public policy? If your answer is not a firm ‘no’, why not consider interning at the UN?

The deadlines for the several openings of internship positions are all around February next year in 2017, so this Christmas break is a good time to start thinking about applying for an internship in the UN. During the internship panel ‘Let’s talk about Internships’ earlier in the Michaelmas Term, previous UN interns gave some insights as to what interning at the UN is like. Internship is unpaid for, but Leonor (a 1st Year MSc Human Rights student, who went through a 6-month internship in Department of Public Information in the New York HQ) said that “it is a privilege to be able to have that experience without getting paid”. The LSE MUN Director Ralph Chow (a 2nd Year Bsc Economics student from LSE, who had a 3-months internship in UN-Habitat in the New York HQ) said he had “the best time” there, and gave some advice – “the most important thing (to secure an internship with the UN) would be to show you can work in a challenging environment; and with different people, settings and cultures”.

It is possible to intern with other United Nations funds and programmes as well, such as the UN Development Porgramme, the UN Children’s Fund, and so much more! Do consider applying for a UN internship, and check out the link below for more details. https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=ip

Author: Natasha Teh