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Research project

The UN and I: What can the UN mean for My Future?

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word UN? Is it just the Security Council and the ‘blue helmets’ or is there more to it? These are some of the questions tackled by the Chair’s research group.

Alanna O'Malley

To answer these questions the Chair will organise events, produce academic and practice-oriented research and engage with actors from different sectors of society. To succeed, it will need the active participation of young people who bring innovative ideas and passion for the UN. This project aims to inspire and encourage young people to take ownership over the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is an opportunity to grab the microphone, grab the steering wheel and change the course of direction of our future by heading towards the new world we want to see ourselves living in.

This project is a part of the Van Aartsen Honours Program (City of The Hague) and the Pre-University program of Leiden University. The UN and I project is designed to act as an umbrella for the Chair’s activities which relate to the United Nations Youth 2030 agenda. The idea is to discuss with young people how the UN is relevant for our individual and collective futures. The aim is to inform and provide young people with an understanding of the UN and its activities that goes beyond peacekeeping operations and the activities of the United Nations Security Council.

This program brings together young people (under 35) who live, study, or work in the Netherlands and are interested in the United Nations and its various programs and specialized agencies like the United Nations Environment program (UNEP), UNICEF, UN Women, and the United Nations University system in the Netherlands (UNU-MERIT). The project looks at how the UN facilitates peacebuilding efforts, tackles gender equality, and examines global efforts to address climate change. We also discuss what can be improved within the UN systems by looking at the problems and criticisms provided by young people and experts who work for or with the UN. The project introduces young people in the Netherlands to the work of the UN and will show how important it is for the future of humanity. The objective of the UN and I project is to provide a platform for young people to engage with global issues while encouraging them to develop a critical perspective of the UN.

  • What does the UN Do?
  • How does the UN handle peace and security issues?
  • Beyond peacekeeping and the UN’s humanitarian activities
  • The sustainable development goals

This project is working with young people at two levels: in schools (14-17 years) and at university.

At the school level, the Chair works with pupils in The Hague that are often unable to participate in school programs that simulate features of the United Nations. To introduce the purpose of the United Nations, how it operates, and the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) the Chair created a program that outlines the UN principles and concept of world citizenship, issues related to global governance, and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The program consists of interactive sessions that reveal the processes used by international civil servants and politicians to resolve conflicts and address humanitarian emergencies. At the end of the course pupils can confidently explain their own opinions and engage with different ideas, beliefs, or opinions about topical and controversial global issues. The program provides students with an understanding of important global issues and encourages them to develop their own viewpoints on how these global challenges should be tackled.

At the university level, the Chair created and manages a group called UN Youth Impact. UN Youth Impact connects with initiatives started by student associations, model UN groups, and Dutch youth organizations all over the country. The objective is to promote initiatives that relate to the sustainable development goals, create a network for people working on the SDG targets, and provide a platform for groups or individuals to share their ideas on how we can work together and meet the targets set in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

To achieve this goal UN Youth Impact is creating a network for young people in The Netherlands interested in engaging at a local level with the United Nations and its Youth2030 strategy. In addition, UN Youth Impact is organising events and workshops that relate to the Youth2030 strategy and Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. SDG 16 serves as an umbrella theme for the activities of UN Youth Impact and the events we organise focus on how SDG 16 relates to other SDG’s and their targets such as SDG (4) education, SDG (13) climate action, SDG (5) gender equality.

The ‘UN and I’ project is managed by the Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, a position held by Professor Alanna O’Malley at Leiden University and The Hague University. If you have questions or wish to know more about the UN Studies Chair or the project in Dutch schools, please email unstudies@hum.leidenuniv.nl. For questions about UN Youth Impact, please email unyouthimpact@gmail.com.

Youth 2030

A brief note about Youth 2030.

The UN’s Youth2030 Strategy, which was unveiled in September 2018, emphasises the importance of amplifying youth voices and engaging youth in UN Youth strategies and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Another important element of the strategy is the aim to support youth in their peace, security, and humanitarian efforts. It marks a departure point for UN Youth, as for the first time it really recognises youth as agents in the 2030 Sustainable Agenda. To learn more about Youth2030, see here.

 The Chair of UN Studies

This Chair aims to increase the visibility and relevance of the UN to the general public in The Hague and beyond, capitalizing on The Hague a strategic centre for UN Studies.

This Chair is positioned halfway within the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University's Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs and the Faculty of Governance, Law and Safety of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The Chair is funded by the Municipality of The Hague as part of the ‘Van Aartsen honours program’ in the field of UN Studies.

Women in Mediation event

Written by Roxanne Van der Bliek, the blog post provides an overview of an event hosted at the Hague University of Applied Sciences to Celebrate International Women's Day. Read the blog post here.

Female Leadership in Peacebuilding: What we can learn from women in the field?

Written by Roza de Jong,  Roxanne Van der Bliek, and Helena Mitchell, the blog post provides an overview of an event hosted by the Chair of UN Studies research group and UN Youth Impacted hosted to Celebrate International Women's Day. Read the blog post here.

Centre for Sustainable Development Studies Conference: Education Sustainability, and Inclusive Development

Written by Hannah Madelon, the blog post provides an overview of a two-day conference hosted in January by the Centre for Sustainable Development studies. Read the blog post here.

Will the pandemic derail hard-won progress on gender equality?

On 23 November, we hosted a webinar discussing this question and introducing the responses of two Global South states in preventing violence against women during the pandemic. Click here to read the event summary.

From Background Noise to Alarm Bells: Towards Inclusive Climate Action

On Friday 4 December at 11:30AM (CET), the Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice organized a virtual event that focused on contemporary challenges brought about climate change from the perspective of the UN’s lesser-known actors. Click here to read the event summary.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: UN Youth Impact’s project launch

UN Youth Impact is a project that aims to create a network of students around The Netherlands who are interested in engaging at a local level with the United Nations and its strategies for youth. UN Youth Impact held its project launch event on Thursday 2 May 2019. Read the blog...

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Time for students to grab the microphone

On Wednesday 6 March 2019 Professor O’Malley presented the research agenda for the Lectoraat United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice and gave a talk entitled: ‘The United Nations, From Blue Helmets to Blue Skies'. Read the report...

The Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice

Contact Professor Alanna O’Malley for questions about the Chair’s work and project in schools at unstudies@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

UN Youth Impact

Contact the board of UN Youth Impact at unyouthimpact@gmail.com for questions about the project with university students and youth organisations, to discuss collaborating with UN Youth Impact, or for more information about upcoming events.

Web page manager

Contact Corianne Oosterbaan for any issues or questions about the web page for UN Youth Impact at c.m.oosterbaan@fgga.leidenuniv.nl.

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