Working at the United Nation has been the most rewarding and informative job experience

File Photo: Το Συμβούλιο Ασφαλείας των Ηνωμένων Εθνών. EPA, JUSTIN LANE




U.N Internship Reflection Paper #1
Working at the United Nation has been the most rewarding and informative job experience for me thus far. The United Nations has been dealing with issues of peacekeeping since its founding and its objective is to protect civilians and human rights all over the world. Currently, the countries of highest concern are situated in the Middle East and Africa – armed conflicts, human rights, immigration bans, politics, poverty, education, violence against women and more.

My job is to attend daily briefings and security council conferences and assist my supervisor with gathering all the information we need to compile political/social/economic articles and report, as Greek correspondents, for MEGAONE, Ethnos Newspaper and Athens Agency News. During the daily briefings the main topics announced are the United Nation positions regarding political statements and orders – such as the recent travel ban – and how the UN is affected, specific movements of the UN regarding civilians’ protection in different countries as well as the support and supplies the United Nations provide to every country in need and also the Secretary-General’s position regarding current events and policies. We, as the press as well as interns like myself, are allowed to posit any kind of questions and demands for clarification that we deem appropriate. When the spokesperson completes his statements every journalist does what he/she knows best: ask a lot of questions. I am most interested in political news and human rights violations and I am seeking to go deeper and deeper every time I attend those meetings and get more details each time. The United Nations give me the opportunity to learn and write about both and being accompanied with my supervisor, I am learning techniques on how to ask the right questions or how to inquire for the information I need. Plus, my office is located where all the inter-national correspondents are so I have access to any sort of international information and correspondent when I want to learn more about a specific issue and ultimately write about it.

Each week I attend major security council meetings and write reports on them for my supervisor to review in order to compile an instructive article. All of them concern crucial actions that the U.N and the member states have taken in order to protect countries in need, ensuring security and peace across the world. Specifically, a very important meeting was hosted by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict. The UN marks 20 years of work to improve protection of children affected by conflict. The senior United Nations advocate for children caught up in conflict is reaching out to parents, elders, and the entire international community to keep children away from armies and militias – a UN role that over the past two decades has helped more than 115,000 child soldiers regain their youth. Ms Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, was inter-viewed as well, stating: “My role is to reach them, to try to convince them that they are the ones who can make a difference on the ground.” She also noted that as a UN envoy, she could not advance the mandate (mandate of the Special Representative) without the support of the 193-member UN General Assembly, the Security Council, and regional organizations. The Office of the Special Representative works to eliminate six grave violations:

▪ Recruitment and use of children
▪ Killing and maiming
▪ Rape and sexual violence in conflict
▪ Attacks on schools and hospitals
▪ Abduction of children
▪ Denial of humanitarian access (https://www.un.org/en/index.html)

Another very essential security council meeting I had the privilege to go to revolved
around the threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts and the protection
of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks. Representatives of 15-member states
attended the meeting and placed their statements concerning each country’s position and action
on how their countries protect and defend themselves from terrorism also offered suggestions
on how to the whole world can defend against ISIS-inspired attacks.

Given the importance of critical infrastructure for a country’s prosperity and security, and
against the backdrop of increasingly diverse physical and cyber threats from terrorist groups, the
United Nations Security Council underlined the need for international collaboration – both
domestically and across borders – to ensure their protection. In a resolution, adopted
unanimously, the 15-member Council reiterated “the need to strengthen efforts to improve
security and protection of particularly vulnerable targets, such as infrastructure and public
places.” Attacks against objects and sectors such as banking and finance, telecommunications,
emergency services, air, maritime and rail transportation, and energy and water supply
perceived as ‘attractive targets’ for terrorist groups – can result not only in civilian casualties, but
also damage property on a larger scale, disrupt proper functioning of public services, and create
chaos in societies. (https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12714.doc.htm)

Maria M. Andriotis
United Nations Intern
Master of Arts in Public Media – Journalism Concentration
Fordham University – Graduate School of Arts and Science

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