I would like to begin by thanking Serene Communications for this incredibly unique opportunity to visit the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as well being able to present a speech as part of a side event on Child Widows.
The thing that most surprised me about the trip was the exclusivity. I would see people my age on tours around the building who weren’t allowed into any of the actual rooms whereas, through my status granted to me by NAWO as an NGO delegate, I was allowed into all the areas and even sit in on the Human Rights Council itself, an opportunity not allowed by anyone other than the politicians themselves, fellow NGO delegations, and press. To that effect, I saw no other 16-17-year olds in the Human Rights Council or side events barring my peers who I had been brought with by Serene. Simply being able to flash my UN pass to a security guard and being allowed into a room felt surreal as we were not simply tourists or kids on a school trip. This status was also respected by Diplomats, politicians, other NGO’s etc. and I found myself engaging in intellectual conversations with remarkable people in the corridors and hallways of the UN.
It is only once you arrive at the UN and start walking around and talking to people that you really gauge the gravity and magnitude of this opportunity, for example, I was waiting for an UNCTAD meeting to begin when a woman started a friendly conversation with me. Then once the meeting started it turned out she was Director, Division on Technology and Logistics (DTL), UNCTAD. This is just one example of many.
Serene also arranged for us to meet with 4 senior figures of the UK permanent mission to the UNHRC, including Matthew Forman who I bumped into a couple of times in the corridors of the UN and spoke about a speech he did that day or questioned him on the UK’s, motivations for voting a certain way in a resolution.
Another great part of the opportunity was being able to speak on a panel as part of a side event on Child widows, I was sat next to the head of child marriage in the World Health Organisation along with other prestigious speakers which was obviously daunting, but I had faith in my speech after all the support and feedback given to me by Zarin and Soroush. This chance I was given to speak in front of 44 politicians, NGO delegates, and press was once in a life time and I will not only always remember it, but I will be able to use it for CV’s and personal statements, as well as using the connections I made from this experience as I handed out and received many business cards for potential future work experience/internship opportunities. I would definitely recommend this for anyone with any interest in Politics, Law, Human Rights, or even simply how the UN works.
Thank you very much Serene Communications.