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UN Forum 2012 - panels
PANEL 1: The Olympic Truce: can we turn a fine ideal into a living reality?
Based on the traditions of the ancient Olympic Games, the Olympic Truce centres on the idea of ceasing hostilities for the duration of the Games to enable humanitarian aid and facilitate dialogue between warring parties.
Since 1993, states have pledged to uphold a truce before every Games, with little effect on the ground. In a world where internal conflict is rife, where non-state actors are increasingly part of the equation, and where peacekeepers, aid workers and journalists are routinely targeted, how can we turn this ideal into a living reality?
PANEL 2: Seven billion people: challenge or opportunity?
There are now more than seven billion people in the world. Given the climate, financial and energy challenges we face, not to mention the 500 million women who would like access to family planning, managing our numbers should rightly be a priority. Yet the topic remains controversial - it will likely not be a priority issue at the Rio + 20 summit this June.
One reason could be that a narrow focus on numbers can mask the need to address other issues, such as consumption and equal opportunity. It also detracts from proper analysis of who the ‘seven billion’ are. Take the two billion people who are currently malnourished. Half are hungry, half are obese, with no clear dividing line between rich and poor countries. How should we adjust to these challenges and opportunities?
PANEL 3: Can we get to nuclear zero?
In recent years, the nuclear debate has shifted considerably. Instead of inter-state nuclear conflict between ‘capitalist’ and ‘communist’ states, the focus is on hotspots such as the Middle East and on nuclear terrorism pursued by non-state actors.
These developments have generated a growing consensus on the urgency of multilateral nuclear disarmament. The US-Russia ‘re-set’, agreed warhead reductions, and the proposed conference on a WMD-free-zone in the Middle East represent some of the progress made. But has there really been a shift in states’ defence postures? Are we on track to ‘get to zero’?
PANEL 4: Does it still make sense to talk about ‘universal’ human rights?
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first document to affirm rights for all regardless of any distinction. Drafted by individuals from diverse political, cultural and religious backgrounds, it has been endorsed by all 193 UN member states. But in rich and poor countries alike, many believe that the prevailing human rights regime is essentially Euro-American, reinforcing a worldview that pits the ‘West’ against the ‘rest’.
This attitude ignores the former’s deficiencies and the latter's contributions to the development of human rights norms. It also does not reflect developments in the past decade. The ‘war on terror’ polarised the rights debate and allowed unsavoury regimes across the world to use the language of counter-terrorism as a cloak. The most powerful affirmation of rights, meanwhile, has come from ordinary people taking to the streets to claim their freedom and seek control over their own lives. Against this backdrop, does it still make sense to talk about ‘universal’ human rights? Has the ‘West’ lost its edge? Did it have one in the first place?
PANEL 5: Where will the UN take you?
Aimed at students and professionals of all ages looking for a career within or around the UN system, this session will feature presentations from experts from the UN and World Bank.
Speakers will provide tips and information on recruitment, as well as insights into what it is like to work for their organisations. Guaranteed to be a 'sell-out' session!