UVU students learning NGO advocacy from UN official

 

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Utah Valley University (UVU) sponsored a visit of guest lecturer Felipe Queipo, Information Officer for the United Nations’ NGO Relations & Advocacy branch of the Department of Public Information. Mr. Queipo was visiting Utah to meet with local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and to help foster relationships between them and the UN. His activities at our school included a meeting with local NGOs and school organizations focused on NGO work, as well as a general lecture for students. Before the general lecture members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU during special meeting informed UN official about student’s engagement in the advocacy of the United Nations Sustainable Mountain Development agenda in the State of Utah and North America. The nature of his lecture then was centered around the evolution of the United Nations, their adoption of avenues to communicate directly with civil society, and how we, as students, can get involved.

Mr. Felipe Queipo before the student audience at UVU

Mr. Quiepo began his lecture by asking students for their knowledge, opinions and questions about the United Nations — he even joked, saying that he was anticipating the question, “Why is the UN so useless?” That moment, while humorous, became the focal point of Mr. Quiepo’s lecture, and the catalyst for some real revolutionary thinking.

He then went on to explain that what we commonly think of as the UN—monolithic and governmentally-run—is the General Assembly and Security Council. Delving into the deadlock faced by the Security Council, elaborating on its establishment, lack of faculties to change, and its member nations’ tumultuous back and forth over the last seventy odd years, Mr. Quiepo really got to the heart of the matter as to why public perception of the UN is one of incapability.

However, he explained, these were only organs of a much larger organization. UN official explained that new initiatives launched by other branches of the UN, including the Secretariat and ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), highlighted these exact issues and were predicated upon the idea that the best way to achieve results would be to extend beyond government interaction, to directly work with civil society. He stressed the importance of becoming active in your individual community, and using that momentum and the specialized skills of each individual and community to bring about real change around the world and how his particular department could be helpful to pursue those endeavors.

Overall, his speech was one of hope and encouragement—the perfect call to action for university students. Mr. Quiepo taught us that, no matter how small, positive forces in the world are important, and that each of our life experiences, though different, can all be positively utilized to facilitate change in the world. The encouragement, both on a personal level, and with the knowledge that the UN is increasing support and visibility for local NGOs, was truly inspiring.

David Schwartz, UVU student

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Josman Cereceres: Engaded learning from Felipe Queipo in advocating mountain cause at the UN

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Vitor Yunga: learning about humanitarian and NGO efforts at the United Nations from Felipe Queipo

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