My experience at CIFE Summer Programme

On the 1st of August 2017 I’ve attended as a speaker the international summer school Romania/Bulgaria organized by CIFE, programme focused on migration and refugee rights across Europe, taught in French. CIFE is a private institution of higher education and research, founded in 1954 with its head office in Nice and branch offices in Berlin, Brussels and Istanbul.

I was invited at this summer school by Laura Spataru-Negura, one of the founding members of Issues Without Borders, who is teaching at  Nicolae Titulescu University (the university where I am currently enrolled in a PHD programme). Nicolae Titulescu University  is  one of the organizing partners of the summer school, besides CIFE, and the European Law Institute of Sofia.

Due to this partnership, the summer school took place in several locations:  July 31 – August 1st in Bucharest (Romania), August 1st – 3rd in Slobozia (Romania) and August 3rd – 6th in Silistra (Bulgaria). The programme gathered students from different countries, such as Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy,  Romania, Turkey, and it was held in French. The participants had the chance to discover all the cities where they attended lectures, discover the culture of the area and exchange ideas thus creating lasting memories.

The programme included interesting lectures among which I mention (in a chronological order): “The inviolability of human rights in migration.  Different types of rights in favour of migrants” (held by Laura Spataru-Negura, University of Nicolae Titulescu), “The contribution of civil aviation in the migration process and the protection of the right to life” (held by Sorana Paun-Pop, Politehnica University),  “The Route to the Balkans. Geographic aspects concerning the history of migrants in the Balkans” (held by professor Michael Hermans, HEC Liege in Belgium), “Migrations, law and barriers: two-speed Europe or two-truths Europe?” (held by professor Atanas Semov, University of Sofia, Director of the European Law Institute of Sofia), “Human Rights in Europe” (held by professor Evgeni Tanchev, University of Sofia, Attorney General at the European Union’s Court of Justice).

My lecture’s topic was on “Debates on migration management. The role of NGOs”. Because I wanted my presentation to be more interesting for students, I’ve presented my experience at Brussels in the European Parliament, where I’ve attended a conference on migration management as the president of the NGO Issues Without Borders.

In addition to the Power Point presentation I also initiated a debate with the students, a long Q&A session and I was very happy to see a lot of positive feedback.

The programme was very well-organized, I was given the opportunity to attend a lovely dinner at Caru’ cu Bere in Bucharest (the most iconic restaurant in Bucharest, in my opinion), one evening before my lecture.

I must confess that I felt very good in this program and that I will attend it next year for sure, if I will be invite it. I highly recommend it!

Congratulations to all the organizers, especially to Marie France Perdigon (director of CIFE’s summer programmes –  http://www.cife.eu/en/4/summer-university-programmes_6-1) and to Laura – thank you for inviting me!

 




The Good Lobby Programe

On the 22nd of June I attended the Good Lobby Inaugural Event & The Launch of the EU Pro Bono Awards on behalf of Issues Without Borders.

This event brought together EU officials, lawyers and other professionals, civil society actors and academics to publicly build a case for pro bono in Europe. On this occasion, The Good Lobby and its partners also officially launch the EU Pro Bono Awards to acknowledge and celebrate the most successful instances of pro bono co-operation between citizen experts and civil society organizations carried out within the past twelve months at the EU level.

The speakers included:  Emily O’ Reilly (European Ombudsman); Alberto Alemanno (Founder of The Good LobbyJean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris, Director of the EU Public Interest Clinic, New York University School of Law ); Lamin Khadar (Co-founder of The Good Lobby, Pro Bono Associate, DLA Piper Amsterdam); Tony Venables ( Founder, European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust (ECIT) Foundation, Director of Maison des Associations Internationales (MAI); Onno Brouwer( Partner, Freshfields Amsterdam); Philip Buisseret (Secretary General, CCBE); Helen Darbishire (Vice-President and Executive Director, Access Info Europe) ; Ed Rekosh (Founder of The Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet), Director of Human Rights Initiative, Visiting Professor of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law); Michael Diedring Director (European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) Maria Orejas-Chantelot (Policy and Programmes Director at European Foundation Centre (EFC).

Furthemore The EU Pro Bono Awards have recently received the High Patronage from the European Parliament.

The programme of the event was the following: after the registration of the participants there was a  key note speech  and Q&A section  by Emilie O`Reilly (EU Ombudsman). It continued with a presentation of a survey: „ What do EU NGOs Need and Expect”?, a roundtable „ A need for pro bono at the EU level”, a presentation of the Good Lobby and Q&A, a launch of the EU Pro Bono Awards Ceremony, concluding remarks, lastly a reception at the place of conference, where participants were encouraged to network. The event ended in a very constructive way and the participants were already very excited to attend the „proper training” which took place the following day on the 23rd of June.

The following day , the 23rd of June was a busy day for us participants because we attended many trainings and workshops.

The first section was  section intitled „ Make your voice heard” , where Alberto Alemano gave us some suggestions in how to state our case to EU policy makers.

The second section was called :”  The Good Lobby Tool Box”  which included the following presentations :  the first tool box„ How to make a FOIA request”( Helen Darbishire-Acces InfoEurope &Onno Brouwer-Freshfields Amsterdam); the second tool boox „How to lauch a Citizens Initiative” (Carsten Berg-Citizens Initiative); and the third tool box „How to submit a complain at the EU Ombudsman” (Fergal O`Regan-EU Ombudsman Office)

The third section of the conference was called „How to spread the word” and this involved a workshop „How to set up a digital campaign in the EU and case studies”, training performed by Riparte il Futuro, We move and Old Co (Priscilla,  Virginia, Federico, Gaulthier).

The fourt and last section was intitled:  „The Good Lobby Pro Bono Simulation”  and this involved a Role Play  : „How NGOs and Law Firms Can Work Together”. Based on a  hypothetical  scenario, participants (in small groups) were supposed to  simulate a request for pro bono assistance, it`s processing by a law firm and the delivery.

Lastly there was a farewell and concluding remarks.

My favourite parts of the conference were the presentations made by Karsten on the Citizens Initiative since Issues Without Borders is also planning to launch in the future a Citizens Initiative in order to map a new EU legislation on migration and the last part, the role play because the role play gave us participants the opportunity to think outside the box, prepare and deliver a presentation under time pressure and we also received valuable feedack after this.

All in all I would like to thank the Good Lobby platform and particularly Alberto Alemanno, who also offered us a copy of his book „Lobby for Change” , a book I highly recommend.

This conference offered me valuable information and I am even more enthusiastic about the work performed by Issues Without Borders is terms of the refugee crisis and it`s future work because this is just the beggining.

 




The High Level Conference on Migration Management at the EU Parliament

On the 21st of June I attended  together with Elena Schigirev (also a member of Issues Without Borders) the “High Level Conference on Migration Management” organized by the EU Parliament.

The conference was aimed at finding solutions to the migration crisis and deliver on the expectations of EU citizens.

The participants at the conference were: political leaders, policymakers, stakeholders and practitioners.

The speakers included important figures such as : Antonio Tajani (President of the European Parliament); Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission); Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission); Dario Scannapieco (Vice-president of the European Investment Bank); Markku Markkula (President of the European Committee of the Regions); Dimitris Avramopoulos (European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship); Julian King (European Commissioner for Security Union); Johannes Hahn (European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations); Louise Arbour (United Nations Special Representative for International Migration); William Lacy Swing ( Director General of the International Organisation for Migration).

The discussions were around strengthening the EU`s internal security, discussing on the root causes of migration and ensuring a stable social and economic environment in non-EU countries as well.

The conference was divided in the following way:

There was first an introduction section, furthermore there were two round tables at the same time, the participants could choose the one that they wanted to attend:

The first round table was on “Managing asylum and migration” , with included presentations related to: “Better sharing responsibility for asylum seekers, accelerating asylum procedure”;  Addressing legal migration gapsPromoting integration; Addressing irregular migrationImplementing return decisions;  „Ensuring coherence with the Union’s human rights policy”.

The second round table which took place in parallel  was on “Promoting stability and prosperity in third countries” which included presentations related to : “Fostering economic and cultural diplomacy to ensure prosperity, tackling root causes”; „Addressing humanitarian needs”; „Helping partners prevent or manage crises on their own”; „Enhancing third countries’ capacity building in border management and asylum”; „Ensuring coherence with the Union’s human rights policy;  Ensuring democratic scrutiny of international cooperation tools”.

I chose to attend the first round table because it was more related to the work Issues Without Borders is conducting now, while Elena attended the second one because it is more related to her job. This was anyway a wise decision since we spent time after the conference and shared our thoughts from both rounds tables.

The conference continued with another round table “Strengthening the EU internal security” and lastly there was a closing session with the leaders of the political groups.

Even though there were many interesting and viable solutions raised, they have no binding force. So there are some solutions to the problem but without a political will, without consensus change is very hard to implement.

Even so, I was very happy to attend this conference, because I heard many important figures discuss about a topic that I am highly interesting in, I got the chance to exchange ideas with some of the NGOs that were given the opportunity to offer their opinion at the conference and I spend a great day in the European Parliament, an amazing building, with an amazing history.

Hopefully if next year there will be another conference on migration management Issues Without Borders will also be given the opportunity to make it`s voice heard and offer it`s expertise on this topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




IWB was presented at the international conference “Punishing International Crimes in Domestic Courts: Sentencing, Incarceration and Reintegration”

On the 12th of June I attended a conference organized by VU University in Amsterdam called “Punishing International Crimes in Domestic Courts: Sentencing, Incarceration and Reintegration”.

I was invited to this conference by Adina Loredana Nistor, vice president of Issues Without Borders and a very close friend of mine.Adina graduated with a masters in Criminology at VU University and is still highly involved in many activities related to this great University.

The event that we attended was organized, as I previously said by VU University, together with the Center for International Criminal Justice, NSCR and NWO.

The moderators of the conference were Barbora Hola and Joris van Wijk, both professors at VU University.

The conference was divided into 4 panels followed by a final discussion and drinks.

The 4 panels were the following:

-panel 1: “Theoretical Considerations “, where papers like the following were presented: “Penalty in criminal law on war crimes” ( Chair for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, University of Turin, Italy, Gianluca Ruggiero).

-panel 2: “Former Yugoslavia”, where papers like the following were presented: “Domestic Trials for International Crimes- Challenge of Prosecuting and Sentencing Perpetrators of War Crimes in Croatia” ( Maja Munivrana Vajda).

-panel 3: “Latin America and Europe”, with papers such as: “Sentencing factors in cases against the most responsible for acts constitutive of international crimes: The Peruvian experience” (Post Doctoral Research Fellow, PluriCourts, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo).

-panel 4: “Africa and Europe”, with papers such as: “Punishing the Core Crimes in Ethiopia: A comparative analysis of purposes and factors in Sentencing” (PHD Candidate International Criminal Law, University of Groningen).

The conference was very interesting especially because all the topics were challenging, the authors raised a variety of issues, offered their suggestions and encouraged the participants to be active.

I highly appreciated the Q&A section because it led to a lot of brainstorming, many questions generated other questions, so I left the conference even more curious to discover more on this topics, which I think is great.

I thank you Adina and VU University for giving me the chance to expand my knowledge on International Criminal Law and to meet so many qualified professionals from across the globe, who were so happy to share their expertise with us, both in the formal setting during the conference as well as in the informal setting, at the post-conference drinks.

 




My experience at the “Challenges of the Knowledge Society” conference

I have just returned from the 11th International Conference “Challenges of the Knowledge Society,” which took place between  12th -13th May 2017 in Bucharest

The event was organized by  the Nicolae Titulescu University,  along with the Foundation for Law and International Relations Nicolae Titulescu, the Complutense University from Madrid and the Dueto University from Bilbao.

The main organizers were lecturer PHD Andreea Stroe and professor PHD Mircea Damaschin.

Several reputed professors and specialists took part in this conference, among which: Augustin Fuerea PHD Professor in EU Law, Bogdan Micu, Associate Professor in Criminal Procedure and Dean of the  Nicolae Titulescu Law Faculty, Viorel Ros PHD Professor in Intelectual Property Rights/ former president at the International Commercial Arbitration Court (Romania) and others.

The conference started with a plenary session where our rector Gabriel Boroi held the opening speech, which was followed by three lectures:

-The first one was “New trends in business  models in the EU” lecture held by Marta Enciso Santocildes, Associate Professor PHD, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain

-The second one was “Fighting Crime in the Knowledge Society” , lecture held by Pinar Mermis Kartal, Associate Professor, PHD, Galatasaray Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey.

-The third one was “Human being trafficking in the European Court of Human Rights-case law”, lecture held by Laura-Spataru Negura,  Assistant Professor, PHD, Nicolae Titulescu University, Bucharest, Romania and one of the founding members of Issues Without Borders. Laura`s presentation was highly appreciated by the auditorium. I would like to emphasize the fact that among the renowned specialists present in the amphitheater there was also  Laura`s PHD coordinator professor Nicolae Popa who is the former president of the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice and of the Romanian Constitutional Court and professor Corneliu Barsan, the former Romanian judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

After the plenary sessions there were five panel session divided in the following way: Juridical Sciences, Economic Sciences, Administrative and Political Sciences and IT in Social Sciences.

I participated in the Juridical Sciences panel, in the International Public Law subsection,  with my paper “UNHCR and Non- Governmental Organizations Role and their joint efforts in tackling the European refugee crisis from its inception until present times”.  I am currently a PHD candidate at Nicolae Titulescu University, my PHD coordinator being  Mrs. Raluca Miga Besteliu.  I am very happy that I was given an opportunity to be a PHD candidate and have professor Raluca Miga Besteliu as a coordinator, she is helping me a lot to shape my PHD thesis which analyses the role of UNHCR/ IOM/ International NGOs in tackling the refugee crisis as well as a a case study: our work in Issues Without Borders and our plan to map a new EU legislation on migration.

After the panel discussions we had a lunch break where we continued to debate on several specific academic problems  , a very nice walk in the Old town of Bucharest,  and a Romanian traditional dinner at the beautiful restaurant Caru` cu Bere, dinner attended also by our pro rector Mister Mircea Damaschin, professor in Criminal Procedure,  one of the conference`s organizers.

The following day, on Saturday, the 13th of May,  there was a closing ceremony at Nicolae Titulescu University,  a Bucharest city tour, and a lunch at Hanu` lui Manuc another well-known Romanian traditional restaurant.

Laura and I had a great time at the conference, we got the chance to present our papers,  meet other foreign and Romanian participants and exchange great ideas with them not to mention the fact that  we also enjoyed showing them Bucharest, presenting them the city, parts of our history,  and presenting them  Romanian traditional food .

It was a great experience and we are already looking forward for the next edition of the “Challenges of the Knowledge Society” conference next year.

If you are also interested in attending this conference, please write me in order to put you in contact with the organizers.(patricia_papuc@yahoo.com)




Impressions After CIFE’s Summer Programme On Migration

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I have just returned to Romania after a few days in Rome, Italy, where I was invited to share my experience on human rights law and European Union law in a summer/autumn programme organized by CIFE (for those who do not know about CIFE or CIFE’s summer programmes, please see http://www.cife.eu/fr/4/programme-universitaire-d-ete_6-1) in collaboration with Università La Sapienza and Centro Italiano di Formazione Europea. 

The programme organized in Rome (September 25, 2016 – October 1, 2016) had as topic Migrants in Europe: Borders, Human Rights and International Security, and it was really cross-cultural (reuniting students from Austria, Bresil, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo/Albania, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and lecturers from Italy, Estonia and Romania – actually my colleague Hamed has an incredible life story and is difficult to come under just one country – from Iran, settled in Estonia, working in Norway). 

My presentations have addressed the issue of human trafficking as a new modern form of slavery (where I have tackled the irregular migration issue) and EU’s commitments to solve it.

At the end of the programme, we have organized a role-play by dividing the students in four teams (migrants, activists, opposers and Italian authorities). I must confess that the role-play was great, the students have impressed me with their capacity of using the information received and getting into the skin of characters (I have to underline that some of them were actually graduate, with experience in human rights). I am so sorry they did not agree to record it – it would have been a great tool for other students (I attach however a few photos in order to have an idea – I hope my students and colleagues will not mind). 

Additionally, I have told them a few things about Issues Without Borders platform (who was created from the passion for human rights law) and showed them a video about it. The students were very interested in learning more and I really hope we will collaborate in the future.

As for the organizing team, I have to admit that I know Marie-France Perdigon, who is the manager of the summer university programme, for many years and our collaboration has always been great. I have also really loved our Italian host, Cristina Giudici, who is professor at the Unesco Chair in Population, Migrations and Development at Università La Sapienza in Rome and the President of Centro Italiano di Formazzione Europea.

After the summer programme, Marie France and Cristina have organized an alumni meeting that was great, giving us the alumni the possibility to reconect and to socialize (I am also an alumni of CIFE after attending different summer programmes – this was the manner I have discovered the CIFE). At this alumni meeting, I was invited to be part of a debate panel about BREXIT.

Marie France’s proffesionalism and thoroughness, the high level of the students and lecturers, as well as the partners and locations chosen, are arguments that make me each year to follow CIFE’s path and to deliver lectures in different parts of the world. I really hope that next year I will be invited again (in another summer programme or again in Rome, especially that I made a wish at the Trevi Fountain… and I have to get back to Rome again)!

Congratulations CIFE for doing such a spectacular work with your summer programmes! You should be really proud of your ambassadors! 

 

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Borderless Europe- Blessen or Burden?

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I was invited as a speaker and as a participant at the conference „Borderless Europe- Blessen or Burden” in Cluj Napoca-Romania from the 6th to the 9th of May 2016. This conference was organized by AEGEE antenna-AEGEE Cluj with the support of the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB).

During the conference there were pannel discussions, workshops, Q&A sessions connected to the following subjects:  „Borderless Europe vs borders in Europe”;  „Europe in crisis- Schengen in suspension”; „Our image of refugees: change of perspective”;  „Socio-cultural  borders in Europe: the borders that define us”.

We also watched a movie called : „The Great Disaster Europe”.

We also discussed topics such as: „Socio-Economic Borders in Europe and the idea of a Universal Basic Income”; „A leap of faith-utopian thinking and acting in the 21 century Europe; Towards a Borderless Europe-what`s next?”

I was invited to offer my expertise on the migration crisis which is affecting Europe, representing thus the international human rights NGO Issues Without Borders, Issues Without Borders being one of AEGEEs partners since the beginning of 2016. My workshop was intitled: „Issues Without Borders petition: IWB for Refugees! Europe needs new legislation on migration

I presented our current project „IWB for Refugees” explaining participants that based on the same set of guidelines our team of researchers is conducting research on the member states of the European Union (analyzing the national legislation on refugees and the way the current EU legislation is transposed in the national system, conducting interviews with refugees, showing how media is depicting the issue, presenting also their social life, cultural life, access to education in these EU countries. After briefly presenting  the research I also emphasized the use of the research, sending our research in 3 different directions:

  1. at a national level in every single member state
  2. directly as a petition to the EU Parliament
  3. raise 1 000 000 signatures needed for the Citizens Initiative, pass it through the EU Commission which will implement a new EU directive, our researchers are also going to be part of the implementation process in the member states.

I really liked the fact that the participants coming from different EU countries seemed very interested in our project, they asked several questions, started telling stories from their own countries about the refugees issue, even offered recommendations for our petition and some are interested in joining our platform.

It was a great experience because we also got the chance to know each other better, we had social  and cultural events in the evenings, even a farewell dinner during the last evening, celebrating 25 years of the AEGEE local antenna- in Cluj Napoca.  The organizers were very supportive through out the entire event so thank you AEGEE Cluj for everything, thank you AEGEE, Vision for Europe and last but not least the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB).

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IWB for Refugees: AEGEE European Planning Meeting and to the next phase

Some of the best experiences come from bringing people together, sharing ideas, being challenged by difficult questions. Therefore, when Issues without Borders (IWB) was invited to presents its expertise on the issue of migration at AEGEE’s annual European Planning Meeting that was held in the Netherlands, I was excited to attend and discuss our project. IWB is conducting a detailed analysis on asylum procedure and refugee law in the EU member states for almost a year now and I participated as a guest speaker. I also had the pleasure of being part of the audience and listen to other presentations and hear different points of view and feel the pulse of the debate.

The topic of the 2016 session “Refugees in Europe – Europe ‘vs.’ the rest: change of perspective?” – a subject that is actually the main focus of the IWB organization

I attended the event for the two discussion panels, the first one as part of the audience and the second as a guest speaker and IWB representative.

# Panel 1: Europe vs “the rest”: do we need the others to define ourselves?

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The building of fences amid the refugee crisis has not only brought in physical borders, but also mental ones. The panel discussion aimed to reflect on the meaning of considering ourselves as European citizens and how it affects the relations of Europe to the rest of the world, especially the refugees who want to come to Europe. How can the reactions of different European countries be understood, in regards to the ‘other’? Are we building a ‘fortress Europe’ also in terms of European identity and values?

# Panel 2: Finding solutions to the current migration challenges – is there still space for solidarity in Europe?

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The aim of the panel was to provide a space for reflection on the consequences that the current migration crisis in several levels; from the perspective of European identity and values, of freedom of movement, of human rights, and economy and growth. From a different perspective, each one of the speakers had to reflect on three questions: 1) is there still space for solidarity in Europe?, 2) how can the situation look like in the future?, and 3) will the current migration influx bring a change of perspective in the current European values?

I discussed about Issues without Borders, the core values we stand for, and about the IWB for Refugees and the research we conduct in the EU member states through our volunteer members.  I gave an overview on how the project is an analysis on each EU member state legislation on refugee law and whether it is in line with international law, on how the media present the situation, and on how the refugees themselves experience the process. I underlined the fact that we, as members of our societies can and have to be pro-active and be the ones that create the change we want to see.

The debate was lively, we discussed the effect of the media and how hate speech can be counteracted, on how can there be more dialogue between citizens and their governments. We talked about the work that can be done at the micro level by each individual and its impact, and at a macro level, be it as a community, a state or as European Union. I have really enjoyed learning more about the work of the Peace and Justice Foundation, and the Kiron University that offers free studies to the refugees. It is always exciting to see the many ways in which people get involved and take initiative in different projects they believe in.

Next phase: IWB citizens’ initiative

The research we have been conducting for the past few months is ready to be published, and I am excited for the next phase in the “IWB for Refugees”. We will analyse the results from our 28 states’ reports and draft a European citizens’ initiative that will address concrete, long term solution for the “refugee crisis.”

The following period, 31 March-30 June will be dedicated to a close study of the EU state reports and for drafting the “IWB for Refugees” petition. This legislative initiative will be sent in three distinct directions:

  • At the national level in every EU state
  • At the European Parliament
  • It will be registered at the European Commission.

Together with our partners “The Development Researchers”, “Citizens Right Watch”, “Global Magazine”, “AEEGEE Europe, and supporters from the Copenhagen University, Vilnius University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and other partners, we will gather the 1,000,000 signatures necessary for the initiative to be successful.

With its members and collaborators, IWB aims at being part of the implementation of the European Directive at the national level in each member state.

 




My experience at the International Model United Nations Nigeria (IMUNN) 2015

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The International Model United Nations Nigeria (IMUNN) 2015 conference held in Lagos, Nigeria between 4th and 9th August was the first edition of its kind. I found it privileging to participate in the Summit, serving as Vice President to the General Assembly for Asia (VPGA Asia).

Having encountered several challenges in my efforts to participate in MUN Conferences in the past, good fortune allowed me to finally participate in an MUN event at the Ghana International Model United Nations (GIMUN) in 2014. The event was held in Accra, where I served as the Turkish delegate in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

Fond memories from my first diplomatic experience were still strong, so much so that I perhaps longed for another MUN type event, something which in the end I found in IMUNN. 12346921_10153759551247453_1642530298_n

IMUNN 2015 plenary sessions were held at the Centre for Management Development (CMD) Shangisha, Lagos State. I could not help feeling nostalgic returning to the areas where I grew up and was schooled as a child. Adding to this generally nostalgic tone was the chance I had to once again meet with colleagues I had previously encountered at GIMUN 2014.

IMUNN 2015 began with the arrival of officials and delegates. After warm hearted but informal welcome sessions, officials proceeded to a training session facilitated by the President for the IMUNN2015 General Assembly, Joseph Mensah. After this training period the delegates participated in an orientation session facilitated by the Secretary General for the IMUNN 2015 General Assembly, Chibueze Ofobuike.

The summit formally commenced on 6th August with the inaugural plenary session of the IMUNN 2015 General Assembly. Participating in that event were guests from international diplomatic core circles who were actively involved in the session. Drawing inspiration from the conference theme ‘Consolidating on the MDGs through the SDGs’ and seeing the event as a prelude to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in September 2015 in New York, was helpful. Having ratified the Post 2015 Agenda/SDGs as its focus, those members of the international diplomatic core present,  including the Ghanaian Consul General to Nigeria Mr Kwabena Okubi-Appiah, the South African Consul General  to Nigeria Ambassador Mokgethi Sam Monaisa and a representative from the Nigeria Institute for International Affairs, Professor Osita Agbu, Head, Division of International Politics; gave their assessments of the progress, achievements and challenges facing the MDGs in their respective regions. The South African Consular General gave an intriguing and detailed report, which though time consuming, was in the end quite informative.

After the opening plenary session, delegates proceeded to their respective committees to debate and propose resolutions on their allotted topics. In all there were four committees and each committee, apart from the Security Council, debated on two topics. The Committees and their topics were as follows:

1. Security Council: Having its president in Chiemzie JudeMary Udechukwu, the topics for the debate were:

  • Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations in Maintaining International Peace and Security.
  • Global Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Regime.

 2. UNESCO: The group chair person was Isaac Opoku Adjei and the following topics were debated:

  • Appraising the Education For All (EFA) Goals: Consolidating on The Gains and Reinforcing against Lapses.
  • Cultural Mixing and Politics: Multiculturalism and Hybridization.

 3. SOCHUM: The group was chaired by Justice Yaotse Kodzo and debated on the following topics:

  • Intensifying Global Efforts on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, Negative Stereotyping, Stigmatization and Related Intolerance.
  • Promotion of Democratic and Equitable International Order.

 4. WHO: This group’s chairperson was Oppong Eugene Nimapau and debated on the following topics:

  • Building A World Void of Substandard/Spurious/Falsely-labelled/Falsified/ Counterfeit (SSFFC) Medicines.
  • Synergizing For Global Monitoring Against Communicable Diseases.

The Committee sessions lasted a total of two days thereafter the closing plenary session for the General Assembly was held at the conclusion of the second day of committee sitting.

12348441_10153759547202453_1106813295_nTo add some extra spice to the experience of IMUNN 2015, the Security Council held a crises session which interrupted the normal debating flow of the committee. The crisis meeting revolved around the hypothetical news of a large scale advance of the Islamic State (IS) Militia in Syria leaving hundreds of Civilians dead in its wake, the Security Council committee transmuted to a crises session and in the end came up with a draft resolution to ensure speedy UN action against the group referred to as IS.

Upon the conclusion of the committee sessions, I set to work with my Co-VPGA’s to critically examine the submitted draft resolutions from the various committees and to ensure compliance to relevant standing protocols and resolutions with respect to the debated topics. Before this, I was also delegated by the President of the General Assembly (PGA) to observe committee sessions and managed to do this interchangeably with my co-VPGAs.

The gala and awards event followed immediately after the closing plenary session. Awards were given to delegates who had the best position papers in each committee. Aside from these, there were other award categories which included: 12369890_10153759549052453_798545879_o

  1. Best delegate in each committee
  2. Best dressed delegate
  3. Most sexiest
  4. And lots of other sundry awards

Foreign delegates were also recognized, particularly for their steadfast dedication and commitment in making the journey by road and air to the event. Most of the foreign delegates were Ghanaians.

12355350_10153759547577453_1398887854_nAfter the formal conclusion of IMUNN2015, the conference participants enjoyed a more informal conclusion to the event with a fun trip to water parks at Ikeja.  On reflection, it was a great way for delegates to unwind after days of cerebral discussion. The contrast was helpful with light discussion, music and dance, table tennis, swimming, footballing and all sorts of refreshments available at the venue and its surroundings. Delegates wishing to explore more of Lagos were hampered by the notoriously slow moving Lagos traffic jams.

I particularly enjoyed every bit of IMUNN 2015 as it afforded me a refresher course in diplomacy and served to indulge my feelings of local nostalgia.

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My Experience at the African Union Agenda 2063 International Youth Summit

12279416_10153716619587453_1252163514_oMy recent trip to Africa’s diplomatic capital, Addis Ababa in Ethiopa, for the Africa youth day celebration on November 1 was a mesmerizing experience. Originally this trip was not part of my strategic plan for 2015. Preparations for the trip began in late August due in part to the encouragement of my boss, Mr David Allu.  The experience brought to mind memories of my last trip to East Africa in 2009 for the Zain Africa Challenge inter University Quiz competition. These were my first experiences of Kenya and Uganda and which certainly whet my travelling appetite.

Setting out from my abode at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in far Southern Nigeria in the early hours of October 25th, I journeyed North to Abuja to catch a flight to Nairobi en route to Addis Ababa. I was joined in Abuja by James Allu and fellow delegates Chiagozie Udeh and Ngozi Emmanuel; together, we set out for Addis Ababa.

 

Our trip to Addis was eventful, most notably for the cancellation of our connecting flight from Nairobi to Addis Ababa. We were treated to a five star experience at Nairobi’s Panari Hotel (just for one night though), and afterwards continued our journey to Addis.  We eventually landed at Addis Ababa on 28th October around Noon, and after clearing security and immigration, were warmly received by the YALDA-AAU team (Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa—Addis Ababa University Chapter) who were the conference organizers, and conveyed us to our temporary lodgings at Afarensis Hotel.

After we were peacefully settled at the hotel, we were treated to an Ethiopian welcoming luncheon subsequent to registration on 29th October. Our next event was a delegates training session, which allowed us to further familiarise ourselves with the conference formalities. Delegates were divided into three committees with each one assigned to an African Country. The committees were

  • Gender Equality, Women in Business and Entrepreneurship  12271048_10153716625377453_798368235_o
  • Right to Health and Right to Education 
  • Youth Civic Space and Diaspora in Youth 

I was assigned to the ‘Youth Civic Space and Diaspora in Youth’ Committee as the Eritrean delegate, with my delegate partners, Musinguzi Wilfred and Bit Mar Saad.

On 30th October, the summit began after a Model African Union General Assembly at the Main Conference Hall of the Old African Union Building. After a short session there, we dispersed for the committee sessions.

Representing Eritrea in the context of youth issues was no simple task, especially considering the troubles the country is alleged to have  had with Military Service conscription, absconding of Eritrean delegates at sporting competitions as asylum seekers and countless Eritrean youths who risk their lives fleeing their country to undertake dangerous crossings of the Sahara and Meditteranean. Yet, despite these factors, I was determined not to be a passive committee member. I was determined to ensure my voice was heard whilst trying to realistically and effectively work as an an Eritrean representation.

Observing what I began to think was the parliamentary naivety of most delegates in my committee, I was satisfied with my performance until a certain Lesotho delegate tabled a motion stating that Nation states such as Eritrea, who have not yet ratified the ‘African Youth Charter’, be disenfranchised from the debate and subsequent voting on any resolution on the youth issue. There and then, I championed the Eritrean cause by calling for an open worded apology to the Eritrean delegation from the Lesotho delegation as their statement seemed vindictive. I argued that my government was still studying the document, after which a decision on the appropriate ratification action on the charter will be taken. I intended to stage a walk out, but not wanting to cause a parliamentary crisis, remained present whilst the Chairperson urged progress as the Lesotho delegation only stated facts. The Lesotho delegation continued to chide my delegation saying…

‘It is deeply saddening that reality worries you’.

That statement seemingly dealt a death blow to all my self satisfied parliamentary wit. Not willing to prolong the matter further, I let things rest. 12226497_10153716618137453_101403136_n

Aligning to blocs during the unmoderated caucus was another issue. Acquainted with the apparent uncooperative stance of Eritrea with her regional bloc, IGAD (Inter Governmental Authority on Development), and not wanting to sit side by side with the Ethiopian delegation, I let my delegation play lone wolf choosing instead to independently align with the nearby delegation of Zambia, Congo and Benin, and together we worked to draft a resolution. As the committee reconvened for a final moderated caucus, time constraints only allowed for the resolution put forward by the Algerian delegation be debated upon and adopted as the committee’s final working paper to be presented at the General Assembly.

As an interlude between committee sessions, delegates were given a pep talk on Agenda 2063 by an AU volunteer, Jerry Laurence Lemogo.

Getting the resolutions passed on the floor of the final General Assembly was no mean task. While others had a simpler time with what could be described as near easy passages, my committee was critiqued but in the end allowed to pass.

Having concluded the sessions of the Model African Union, all was set for the Africa Youth Day slated for 1st November. The session was held at one of the committee rooms in the new African Union Headquarters building. The day was based around the themed  “Agenda 2063” with a special focus on the African Union declaration of the year 2016 as “African Year of Human Rights –The Africa we want with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.

There were opening addresses, notably from the President of the Pan African Youth Union, Francine Muyumba and the Africa Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga. A message from the Head of the African Union commission, Dr Nkosanza Dlamini Zuma was relayed in absentia in a short video clip, which conveyed her best wishes for the African Youth.

Aside the reading of the resolution from the Model African Union Sessions, there was a presentation of works from African Youths who were deemed outstanding in their personal endeavours. In all, we were thrilled by the presentation of ten of them as ‘Youth Heroes’ for their humanitarian work in HIV/AIDS education, girl child empowerment, Sex education etc.

In rounding off the session, there was a hearing on the good work of the African Union Youth clubs and other associated youth clubs from their representatives. In the end, more collaborative work amongst these various groups was urged, and the Pan African Youth Union was officially recognized for its correspondence with the African Union Youth division. More inclusive initiatives were suggested to bring on board youths who are not students of higher institutions of learning.

 

12250306_10153716625532453_1794119328_oThe day ended with a photo session as everyone dispersed with a message of hope and motivated to engage further in the actualization of Agenda 2063.

Just before my departure, I found time to tour Addis Ababa on 2nd November, thanks to my Ethiopian friend Asefa Lintso. In his absence he enlisted his good friend, Deneke Desalegn, to be my tour guide. Though pained that I couldn’t get on the famed Addis metro train, I visited the Museum, Emperor Haile Selassie’s Palace at the Addis Ababa University and of course the Nigerian Embassy. We were just in time to catch the ambassador, His Excellency, Usman Baraya who just flew in from New Delhi following the India-Africa summit. His Excellency treated us to a Nigerian Jollof Rice which was cooked amazingly by an Ethiopian Chef I learnt had been working at the embassy for 32 years!

Bole Airport was my next port of call for my departure from Addis Ababa. Coincidentally, even though we had booked our flights separately without any prior knowledge of one another, I travelled aboard the same flight with delegates I met en-route Addis Ababa!

My trip to Addis Ababa was a great experience as an introduction to the intricacies of Pan African diplomacy.  I met with over 250 delegates from about 30 African Countries and surely, my journey into Pan Africanism has just begun!

Agenda 2063, On Y Va

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