December 21, 2021

Professor WPS Sidhu Discusses the UN Initiative at the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs

Clinical Professor Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, PhD, directs the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA) United Nations (UN) Specialization, designed to help students prepare for a career in support of UN initiatives and programs. He has over 30 years of pedagogical and research experience at leading institutions in Asia, Europe, and North America, including at Brookings India; the Geneva Center for Security Policy; the EastWest Institute; and the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe. He is a widely published author of multiple books, chapters, monographs, and reports on the UN, global governance, and the evolving global order. His latest co-edited book is: The Future of Global Affairs: Managing Discontinuity, Disruption and Destruction.

What is the UN Initiative at CGA?
The United Nations (UN) and the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs are two of this global metropolis’ longest standing and most prestigious institutions, with a common mission of promoting learning, international dialogue, and cooperation. Since its inception 16 years ago, the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs has deepened its engagement with the UN in a variety of ways.

Building on this tradition the UN Initiative at CGA was recently established to consolidate and institutionalize our work with and on the UN. Our key goal is to educate individuals—students and career professionals—on the mission and accomplishments of the UN and help prepare them to build a UN for a better future.

As the UN enters its 76th year, there is a recognition within and outside of the organization that the global pandemic, a glaring climate crisis, and renewed geopolitical contention has stymied its role as an arena, agent, and actor. The UN Initiative at CGA is committed to making the UN fit for purpose for the 21st century through pedagogy, policy-research, and problem-solving practicums.

Tell us about your recent UN projects.
Last year, CGA was honored to partner with the UN 75th Anniversary Office to provide data analysis for the worldwide UN75 survey—the largest of its kind—and to cohost several UN75 dialogues. This year, select CGA colleagues and I were invited to provide inputs for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ seminal “Our Common Agenda” report, which was inspired and informed by the UN75 survey. The report focuses on how to make the UN effective to meet existing and emerging future challenges. We will also be working on a practicum on how to operationalize one of the key initiatives outlined in the report related to emerging technologies.

Furthermore, CGA’s longest-running practicum series, in partnership with the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, will focus on issues pertaining to Afghanistan. Our UN at NYU newsletter highlights UN-related developments and the contribution of CGA’s UN Initiative to them.

How do you see the future of the UN?
The UN’s future and the world’s well-being are intertwined; none of the current global challenges can be resolved without multilateral cooperation. While multiple challenges confront the organization, it is worth remembering that the world without the UN could be far worse off than even one with a dysfunctional UN. So, we just need to keep working to make it more effectual.

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