Cornell Model UN delegate Daniel Cohanpour traveled to New York City this week to participate as a youth delegate in the United Nations 51st Commission on Social Development.
Cohanpour, along with 10 other undergraduate students and post-graduates, was selected by Sustain US, an NGO with a mission to “empower young people to advance sustainable development.”
“We attend meetings, and get to speak during the debate,” said Cohanpour. “For so long the youth haven’t had a voice in the UN and politics, so we are attempting to be part of the youth resolution.”
Interim director of the SustainUS youth delegation Joelle Gamble said the youth delegates were unsure of what to expect in spite of preset topics and agenda.
“Many of us expected a very structured and bureaucratic process to be the modus operandi at the CSocD,” said Gamble. “Instead, we found that informal meetings and impromptu conversations were the best way to advocate and create solutions.”
“My proudest moment was when we had our oral statement read,” said Cohanpour. “We didn’t think that we would have the opportunity, since there are so many other countries and NGOs at the UN.”
Beyond committee session, Cohanpour had many other opportunities to interact with delegates and professionals in the field.
“I attended a meeting with a woman who is the founder of the Beirut Institute, which is a think tank based in the Middle East that seeks to empower women,” said Cohanpour. “Interacting with people like her, who are so invested in what they do, it’s such an incredible experience.”
Cohanpour also mentioned that he was seated next to the delegate from Iran, which caused him to reflect on the impact that each individual has at the UN.
“I was sitting next to the representative from Iran who has had very extremist views in the past,” said Cohanpour. “It was strange that I was in the room with people with that much international power.”
Cohanpour is currently a delegate for the Cornell International Affairs Society’s travel Model UN team and is Undersecretary General of Committees for CIAC, Cornell’s college MUN conference. He began his MUN career as a delegate from Herricks High School in Long Island, NY.
Cohanpour was thrilled to have an opportunity to use the valuable skills he obtained through years of attending Model UN conferences.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Cohanpour. “I’ve done Model UN for six years, but it’s so incredible to sit next to actual ambassadors. It’s everything that I want to do with my life.”
Read the SustainUS Delegates’ opening statement at CSocD here.