ACUNS - A hidden poSsibility in Vienna

Article published on March 18, 2013
Article published on March 18, 2013

Many res­i­dents, es­pe­cially stu­dents, of Vi­enna are not aware of a hid­den pos­si­bil­ity in the city that they may ben­e­fit from.

Author: Christina Hitrova

ACUNS or the Aca­d­e­mic Coun­cil on the United Na­tions Sys­tems is a global net­work of re­search in­sti­tu­tions, prac­ti­tion­ers and schol­ars that is fo­cused on stim­u­lat­ing, sup­port­ing, and dis­sem­i­nat­ing in­ter­cul­tural and mul­ti­lat­eral aca­d­e­mic stud­ies of the United Na­tions, their ac­tiv­i­ties and new top­ics in the areas of in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment, co­op­er­a­tion, human rights and diplo­macy.

The ACUNS reg­u­larly or­ga­nizes dif­fer­ent con­fer­ences, pro­jects and work­shops to en­cour­age young, as well as old to par­tic­i­pate more ac­tively in the work of the UN and stay in­formed. Un­for­tu­nately, not many are aware of the ex­is­tence of this or­ga­ni­za­tion and even less re­al­ize its im­por­tance. From Jan­u­ary 8, 2013 until Jan­u­ary 11, the ACUNS held its big an­nual con­fer­ence, this year on the topic “Have the United Na­tions Agen­cies Adapted to the 21st Cen­tury”. The con­fer­ence took place in the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency of­fice in Vi­enna In­ter­na­tional City and wel­comed more than 240 peo­ple au­di­ence from 45 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Eight dif­fer­ent ses­sions and pan­els of dis­tin­guished ex­perts held dis­cus­sions on top­ics rang­ing from nu­clear tech­nol­ogy and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, nu­clear safety and se­cu­rity to uses and mis­uses of UN data sets and the rise of the global South. A va­ri­ety of ex­perts, diplo­mats, UN civil ser­vants and NGO rep­re­sen­ta­tives par­tic­i­pated in the pan­els and spoke of the pos­si­bil­i­ties and dan­gers of the fu­ture, as well as the struc­tures of the UN agen­cies to face them.

Many stu­dents were seen in the au­di­ence and this en­cour­aged dis­cus­sions even after the ses­sions them­selves. ACUNS works very closely with and for stu­dents and pro­vides many bright pos­si­bil­i­ties for young vol­un­teers for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Be­sides re­ceiv­ing the pos­si­bil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in con­fer­ences, such as this, vol­un­teers are ac­tively in­volved in re­search on a va­ri­ety of top­ics. Some of the cur­rent fo­cuses of the pro­gram of the Coun­cil are the hor­ri­ble prac­tice of femi­cide, the mur­der­ing of a woman, be­cause she is a woman, es­pe­cially in South­east Asia, as well as traf­fick­ing of peo­ple and the grad­ual abo­li­tion of the death penalty.

Un­for­tu­nately, not many stu­dents are aware of the won­der­ful pos­si­bil­i­ties that ACUNS can pro­vide for them, nev­er­the­less, the Coun­cil has a sta­ble basis of hard-work­ing and mo­ti­vated vol­un­teers and con­tin­ues to work for the de­vel­op­ment of knowl­edge and aware­ness on a va­ri­ety of top­ics con­nected to the work of the United Na­tions. For the fu­ture, ACUNS is prepar­ing a va­ri­ety of events all over Eu­rope. Here are some of the plans:

Side-events at the Com­mis­sion on the Sta­tus of Women (March 4-15, New York) Side-events at the CND (March 11-15, Vi­enna) Con­fer­ence for the Com­mis­sion on Crime Pre­ven­tion and Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (April 22-26, Vi­enna) Global Con­gress on the Abo­li­tion of the Death Penalty (June, Madrid) ACUNS An­nual Meet­ing (June, Lund, Swe­den) The Danube Up­stream Events: Con­cert «Four Glo­ri­ous Seven» (31 Jan­u­ary) and Rabbi and Mufti Con­cert (28 Feb­ru­ary) The In­ter-gen­er­a­tional Learn­ing Sym­po­sium on In­ter­na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Day (June 5) Re­gional Acad­emy Prague (aca­d­e­mic year 2013-2014) Young Schol­ars Con­fer­ence (next an­nual con­fer­ence)

The event for the Con­fer­ence for the Com­mis­sion on Crime Pre­ven­tion on Crim­i­nal Jus­tice is es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing and will in­volve top­ics such as wildlife crime pre­ven­tion, life im­pris­on­ment, soli­tary con­fine­ment, women in prison and chil­dren of pris­on­ers. For those, who wish to visit some of the or­ga­nized con­fer­ences or sym­po­siums, the web­page http : //acuns.​org/​category/​projects-programs/​ would be of great help.

For some events reg­is­tra­tion is re­quired and usu­ally it is for free, how­ever note that some­times a fee may be paid. If so, this will be in­di­cated on the web­site. Nev­er­the­less, for those pas­sion­ate about in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and cur­rent cul­tural, so­cial and eco­nomic is­sues, the money would be worth it. Fur­ther­more, the ACUNS Re­gional Acad­emy can be es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to stu­dents wish­ing to ed­u­cate them­selves more in the work­ings of the UN and dif­fer­ent diplo­matic and po­lit­i­cal skills. If you are in­ter­ested, you should def­i­nitely look into it on the web­site of the Vi­enna Li­ai­son of ACUNS.

This ar­ti­cle is in­tended not only as an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ef­forts of the ACUNS lead­ers and it’s mem­bers, but also as hope­fully a tool of pro­vid­ing more in­for­ma­tion to the peo­ple liv­ing and study­ing in Vi­enna. As a truly great pos­si­bil­ity for both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment, it is a pity that this or­ga­ni­za­tion has not re­ceived more pub­lic­ity in re­cent years. Vi­enna, as one of the cities host­ing a United Na­tions cen­tral of­fice, is one of the best places in the world to gather knowl­edge about the work of the United Na­tions. The more peo­ple know about this pos­si­bil­ity and are ac­tively in­ter­ested in it, the more pos­si­bil­i­ties there will be.