On Monday March 2, 2020, Utah Valley University (UVU) Rotaract in junction with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), and the UVU Office for Global Engagement hosted a panel in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The event was hosted from 10:30-11:30AM (MST) in the Liberal Arts Building (LA) 116. “UVU and the United Nations 75th Anniversary” was open to all interested members of the community.
Rotaract is the student organization of Rotary International which is an international organization founded in 1905. Since its founding, Rotary has grown to over one-million members worldwide. Individual Rotary clubs exist all over the globe. Each club is actively involved in humanitarian and other service efforts in their local communities and around the world. Rotaract, Rotary’s student branch is comprised of individuals whose ages range from eighteen to thirty. These student branches are also found all over the world, the first one being formed in 1968. UVU Rotaract is also a member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU to promote the United Nations sustainable mountain development agenda in the state of Utah and North America.
The main event of UVU and the United Nations 75th Anniversary was a panel consisting of five individuals from the local community. The panelists were selected from among UVU faculty, as well as local NGOs: Dr. Baldomero Lago, Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, Dr. Ryan Vogel, Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, and Clark Merkley. Each Panelists focused on a different aspect of the United Nations, with subjects ranging from the history of the UN to the effects of the UN in our local communities. The current efforts of local groups in reaching for the UN 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) were also discussed. Kyle Warren, President of the hosting organization, UVU Rotaract, moderated the panel. As the panelists concluded remarks, we then turned the time over to the audience for a period of questions and answers.
The fist panelist to speak was Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO for UVU Global Engagement. Dr. Lago works with many international organizations. He serves as the Honorary Consul of Spain for Utah and was awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Civil Merit by King Phillip VI of Spain. Dr. Lago spoke on Utah Valley University’s involvement with the United Nations and how the University interacts with the UN. He made remarks about how UVU was able to help coordinate the recent civil society conference which was held in Salt Lake City in the summer of 2019. In addition to the past civil society conference, Dr. Lago talked about how UVU held its very first high school model UN conference, as well as the upcoming global Civil Society Conference being planned for August of 2021 on sustainable development being held at Utah Valley University.
Following Dr. Lago, Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham addressed the audience. Dr. Cockerham, Associate Professor of Political Science and UVU, received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Arizona with a specialization in international relations. Dr. Cockerham took the time to explain the history of the United Nations, including its origins in the League of Nations as well as other important aspects of its history.
Our third panelist was Professor Ryan J. Vogel, founding director of the Center for National Security Studies at UVU. Dr. Vogel served at the Pentagon as a senior policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Dr. Vogel spoke to the audience regarding the United Nations Security Council. He expressed the reasons behind its formation and its current functions in todays international political environment. Among other points mentioned, he explained past efforts as well as current ideas of expanding the UN security council and the plausibility of these efforts. Dr. Vogel had the chance to expand on these subjects during a period of Q&A after the conclusion of the panel.
Clark Merkley, Executive Director of BootUP PD, then addressed the audience. Clark currently serves as President of the Orem Rotary Club, a local branch of Rotary International. Clark spoke from a different perspective then most of the other panelists, from the perspective of the NGOs. He described the United Nations role in working with NGOs and providing a forum where they are able to gather together and discuss global issues and efforts. A key point mentioned by Clark is that Rotary has been involved with the United Nations since its creation 75 years ago. Rotary has also recently commented on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations saying that it was intending to continue its partnership into the future.
Our final speaker was Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, former ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States and Canada from 1997 to 2005, and member of the Kyrgyz Parliament from 1995 to 2000. Dr. Abdrisaev spoke on aspects of Utah’s mountainous living and the United Nations commitment to sustainable mountain development. The Utah International Mountain Forum, under the mentorship of Dr. Abdrisaev, has continued over the course of several year to promote sustainable mountain development as an agenda item at the UN. This effort has led to increased international awareness toward mountain communities, a population generally overlooked in global politics. Dr. Abdrisaev spoke about Utah’s model of sustainable mountain development being an excellent model for international implementation, something that UIMF as well as UVU Rotaract, in combination with other local partners, intends to present on in a parallel event at the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, being held in New York later this month.
UVU Rotaract is committed to continued efforts with the United Nations. As a club, we were happy to extend our efforts toward educating the student body and attending faculty on the subject of international collaboration between such political bodies and other NGOs. As a member of UIMF, Rotaract is also committed to continued efforts with local organizations for the advancement of the sustainable mountain development agenda. We look forward to future events in which we may demonstrate our commitment to these causes through active participation.
Kyle Warren, UVU Rotaract President
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS