Between May 10 and 12 2017, the first session of the 2017-2018 Regional Academy of the United Nations (RAUN) was held. The event was unconventionally organized in two cities, in Bratislava and Vienna. The Hungarian delegation consists of a team of five students from the University of Szeged (Sedef Bedir, Markos Anita and Anna Nagy from the International Relations MA programme, Molnár Orsolya and Szemenyei Vanda from the Law programme), a team of three girls from the Central European University (Iryna Koval, Hla Aye, Sabreen Mahmoud) and one student from the Corvinus University of Budapest (Urangoo Bulgamaa). The delegation was accompanied by Sziebig Orsolya Johanna, the Coordinator for Hungary and Bogárdi Brigitta, a previous RAUN participant and current PhD student at the University of Szeged. The other RAUN participants arrived from Poland, Slovakia, Austria and the Checz Republic. To be a RAUN participant it is not obligatory to be a citizen of the participating countries, but students have to study at one of the partner universities, so that is how the Academy becomes so diverse each year.
Each year, the Academy consists of three sessions on a specific theme. This year's theme is the problems and challenges of women and girls. Participants, however, are not only listening to presentations within the program, but also actively engaged in an often challenging research work. The Academy provides research opportunities to participants in topics agreed with various agencies and other institutions of the UN, which are involved in several areas of this year: women and disarmament processes, women and migration, women and political participation, women and environment, etc., as well as with many other interesting questions. Participants were able to set up a list of preferences regarding which topic they wish to choose and the teams were formed by this list.
Each team is an international team, because the members are from different universities. It was also important to avoid participating in a group of people who knew each other in advance or came from the same country. Each participant is governed by one UN agency, and according to their instructions, a research will be carried out in the next eight months. As a result a 20-page research material will be produced, which will be presented at the January ACUNS conference in Vienna in front of the other teams, expert jury and conference participants.
In Bratislava, we were able to listen to lectures on the first two days, ranging from lectures providing general knowledge to special topics, as well as the lecturers shared their practical knowledge and experiences which helps us to deliver a better and higher quality by the end of the year. On Friday, at the third and final day of the session the teams travelled to Vienna and we spent the whole day at the UN Centre. Here Mr. Martin Nesirky, head of the UNIS and Angela Me, head of the Research Center, greeted us and forwarded the good wishes of Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed. Following this, Ronan O'Laoire, representing UNODC had a lecture, and he was followed by Hedda Femundsenden (UNIDO), Ismail Balla (UNODA) and Julia Rutz (IMO) during the day. After their presentations and lectures the research teams were able to meet with the relevant UN agencies and their mentors where they were able to refine, negotiate and discuss their topics.
At the closing of the session on Friday evening, the participants attended a reception at the impressive building of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna where not only the current participants and coordinators of the Academy were present, but also the supporters of the program and the students of previous years.
We think all the participants will experience this first session as a great experience and we all look forward to the following one in September. We can both learn professionally and humanely from the academy.
The participants from Szeged are supported by the Dean’s Office, the International and Regional Studies Institute and the Student Union.