Carrboro High Students to Visit United Nations Meeting

The United Nations is set to unveil Sustainable Development Goals in New York in front of the Pope on Friday. A group of ambitious teenagers from Carrboro High will also be in attendance.

“In 2000, the United Naitons set the Millennium Development Goals, where they want to the world to be in global poverty and global health by 2015,” says Amanda Padden. “Sine they expired this year, they’re setting the next set of goals for the next 15 years, the sustainable development goals. This week they’re going to unveil them.”

Padden is not one of the world leaders putting forward these goals, yet. She’s a junior at Carrboro High School and one of 10 students who are part of the Global Health Club at Carrboro High who will be traveling to New York to observe leaders put forward these new goals at the UN Headquarters on Friday.

What could possibly cause a group of 15 to 18 year olds to be so passionate about global health? Their teacher.

“Mr. Cone,” several of the students responded when asked how a group who were just toddlers in the year 2000 had gotten so interested in global causes.

“A lot of us as freshmen had Mr. Cone for World History Transformations class,” says senior Anjali Shankar. “Through that we got kind of pulled into the Global Health club. And once you’re in the Global Health club it’s kind of hard to leave.

“One, you don’t want to leave and second, because [Mr. Cone] provides so many cool opportunities.”

Shankar says there is one point of the trip she is most excited about.

“Personally, I’m really excited to meet the former head of the CDC,” she says with several other students echoing her excitement.

That is just one part of the packed itinerary, according to junior Ella Rockart.

“What’s really really cool about the fact that we get to meet Sonia Sachs,” Rockart describes, “is that her husband [Jeffrey Sachs] is the one who spearheaded the entire Millennium Development Goal project.

“He’s basically responsible for bringing global health funding from talking in the millions to talking in the billions.”

It isn’t all fun and games and extravagant trips for this group of high schoolers, they have put in a lot of work to get here. Last year they raised $50,000 for Partners in Health to help fund its Ebola clinic.

These students certainly seem to have an unbelievable passion for global health and helping create a better world. But there was at least one moment where their teenage mindset prevailed.

“I’m excited for the concert,” one says. Followed by, “yeah, I want to see Beynoce.”

UNC Roundtable Discussion Focuses On Syria

Pictured: Aleppo, Syria; courtesy AP Photo/Narciso Contreras

CHAPEL HILL – Over the weekend President Barack Obama sought Congressional approval before taking military action in response to Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons, putting the likelihood of U.S. military intervention in the balance.  As a result, UNC has commissioned a roundtable discussion on the increasing tensions surrounding the conflict.

Panel member, Professor Mark Weisburd, is a specialist in international law, and teaches civil procedure, international law and a course on international human rights for the UNC School of Law.

The roundtable discussion, being held Tuesday from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at the FexEx Global Education Center, features panel members from the UNC scholarly community, in addition to National Security Fellows from the UNC-Triangle Institute for Security Studies. The event was organized by Professor Wayne Lee, Chair of the UNC’s Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense.

“I believe that it is the obligation of every citizen to take an interest in important public questions, and surely using force in any matter of international relations is an important public question,” Weisburd said.

Mark Weisburd

Mark Weisburd

Weisburd said his talk will focus on the international legal aspects of a U.S. intervention in Syria. Specifically, he will consider the body of law that regulates how independent countries deal with one another, and how an U.S. intervention would challenge the Charter of the United Nations.

“The U.N. Charter unequivocally forbids it [an intervention],” Weisburd said. “Under the Charter, the only circumstance in which one country can use force against a second country without the permission of the Security Council of the U.N., which, of course, is not available here, would be in self-defense.”

Weisburd said that using force to prevent war crimes, or to punish a country for war crimes, is not contemplated by the U.N. Charter. He added that in situations such as this, it is often a case of conflicting rationales of the responsibility to intervene, versus adhering to the Charter.

“When the NATO countries bombed Serbia in connection with the Kosovo Crisis, there were a good many international lawyers who found themselves very puzzled with what to say. On the one hand, they believed it was the right thing to do, on the other hand, they couldn’t very well ignore the charter, so you had a number of international lawyers insisting that  bombing Kosovo was A.) illegal and B.) legitimate.”

When Russia engaged in a war with Georgia in 2008, Weisburd explained that Russia gave the justification of humanitarian intervention in order to protect the population in secessionist regions of Georgia.

“One can doubt the good faith of that assertion, but the reason I mention it is of course, if one country can say they are intervening in order to act in a humanitarian way, so can another country,” he said.

Weisburd cited the U.N.-supported doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which provides for the international community to intervene when a government is not protecting its own citizens. He said it is not an idea with which he agrees, nor is it an international legal obligation, but the R2P initiative continues to circulate among international lawyers and is considered by some to apply to the crisis in Syria.

“The basic idea of the Responsibility to Protect is that if push comes to shove, and there are dangers of serious humanitarian crises in a particular country, and that country’s government is unwilling or unable to deal with it, outside governments have the responsibility to take action,” Weisburd said.

The United Nations has estimated that as many as 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, and more than 1.7 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries.