Jordie Hannum, Deputy Director of the Better World Campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gave a talk titled “The U.S. and U.N. in Difficult Times” at McKenna Auditorium at Claremont McKenna College Oct. 15. The talk was part of the Lunch and Conversation Series of the International Place of the Claremont Colleges.
Hannum spoke favorably of the United States’s involvement with the U.N. and addressed the arguments against such involvement. He said that constituents need to voice their opinions to their representatives in Congress, where opposition to the U.N. is growing.
“We’re coming out here to say that this very notion of international cooperation … is under attack,” Hannum said. “You need to speak up, because if you don’t speak up, there is a constituency out there that will keep cutting our U.N. dues and keep cutting our engagement with other bodies.”
Hannum argued that the U.S.’s membership in the U.N. is worth the financial cost. He said that the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations are effective in preventing war and stimulating the economies of foreign nations.
Hannum said that 5C students may not be aware of the debate over American participation in the U.N., but he urged them to get involved.
“There’s certainly a lot of support from college students for individual issues, but there isn’t as much support for the larger notion of working cooperatively,” Hannum said. “People don’t realize that [this notion] is under attack, and there really is a powerful movement that says that we don’t need to work through the World Bank or the IMF, that we can go at it alone.”
Stephanie Micham PO ’15, an intern at the Pomona Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), attended the luncheon. She said that she hopes students understand that they can have an impact at a congressional level by educating themselves and encouraging others to do the same.
“I think it’s important that students see that the U.N. is not just an international organization, but something that starts at a grassroots level,” Micham said. “It’s important that the students connect with their local UNA chapter and try to see how they can help, because you can affect the U.N. from the bottom up.”
The UNA-USA, many of whose members attended the luncheon, is a nonprofit organization that advocates the U.S.’s continued membership in the U.N. The UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms program supports Model United Nations programs similar to those at Pomona College and CMC.
Daniel Shane CM ’13, the president of CMC’s Model United Nations team, suggested that 5C students are ambivalent about the U.N.
“On the whole, students recognize that the U.N. is a good thing, but at the same time, there might be that cynical edge as well, that it doesn’t provide a lot of tangible solutions to the hardest issues,” he said.
Shane said he thinks that the U.N. is an important organization.
“There’s so much good that the U.N. does,” he said. “It promotes cooperation and the fact that we’re all in this together promoting a better tomorrow.”