North Korea thought the phrase “sunshine policy” was insulting; “engagement” was seen as implying that North Koreans were children. “Reconciliation” was accepted as the term for South Korea’s policy towards the North, said Sun Joun-Yung, South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations.
With prominent figures such as Sun visiting campus this week, the Yale International Relations Association, or YIRA, addressed pressing foreign policy issues as part of its first Yale United Nations Week. The series, organized in conjunction with the Yale Center for International and Area Studies and four other groups, consisted of speeches, Master’s Teas and panel discussions.
YIRA President Alyssa Greenwald ’03 said her group’s goal was to increase interest in international affairs on campus.
“Yale is really apathetic, especially with the war on Iraq. No one seems to care,” Greenwald said. “The goal is to raise awareness.”
To help achieve this goal, YIRA invited several academics and politicians to Yale this week to discuss the United Nations and a number of international issues, including the environment, the peace process in Korea, and the International Criminal Court. Visitors included Sun, Canadian U.N. Ambassador Paul Heinbecker and British U.N. Ambassador Stewart Eldon.
The United Nations Week culminates with YIRA’s annual Security Council Simulation at Yale, or SCSY, conference this weekend. SCSY, which started yesterday, brings approximately 200 college students to Yale for the weekend. YIRA’s Speaker’s Committee, which works to bring speakers to campus, hopes the series of events this week will interest the visitors from other colleges and draw more attention from within the Yale community.
“Very few people know about this committee,” Greenwald said. “This is a gala event. There will be other events later in the year.”
John Nolan, a visitor from Chicago who attended Sun’s speech, said he was impressed that Yale was able to attract the ambassador.
This afternoon, there will be a panel discussion about the history of the United Nations’ secretaries general at the Yale University Art Gallery auditorium. Political science professor Jim Sutterlin will speak about former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. Sutterlin served as the director of Perez de Cuellar’s executive office and also helped draft his memoirs.
Aye Aye Thant, the daughter of former U.N. Secretary-General U Thant, will also participate in the panel. In addition, diplomat-in-residence Charles Hill will discuss former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose collection of papers Hill edited for a book to be published this year.
“It’s an interesting look at the past of the U.N.,” said Jesus Tirado ’04, chairman of YIRA’s Speaker’s Committee. “I don’t think that’s done very often. It should be intellectually very interesting.”
A number of groups aided YIRA in sponsoring the week. One of these groups, the Academic Council on the United Nations System, is an international organization of professors that has been operating out of Yale since 1998. ACUNS’s charter states that a university can only act as the organization’s headquarters for five years.
The other sponsoring associations in addition to YIRA, YCIAS and ACUNS are the International Affairs Council, United Nations Studies at Yale and the United Nations Association of Connecticut.
In the spring, the committee will be hosting the German ambassador to the United Nations and perhaps the Indonesian ambassador as well.
YIRA hopes to make Yale United Nations Week an annual affair, Greenwald said.