Persepolis, the archaeological treasure, Western orientalist vision. I have never imagined that one day I would wander down the streets of Persepolis, that it would be possible. This majestic site still makes you feel as in a dream, transfers you in the glorious past, to the magnificent history of mankind, especially for history lovers like me.
From the very beginning of my arrival in Iran, I can’t wait seeing this wonder of the world: to touch ancient stones, full of history, and to wander through this labyrinth city, symbol of Achaemenid Persia, founded in 550 BC by Darius the Great, “King of Kings, King of the World.”
Why Persepolis? Because it is a symbol of a great civilization that has bequeathed so much to mankind. Moreover, Persepolis is one of the most powerful urban constructions in history, a testimony of its incomparable glory. The emergence of these majestic ruins in the silence of the dawn is unforgettable, the site still fancies a lot. At the entry, you are welcome by stone lamassu in the Assyrian style, winged human-headed bulls with curly beards, in astonishing splendour, hit the mind and imagination. These ruins are still impressive, and seeing it makes you travel in time and touch the ancient history, the history of the Achaemenid empire of “King of kings”.
On the way to Persepolis
Arriving in Shiraz, from my budget hotel, I took a taxi to Persepolis. The only way to get to the site is by taxi. Generally, taxis wait on the spot while tourists roam the site. My taxi driver is joyful, as most of Iranians are, want to chat and discuss politics, greets me with a traditional welcome to Iran,” and drops me off at the entrance telling me that an hour or two is more than enough to visit the site. An hour or two? Me, who dreamt of spending a lot of time there. I let him know that I am going to stay longer. My driver must have cursed me and my love for old ruins. The whole day is more appropriate for this meeting with history.
At the foot of Mountain of Mercy, the ruins of Persepolis , the heart of the Achaemenid Empire, stretch as far as the eye can see. The Persian king’s summer residence, which was burned down by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and exhumed by archaeologists in 1931, has revealed invaluable details about the first empire of humanity.
It is hot, very hot. I have to wear jeans, a shawl to cover my head and a gold embroidered tunic (Chanel, as it was noted on it) which I had to buy at the bazaar to comply with the Islamic rules of the country. The sun is blinding and not a single tree at sight. It is February and it is already hot. I can only imagine how hot is in summer. It must be as hot as Hades. But my enthusiasm is still high. Persepolis!
Near the entrance, in a small museum, I bought myself an expensive little book about Persepolis. Here is the entrance. Today, twenty-six centuries later, Persepolis is still a breathtaking majesty. Ruins of luminous palaces, ancient cross-shaped tombs carved halfway up the cliff, slender columns exposed to the wind and the sun, lavish low-reliefs, everything here permanently captures your imagination. The visitors in the past, like me today, were speechless facing such splendour, which was built to glorify the Great King and the greatest of the Gods, Ahura Mazda.
The rise and the fall of the capital.
Persepolis’ palaces and buildings were built mainly during the reign of Darius I the Great (522-486 BC) who emerged, for some, as the true founder of the Achaemenid Empire and, perhaps, its most remarkable ruler. The embellishments of the vast palatial complex were continued by the successors of Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, during almost sixty years, without being completely finished. A demonstration of the supreme power the large palatial complex was not intended to be the permanent residence of the king. But everything is so big and majestic! The new city of Persepolis was built with the intention to impress visitors, and to be seen by far with its royal palaces, courtrooms, treasure room, majestic doors and stairways, fortifications and harem. Mission accomplished! If even only few ruins of this past splendour remain, they give you an idea how big and majestic it was.
Persepolis emerged from oblivion in the Middle Ages, when monks, European travellers and notables, in addition to other visitors, reussisited the memory and the past glory of the city. The city was so famous that in 1971, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, chose the site to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire. If the shah Pahlavi was impressed by the site and dreamt of reviving it, the ayatollahs demanded to destroy the site, as well as other pre-Islamic ruins. To destroy the site would have been a crime against humanity, it was hopefully avoided by a tireless campaign by the governor of Fars Province, lawyer Nosratollah Amini, and the strong protest of Shiraz residents. From 1979, the majestic ruins of Persepolis were classified a UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Scholars still try to figure out, what was the main purpose of Persepolis. For some of them, Persepolis was a religious city, a national sanctuary, used to celebrate the Zoroastrian Iranian New Year, called the Nowruz, during the vernal equinox. Some of them think, it was set up as an astronomical city, while others still believe that it was built to impress and to show off the Achaemenid imperial power. Nevertheless, we now know that over and above its sacred and religious character, Persepolis was also conceived as an administrative and political capital. Archaeological excavations, as well as the cuneiform tablets prove it.
The Hall of hundred columns and its stairways. The Immortals.
Today, the visitor ascends the Persepolis platform by climbing up a grand double-flighted staircase, called the Great Double Staircase, was most likely built under Xerxes I. It is composed of two flights of stairs each contains111 steps. These large grey limestone steps measure 7m wide and only 10cm high (which enabled horses to access the other side of the walls) offer visitors a glimpse of what awaits him. The entrance, the Gate of All Lands, was used to welcome visitors and delegations that came from all the satrapies or provinces of the Persian Empire to give allegiance to the Great King.
These monumental staircases are one of the masterpieces of Achaemenid art. They are decorated with low-reliefs representing different people of the Empire bringing offerings to the Great King. This staircase was lucky to avoid the destruction! It was buried under Apadana roof’s fall when Persepolis was burned down, it is perfectly preserved.
The entrance was flanked by two colossal bulls of 5.5m high and carved on a 1.5m pedestal. They observe and guard the entrance in order to protect the city from any threat from the outside.  On the underside and the head of the bulls, one could read an inscription in old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian, proclaiming the greatness of Xerxes, the I am Xerxes the Great King, King of Kings, King of lands and King of many peoples, who by the grace of Ahura Mazda, constructed this Gateway of All Lands”.
Undoubtedly, their creators were inspired by the Assyrian tradition, given their resemblance to the bulls of Sargon Palace in Khorsabad. Like their counterparts, these half-human, half-bulls were considered a mythical symbol of royalty, a reflection of royal power and a kind of guardian angel of the Great King and the Achaemenid Empire as a whole.
In the north end, we could see the royal guard, known as the Immortals, as well as the parade in procession with horses and chariots while carrying the royal throne. The procession of gift-bearing delegations is one of the most spectacular elements of the staircase. During this ceremony, 23 delegations from all satrapies bring offerings and gifts.
Beyond the emotion, grandeur and decadence of the site.
I regrettably have to leave the ruins under a burning sun. Persepolis is undoubtedly breathtaking. It is a wonder of the ancient world. I think of all the other sites of Antiquity and Mesopotamia which weren’t as lucky as Persepolis, and suffered the ravages and damages of recent wars in Iraq and Syria. The Iranian government, however quite reluctantly, has protected its ancient and pre-Islamic history, other regimes and governments did not protect their sites. When I asked Iranians about Achaemenid treasures, stored in Louvre and other world museums, they told me that probably this Iranian past is better guarded there. It is hard to argue about it. Luckily, the great Persepolis adventure lasts, the site continues to reveal its secrets and to make its visitors travel in the glorious past of the Achaemenid Empire of ” the King of Kings …”.
 Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/114/
 Darius the Great was engraved “I am Darius the Great King, King of Kings, King of countries containing all kinds of men, King in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage”in Naqsh-e Rostam.
 A lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of a bull or a lion, and bird’s wings. In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East. Assyrian sculpture typically placed prominent pairs of lamassu at entrances in palaces, facing the street and also internal courtyards. They were represented as “double-aspect” figures on corners, in high relief. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk, and in earlier versions have five legs, as is apparent when viewed obliquely. Lumasi do not generally appear as large figures in the low-relief schemes running round palace rooms, where winged genie figures are common, but they sometimes appear within narrative reliefs, apparently protecting the Assyrians
 After having conquered the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great ordered the destruction of Persepolis in 330 B.C. According to sources, the fire in the city was ignited to satisfy the whim of his concubine, Thais, while some, like Diodorus Siculus and Strabo considered it revenge for the abuses committed by Xerxes in Athens and in the Greek temples in 480 B.C. In any case, this fire put an end to a city, thereafter said to be frozen in time, with its ruins and its cuneiform tablets waiting two millennia to share their secrets.
 Borrowed from Assyrian iconography, the bulls were associated with the monstrous creatures of Chaos allied with Tiamat (the Goddess of salt water) in the Babylonian poem Enuma Elish, and represented a new allegory of the king’s dominance over the forces of evil.
 Each guardian of the door has a curly, geometric beard and curly hair – traits of the Great King himself – a crown or a cylindrical tiara decorated with two rosettes and sepals. These two imposing lamassi stood guard in the direction of the Path of Processions to ensure the palace was protected.
 The elite corps of which numbered 10’000 infantrymen and formed the royal guard
After few weeks of the event of July 15, 2016 during which a section of the Turkish army had sought to seize power by force, During the school year 2016-2017, students of high and elementary schools noticed that a special commemoration program has seen include in their curriculum a special commemoration program consisting of reviewing the putsch attempt and the popular mobilizations that followed. .
While the first week was almost exclusively devoted to activities about the « 15-July » – often referred to as the « Legend of 15-July » or even « Victory of Democracy of 15-July » in the speeches of the government and in the press, the first day of classes has nonetheless had the particularity, like A theater play, of being entirely determined by the Ministry of National Education. With a relatively small margin of maneuver, the teachers had to respect the precise directives that the ceremony dedicated to the 15-July held in all schools of Turkey must be almost identical : the discourse, written by Ankara, the theater plays reproducing the events of the putsch, exhibition with photos of the « heroes » of July-15, recitation of poems, and, finally, distribution of a brochure detailing the official version, validated by the regime, of this unavoidable event of the Turkish socio-political life today.
This first day of school set the tone for a whole year of celebrations that was extended until October 29, 2017. Among the organized activities, I can mention the writing of letters in which students could freely express their emotions and impressions, the visits the « places » of 15-July or namely squares and streets, occupied by the population who were mobilized by the government’s calls to defend and claim democracy, the visits to families of heroes and local « martyrs », making boards with citations, drawings and pictures of those who « made 15-July by sacrificing themselves for their country and to preserve democracy » as well as the production of short films, available on the internet site of the schools, including the Ministry of National Education.
During this year of activities, organized in the schools, the government produced a new brochure to be distributed in schools for the beginning of the 2017-2018 scholar year featuring schoolchildren’s works. In parallel with the publication of this special fascicle, the events of the 15th of July have begun to be integrated into the regular curriculum, since sub-chapters are devoted to this subject in the textbooks, in particular in social sciences, but also of Turkish and religion. Nevertheless, the integration of this subject in the schoolbooks has not been carried out homogeneously; only books, published after 2016 included it in the program. However, it is to be expected that gradually the 15-July will be included in other manuals, including those of history, in the coming years.
In addition to the teaching in the schools, of this attempted putsch, certainly elevated to almost the rank of new year zero by several personalities close to or members of AKP, it is a new representation of the society that is promoted by this way. Indeed the school remains the ideal place, which each authority seeks to seize for ideological purposes in order to impose a representation of the social legitimizing the domination of a group on another one or even by others.
In this case, this involves writing a new history of contemporary Turkey. In fact, when writing history which is an inevitable process during the construction of historical facts, some elements are silenced, the forgetfulness, which is necessary to the foundation of the nationalist discourse according to the sociologist Anthony D. Smith. 
The historian Francois Audigier emphasizes the fact that through the disciplines of the social sciences, especially the triad history-geography-civic education- there is a will of the authority to achieve ideological objectives by not only seeking to communicate concepts and values to the next generation but also to transmit, in an underlying way, a shared representation of the given world, to place a consensual referent, acceptable for all. Because of the compulsory nature of the school for the entire population of a state, it remains a privileged place for the fight for symbolic power and the enforcement of a certain representation of the social. The lessons taught are de facto the dominant and orthodox theories of a society at a given epoch.
The introduction of references to July 15 in some schoolbooks is a part of a larger range of school reforms that can be traced back to 2012 and to many notable changes that were approved at that time. When changes occur at the program level, there are also variations in the selection paradigm of what will be taught which are taken into consideration. While retaining a majority of the essentials of the Turkish school traditions, there is a desire to establish the 15th of July as a fundamental date, constitutive not only of Turkish history but in a more transcendent way of its destiny and identity ; being comparable – and in fact compared – to the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, to the victory of Canakkale during the Great War or to the declaration of the Turkish Republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Education represents for all governments a space to invest in order to establish a certain representation of the social and so, in this case, some idea of Turkey. In this, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, the actual Turkish president, poses himself as a competitor of Mustafa Kemal, by looking to establish his own vision of Turkey but also the national and civic identities. His ambitious aim to overcome and supplant the legendary figure of Ataturk and to reconnect with the Ottoman tradition, that assigned to the territory of Anatolia and to Turkish people, a status of a regional leadership even of the Muslim world.
 DE FELICE Camille, L’enseignement du 15-Juillet dans les écoles turques : rupture ou continuité dans le processus de fabrique du citoyen républicain ? Observatoire de la Vie Politique Turque, décembre 2017
On 3-6 February 2017, Yerevan became a hub of innovative ideas which flew in the air spreading creativity and EYP-spirit. AYSOR4Innovation NSC of EYP Armenia gathered 120 local and international participants under the theme of social entrepreneurship and innovation. “New ideas, project initiatives, hundreds of new friends and much more” organizers claimed. It sounded so impressive and innovative, so I decided to apply.
As I have already participated in the EYP Armenia, I know that it is well organized, the debates are interesting, international delegates have time to enjoy the city and you just feel as at home! I was also curious to know more about the social innovation in Armenia and how the organizers are going to handle this topic. This topic is not obvious for Western countries, so how an Armenian NGO can handle it? How to make the Armenian youth to adhere to social innovation? What do they know about the social innovation and entrepreneurship?
The AYSOR forum has the part of the classic EYP session, which includes resolutions, teambuilding and the General Assembly with voting procedure. Additionally, participants have to present the concept of the social entrepreneurship project, a start-up. This was the main difficulty of the AYSOR session. The start-up should have a name, a logo, values and a business plan. Moreover, participants should think about social innovation, sustainability and the financing of the project. Such ambitious plans for young Armenian participants!
As organizers insisted, the main idea was to reuse the existing things to make it more sustainable and socially responsible. As the founder of EYP Armenia, Suzanna Shamakhyan rightly stated “We have maximization about new: innovation sometimes puts a shade to what is old, but innovation is using the old in a new way, that will be sustainable, and bring a long-term impact”. Caroline Steiner, Junior professional at the EU delegation to Armenia, who took part in the forum reiterated that she “sees Armenia as a very innovative country: it has great technological and innovative potential to achieve even more”. So to reuse or create a new project? So how did the participants handle the topic? Which innovative and original ideas they could bring?
I must admit that the topics to handle were quite difficult and challenging. For instance how to handle the challenge to create a more favorable environment for the development and the extension of startups in Europe? It is quite a multi-level complicated topic, as participants should know about the political, legal and economic environment of the EU. Or in my committee, the topic was to ensure protection of whistleblowers in the EU while simultaneously maintaining protection of sensitive information. Whistleblow….what? Have you ever heart about whistleblowers? I am ashamed to admit that I discovered this word for the first time. In Switzerland financial institutions and banks are regularly shaken by the whistleblowing scandals; it is such a complicated topic, which includes so many aspects of the problem. It is a complicated topic for experienced specialists in European affairs, so for students, it is even more complicated.
However, Armenian participants surprised me with their ideas, their capacity to think and act quickly and their creativity. They had so limited time to brainstorm, to find a logo, and to make a business project. These kinds of projects need a lot of time, some of the real star-ups take months to be realized, while in Yerevan inexperienced Armenians did a miracle being so concentrated.
In the committee “legal affairs”, my committee, the debates were heated! We tried to use the Swiss time management; Swiss moo box announcement, however, it was difficult to stop the debates 😉 After the stormy brainstorming, we accepted the idea of Elizabeth, who came up with the whole project, called “Pen & Paper. The right to write!” This project is innovative for Armenia as it handles such as complex cultural and economic problem as the corruption and complaints. As participants explained to me, it is not in the Armenian culture to report about the cases of corruption or to report to your boss. Often it is considered as a shame to do it. Moreover population does not trust in a hierarchy and in the government to solve the problem, if not to mention the police. The project consists of the online platform, where the employees of any organization can report any mismanagement, corruption, illegality or wrongdoing anonymously. From one side the cultural problem of the “reporting” problem is solved, as it is anonymous. No more feeling ashamed to report on your boss or the corruption problem! From the other side, this project foresees the secure channel for reporting it further to the police. If no actions have been taken, this complaint is going to the police with the legal obligation to start the investigation.
The real novelty came from the FEMM committee, the Committee on women’s rights and gender equality. They had a difficult task to handle the problem of women’s presence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) domains, where women represent only 13% of working staff. How could they assure the gender equality at the heart of Horizon 2020 and in STEM? The FEMM committee traditionally fails to pass their resolutions. However this time the topic seems to be less political and emotionally charged. Nevertheless the discussions were heated and the debates passionate. The committee offered to promote “soft” gender quotas (hotly debated), legal protection, as well as the online platform about the discrimination within the workplace. Nothing shocking or outstanding, however these measures were virulently contested.
The committee made a quite conservative, according to the European standards, project about women making the home-made food, called “Women in the kitchen”. The main idea was to involve the housewives in the project by making them to prepare the home-made food, done exclusively from local and organic ingredients, which is sold after in the lunch-boxes. Thus women with small children or elder parents can also work and be paid. Some of the participants protested that women’s anticipation is not in the kitchen. Yes, I agree, but to my mind, it is always better for women to work and to have their own revenue than locking them at home. Probably this project is not a perfect project for women’s emancipation, but it allows women to combine work at home, the care for small children and some kind of emancipation. So I can only say big “Yes” to this project. And guess what? A miracle happened! The resolution and the project passed. Passed! Ok, it was not the crushing victory, but a big step for discussions.
Another novelty for Armenia was the project (2 projects!) related to the waste recycling. All these projects offered innovative ways to recycle the waste in order to improve the environmental condition within the country, as well as to give job opportunities for the unemployed persons. One of the committees offered even to make the refugees work on recycling the waste. It seems to be a cultural problem in the country toward the litter recycling and working at this job. Is it shameful to recycle its own waste?
In the conclusion, I can say that the AYSOR forum was quite intense but productive in terms of ideas and conclusions. It is not only about some abstract ideas and resolutions about Europe, I can understand that somehow it can be difficult to debate if you have never been to Europe. However participants had a solid knowledge of European legislation and structure. Moreover, they came up with concrete projects, designed for Armenia, with the idea to include the socially excluded population and handle the urgent problems of the Armenian society: corruption, women’s rights, education and the waste-management. I was really impressed and it was also revitalizing to see young Armenians to be fully involved in the debates, as well as to believe in Europe and European values. During the times of Eurosceptics in Europe, this Armenian energy and their trust in Europe is very refreshing and gratifying. I hope that this experience will be beneficial for all participants, and we all will become active citizens and one day, (who knows?), will change something in this world, to contribute to the society in order to make it a more just and more socially responsible. Thanks to AYSOR forum and the EYP Armenia to give the opportunity to youngsters to do it.
Eternal friendship of Russian and Ukrainian peoples.
When I was accepted to participate in the AYSOR session in Yerevan, Armenia, I was truly excited by meeting old friends, but in the same time, I apprehended the political debates about Ukraine, Crimea, Russia, Putin and all these conversations that I faced few years ago in the full crisis of Crimea, or exactly 3 years ago.
When in 2014 I came to Armenia for the first time, I arrived to Georgia and took a taxi to Yerevan. During the long ride from Tbilisi to Yerevan, while contemplating the beautiful scenery, I also had a long conversation, or rather the monologue by the taxi-driver, who was happy to debate the issue of Russia and Ukraine with me. I listened for long hours about the “eternal friendship of Russian and Ukrainian peoples” and about “Slavic brothers”. When I tried to sleep a bit, other passengers fueled the debates adding more to an old Soviet myth about the “eternal brothers, Russians and Ukrainians”. Another day, another taxi in Yerevan, and the same discussion about “eternal friendship of Russian and Ukrainian nations”. It seemed that nobody supported Ukraine. Even during the EYP session, the participants gladly agreed and made a resolution that Crimea is the part of Russia against the virulent protestations of Ukrainian participants.
Thus I was morally ready in 2017 to listen about “eternal friendship of Russian and Ukrainian nations” and to agree with it in order to get rid of this conversation. Half sleepy in the taxi driving from the airport, I was sincerely surprised by the taxi-driver, who uncovered my Ukrainian accent, and gladly made a passionate speech against Putin “Go ahead Ukrainians, f…Putin and all this mafia in the Kremlin”. What?! Am I in Armenia? Can’t believe it. What’s about the “eternal friendship”? Another day, another taxi, and another surprise. A taxi-driver once again gladly debated about the war in Ukraine and even though admitting that we shouldn’t fight against “brothers”, concluded that the war was created by Putin and completely useless.
Am I in Armenia? The same Armenia?
Eco-friendly and smoking free spots in Yerevan.
During my last visit to Armenia, I discovered that all public places were smoking places. There was no way to avoid the smoke in Yerevan, no difference if you‘re a pregnant woman or a child, you always in a smoke. Once I dropped into the hairdresser’s shop and discovered that everyone was in a thick fog, my smoke-stinking hair became more smoke-saturated. Only the EYP was a non-smoking area when we could breathe a bit. After few days, I started to suffocate.
I really feared the smoke and what a surprise! I discovered new non-smoking places in Yerevan. Some cafés offered non-smoking places and some of them, particularly the Green Bean coffee shop, were completely smoking-free. And do you know what? These places were full! Moreover, the hostel was also the smoke-free place. Such a nice surprise!
Few years ago, during the EYP session we debated about the ecological topic, something relating to the traffic problem and the alternative to cars in Armenia. Being in the ecological committee means to be in “loser’s” committee when you fail to accept your ideas to others. We tried to discuss the topic, but Armenian participants did not want to listen to. It seems that only the idea to have a bike was extremely hilarious for Armenians. Is it a joke? The car and only the car. It was my another surprise to discover that participants not only to listen to some ecological ideas, but they also tried to find solutions to ecological issues. Such a victory! A bike is not anymore considered to be the loser’s vehicle! Hurrah!
Moreover, the Green Bean coffee shop is Armenian-based, eco-friendly green café where you can enjoy a real good coffee without smoke, gluten-free cakes and salads. Everything is so delicious. On its walls, there are posters about green Yerevan, items made in Armenia, waste-sorting and other things that seem to be alien in Yerevan just few years ago. Somehow it became a reality in Yerevan. It is another small victory. It is a small victory for Yerevan to have non-smoking places and it reflects the changes in the Armenian society. It becomes acceptable not to tolerate the smoking places. I can breathe!
Women in the kitchen.
Another sensitive topic and another committee, who fails every time, it is the FEMM committee and women’s question. After bikes and dogs, women’s committee is a kind of another “losers” committee. Delegates feel often upset to be in this committee, as their resolutions seldom pass, especially if it is about sensitive topics, such as the burqa, women’s rights, Muslim women or refugees. In 2017 delegates in the committee of FEMM were excited about the topic but did not really believe in their success. If even the officials do not believe in it, so what’s about ordinary participants?
When the delegates presented very careful resolutions (it was all about “suggesting”, “encouraging” and “trying”) I was still pessimistic about the issue. They made a quite conservative, according to the European standards, the project about housewives making the home-made food, called “Women in the kitchen”. In another place, I would probably protest, but it was already a big step and a bald project for Armenia. I made a lot of noise to encourage the committee. And guess what? Another miracle happened! The resolution and the project passed. Passed! Ok, it was not the crushing victory, some of the participants were proud to vote against it. Another audacious idea from the committee was to promote the paternity leave. It was something that seemed to be the most alien thing for most of Armenian participants.
Discussing women’s rights and its place in the society was another small victory in the Armenian society. The topic and the committee which fails to be discussed got its first victory. Viva women’s rights!
Small but perceptible changes.
Small but perceptible changes occurred in the Armenian society among youth, and not only. Of course, I was in Yerevan, in the capital, among “progressive” youth, members of EYP, who are English-speakers, kind of new elite of the country. But there were also taxi-drivers, talks in the hostel, in the museums, in the coffee shops and all other random encounters. Somehow this situation reminds me Ukraine before Maidan, the youth, who aspires for changes and for more just, equality and peaceful society, with European values of tolerance, openness and the rule of law.
Probably these coffee shops, non-smoking places and talks about women’s rights in Yerevan can be seen anecdotic comparing to the whole country, however for me, they are the indicator of the slow, but steady changes in the Armenian society.
Russia and Putin lost it’s the most fervent supporters in Armenia. No more passionate speeches about eternal friendship among “Slavic” nations and “everything but not the war”. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) neither brought peace nor prosperity in the country. Prices are high comparing to neighboring countries. The society remains highly corrupted and there are no jobs for young Armenians. Many Armenians still go to Russia to work. The government overuses the pretext of the conflict with neighbouring countries to blame everything on it and not to conduct reforms (as in Ukraine). The country seems to be locked in the political and economic deadlock.
The youngsters understand this deadlock and seem to be trapped in this situation. They understand that there is no other alternative for the European Union and for the rule of law. They are quite supportive of Ukraine, who dared to challenge Putin. However it is not easy to be surrounded by highly nationalistic, aggressive and powerful neighbours, thus there is no other political choice for such a small country as Armenia.
Nobody expected the Ukrainian Maidan to happen. While Ukrainian political corrupted class arranged the political deal with both Russia and the EU, Ukrainian youth lived its own life: travelling and studying around the world, chatting on the internet, launched new projects. The ignorance of the Ukrainian youth’s aspirations and its steady Europeanization was fatal to the regime of Yanukovych.
The similar changes occur in Armenia. The political class and the youth live quite different lives. The Armenian youth aspires to changes: for a more just society, the state of law, for jobs and for having a possibility to choose for their lives. I am quite optimistic, if even the political and economic situation seems not to develop, the youth of Armenia has already affirmed its choices and voiced loudly their dissatisfaction.
 AYSOR means Activate Youth for sustainability: obtaining & rebuilding. On 3-6 February 2017 Yerevan became a hub of innovative ideas which flew in the air spreading creativity and EYP-spirit. AYSOR4Innovation NSC of EYP Armenia gathered 120 local and international participants under the theme of social entrepreneurship and innovation. Billions of new ideas, thousands of project initiatives, hundreds of new friends and much more.
On the night of July 15, 2016 parts of the Turkish Armed Forces attempted to overthrow Turkey’s AKP government. While the coup d’état failed and many questions about it linger to this day, its consequences were enormous and continue to shape Turkish politics.
This is an account of that fateful Friday night by someone who happened to fly to Istanbul during the coup d’état. The person who recounted his experiences wishes to remain anonymous.
“I had decided to fly from Switzerland to Istanbul on the 15th of July 2016 to oversee the construction of our house there”
Before I left Switzerland, I hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, with one exception: a banker, friend of mine had heard that I was leaving for Turkey on that day. He wrote me that he had an “intuition” and that I should leave the Istanbul Atatürk Airport immediately on arrival and stay clear of any crowds I might encounter.
The first sign that something unusual was going on happened shortly before touchdown in Istanbul. I’ve flown certainly more than 100 times to Turkey. But this was the first time that our airplane suddenly accelerated and started climbing again when we were only minutes away from landing. When the aircraft aborted the landing, we were so close to the ground that we could clearly see the houses, cars and people of Büyükçekmece. Büyükçekmece is already part of Istanbul, the last district that an aircraft coming from Switzerland overflies before landing at Atatürk International Airport.
After gaining altitude again, the aircraft veered off towards the Sea of Marmara, over which we were flying a holding pattern for about 15 minutes. This was very strange. Even if it’s peak season, the planes are never put on a holding pattern after having begun the final approach. Normally, that happens much earlier. We finally landed at around 7PM local time.
After the landing, another strange thing happened. After disembarking the aircraft, we had to get on the airport bus. But I had never been on an airport bus that drove around for such a long time on the airport grounds only to get to the arrival terminal. The route the bus took was completely different from the usual one.
At that moment, I thought that these strange occurrences could be explained with the charter flight, which I had booked for the first time to fly to Istanbul. Maybe they were doing things differently. But then we also had to wait unusually long to claim our baggage. I finally left the terminal and took the shuttle bus that connects the airport to Taksim Square, one of the hubs on the European side of Istanbul. Shortly before eight o’clock, the bus departed from the airport.
When I got to Taksim Square, I saw people who were singing and playing music. It was almost a festival. There were a lot of people standing by and watching. It was a typical display of the Gezi Park spirit on a Friday evening. The musicians were still the same Gezi Park activists from 2013. There were several groups who were playing music in different languages. There was one group with maybe 50 or 60 spectators and several meters further there was already another music group. It was half past nine at this point.
Then I took the Metro from Taksim Square to Sarıyer, a district on the European coast of the Bosporus. A lot of incidents related to the coup d’état were already taking place at that moment, but because I was in the Metro I didn’t see much of that. In the hotel in which I stayed everything was as usual, there was no palpable difference from the previous times I had checked in there. I laid down for a while in my hotel room because I had a slight headache from the flight. After resting, I wanted to leave the hotel to eat something but I fell asleep.
At half past eleven I woke up from a phone call. A relative asked me where I were, if everything were alright, if I were well. She told me that a “darbe” (coup d’état) probably had taken place. I was still so drowsy at first that I thought she was talking about a “deprem” (earthquake) instead of “darbe”.
Then I saw that my wife, who had not come with me to Turkey, had tried to call me several times while I was asleep, so I called back. She told me that live broadcasts on TV were showing that a putsch was underway in Turkey and that she was worried about me.
She also told me that when she had first heard of the putsch, she was on a visit of relatives. The brother of one of those relatives was living close to the MIT headquarters (the Turkish intelligence organization) in Ankara. He had sent them videos he had recorded, which my wife forwarded to me via WhatsApp. The videos showed helicopters shooting into buildings, apparently belonging to the MIT. I deleted that footage later, in case that I would end up in a security check somewhere. I didn’t want the security forces to think that I was trying to smuggle something out of the country.
After the phone calls, I decided to leave the hotel and go outside because I wanted to see what was going on. It was shortly after midnight.
While I was leaving the hotel, nobody at the reception said anything. The reception was occupied but the man there didn’t speak with me. It was very calm in the hotel, there was no one to be seen.
The hotel I was staying in was in Büyükdere, a neighbourhood close to Sarıyer. I walked down to the main street. That’s where all the restaurants and cafés are. On a typical Friday night, these places are bustling with activity. Now however, I barely saw a car or a person. Everything seemed deserted.
But then I came across an ATM and spotted a crowd. There were about thirty people who were withdrawing money. It seemed that they were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to access their savings anymore because of the coup d’état.
Then I saw three or four of these little grocery shops, which are very typical for Turkey. The gates of these grocery shops were rolled down halfway. They were raised just high enough so people could enter the shops when they crouched. They probably wanted to stock up on necessities. From hearsay, I knew that it is a warning sign in Turkey, when people are starting to withdraw money and buy supplies. They knew that a crisis was imminent. When I saw these people doing that, I knew that things were serious. There were two important streets in the area. One was the main street with the cafés, shops and the banks. And the other was the coastal road that runs parallel to the Bosporus. I walked down to that road at the waterfront. That’s usually a very busy road, even at midnight. Now however, there wasn’t a single vehicle to be seen.
I wanted to take this road and walk to our house, which we were building. I guess the distance I had to walk was about three or four kilometres.
While I was walking towards our house, a fighter jet flew over the area at a very low altitude. It was very confusing, because you couldn’t locate the fighter jet. There was just a very loud noise coming simultaneously from all directions. It suddenly changed when the jet stopped flying over the waters of the Bosporus and started to fly over land. Now, the noise was reverberated by all the buildings.
I soon reached the base of the coast guard in the next neighbourhood. The Regional Command of the Turkish Coast Guard for the Bosporus is stationed in Çayirbasi. They usually control the ships which are traversing the Bosporus. Now the base seemed deserted. In fact, I had not seen a single representative of the state so far. No coast guard, no military, no police.
At this point, I decided to return to the hotel, since there was nobody on the streets and nobody knew where I was. What’s more, I didn’t know to whom the fighter jet belonged to that had overflown the area. Was it an aircraft belonging to the group that supported the coup d’état? Was it flying here to show the military’s strength and presence? To demonstrate that the military had taken control of the government?
On the way back, I wanted to check out three or four cafés in Büyükdere, which were normally frequented by social democrats. I wanted to drop by to see if anybody was there, what they were doing and if everything was ok. Usually, you would have a hard time finding a place to sit in these cafés. Women and men visit these cafés, play carts and stuff like that. It’s a place where people with a certain way of life meet. When I reached the cafés, they were almost empty. I saw maybe five or ten people, who weren’t staying outside but were playing cards inside. There was a TV running, which they were watching while they were playing. I have a friend who is living there and I thought that he might be in the café, but when I couldn’t spot him amongst the guests, I continued my way back to the hotel. It’s also not the best moment to approach these people who have never met you before. They can’t really be sure who you are or what you might be up to. I returned to the hotel because I wanted to follow the events on TV and talk to people in Switzerland. That way I could get much more information.
When I was back at the hotel, it was after one o’clock. I was watching TV and trying to figure out what was happening. On the TV, I saw that at half past eight, pro-coup soldiers had stormed the Atatürk International Airport with tanks. That had taken place about half an hour after I had left the airport. And then I also saw that at half past nine one of the bridges over the Bosporus had been occupied by the military. That footage was shown time and time again.
At that time, several politicians appeared on TV. Ahmet Davutoğlu (then Prime Minister of Turkey) and Abdulla Gül (former President of Turkey) were talking. Abdullah Gül was speaking very aggressively and pugnaciously, which was not his style at all. But what struck me the most was that even though each of them called from a different place, their message was still the same, almost as if it had been agreed upon in advance: That the people should protect and support the government. They were saying that the people should stand up for the government and take to the streets. The government’s demand to take to the streets seemed very strange to me. On the TV you could see that the pro-coup faction had deployed heavy weaponry. And the government was sending unarmed civilians to counter them? That didn’t make sense to me.
Beginning at about two o’clock, the muezzin of every mosque started to recite the call to prayer. And then they started to spread the same message as on the TV: That the people should protect their government and that anyone who was trying to harm the government would be severely punished. I thought that this was very unusual. You weren’t hearing appeals against violence from the minarets, instead they were asking the people to fight.
I stayed awake until six o’clock in the morning and was writing and talking with people in Switzerland. Then I tried to get some sleep.
When I woke up at nine o’clock, the news was reporting how many people working in the state institutions had been arrested. The number they were giving was 3000 people. And apparently those 3000 people weren’t directly involved in the coup d’état but rather alleged supporters. I was wondering how they could identify this quickly who belonged to which side in that chaotic night, let alone apprehend them.
After eating breakfast, I wanted to know what had happened to our house under construction. Outside, everything was still very calm. There wasn’t a single taxi, urban bus or minibus operating. The streets of Istanbul are usually full of these.
Since there was no public transportation available, I had to walk to our house again. On the way, I passed once again the base of the coast guard and then the local police station. There was still nobody around. Only the long urban buses were standing in front of the entrance of the police station. At first, I thought that they were there to bring soldiers quickly from one place to another. Later we learned that they were placed there for the protection of the police buildings. That way, the tanks of the pro-coup faction wouldn’t be able to attack the police as easily. The police were protecting themselves but I didn’t see any protection for the civilians.
But when you did come across some security forces, you didn’t even know on which side they were on. During the whole night, we had heard of the police, army and intelligence service units that were fighting for pro-coup faction. But nobody knew how strong they really were and if some remnants were still operating.
When I reached the construction site of our house, everything was silent. Only one carpenter was working, who was living nearby. The others couldn’t come to work because there were still road blocks in the city. At that time, we could also still hear the mosques every twenty minutes with the same message as during the night.
At noon, the news was becoming increasingly absurd. Using your common sense, you couldn’t possibly reach the same conclusions as the ones the news were broadcasting at that moment. Suddenly the once venerated Fethullah Gülen had become the terrorist Fetö. And even though the coup d’état had completely failed, the news was trying to make it look like as if the entire military, economic and judicial power of Turkey had been controlled by Fethullah Gülen before the putsch.
Then motorcades started to appear in the streets. At first, there were only a few cars who were part of it, maybe five or six. But over the course of the next two days, these motorcades became longer and longer. And vehicles that were belonging to the state became part of these motorcades as well: The garbage trucks and trucks of the municipalities and so on. A lot of people with Turkish flags were on top of these vehicles.
Before the coup, one didn’t have the impression that the supporters of the AKP liked the Turkish flag too much. But suddenly, all these people were flaunting the Turkish flag on their motorcade. And they were playing military marches from the Ottoman Empire. They were screaming “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) as well.
On Saturday evening, there was an incident in Büyükdere, at the cafés that were frequented by the social democrats. The people on the motorcades and the visitors of the cafés got into an argument. The social democrats told the supporters of the government that they should refrain from deliberately driving in “their area”. They wouldn’t accept their show of force.
And then you could also see how the nationalist party (MHP) became part of these motorcades. Their nationalistic symbols became more and more visible. On the first day after the coup d’état, the leader of the nationalistic party had assured the government their support. And one could see how the both parties were trying to form an alliance. But there were also people who were demonstrating exclusively for democracy and liberty.
That was the state of affairs, when I returned to Switzerland, after having made sure that the construction of our house was going well.”
This is my last blog post for the 18th Geneva International Model United Nations Annual Conference. I would just like to let you know. I hate writing in the first person. I don’t like talking much about my life not because I don’t think it’s that interesting, but that’s how it is. From 25th to 31st March 2017, I watched young people from all around the world debate a variety of topics. I saw conviction, emotions and bursts of laughter. I worked with ambitious young people; worried about their image and under pressure to be successful in life. It was the first time that I’d spent a few days in Geneva. It’s often just a transit city for other destinations around the world. This Swiss city is beautiful, particularly because of its buildings, but above all these people that come from all seven continents. Over the course of the week, the gaze of the woman who was serving the NATURA menu at the restaurant has intrigued me. I would have liked to have asked her opinion on the issues that our delegates have been discussing over the last six days. Does she have an opinion on international politics?
Within these beautiful institutions with its impressive walls, sometimes it is easy to forget about the little cogs in the big wheel. The woman who wakes up early in the morning to clean, the gardener who looks after the flowers or the cook behind stoves that light up to the appetite of the undeterred men and women. I drank a lot of coffee to keep up. I arrived in Geneva on the evening of 24 March from Paris, where I had participated in UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week on behalf of KEKELI LAB based in Togo. In other words, I was tired when I arrived in the city of the Jet d’Eau. But I wanted to do this. I have to admit that I didn’t drink just coffee; vanilla chocolate and vanilla milk were also favourites of mine. I confess. I had the honour of meeting the lady who was in charge of the big coffee machine. Yes, it was an immense honour to meet the person that made magic possible. I think that our world would be more peaceful if we had the humility to observe and to give a voice to those who often do not have one. I’m going to stop there so I don’t miss my train to Lausanne.
In a few years’ time, I hope the young people who had simulated UN negotiations will not lose their innocence, their faith in humanity and their desire for a better world. Many of them will represent governments, multi-nations, powerful lobbyist groups over the coming years, and I hope they don’t succumb to the animal face of humanity. I hope that they don’t succumb to the desire for destruction and the greed that lives in each one of us. As for me, I’ll be heading back to my life as an African student in Europe. Like our world, I think I need love and to smile.
Long live GIMUN! May peace reign over our families in the regions of the world where the greed for surplus value and the murderous madness of trigger-happy madmen reside.
About five months ago now, hundreds of students from all around the world were reunited at the UN headquarters in Geneva for the annual GIMUN conference. During a week, time stopped, and almost all boundaries vanished. The excitement around this event is like no other! It starts when you first apply to participate. For most of us I think, it began with a leap of faith and a few expectations here and there. Until we received that first email, the kind that turns your day around. It says: ”Congratulations, you have been selected for the 18Th annual conference of GIMUN”
And that’s when the real adventure begins…
All of us, no matter the mission, we had during this conference had to get to work at that point. Whether it was, writing study guides, designing the Journal (GIMUN chronicles), setting up the program, preparing proposals and much more.
Then came the Big day. On March 25th. We all met at UNI Bastion in Geneva, and even though we were all over eighteen, we could sense this childlike feeling, in the atmosphere, that one can experience at every age when discovering a new world, or getting into one that he or she loves.
It was a Saturday, the first day of the preparation week-end; leading towards our very first day of work inside the UN, on Monday. Meeting the people that we talked to on WhatsApp or via email, for the first time, sharing first impressions and expectations, and of course running around getting everything ready for the conference.
During our week and the UN headquarters, I felt like we all lived a life-changing experience, to a greater or lesser degree.
When I started my work as a journalist, I was immediately impressed with the involvement of the delegates, who for most of them seemed so young, but so well prepared and passionate about their subjects.
Watching them throughout the week, getting more comfortable and professional each day, made me understand their love for diplomacy. It, in fact, holds the great power to bring people’s mind’s together, before and beyond anything else. Diplomacy is a chance to really communicate and be heard, as there are so few in the outside world.
My personal experience was not only a fulfilling professional one but also a very enriching human one. First with the Press and Media team, which I think wouldn’t be exaggerated to qualify as “my family for a week.“ And with all the USG’s I got to interview and learn about behind the scenes work.
And finally, comes this one encounter that leaves us with the best memories, and the motivation to keep up the good work. I had the chance to meet and share moments with people who traveled all the way from Egypt, USA, or Ghana for example, and I realize we share the same hopes and values…and even the same humor!
The use cinematography and film-making have become an outlet for creative individuals to analyse, criticise and question society in real-time. In Iran, women are playing an important role in this, even after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Historically, women have had extremely limited opportunities and were noticeably absent in the film world in Iran, however, the presence of women behind and in front of the camera has steadily increased since the start of the Revolution despite policies that required women to wear hijab and to keep chastity on screen. Asal Bagheri, a cinema expert, has described the current situation of women in Iranian cinema as being part of a “politically engaged” type of cinema.
In Iranian films, women are typically casted in subordinate roles to accompany their male counterparts, a lifestyle where they are subordinate to men. Moreover, women are reduced to playing traditional roles, such as the mother, wife and housewife, whose activities are limited to managing their children’s education, appearing desirable their husband, and doing household jobs. These films convey sexist and misogynistic images of the relationship between men and women. Men are generally placed on a pedestal and represent authority whereas women are portrayed in a negative light by encompassing their beauté fatale and a dependence on men. Many films in Iran depict recurring sexist and misogynic clichés.
Over time, the obligation to wear the hijab has become increasingly significant in representing a special image of women in Iranian cinema in comparison to other countries, in particular because of the way it conveys stereotypes and makes them a part of the norms of Iranian society. Gender plays an important part in contemporary Iran, and is at the center of this analysis of the films of Ashgar Farhadi, who is considered to be a prominent screenwriter and film director in Iran and throughout the world of cinema.Farhadi is most famous for his film Fireworks Wednesday, released in 2006, which was given a positive reception and won awards in film festivals in Nantes and Chicago.
Tested by Adultery
The film is focused on an Iranian couple whose relationship is tested by adultery. The film takes place during the Iranian New Year, also known as the Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbeh Suri in Persian), which was banned by religious authorities. During the celebrations, lamps and decorations are set up in large towns and cities. This festival provides the backdrop to the dramas between a young Iranian couple, and sheds a light on three main female characters.
The first female character to appear in this film is a cleaner named Rouhi, who a poor and religious woman who comes from outside the main city and wears the chador. She does the housework on a weekly basis and comes for the traditional final cleaning before the New Year. Throughout the film, she quietly observes all goings-on as a passive spectator and she is portrayed as being content with her life. The viewer discovers parts of the plot through the eyes of Rouhi, and she plays a key role in the film despite her passive nature.
The second female character in the film is Mojdeh, who lives in the home where Rouhi goes to do housework. Mojdeh comes from a modest family background and is not particularly religious. She has short hair, does not cook, does not respect norms in society regarding the duty of women at home and does not have a typically feminine appearance. The third female character is Simin, a divorced beautician. We do not have a lot of details about Simin, but it is revealed that Mojdeh’s husband Mojtaba is having an affair with Simin.
Women under the control of men
The film depicts some of the social, economic and religious pressures faced by women in different social classes in Iran. All Iranian women face enormous pressure, and the man remains the master over his wife. However, in the case of Rouhi, the director shows an example of her disadvantaged background. When Rouhi wants to ask permission from her husband in order to trim her eyebrows, this shocks Mojdeh who asks: “do you need the approval from your husband to trim your eyebrows?” Nevertheless, Rouhi insists that asking permission for something so ordinary is completely normal in Iran.
In comparison to Rouhi, Mojdeh is from a moderate family and she does not have to ask permission from her husband. However, she is subjected to physical violence. In one scene, Mojdeh’s husband hits her, and the camera shows her crying in a taxi. In addition to violence, this scene portrays the low status of women in the patriarchal society of Iran. Mojdeh also cries in the bathroom when she discovers that her husband has been unfaithful. She is helpless to do anything other than crying, and is unable to change her situation. In Iran, women are not afforded the legal right to file for divorce whereas men are able to do so fairly easily. Moreover, in one scene where the Mojdeh’s son is crying, a male friend of Mojtaba says to him: “men never cry!”. In this film, tears are the sign of weakness, and, as women are portrayed as weak, only women should cry.
In addition, Motjaba places the blame on his wife who, in his eyes, is not sufficiently feminine. Motjaba complains that he “can’t remember the last time she cooked. Ask the neighbours if they can smell food being cooked”. Cooking is the main duty of women in Iran, as well as being the sign of their feminine nature and social standing.
What is the role of women in cinema in Iran?
Women generally play an important role in Iranian cinema. They were originally caricatured as being dependent on men and, for most of the time, content to be inferior to men, whereas the characters played by men were portrayed as charismatic, confident and firm in standing up for their religious beliefs. Over time, the status of men and women changed in Iranian cinema, and now women are capable of taking the initiative in changing their situation. In the film Fireworks Wednesday, the film director attempts to alter the static position of women in society by demonstrating the plot through the eyes of women and the way they feel, which consequently allows the viewer to feel empathy towards the female characters. However, as it has already been noted, signs of masculine dominance and the masculine viewpoint of the director are shown in an apparent way in the film. Women are reduced to just a few emotions, notably anger, anxiety, irritability and crying. In short, although Asghar Farhadi intended to depict the true nature of the status of women in contemporary Iranian society, it is evident that he has not shown their true position. His interpretation of the role of women has been influenced by the masculine point of view that he has of society, and this consequently has an impact on the way he represents women in Fireworks Wednesday.
 The hijab – which means headscarf or veil in Arabic – refers to the Islamic headscarf only covering the head. It can surround the whole face or be tied more loosely to reveal some of the women’s hair.
 The lamps and fire symbolise the hope of the arrival of light and happiness in the following year. There are many fireworks and fires in the streets.
 The chador is a type of fabric in the shape of a semi-circle that is worn in Iran. It hides both the head and the body of the women. It has to be held up at all times to avoid falling on the floor. The chador was originally worn during prayers before it became obligatory to wear it all times in public. Reza Shah banned the chador in 1936, but it was reintroduced upon the arrival to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
 This is the final cleaning before the start of the New Year, which is called Norouz and takes place on 21 March according to the Iranian calendar.
 Only men have the right to ask for divorce according to Islamic law. In Article 1133 of the Islamic civil code, it is stated that “a man can divorce his wife whenever he so chooses”. The current family law on divorce (or talaq in Arabic) supports the right of the husband to ask for a divorce at any time, while at the same time applying some restrictions. For instance, a man has to ask permission at a tribunal to grant a divorce if his wife disagrees. The role of the tribunal is to attempt to reach a mediation between the couple. If a reconciliation is not possible, the man then has the right to a divorce.
The UN You Know team is now looking for a new Co-Editor-in-Chief to manage the blog with Nataliya.
At this position, you will have the opportunity to manage a multicultural team of contributors based all around the world, to recruit new collaborators, to learn more about web publication management, and to put into practice your communication competencies, while contributing to an NGO with consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
Here is the mission statement for the Co-Editor-in-Chief position :
Manage the team
Keep and innovate the editorial line
Edit articles and help elaborate articles drafts
Manage the blog and the publications
Collaborate with the translation team
Recruit new contributors
Communication and promotion actions
Coordination with the GIMUN board
Possibilities to take part into GIMUN events, including the Annual Conference
Your Profile :
University Student, preferably in communication, journalism, international relations, political science, social sciences, litterature…
Ideally with a previous experience of journalism or blogging
Very good knowledge of french and english
Very good writting and proofreading skills
Interested in international relations and United Nations activities
No worries if you don’t have yet knowledge of WordPress, we will provide you a training at the beginning of your position.
This is a volunteer position, as for everyone in GIMUN team. You will have to be available approximately 2 hours per week.
If you are interested in this position, send us a motivation e-mail, with a few lines about your interest, a CV and a sample of your writting or previous publications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MDGs established in 2000 by international agreement are probably the most significant major attempt to defeat poverty ever undertaken. The UN set out eight development goals to reduce global poverty substantially by 2015. They are viewed as basic human rights – the rights of every person on earth to health, education, shelter and security. Reasons for variable progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal targets can be determined through examining different regions. These include Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Read the rest of this entry »
The period following the attempted coup d’état on 15 July 2016 in Turkey has been characterised by efforts to reshape our understanding of historic events. This historical revision is a regular occurrence in Turkish history since the foundation of the Republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who placed an emphasis on the pre-Islamic history of the Turkish people and considered that the Ottoman Empire was reactionary and needed to be consigned to the past. This wish to manipulate history saw a turning point through the arrival in power of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) in 2002. The AKP, which inherited the tradition of political Islam in Turkey, has positioned itself to be the voice of a majority that had been too often ignored and even held in contempt by the elites during Atatürk’s rule, and its takeover of political power allowed Turkey to reclaim the Islamic and Ottoman eras as their own. The increase of symbols representative of Ottoman power that are sometimes used as decorations, such as stickers on car windscreens and mobile phone cases, as well as the large number of cafes bearing the name ‘Ottoman’, the growth of ice-cream sellers dressed in clothing corresponding to the image that Europe has of the Ottoman Empire and the popularity of this style in furniture shops, feature among those of the imperial legacy that were previously suppressed. Read the rest of this entry »
Alas, along with your final committee sessions comes our final issue. This conference had it all: fierce debates, laughs, and long queues (especially the fight for coffee!). We hope that your week has been as fun and successful as ours. The conference was filled with many surprises which made it all the more interesting, like for instance the opening ceremony concert. We have been graced with guest speakers and debates that have filled our brains with more information that we could ever ask for. Our last three guest speakers are featured in this issue, and we managed to get informative interviews with two of them.
Memories were made and friendships were created. Try to keep in touch with the people that you have encountered here, because they might just be the most important people you’ve ever met.
If you have not saved a copy of each of our issues and would like to see them again, do not worry, we have a solution for you. You can find us on the GIMUN website, or on GIMUN’s blog ‘UNO You Know’. We hope you enjoy your last read of the GIMUN Chronicles, 2017.
As a final word, we would like to share with you a quote from the eternal Dante Alighieri:
“Considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza” (Inferno, XXVI)
“Consider well the seed that gave you birth: you were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge” (Inferno, XXVI)
La semaine bat son plein, commençant peu à peu à s’essouffler pour bientôt toucher à sa fin. Prochainement, cette 18ème édition du GIMUN 2017 s’inscrira dans les mémoires de chacun d’entre nous comme un souvenir figé dans le passé. Il est temps de prendre conscience qu’il ne nous reste plus que quelques heures pour profiter de l’ambiance intense des débats et de la solennité du Palais des Nations qui accueillait encore hier la présidente du Chili. Il est temps de prendre conscience que l’expérience humaine dans laquelle nous sommes plongés va bientôt se terminer, et que nous avons probablement manqué quelques occasions de rendre cette semaine encore plus inattendue et sans pareil qu’elle ne l’est déjà. Avez vous saisi la chance de parler à votre voisin qui vient peut-être de l’autre bout du monde et qui n’a pas eu le temps de vous raconter son histoire? Avez-vous eu l’opportunité de partager la diversité de vos opinions avec vos collègues? Dans cette avant-dernière édition, nous vous proposerons notamment de retrouver nos invités d’honneur Didier Péclard et Abel-Hamid Mamdouh. Enfin, il est temps de partager vos avis sur les grandes questions abordées lors de leurs discours. Au plaisir de vous retrouver sur les réseaux sociaux…
Read more about at https://issuu.com/nathborys/docs/thursday_march_30th_gimun_newspaper
By Lama El Khamy & Michelle Bognuda
@Lamaelk_GIMUN | @mbognuda_gimun
There were so many of them, and they all arrived in a mass. They came from all over, at different times and in different ways. Some were tired, some were excited. They were all anxious about what lied ahead. Mostly, they came, because they wanted to pave a better future for themselves and those that they cared about.
So many people wanted to cross the border, and not all of them managed to do it. Some had friends from within the walls and knew what to expect, others had no idea whatsoever of what they would find. They swarmed in, all at once, and the locals were overwhelmed.
However, everything turned to be fine. Indeed, it was an utter success. People from all over the world were together, in the same place, and they discussed freely. They exchanged different points of view and they learned from each other. After a week of debating they unfortunately had to leave the Palais des Nations, because the Annual Conference had come to an end. They
loved it though, and leaving was bittersweet. They left the UNOG as better versions of themselves. Their views and horizons were better and grander than they were on registration day at Uni-Bastions. They promised their new friends to keep in touch, and they promised themselves to apply to GIMUN again the year after.
* * *
Yes, dear delegates and staff, this introduction was indeed about the conference, and not about illegal immigrants. But, Marco Sassoli’s contribution to the Human Rights Committee yesterday struck a nerve with us, and we wanted to tease your mind. As you will see if you check our article about his speech, he talked about diversity and immigration, among other things. And he talked about legal immigration as a possibility of solving a lot of the problems that we hear about, like raft accidents and so forth. If you were not there, ask your friends who were to bring you up to speed.
So, work hard in your committees. Learn how to debate, and use this invaluable skill to tackle discussions and topics such as that of Mr. Sassoli, even with people who don’t have your same frame of mind. We need this now, more than ever. Or, as Director General Michael Møller said, tagging us on Twitter, “faites entendre votre voix, participez dans le débat”!
Depuis quelques heures, la conférence annuelle de GIMUN 2017 bat son plein. Vous-mêmes, participants, êtes au coeur de cette expérience qui ne fait que débuter. N’est-il pas excitant de savoir que les débats, mais aussi les évènements post-conférence, vont continuer à se succéder au cours de cette semaine, alors que les rencontres et les discussions ne feront que s’intensifier ? Les articles du jour aborderont des thèmes tout à fait sérieux comme les injections létales ou le maintien de la démocratie. Ceux-ci seront agrémentés de clichés de la journée d’hier ainsi que d’autres divertissements variés. De quoi certainement patienter en vue de se retrouver ce soir autour d’une boisson rafraîchissante pour éventuellement élargir les débats. En ce qui vous concerne, sachez, chers participants, que nous savons que vous avez oeuvré pour cette conférence et que le résultat qui s’ensuit n’a pu être possible que grâce à des efforts continuels de la part de chacun d’entre vous. Il est désormais temps d’en récolter les fruits ou plutôt de «manger le gâteau », comme l’a si bien dit notre cher Secrétaire Général, Charles Bonfils-Duclos, lors de sa dernière interview. Nous voulons que vous savouriez ce gâteau, que vous partagiez ce plaisir via Twitter, Instagram ou même Snapchat ! Nous comptons sur vous pour faire de cette conférence la meilleure expérience genevoise possible car vous l’avez bien mérité. Sur ce mot de la fin, nous aimerions vous remercier pour votre ouvrage.
By Lama El Khamy & Michelle Bognuda
@Lamaelk_GIMUN | @mbognuda_gimun
If you are a veteran MUNer, you know what is waiting for you: debates, concentration and fulfillment. If you are new to this world, you will find out that even though we all know that this is a simulation, it is terribly real. Real, because you will meet people who will inspire you. Real, because you will talk about and defend actual issues, that UN committees, literally next door, are also discussing. Real, because you will leave this week feeding for more, and longing for your next conference.
What is so special about MUN, you may ask. Well, first of all, MUN is found in countless countries around the world. But, let’s focus on what’s important here. In general, it helps you understand that in fact there are other youths interested in something grander than themselves. By participating, as you may already know, you realize that your doubts and thoughts about the future have a platform here. You are fighting for a country that most likely is not your own, but you get to learn about a new culture, and when you hear fellow quasi-delegates speak, you realize that everyone is practicing and learning and defending. These are
keywords for virtually everything. Practice makes perfect. Learning feeds the brain, whatever it may be about. Defending what is right, or maybe even wrong, makes you think, and thinking is the invaluable base of everything. MUN is a great opportunity to open your mind to the world, an opportunity that helps you grow as a person. And what better way to do that than in style!
GIMUN, in particular, has its perks. Geneva is a multicultural city, and GIMUN takes place at the actual UN headquarters, thank you very much. You are waiting in line to be vetted by security and you hear real-life delegates chit-chatting. You are waiting in line at the cafeteria and you catch a glance at some super-serious-looking person that’s obviously the real deal. It gives you strength. It shows you what is next, after classes and exams and job applications. You can explore what you want to do next. And while you learn how to debate, a larger than life skill, you can actually see minds at work for the greater good.
In this issue of the GIMUN chronicles, we have prepared a great surprise for you, and it involves a very important UN public figure. We’ve also provided you with several discussions about current topics, which we are sure that you’ll enjoy and discuss with your colleagues. Now, enough of us and read on. Welcome to the Palais des Nations!
THE GIMUN CHRONICLES | EDITION VII
GENEVA INTERNATIONAL MODEL UNITED NATIONS
By Meryl Brucker & Valentina San Martin
Dans un monde où il devient de plus en plus difficile de trouver l’équilibre entre liberté d’expression, croyances et coexistence pacifique, la conférence annuelle de GIMUN 2017 ne pourrait pas s’annoncer plus en symbiose avec sa ville-Genève. Symbole de paix, de démocratie et de dialogue elle se démarque par son histoire diplomatique riche et érige un principe qu’elle affectionne tout particulièrement: la neutralité. Il n’en sera pas moins capital ni anodin d’aborder les thèmes de crises socio-politiques qui continuent d’ébranler le monde à ce jour. En tant que conférenciers, il faudra se demander ce qui a poussé, chacun d’entre nous, à participer à ces grandes discussions qui s’étendront sur une semaine entière. Quels sont nos objectifs, nos idéaux? Il n’y a rien de plus porteur d’espoir que de voir de jeunes individus en quête de sens et de solutions se réunir dans l’emblématique Palais des Nations pour partager leur conception de la diplomatie. En cherchant à passer outre les convictions éthiques, politiques ou religieuses de chacun – ce qui semble diviser plus que jamais nos sociétés contemporaines, cette conférence se basera sur l’écoute, le respect et la perspicacité. Notre équipe presse se chargera donc d’informer chaque participants de l’avancée des discussions. Elle tentera également de dépeindre l’actualité internationale et de vous livrer un contenu complet et stimulant. Sur cette note plus que jamais positive, il ne reste plus qu’à souhaiter à chacun d’entre vous une semaine riche en discussions, en rencontres, en émotions et bien entendu en lecture!
NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW Geneva) with the generous support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), organized a forum dedicated to the economic empowerment of women & girls in a sustainable development perspective, the 10th of October 2016 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Our editor-in-chief, Nataliya Borys, a feminist and an active supporter of women’s rights, was quite enthusiastic to know about practical solutions to economic empowerment of women & girls by taking some notes. So what do participants offer as tools of economic empowerment of women & girls? What practically can be done? Read the rest of this entry »
Would you like to communicate directly with the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva about global issues? Do you think this is practically impossible? Well, the think-tank Foraus and the Global Studies Institute made this possible for an evening. Read the rest of this entry »
The 22 November 2016 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva there was an annual United Nations bazaar’s event, presented as “one of the most significant events in the life of the UN community in Geneva.” What is that, this international bazaar? Which is the goal of this bazaar? Can common people take part in it? Our reporter and editor-in-chief, Nataliya Borys, wanted to know more about this event and could participate in this bazaar as a journalist of GIMUN. Read the rest of this entry »
On 24th October 2016, GIMUN celebrated the 71st anniversary of the UN Charter, which came into force exactly on this date in 1945, by holding the annual UN Day at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the current threat of climate change and how young people can tackle it. Read the rest of this entry »
As you may know, for almost two and a half years, Lebanon has been without a president. Finally, on the 31st of October 2016, Michel Aoun, Christian leader and founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, has been elected as the new president of Lebanon. But who are the real winners of this election? Read the rest of this entry »
The large numbers of refugees coming to Europe over these last years has made lots of us very concerned. Conferences about the topic, politicians trying to offer solutions and great deal of articles in the newspapers… All of this had us wondering what we could do to help the situation. But do we really know what is going on? What can we do to help improve the situation? Two real stories from people who have suffered war, poverty and racism may make people see immigration in a different way. Read the rest of this entry »
GIMUN is a student-led NGO with special consultative status at the UN ECOSOC. Our goal is to educate about the UN and to promote the UN values amongst the Youth. One of our projects is this online blog “UNO, You Know ?!”.We give students with an interest in writing the chance to get accredited to the negotiations and events held at the UN and publish their articles here.
We are now recruiting to complete our management team for the blog. If you are a student, interested in international relations and in GIMUN, with very good skills in both english and french, here is your chance to contribute to our bilingual online journal. You will have the opportunity to manage a multicultural team, composed of journalists and translators from all over the world. You will then take responsibilities in our NGO. Read the rest of this entry »
The 15th of April 2014 marked a turning point in Nigerian politics with the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, northern Nigeria. The world awakened to the plight of young girls in developing nations pursuing education in societies blighted by terrorism and patriarchal belief systems. However, amidst the turmoil of unspeakable violence can local girls see any hope for the future?
On 8 March 2015, International Women’s Day, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) organised a discussion in Geneva, on the role on women in the peace process.
The film Pray the Devil back to Hell, by Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney was shown during the event. The documentary tells the story of thousands of Liberian women who decided to join forces in spite of their religious differences in order to restore peace to their country. Indeed, between 1989 and 2003, civil war ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone, causing more than 400,000 deaths. Traumatised and exhausted, these women together denounced the sordid daily life of conflict, including drugged child soldiers, sexual torture, packed and raided refugee camps, greed and the exploitation of natural resources. With their peaceful protests, they succeeded in putting pressure on political leaders to reach a peace agreement. They then pushed for the country’s disarmament and were involved in the democratic elections where the first female African president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected.
Finally, in 2012, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia and rebel leader, was sentenced to 50 years in prison by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
These events illustrate the tremendous power of peacekeeping intervention that women can have, as much on a local as on a global level. Therefore, better integrating women into the peacekeeping process is absolutely essential.
Keeping the Liberian case in mind, outstanding figures were invited to discuss the issue of the participation of women in the peacekeeping process, including; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Alejandra Ancheita, Human Rights Activist, Mexican lawyer and 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate; and Bineta Diop, founder and President of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), and Special Envoy to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Women, Peace and Security. The discussion was moderated by RTS journalist, Laurence Difelix.
In recent years the socialist movements of Western Europe have been relatively quiet. Europe has experienced a significant economic crisis leading to unrest, uncertainty and usurpation by pre-crisis minority parties. Historically, turbulence such as this has acted as a catalyst for the emergence of radical movements and innovative ideas. This article focuses upon the apparent absence of these movements and ideas in contemporary socialism, considering three countries in detail: France, the United Kingdom and Spain.
For the past two decades, gold mining and agriculture have contributed consistently to economic growth and development in Ghana. In 2013, gold mining contributed US$3,673 million in exports. Agriculture employed about 60 per cent of the active labour force and cocoa, the leading cash crop, contributed an estimated US$1,731 million in exports in 2013 (Government of Ghana 2013). While farming is the traditional source of livelihood, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has emerged in communities endowed with natural resources as a lucrative activity due to its remarkable income-generating potential.
Mining and agriculture may co-exist and interact to generate economic and social benefits, but at the same time they compete for land, water resources and labour. On the one hand, land is seized for mining that otherwise could be used for farming; labour is attracted away from agriculture into mining; and mining pollutes water needed for farm irrigation. On the other hand, mining generates money that supplements the income of farmers who branch out into mining, allowing them to improve the productivity of their farms through buying inputs like fertilizers, and hiring labour (see: Hilson and Garforth 2012; 2013). Despite the importance of mining and agriculture to socio-economic development, the dynamics of their interaction have seldom received attention and are sometimes underestimated by scholars, governments, corporate entities and donors. There is a need for greater understanding of the mining–agriculture nexus to ensure that the two interact in a positive and balanced manner, producing social and economic development without disrupting the livelihoods of rural people whose lives are tied to farming. Read the rest of this entry »
It is already hard to imagine what it must feel like to be displaced, to be forced to leave home, to be persecuted and not welcomed anywhere. Even harder to imagine is the horror and despair of those who die while trying to come to a presumed secure and just system – to the EU. On the 30th of September 2013 more then 300 refugees experienced this ordeal off the Italian island of Lampedusa and died in the cause. Since then reports of tragic deaths at the European boarders are becoming more and more frequent, as the number of refugees are increasing. Subsequently the influx of refugees into the EU is increasing as well. At the same time the Common European Asylum System seams to fail in providing adequate protection and reception conditions; resulting in inhuman treatment and deaths.
This paper wants to offer a reasonable and possible solution within the existing Asylum System. Therefore it presents the Refuge Protection within the two dimensions: the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Common European Asylum System. Within the Common European Asylum System the paper focuses upon the definition of the refugee status and the Dublin System. After presenting and discussing the weaknesses of this exact System the paper will present (in short) a possible solution to the raised problems and weaknesses. Read the rest of this entry »
Migration. Nowadays migration is a heavily discussed topic in the media. It has become even more since the Swiss have adopted the ‘Stop mass immigration’ initiative that calls for quotas for all foreign nationals, on 9th February 2014. This desire to limit the number of foreigners shows the up-to-dateness of ‘migration’.
But what exactly are the effects of migration? Are they rather beneficial or disadvantageous for a country? Sir Paul Collin, a professor from Oxford University, analyses the impact migration has on countries, in particular developing countries. He shared his point of view at the conference entitled ‘Migration – Winners and Losers’ which was organized by the Graduate Institute in Geneva (IHEID) on 29th April. Read the rest of this entry »
High on many reading lists on issues of security and feminism, J Ann Tickner is a familiar name for any International Relations student. For this reason, I was really excited to see her deliver a guest lecture at the Graduate Institute Geneva on 14th April 2014, entitled “Dealing with Difference: Problems and Possibilities for Dialogue in International Relations”, and tackling concepts like discrimination and epistemology of discourse -as problematic and diverse as feminism – all within the hour. Read the rest of this entry »
25,000 meet in Medellín at UN-Habitat’s biennial conference
It is home to more than half of the world’s population, it is filled with human capacity, central to the big dream of millions, the cradle of new languages, music, art, the hope of many and likely to also be a traffic- and environmental nightmare: the city. Since the early 1970s, a great many of development strategies and programs had focused on rural development. Today both industrialized and developing countries are facing a challenge not quite unrelated, but definitely on the opposite side of the rural sphere – Urbanization.
The crisis in the Central African Republic, one of the least developed countries in the world, stems from the ongoing tensions that have rocked Central Africa for decades. According to a recent report issued by Human Rights Watch, 30,000 Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in the recent violence. This dramatic number along with continuous warnings of ethnic cleansing makes the understanding of this conflict very important. Read the rest of this entry »
It was during an always unlucky Friday 13th at the Geneva Press Club that Ma Thida’s press conference took place. But who is Ma Thida? She is a surgeon and a writer. But she is also a former political prisoner, and, for some, a hero – and it is impossible to mention heroic political prisoners without remembering the late great Nelson Mandela and the select group that both he and Ma Thida are a part of: people who are improving the world through peaceful action in their own country. Today, her courage, her drive, and her love for an honourable debate can be seen in her two magazines, as well as her radio show for young people. But is the press, which she represents, really free? This is the theme behind the “Freedom of the press in Burma” question and answer session. Read the rest of this entry »
The first ever annual report of armed violence and conflict was launched this week by the Geneva Academy, representing a significant and possibly very controversial account of the changing nature of global conflict and the application of international law. Read the rest of this entry »
On the second of December 2013, after a weekend in which the Ukrainian protests had been cemented in the public consciousness, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights held a seminar at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on effective measures and best practices to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests. The Seminar comprised a panel of international legal and human rights experts, representing states, academia and human rights organisations and its findings were reported to the Human Rights Council.Read the rest of this entry »
With his Darwinian air, weathered by observing personality and human interaction, Professor Jean-Léon Beauvois, indisputable expert in social psychology, honoured us with a conference entitled “impressions and illusions of freedom, a point of reflection for educational sciences”. For an hour and a half, he discussed the dualities between autonomy and necessary education, individual freedom and conformity, social liberty and submission. Read the rest of this entry »
On November 29th, an ‘anticapitalist, feminist and ecologic movement’ based in the French part of Switzerland called SolidaritéS, organized a two-days’ debate around the constantly current topic of the Arab spring: Mass movements and revolutionary processes in the Middle East and North Africa. Many different angles were treated to give the audience a more complete image of the phenomena but the most enlightening speech took a look of what is happening behind the scenes: the impact of the petrol states on the Arab spring. Read the rest of this entry »
Nowadays, the future of Europe is subject to a fairly bleak prognosis, with the financial recession continuing to put the institutions of the European Union to the test. Yet over and above this economic slump, the number of hopeful prospects and initiatives is growing and keeping alive the dream of a Europe capable of captivating the rest of the world by setting not merely a contemporary example worthy of observation, but one to follow and from which much can be learnt. Read the rest of this entry »
World Food Day 2013 was once again celebrated on 16th October for the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, of the United Nations. For the third time the University of Geneva organized an event dealing with this topic, this time in collaboration with the FAO, the World Food Program (WFP) and Swissaid Genève.
The title of the event, ‘9 billion habitants by 2050 – How to feed them in an equitable and sustainable way?’ included both the fundamental issue FAO is working on – how to feed the world – and the current trend of approaching development from a sustainable point of view. Indeed it should be acknowledged that we really need to look further into the future. In a few years times there will be around two billion more people to feed. The four speakers of the evening had a tough topic to discuss.
These journalists, translators and editors worked with us in the past but are no longer active.
Ivan Mirkovic: Ivan was born in 1993 in Bosnia & Herzegovina and after a short stay in Germany he moved to Switzerland in 1998, where he has been living ever since. Considering his interest in international history and current events, he decided to study International Relations at the University of Geneva. In his free time he likes to do sports and works as a basketball referee
Ahmed Ben Abdallah:
Ayoub El Moudne: Ayoub was born in 1992 in Tours, France. At the moment he is doing an Erasmus year in Geneva studying at the Department of Science, Anthropology and Medicine, with a specialization in Immunology. He likes to observe human nature, nature itself, and the arts. When he has time he does different sports and is looking for new adventures. He decided to write for GIMUN as he thinks this is a great way to experience Geneva from the inside.
Alina Suvila: I am a 21-year-old anthropology student from Finland, University of Helsinki. I am currently doing an exchange in Geneva at UNIGE. My minor is international law and that is why I chose Geneva as my destination, it’s the perfect city to explore the field of international law and NGOs. Anthropology and international law combine well my interests, exploring cultures and countries and having an insight of the practical functioning of NGOs e.g. on the humanitarian field.
Larissa Spescha: I’m originally from Zurich but at the moment I am studying ‘International Relations’ at the University of Geneva. I’ve always been interested in other countries and cultures that is why I love to travel. In my spare time I do a lot of sports, as volleyball and yoga, and I like to go to concerts and festivals.
Leandra Hildbrand: I’m Swiss, originally from Zurich, and moved to Geneva for university. I’m in the second year of my bachelor in International Relations. I love travelling, exploring foreign cultures, food and see different landscapes. In my free time I like cooking, sports, nature and cultural events like film festivals, theatre, music festivals and concerts.
Lea Gleixner: Born and bred in beautiful Nuremberg, Germany, I am currently studying a combined Masters in English, Spanish and Business studies at Giessen University. As a result of my exposure to different countries and cultures, I have a keen interest in development issues, globalization and international relations. Besides, I work in the field of Social Media and Online Communication – two other vital interests of mine. If I’m not working, socializing or travelling, you are most likely to find me jogging up a hill, attending my Ghanaian pepper plants or grinding beans for my mid-morning coffee.”
Nayana Das: I am a first year Masters student in International History studying at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva. Although I have lived most of my life in India, I have always harbored a keen interest in international affairs and am thus really looking forward to writing for the blog.
Easha Acharya: Easha is a fourth-year Political Science student from Vancouver, Canada, currently studying at Glendon College in Toronto. She has been involved in Model United Nations for over five years and has been writing and editing for various news publications for two years. After university, she hopes to continue her journalism career as an investigative reporter in India.
Medgy Liburd: Medgy was born and raised in Port-au-Prince Haiti and came to Germany years ago to accomplish her studies. She is currently studying law at the University of Bochum in Germany focusing on international law and she is also attending the FFA-Program (Common law studies) at the University of Munster in Germany. She speaks five languages and is currently learning a sixth one. She really likes traveling and getting to know new cultures.
Friederike Wipfler: Friederike Wipfler was born in Germany and is studying International Relations & Economics at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Currently she is doing a year abroad at the University of Geneva. There she became part of the NGO GIMUN and is one of the editors-in-chief of the blog ‘UNO, You know?!’
Regina Oladipo: I am British-Nigerian and a 20-year old student in my 2nd Year, studying Politics and International Relations (BA) at Royal Holloway, University of London. I work for various charities in my spare time and attend many conferences around Europe. I am an avid traveller and love learning from new experiences and people from cultures foreign to my own. I have a great interest in international relations and news, I hope to be in the position to influence the leaders of the world simply by answering the right questions to trigger revolutionary responses. I hope to become an International news reporter/journalist one day with my own broadcasting channel.
Claire Gossart: Claire is a French student at the ‘Institut d’Etudes Politiques’ in Lyon. She really likes travelling. Her last trip went to India and the next one is going to Chile. Apart from French she is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Wassim Cornet: Wassim is a Belgian-Algerian student in his third year of Political Science at the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. He grew up in three different countries, speaks five languages, and is currently Vice-President of LouvainMUN, his university’s Model UN team. After graduating, his goal is to become a reporter, covering stories from all around the world.
Sarah Payne: Sarah Payne is from West Yorkshire, UK, and is studying social and economic sciences at Glasgow and Geneva Universities. Her major areas of interest are peace and conflict resolution, humanitarian intervention, and gender issues.
Euan O’Neill: Euan O’Neill is a third year law student at the University of Glasgow, UK. Hailing from Crieff, a small town in rural Scotland, he is currently on Erasmus exchange at the University of Geneva. He is interested in international public law, especially with respect to Human Rights and the Environment.
Alice Debiolles: I was born in Lille, in the North of France. I decided quite early that I wanted to become a translator and, after finishing school, I went to Brussels to start my studies. After a year, I moved to Geneva, and then went on to spend one semester in Granada (Spain) and another one in Berlin. Through all these experiences, I realized how much I enjoy living abroad and being surrounded with a great diversity of languages and cultures. I’m currently in Masters of Translation at the University of Geneva and I’m happy to contribute to UNO You Know with my fresh skills.
Petya Yankova: I am Bulgarian, but I spent the last four years in the UK studying English Literature before moving on to do Linguistics. Currently working in The Hague, I travel all over Europe as often as I can, mostly to attend academic conferences and youth events on various topics. I have been involved with the online youth magazine Europe & Me for the past three years, reporting from Zagreb, Sofia, Budapest, Krusevo, and Amsterdam. I joined a MUN for the first time this year, as a human rights journalist at the Slovenian International session. At the end of this year I will complete my media exchange programme with the Council of Europe and I am looking forward to using the knowledge and skills I acquired in it when working on “UNO – You know?!”. If you want to get in touch with me, write to email@example.com
My name is Mélanie Sena Sosoe. I was born in Montreal and have spent a number of years living in Luxembourg. Now, I am at Law School in Geneva. I first came across GIMUN two years ago, as a delegate at the Annual Conference. Since then, I have acted as Under-Secretary-General for Human Resources, and as Financial Support Manager for the 2012-2013 Annual Conference. Since 2013, when the blog in its present form was founded, I have been its Editor-in-Chief. GIMUN is an incredible opportunity for students to get an initial overview of how the UN works. Its location in Geneva has the advantage of offering conferences and events, featuring leading names and academic experts from the international scene. GIMUN’s purpose is to make students aware of the opportunities available to attend these events, and this is why I chose this position. I am delighted to work with you in the hope that I can pass on this enthusiasm for international affairs. For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me using the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline A. Mountfield : I was born in Basel, Switzerland; however I also possess the French as well as the English nationality. I am sound in both oral and written English and French. Since I am interested in international politics I chose to join the International Relations program of the University of Geneva. This is how I got familiar with the GIMUN organisation and decided to join the 2015 Annual Conference as an Anglophone journalist. I will be pursuing my Bachelors at the National University of Singapore starting the first day of August 2015 and I am quite happy to contribute to UNO you know.
Francesca Paschetta: I was born in Italy and I am multilingual communication student at the University of Geneva, where I study communication in English, French and German. I have just finished my Erasmus year at the University of Southampton in England and I am about to start a new adventure as a PR intern in Berlin, before I go back to Geneva for my third and last year of bachelor. I am passionate about foreign languages, travelling and international politics and for this reason I took part into the GIMUN Annual Conference 2015 as a journalist and I want to continue my studies in international relations. I believe in the power of communication and passion. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to write on this blog and share my interests and views with you.
Ghada Ben Saïd: Of Tunisian descent, I was born in Bern and went to a French school there. I speak Arabic, French, German and English. I am currently a Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Geneva, and hope to do a Masters degree in journalism. In my free time, I try to draw as much as possible. Drawing press cartoons for the GIMUN newspaper has given me the opportunity to combine my two passions.
Jan Alexander Linxweiler: I am student from Germany, currently studying Law and Political Science. Apart from working for the Institute for Legal Informatics at the Leibniz University of Hanover and a law firm (unsurprisingly, I am the editor of their Blogs), I am very interested in the field of international relations and international public law. Thus I love to experience the most different views, opinions and discussions. Open communication and freedom of expression are wonderful instruments and have the potential to make the world a better place.
Stephen Yeboah is currently a Research Fellow at the Africa Progress Panel, a non-profit organization chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Stephen’s areas of research include agriculture, natural resources governance and sustainable development. A trained journalist, he has published articles on migration, aid, agriculture, mining, and oil and gas. He is also the Head of Research on Oil and Gas for the Center for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a non-governmental organization based in Ghana, and Research Consultant for the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). Stephen holds an M.A. in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva, Switzerland.
Modupe Macaulay: I am a fourth year French and Spanish student at King’s College, London. During my university degree I have partaken in university exchanges in Chile, Spain and Switzerland. I have previously interned at BBC World Service and BBC Africa, as well as undertaking a mentorship scheme at CNN London. My time working as a journalist on the Economic and Social Council at the GIMUN 2015 Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, gave me the opportunity to broaden my journalistic horizons as I learnt the impact of reporting not solely on political matters, but also economic matters; including, the ethical cost of economic boom in Middle-Eastern society. I am currently a freelance writer for various online publications alongside studying. My work thus far has heavily involved African news, not purely political stories, but also human stories. I have reported on a wide range of topics from African literature to the plight of school girls in northern Nigeria. I hope to gain more experience in the world of media, to train and work as a broadcast journalist. In my spare time I enjoy reading, pilates and anything involving food!
Loan Walter: I was born in Lyon and quickly got to discover other parts of France as my parents kept moving. After I graduated from high-school with a diploma in Science, I was happy to go back to the city I was born in to start university. Being passionate about languages since I was a kid, I decided to study a Bachelor in English literature, civilization and linguistics. I participated in an exchange programme for two semesters in Toronto, Canada, which really changed my vision of life. Once I was back home, I started to get itchy feet again and that led me to spend one year of university in Aix-en-Provence and to travel twice to Spain, one of them being for an Erasmus stay in Salamanca. In September 2014, I joined the FTI at the University of Geneva where I started my first year of a Masters’ programme in translation. I translate from English and Spanish to French. I love the multiculturalism here in Geneva and the fact that it is so international! It is a great pleasure and honour to be translator for GIMUN. I find it to be an extremely valuable project and translating is how I get involved!
Julie Jarnoux: Originally from Nantes, west of France, I decided after high school to go and see the world. After Australia, Spain, Argentina and a little detour to Japan, I finally settled in Paris. Discovering all these different countries, people and cultures confirmed my interest for foreign languages. That is why I decided to study translation. I started with a degree in English, Spanish and Japanese and I am now undertaking a master’s degree in intercultural communication and translation at the Institute of Intercultural Management and Communication in Paris (ISIT). I first heard about Model United Nations in 2013, and then I participated in the 2014 Annual Conference as a member of the translation team. GIMUN is a unique opportunity to become aware of today’s main global issues.
Léa Coudry: Born in Strasbourg but raised in Brittany, I moved to Berlin right after I finished high school. After three years in the German capital, I moved to Geneva to start my bachelor in translation. Shortly afterwards, I jumped in a plane that would take me to London for my first semester as an Erasmus, and then to Istanbul, where I spent another semester. I still don’t know if I want to continue in the translation field or embrace a photography career, but here I am: back in Geneva, enrolled in Masters of Translation, and still looking for the next road to hit!
Anabel Da Silva: I’m a 22 year old from France, and I live in Evian les Bains. I’m doing a master’s in specialized translation at the Unige (University of Geneva). I translate from English and Spanish into French. I’m learning Japanese as well. Languages are my passion. I also love travelling, I’ve done two Erasmus stays (one in England, another one in Spain), I’ve been to Canada two years ago, and I hope I’ll visit a lot more countries when I finish my studies. In the meantime, I am happy to offer my help for the “UNO, You know ?!” blog.
Friederike Wipfler: Friederike Wipfler was born in Germany and is studying International Relations & Economics at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Currently she is doing a year abroad at the University of Geneva. There she became part of the NGO GIMUN and is one of the editors-in-chief of the blog ‘UNO, You know?!’
Valeria Dawonauth: I am 22 years old and I come from Mauritius Island. Because of my origins, I am fluent in French and Italian. I started my Master in Translation at the Faculté de Traduction et d’Interprétation (FTI) of Geneva in September 2013, after doing my Bachelor in Lille (France) and a one year Erasmus in Milan (Italy). I translate from English, Italian and Spanish to French. In Mauritius Island, we also speak Creole, but it is not (yet) recognised as an official language. I like travelling and meeting people from different parts of the world. I am eager to translate articles for this blog, so that we can be aware of United Nations’ latest news, whatever language we speak.
Tuuli Orasmaa: Tuuli is a Finnish student doing Development Studies at the University of Helsinki since 2011. Currently she is on an exchange year at the Global Studies Institute at the University of Geneva. Her special interests are international development and trade, food security and agriculture.
On the 19th of March, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development held a conference at the Palais Nations to discuss social protection and food security issues. The speaker for the event, Stephen Devereux, is a development economist, working on food security and social protection, in particular in Africa. He works at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Susex. For more informations, please visit: http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BD6AB/(httpEvents)/4EB3064CBBFF69C8C1257B1D0034F133?OpenDocument
This conference was largely based on the report by the high level panel of experts on food security and nutrition (June 2012). Stephen Devereux was a team leader for this report. The report, written by the Committee of World Food Security, was an attempt to put food security and social protection together. Read the rest of this entry »
by Jacqueline Douniama; translation by Claudia Bragman
On 7 March 2013, the “International Women’s Day; Protection & Promoting Women’s Rights” conference was held in the Palais des Nations. This was a taster session before the International Women’s Day taking place the next day. If anyone thought that this event only catered for radical feminists, they were wrong. On the contrary, the conference was led by a variety of key figures (although, one must admit that men were in the minority). These individuals came from various regions and most of them were lecturers, directors or representatives of international organisations that aim to develop women’s rights in specific contexts.Read the rest of this entry »
On October 31st, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva organized a conference on “Reforming the working methods of the United Nations Security Council”. It assembled a group of high-profile academics and practitioners working on UN issues, including the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in Geneva and Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Nations. The occasion was a reform proposal by Small Five (Switzerland, Costa Rica, Liechtensctein, Jordan, Singapore) from April 2012. (For more information, please see : http://graduateinstitute.ch/corporate/resources/events_types/calendarofevents_en.html?evenementId=148008.) Read the rest of this entry »
by Alexandra Ilic; translated into English by Claudia Bragman
(Conference-debate on Thursday 15 November 2012)
This debate was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) together with the Academy of Humanitarian Law. Participants included Dr. Sévane Garibian, doctor of law, Professor Marco Sassoli, also a former delegate of the ICRC, Maître Philip Grant, lawyer and TRIAL director, and Maitre Philippe Currat, lawyer and doctor of law.
As Maitre Philip Grant underlined, such an event could never have taken place or, at least, never have brought together so many people 20 years ago. Therefore, the very existence of this conference does indeed prove that a new culture, fighting against impunity, is emerging.Read the rest of this entry »
Camille Dufresne ; translated into English by Claudia Bragman
On Thursday 25 October Mr Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, made a speech as part of the various programmes led by the University of Geneva to celebrate Switzerland’s 10-year membership to the UN. Mr Tokayev initially defined the current major upheavals; he then went on to discuss their repercussions on the UN. Read the rest of this entry »
by Jacqueline Douniama ; translatetd into English by Claudia Bragman
The UN is the most well-known organisation across the globe. It has a strong presence in the media, where it is mentioned almost daily. It strives to maintain peace and guarantee international security. It is interesting to try and understand how Switzerland contributes to UN projects. The Swiss Foreign Policy Forum (« Foraus ») organised an conference on 17 October 2012 and this provided us with more information on the topic.Read the rest of this entry »