NEWS

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February 27, 2004

U.N. officer talks to University students about peacekeeping

U.N.ited Nations Legal Officer Stadler Trengove spoke to a room full of students Thursday about the future of the U.N. in international peace and security. Chicago Society sponsored the event, titled "The United Nations in the Post-Iraq World Order," which was held in Harper 103.

In a wide-ranging talk, Trengove spoke about international tribunals, U.N.-backed tribunals, the war in Sierra Leone, the indictment of Charles Taylor when he was still the head of Liberia, the building of a new Iraqi regime, preemptive strikes, and peacekeeping.

"What is the legacy of peacekeeping? Fundamental to consider are the rules of law, human rights, democracy, and the judicial system," he said. "Not only are we to think about mandates and what we can do for peace, but we are also to think about the legacy of that peacekeeping."

Trengove educated and entertained University students with his anecdotal speaking style and dry sense of humor. The room was silent as he related to the audience a scene from a UNICEF documentary in which the U.N. helped an orphan boy find his mother.

"I have never seen anyone give such a gift," he said. "I have never seen anyone receive such a gift. Watching that film, I realized that's why people like me work at the U.N. Yes, we have to do our work and go through hundreds of documents, but we also U.N.derstand the implications of what we are ultimately achieving," Trengove said.

He also spoke about how the U.N. encourages regional organizations to be more active in their respective regions, but he added that the U.N. feels a need to ensure that these organizations have the necessary expertise to carry out their plans.

A question-and-answer session followed his informal lecture, with students' questions covering a diverse range of topics. Dan Michaeli, a member of Chicago Society and the organizer of the event, addressed the fact that the conflict in Kosovo received much less attention than the war in Iraq when neither was given U.N. authorization, and questioned the implications of this inconsistency.

"I think it's important to distinguish between the situations in Iraq and Kosovo. With Kosovo, the U.S. authorized a U.N. presence. The case with Iraq was different," Trengove said in response to Michaeli, adding that unilateral action was vital.

Trengove was happy to be in Chicago with such bright students. "I think that the questions were excellent. I found the students to be very knowledgeable," he told the Maroon.

Student response was positive. "I liked his sense of humor," said first-year in the College Pellumb Kelmendi.

"He was very engaging. The story about the boy was touching," said Mila Yankova, a third-year in the College. "Recent events have to an extent endangered the authority and reputation of the U.N., and I wanted to find out what a U.N. representative had to say."

On Friday at 12:30 in Social Sciences 202, Trengove will participate in an informal pizza lunch and discussion with students. All are welcome to attend.

Habeas Corpus co-sponsored this event. The next Chicago Society event will be a conference on Mexico on April 23-24. The Center for Latin American Studies, Mexican Studies Program, and Center for International Studies are among the co-sponsors.