On Thursday, October 12th, the Institute for International Communication hosted Ambassador Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, for an engaging guest talk and discussion with students about the United Nations and the changing political thought.
This year, Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence. The country joined the European Union in 1995 and is a member of the European Council, but not yet a member of NATO. After giving the audience a general introduction to the history of Finland and showcasing the country’s very inclusive, equal and high-quality education system, Ambassador Sauer went on to discuss the involvement of Finland with the UN. For instance, after joining the UN in 1955, the country started to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in 1956 to become an active member of the UN.
The event quickly evolved into a lively conversation, with Ambassador Sauer answering many questions from both students and faculty: Are ambassadors always holding a neutral position? What should ordinary people know about the UN Sustainable Development Goals? What tips would Finland give to the US regarding their education system? With recent political developments like Brexit and nationalist parties rising in many European elections, is there a conversation taking place in UN circles about an unsure future of the idea of the United Nations? Is Finland a supporter of the EU? How will the US exit from the Paris agreement affect climate?
Photo by: Institute for International Communication
My personal take-away from this discussion with Ambassador Sauer was that as a citizen, we have a responsibility to actively stay informed about world events and to make an effort to understand the political developments that are occurring around us and how they are interconnected. Only if we educate ourselves about international and local affairs, we can effectively participate in shaping our future.