My Internship at the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations

Brandon Pedler with Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, Ambassador Kelly Craft,

In the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to work as an intern for the US State Department at the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) in New York City. Situated directly across 1st Avenue from the United Nations, the twenty-three-story building overlooks the UN General Assembly building and the East River. On the twentieth floor of the building is the Political Section where I have been interning. This section is primarily responsible for issues pertaining to the UN Security Council but also helps with the General Assembly (GA) and its committees where needed.

I arrived at the Political Section at USUN on the 16th of September 2019, one week before the beginning of high-level week at the UN. High-level week saw the arrival of the heads of state of over one hundred and eighty countries to come speak in front of the General Assembly. During this week I had the opportunity to sit in the GA and listen to some of the heads of state hold their addresses on the world stage. In a small special gathering just for USUN staff and their families I also had the chance to meet the President of the United States. However, the real work began after all the world leaders left New York City.

Brandon Pedler at the podium in the UN General Assembly Hall

The Security Council has had a very busy few months leading up to the holidays, with the renewal of several Peacekeeping Missions around the world coming due in the last few months, and a few more still to come before Christmas. Under the direction of the mission staff, I helped with the renewal of the peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and am currently helping with the efforts to renew the mandate of the mission in Abyei, a disputed region on the border of Sudan and South Sudan (UNISFA), and the mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). While my role in all of these efforts have been primarily supporting in nature, I have had the chance to help inform US policy makers on what is happening in these negotiations and back the efforts of the diplomatic staff.

Brandon Pedler behind the US desk in the UN Security Council Chamber

Along with these efforts, I have been involved with the Fourth Committee, which deals with decolonization and special topics. While I have usually been taking notes and back benching for USUN staff, I have had the chance to sit in the chair as the representative of the United States in the committee when the primary was unable to attend the meetings. Many of the responsibilities here again included supporting the US staff and providing summaries of the events during the meetings. Nevertheless, the experience has taught me how the United Nations functions at the highest levels of multilateral diplomacy.

Additionally, I have engaged with other member states of the UN on different topics such as Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), Protection of Civilians (POC), and Disarmament (DDR). In some of these meetings I was sent alone as the representative of the United States when our own primaries were unable to attend due to other commitments. This has given me the chance to make professional connections with representatives of other countries and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) while representing the interest of the United States in these issues. This hands-on learning experience has been invaluable to my professional development and builds upon the skills learned at UVU and UIMF.

Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations in New York

As I come upon the end of my internship on the 22nd of November, I still have a lot of work ahead in the coming days. The process of peace never stops, and I am grateful for what I can do to be part of that progression and representing the United States’ interest in that peace. While the United Nations is not a perfect tool, it has helped prevent the development of large-scale conflict in the last seventy-four years. As the UN celebrates its sesquicentennial next year, I hope and believe that my efforts here have helped to make the world a safer and more peaceful place. I am grateful to all those who have helped me get here and the experience and education I received through the Utah International Mountain Forum and Utah Valley University through engaged student learning.

Brandon Pedler, member, UIMF