ACUNS conference January 2013

Have the United Nations Agencies Adapted to the 21st Century?

The Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS) Vienna Liaison Office in cooperation with Vienna based UN entities, United Nations Associations (UNAs), universities and educational institutions, and with the support of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, organized a conference titled "Have the UN Agencies Adapted to the 21st Century?". The conference was held at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) from 9 to 11 January 2013.

Discussions and colloquia sessions included nuclear technology and sustainable development, knowledge management, the prospects of entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), uses and misuses of data sets, security challenges to nuclear energy, engaging youth in the United Nations and the rise of the Global South.

ACUNS Chair and President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice, Abiodun Williams, opened the conference. In his keynote speech he referred to the complexity of managing conflicts and the importance of conflict prevention and proper private sector involvement.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs Thomas Stelzer pointed to the necessity of a green economy based on the Rio+20 agreements. He particularly highlighted the promotion of sustainable economic development, implying an overall reduction of emissions while at the same time increasing the number of jobs.

A panel discussion on Austrian peacekeeping operations and the future of peacekeeping was hosted by the Austrian National Defence Academy to kick off the conference. The panel chaired by ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer Michael Platzer included ACUNS Executive Director Alistair Edgar, Brig. Gen. Walter Feichtinger from the Austrian National Defence Academy, UNIS Vienna Director Janos Tisovszky, and Nasra Hassan, Director International Relations of the Association of Austrian Peacekeepers. The participants were given complex insights on current and future UN peacekeeping challenges.

Among colloquia sessions held at the conference was also a session entitled "Engaging Youth in the United Nations". The panel moderated by UNIS Vienna Director Janos Tisovszky included several representatives working with and for young people. UNIDO Associate Youth Employment Expert Matteo Landi provided a wide overview of possibilities of youth engagement in the UN system. UNODC Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Expert Hanna Heikkila outlined UNODC's work on effective drug abuse prevention projects actively involving young people.

The UNA Austria Youth Representative Michael Klampfl briefed participants on the work and activities of the United Nations Youth and Student Association of Austria (UNYSA-AUSTRIA) and the United Nations Youth Associations Network (UNYANET).

Billy Batware, President of the United for Education and Sustainable Futures and one of the co-ordinators of the Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN), spoke of the many possibilities for young people to contribute to the goals and mandate of the United Nations.

The 2012 UN Youth Delegate of Slovakia Milena Dudasova provided valuable insights of the range of activities she is involved in and called on the young audience to become engaged in activities within or outside the UN system to make the world a better place.

The presentations and speeches were followed by a lively discussion with the audience and reflected the high interest of the students to participate in and contribute to the work and mandate of the UN.

The conference was closed with presentations of papers prepared by students of the recently launched 2012/2013 Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN)

Further information on the conference. ACUNS 2013 Conference Programme.