her Junior Year Abroad in Geneva last year, Bethany Singer-Baefsky
served as an intern for UN Watch, where she found out early
that she would have a larger role than she’d assumed.
By Bethany Singer-Baefsky ’11
about a year ago, on August 19, when I arrived in Geneva
to begin my Junior Year Abroad.
Before leaving, I had arranged
an internship in Geneva with , a non-governmental
organization (NGO) that focuses primarily on United Nations
oversight and human rights. It monitors the U.N.’s performance,
exposing bias and selectivity where present, praising actions
that warrant praise, and holding the organization accountable
to its own charter. My work with UN Watch became the center
of my experience in Geneva.
Bethany Singer-Baefsky displays
her entry pass outside the United Nations in Geneva.
My first day at UN Watch was
also the first day of a session of the United Nations Human
Rights Council, a body charged with promoting and protecting
human rights around the globe. During council sessions, my
assignment was to take verbatim notes of proceedings, but
I soon learned that my job would entail not only watching international politics unfold, but also participating in
Two weeks into my internship,
the executive director of UN Watch told me, “the speech is yours.” I would
address the U.N. Human Rights Council. I decided to address
what I see as the council’s bias against Israel, to which
it devotes 80 percent of its condemnatory resolutions, while
downplaying human rights violations in other nations, including
Iran, Sudan, Burma and North Korea. The Human Rights Council
often fails to live up to its noble mandate, I said.
executive director gave me the opportunity to speak twice
more in March. , I urged the Human
Rights Council to lead the international community in holding
Iran accountable for its numerous human rights violations,
particularly for the violence that followed the fraudulent
June 2009 elections.
the Goldstone Report, a document detailing the results of
the fact-finding mission into Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s
military response to thousands of rocket attacks fired from
Gaza against Israeli civilians. The speech was not well-received
by the council president, who publicly instructed me to watch
As a government major, witnessing
and participating in the behind-the-scenes work of the United
Nations was the most incredible opportunity I could have
imagined, despite what I viewed as the frustrating world
of U.N. bureaucracy. But it is because the U.N. has such
potential as an agent of positive change in the world that
the work of UN Watch is so vital.