The United Nations at 72: Reflections by One Young World Ambassador

This article was written by One Young World Ambassador Mary-Jean Nnleya*, who attended the SDG Media Zone at the UN General Assembly in September 2017.

Below are reflections of the global body as it marks its 72 years of existence. Below is a short video which features snippet interviews and panel discussions which took place during the SDG Media Zone at the 72nd UNGA.

During the week of September 18, 2017 – September 22, 2017 world leaders and their entourages, leaders of international organizations, academics, the media and others attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City. Despite some prominent leaders opting to send delegations to the UNGA; instead of personally attending – such leaders were Xi of China; Putin of Russia and Germany’s Merkel, the convention nevertheless did proceed.

The highly anticipated ‘Trump speech’ was listened to, analyzed and in other instances critiqued. France’s young president Macron made his debut, and starkly contrasted with Trump on most of the vital and critical issues, such as: climate change, multilateralism, the Iran Deal.

Last week, the 72nd birthday of the UN offered a great opportunity to reflect on how far the international community has come and how far we, the global society, still have to go. Indeed, the UN is not all about the headline grabbing events such as the UNGA; rather the UN’s work is more of the behind the scenes, day-to-day and perhaps mundane work, which may include the heavy lifting done by the peacekeeping missions in various conflict-ridden countries, the efforts those who provide food items to refugees.

On this day, it is remembered that the UN is a body that plays a fundamental role in advocating for and promoting world peace and development. Yet, political interests have in the past and still do sometimes come in the way of achieving its grand goals. In 2015, the international body went up a notch and reconfigured the former MDGs and formulated the 2030 Agenda with the mission of leaving no one behind in the achievement of the 17 goals and its 169 targets.

Despite the progress made on many fronts, there are contemporary challenges that have also come to the fore that require tackling, among others: climate change, terrorism, cyber security issues and so on. The UN is not self-executing it requires all hands to be on deck to achieve its mandate, including: the media, academics and of course the more traditional players like the diplomats and government leaders, and just as importantly, the youth. 

*Mary-Jean Nleya is a One Young World Ambassador and the founder & editor of The Global Communiqué. Follow her on twitter: @thegloco