The trip was organized by Professor Harvey Langholtz of the Psychology Department, a former officer at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and was jointly led by Professor Tierney.
The group started by touring the United Nations Headquarters, including the General Assembly and Security Council rooms. A UN staffer fielded questions about the building and led students through several exhibitions about major UN initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights campaigns.
After lunch in the area, the group re-convened at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Here, they met with several U.S. representatives to the UN from various issue areas, including the Adviser to the Permanent Representative to the UN, a representative of the Political Section handling Syria and Lebanon issues, and the Humanitarian Affairs Adviser. The former, Doug Mercado, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from William & Mary in 1985. They discussed the role of norms in day-to-day negotiations at the UN, their role in the interpretation of policy, and the importance of the UN to American interests.
Finally, the group visited the offices of UN Women, a recently established UN entity charged with overseeing gender equality and women’s empowerment projects, coordinating the work of what were formerly four distinct agencies under one umbrella agency. Here, they met with Anne-Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor on Peace & Security, who delivered a spirited briefing on the importance of women’s involvement in post-conflict agreements, past Security Council resolutions that incorporate certain gender equality issues into international norms, and common persisting violations of women’s human rights during conflict.
The trip provided the group a behind-the-scenes look at the UN and gave them a good picture of the negotiation and policy-making side of this multifaceted organization, as well as the various advocacy and representative entities involved in its operation.