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Future prospects

The 47th Graduate Study Programme organised by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva draws to a close this week.

Protesters forming a moot unemployment line in Arizona, Unites States. © Jake Dobkin“Each year in July, some 80 students from all over the world enrol in the Programme to reinforce the knowledge acquired through their studies or out of personal interest. This year, participants analysed the UN’s response to reduce the impact of the global economic crisis.

Gordon Shen, a PhD candidate in California, United States, is part of the human rights component of the Programme and along with some 30 participants sought clarification on the issues. He was sceptical about proposals for economic recovery that would pay respect and be more framed with human rights principles. “How it’s being done and how it’s implemented and developed is not clear.” Shen came to Geneva because of his interest in the linkages between health and human rights. It was also an opportunity for him to learn about career prospects at the UN.

Asiya Mohammed, a Masters student from Trinidad and Tobago, heard about the programme through a friend who now works at the UN. She has poor hopes for equitable recovery from the economic downturn. “There will be more migration, more people in search of money. Unemployment is on the rise and employers, on the other hand, will discriminate even more. They’re not going to try and find a balance; they’ll go for cheap labour.” Currently studying in London, Mohammed would like to return to her home country to contribute to its development, or work on peace building and conflict resolution at the UN in the near future.

In times of economic and financial crises, the weakest and most marginalised groups, such as women and migrants, are often likely to be affected the most, especially by discrimination. Last February, the Human Rights Council held a special session on the impact of the economic and financial crises and adopted a resolution which called upon States to stand by their human rights obligations and ensure the protection of those most affected, even in times of crises.

Since the economic meltdown began, the UN system has taken coordinated steps to address the challenges of the current economic context by setting up a series of nine joint initiatives aiming to ensure food security, boost employment and provide access to basic social services among others. The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, more commonly known as the G-20, has given its support to the UN’s monitoring role in the financial crisis.

At the end of the Graduate Study Programme each working group will submit their analysis of the year’s theme which will be consolidated into a final report. Participants will also be awarded a certificate by the Director of the United Nations Office in Geneva during the closing ceremony to be held on Friday 24 July.

Those interested in next year’s programme may apply through the UN Office at Geneva website.

23 July 2009