Swiss Ambassador Discusses Future Survival, Relevance of U.N. to Packed House

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 12, 2014


Addressing a common misconception that the U.N. is a “world government,” Swiss Ambassador to the United Nations Paul R. Seger spoke to a standing-room only crowd of more than 100 people in the Castle Mirror Room on Jan. 30. Part of the Office of International Affairs’ Global Dialogue Series, his talk, “The U.N. at 68: Close to Retirement or Still Able to Tackle Global Challenges?,” and the Q&A that followed covered the life cycle and functions of the U.N. as well as the internal strains and global challenges the organization faces today.

Nattily dressed and using an easy-to-follow PowerPoint presentation, Seger emphasized the true purpose of the U.N. as a cooperative organization that includes maintaining peace, discussing policy, supporting international relations, and, perhaps most importantly, helping people. According to Seger, the U.N. is intent on addressing issues such as climate change and poverty, which burden the “global village” the world has become.

Wars and globalization have persuaded nations to hold tightly to their own interests, Seger explained, making it more difficult for the U.N. to act in the interest of the common good. Though he believes the U.N. is still relevant, he advocated reform, saying “We should really try to reinvigorate that sense of common ownership and put aside our own interests.”

William Kuhn ’14M found the presentation illuminating, adding “So many people are unaware of how the U.N. operates or what its function is and this provided a lot of clarity in a simplified but very detailed manner.”

Thea Price ’15M is interested in working for the United Nations in the future and felt encouraged by Seger’s talk.

“He gave me a lot to ponder especially about what to do about our future,” said Price. “And he gave me hope that the U.N. is not going to retire!”

Before parting ways with Arcadia students, Seger urged the students to get involved.

“Engage yourself either on the local level or the national level, even on the international level,” said Seger. “You can make this world a better place if you engage yourselves.”

Photos by Christina Yee ’14