Sam Coons | Print |

UNA-USA Youth Leader

Sam_Coons_2751. Why is the United Nations important to the world?

The United Nations acts as a forum in which any nation or culture can find refuge from prejudice to fight for its interests. It opens up diplomacy into a stage where opinions and views are judged by their intrinsic value to the world, a monumental change from the “us-versus-them” mentality that had defined international relations for most of history. In this age of global dependence, this has made the United Nations more important than ever. Where wars were often isolated to the geographic region in which they took place, now societies and economies the world over could be affected by a conflict in a foreign land. No longer can such conflicts be based on menial differences inflamed by subjective views; the world has the United Nations as a tool to view these differences objectively and influence how these conflicts should resolve to best serve mankind.

2. How does the UN affect your work or your life?

I joined my school’s Model United Nations club as a freshman, early in the years that would define my perspective on the state of the world. By studying the United Nations and the policies of its member states and observing how these policies interact in debate, I was given insight into how the world and, more importantly, people work. My current outlook on my role as a citizen of the United States and the United States’ role as a member of the global community were heavily influenced by these findings. I would like to think that I am able to understand ignorance and avoid it more effectively now than I would be able to had I not taken part in Model United Nations.

3. Why should Americans care about the UN’s work?

The United Nations allows Americans to objectively view their place in the world as citizens of a hugely influential superpower. The United States provides a model that much of the world follows and strives for, but that does not mean this model is necessarily effective or even right. The United Nations functions as the world’s way of responding to phenomena that nations like the United States produces as a byproduct of its political, social, and economic culture. Additionally, understanding what the United Nations achieves through its programs and why the world has deemed them necessary helps fight the ignorance that may cause problems in the American model. To live with a conscious knowledge of world issues is the easiest way to understand the place of the United States in the world scene today.

4. In your opinion, what has been the UN’s best moment to date?

I think that the eradication of smallpox best exemplifies the strengths of the United Nations and what it is capable of achieving. Although the fight against the disease had been underway for more than a century, the World Health Organization helped accelerate the process through its $2.4 million annual contribution starting in 1967 and adoption of a new surveillance method. From then on, the WHO played a pivotal role, distributing vaccines and assisting with the revaccination of the 1972 Yugoslavia outbreak. By 1979, smallpox had been certified as eradicated. This accomplishment demonstrated how the United Nations was capable of gathering massive support and cooperation to better humanity through a truly global effort.

5. What do you think is the most exciting opportunity for the UN moving forward?

I believe that the most exciting opportunity for the United Nation is also the most challenging. The quickening pace of development in the past few decades has the potential to bring enormous benefit to the world through new discoveries in communications, production, and efficiency, but it comes at a high human cost. Although development has always brought with it a destabilization of existing society, the way in which the world is changing today is significantly faster and larger in both scope and scale. The opportunity for the United Nations is to monitor this development and protect man’s inherent rights, those that are vital to the existence of every culture whether it be eastern or western, past or present. It may seem like a tall task, but the United Nations is the only body in the world today that can overlook the interests of individual players and establish the common ground necessary to protect these rights.

6. What is the most effective element of UNA-USA’s work?

Rather biasedly, I think that the UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms program is its most effective. I have seen in me and many of my peers the effect that Model United Nations has on young citizens in the midst of establishing the values they will keep for much of their lives. Youth’s importance only grows as time goes by and they assume control of society; shaping them into conscious, worldly adults is the easiest way to promote the principles that the United States should represent as its role in the global community changes. Establishing this knowledge at an early age while the mind is still malleable and open will help stem the ignorance that the United Nations must fight, and therefore it is of utmost importance to the UNA-USA’s mission to mobilize Americans to support the ideals of the United Nations.