Students visit the U.N.

St. John’s students are more knowledgeable about global issues after meeting with world leaders on United Nations Day. 30 students participated in the conference which was sponsored by the University’s Global Awareness program and the EastWest Institute. There will be another conference on Nov. 21.

Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the U.N. spoke first, calling on the five permanent members on the U.N. Security Council (USA, China, France, Russia, and the UK) to make more progress on nuclear disarmament.

“We have to eliminate the nuclear taboo,” he said.

Ki-Moon said that the nuclear summit in Geneva could provide a forum for a solution. Ki-Moon concluded by saying that we also need accountability for nuclear arsenals; and he urged the countries to report totals to the U.N.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state, then led the first plenary panel. The panel outlined their highest priority steps for disarmament in 2009.

“It is impossible for one country to disarm without all others disarming,” he said.

During the second panel which was led by Ambassador Marco Antonio Suazo, Dr. William Potter (USA), director of the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferaton Studies at the Monterey Institute of International studies urged for students to become more educated about non-proliferation.

“The absence of non-proliferation studies at both the undergraduate level and graduate is problematic,” he said. “Without education programs, who will lead us in the future?”

Junior Tarunbir Singh said he was most impressed by the ideas that Potter suggested.

“Non-proliferation is not a topic that most students think about,” he said.

Singh added that the education awareness proposed by Dr. Potter was his favorite part of the conference.

“Education awareness is the most important part[to the solution],” he said.

Freshman Jeff Hanover said he also enjoyed the conference. “It increased my perspective on the world,” he said.

Reggie Barnes, director of Multicultural Affairs, organized the U.N. trip and said he thought students greatly benefitted from the experience.

“I think that the students responded well to the conference,” he said. ” I was pleasantly surprised about the amount of knowledge the students had.”