Oxy at the U. N. is DWA’s signature program, the only in the world able to offer internships at the United Nations to undergraduate students studying International Affairs.
Each fall semester, students accepted into this program intern in a U.N. office, take advanced level classes in the areas of Peace, Security, and Development and the United Nations, and produce an original independent research project on a U.N.-related topic of their choice. Past internship placements have included positions in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN Radio, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office for Disarmament Affairs, and country missions to the U.N. For more information and how to apply, click here.
Follow student experiences on the Oxy-at-the-UN blog.
Ryan Allman ‘12
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Participating in the Oxy-at-the-UN Program gave me incredible insight into the role of the United Nations and defined my Occidental College experience. My time interning at the UN was primarily spent working at the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) New York liaison office. While there, I was responsible for attending the opening session of the General Assembly and most Second Committee meetings of the General Assembly, where I covered economic and financial issues of importance to world tourism. My main internship duties included writing briefings of these meetings that were then utilized by my office and often sent to UNWTO headquarters in Madrid. In addition to my work with UNWTO, I had the opportunity to intern briefly with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN). Working in the Peace and Security department, I attended events on behalf of UN WOMEN, assisted with data entry projects, and helped write country briefing reports on existing women’s organizations in conflict and post-conflict countries.I came away from my time at the UN having met truly inspiring individuals who had an incredible depth of knowledge and experience both at the UN and in the field of International Affairs. My office went out of their way to include me in all of their day-to-day activities, inviting me to attend everything from informal meetings to various embassy banquets. These experiences, and the friendships I forged along the way, have greatly informed my perspective on Diplomacy and World Affairs. I am very grateful to Occidental for this amazing experience!
George Corbett ‘12
During my internship with UNFPA, I have had the opportunity to apply the DWA and economic skillset I acquired at Oxy in numerous ways. Most of my time has been spent with UNFPA’s Gender, Culture, and Human Rights Branch (GCHRB) – Engaging Men and Boys Program. Given the small size of the program, I have been assigned important tasks that have helped to refine UNFPA’s global male engagement strategy. For example, in the first month of my internship I analyzed hundreds of UNFPA Country Office annual reports to generate the first comprehensive quantitative assessment detailing UNFPA’s male engagement initiatives globally. From this analysis, I worked with my supervisor to identify current strengths and weaknesses in UNFPA’s male engagement programming and developed strategies to foster new programs going forward. Besides my work in policy development and analysis, I have also had the opportunity to work on program implementation. Currently, UNFPA’s Engaging Men and Boys Program is in the process of developing a video-game targeting boys 8 to 15 years old. The game, entitled “Breakaway”, teaches boys about gender equality through Soccer (football). Over the course of my internship, I developed UNFPA’s dissemination plan for “Breakaway” that will be used to distribute 50,000 CD-ROM copies of the game to boys in over 25 countries beginning in April of 2012.Outside GCHRB, I worked with UNFPA’s Senior Advisor on Monitoring and Evaluation to generate global and regional reports on various human development indicators and participated in a data-driven development workshop teaching staff to adopt an “evidence-based” approach to programming.Overall my experience with Oxy at the UN has been invaluable by allowing me to professionally apply the skills and knowledge I have acquired at Oxy while broadening my exposure to global health and development issues. This experience, complemented by three great classes, two dedicated professors, and one amazing city has made these past four months an experience I will never forget.
Juan German ‘12
Permanent Mission of Guatemala
During my semester at the United Nations, I interned for the Permanent Mission of Guatemala, mainly as the assistant to the election officer. I also had the honor to work closely with the Guatemalan Ambassador to the U.N—Gert Rosenthal. At the mission, I wrote exchanges and letters to member states, and campaigned for the candidacy of Guatemala to the Security Council. I assisted in organizing a reception inviting Ambassadors and Deputy Permanent Representatives to our mission, in order to gain their endorsement for our candidacy. Our efforts paid off, with a remarkable 191 out of 191 eligible states voting in our favor to represent Latin America and Caribbean States at the Security Council for the term 2012-2013. In addition, I briefly covered meetings in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth committees, expanding my view of the United Nations and the issues that our world faces. I had the pleasure to engage in conversations with the G-77, as Guatemala is a member. I collaborated with Member States such as Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, in addition to African and Asian countries, in order to formulate effective social and economic strategies to foster sustainable development in the global south. Most importantly, the UN enhanced my understanding of the complexities countries face when coming to a consensus. My time at the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations has definitely shaped my years at Occidental College and has opened a window of endless opportunities. This internship cemented my desire to continue studying International Relations and to make a difference in the International Community.
Leah Glowacki ‘12
United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Liaison Office to the United Nations
During my semester in New York I interned at the United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Liaison Office to the United Nations. My primary responsibilities were to attend General Assembly, Security Council, and Inter-Agency meetings and to write notes that highlighted information covered at meetings of interest to UNHCR, which were forward to UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. I also had the freedom to attend meetings related to my academic interests in children and armed conflicts and international relations in Latin America.
Although the Occidental and the United Nations program is as challenging as wearing panty hose and pants suits on a daily basis, it is also one of the most valuable opportunities I pursued at Oxy. I related my experience abroad in Santiago, Chile and my studies as a Diplomacy and World Affairs and Spanish double major to my internship at UNHCR. I explored the complex relationships between human rights, development, economics, security, culture, religion, etc. that inform international relations. I learned to balance many responsibilities. I engaged in thought-provoking discussions with fellow DWA majors. I met the leaders I had read about in DWA textbooks and they inspired me to continue studying international law and child protection and proved that despite its flaws, the United Nations is making the difference for people around the globe. It was an in incredible whirl-wind of an experience and I am grateful to Oxy for continuing to invest in its relationship with the United Nations.
Rebecca Higney ‘12
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
As an intern for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), I spent the majority of my time attending meetings at the General Assembly’s Legal Committee, the Security Council, and other UN entities. I summarized the meetings’ key discussion points in memoranda that were forwarded to UNHCR headquarters and international bureaus. For five weeks, I attended negotiations on two General Assembly draft resolutions related to the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, and to strengthening the coordination of emergency U.N. humanitarian assistance. I also had the opportunity to work with UNAIDS on social networking strategies, and created the UNHCR New York Office’s twitter account. The staff at UNHCR was especially welcoming and allowed me to attend meetings that reflected my own academic interests. The Oxy-at-the-UN program has been one of the highlights of my time at Occidental, and has provided me with clarity regarding my future ambitions.
Elizabeth Kennedy ‘12
United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations
My name is Elizabeth Kennedy and I am a Diplomacy and World Affairs major and East Asian Studies minor at Occidental. Apart from hibernating in the library to cope with Oxy’s rigorous course load, I have been active on and off campus. I am currently one of the head chefs for Well Fed, a student club which promotes sustainable cooking and living practices. Among other things, I have participated in dance production, Great Strides and NPP. I have also conducted research on Chinese Foreign Policy in Africa through the URC. This research serves as the basis of my senior comprehensive, which compares Chinese and U.S. foreign policy in Angola and Tanzania.
In 2010, I studied abroad in Beijing, China. During this time I heavily studied Mandarin and Chinese Politics, conducting research on both Chinese national identity and migrant education. I also served as a volunteer English teacher at a migrant school in Beijing.
I am currently an intern at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, chiefly focusing on issues of sustainable development. Though the internship consists of a wide spectrum of work, I primarily attend and report on meetings for desk officers in New York and London. I also assist in negotiating resolutions for the Second Committee of the General Assembly and in preparing for the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
After graduation, I will serve as a fellow for Teach for China.
Cecilie Kern ‘12
Permanent Mission of Malta to the United Nations
In the fall of 2011, I interned at the Permanent Mission of Malta to the United Nations. As part of such a small delegation, I covered a broad range of topics, including the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), Fifth Committee (Administration and Budget) and primarily the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs). It was exciting to hear and interact with the Special Rapporteurs, independent experts and chairs of working groups of the Human Rights Council, and with representatives from all member states on a diverse agenda, including the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms and the right to self-determination. The Committee also addressed important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
I believe the background I have gained at Occidental has been acknowledged and respected at the Mission of Malta. I was often given tasks that normal delegates perform, such as speaking on behalf of my delegation in European Union coordination meetings, attending formal meetings of my respective committees and General Assembly plenary meetings, and voting on resolutions. For Third Committee, I was the primary negotiator for Malta in informals and EU coordination for handful of resolutions, including those on the rights of the child, social development and policies on youth. My supervisors genuinely respected my analysis and opinions, and trusted me to represent the values and interests of Malta.
It was so exciting to be in New York at the UN, seeing and participating in the negotiations and debates that affect the world we live in. During such an unpredictable time it is an incredible opportunity to see how member states, specialized agencies and NGOs work together to respond to incidents and forge solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. As a Diplomacy and World Affairs/Spanish major, the semester was an incredible opportunity to apply what I had learned at Oxy and abroad in Spain, and to learn through practice how policies are drafted and implemented.
Michela Lowry ‘12
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations
I am currently working at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations as the assistant to the Military Adviser. Rwanda is a top-ten contributor of police and troops to UN peacekeeping missions all over the world, from Darfur to Haiti. The Military Adviser’s job is to facilitate sending Rwandan peacekeepers to UN missions as the liaison between the Rwandan Defence Forces in Kigali (the capital) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) here at headquarters.My internship at the Rwandan Mission has been busy and rewarding. I am in charge of the majority of correspondence between DPKO and the Mission, organizing Rwandan peacekeeping deployment to various missions. I also attend meetings of the C-34 (Special Committee on Peacekeeping), the First Committee and the Fourth Committee, and any other meetings that might be pertinent to my supervisor (particularly regarding different peacekeeping missions and issues of national interest to Rwanda). The highlight of my internship experience was assisting my supervisor in writing a statement delivered to the Fourth Committee on peacekeeping operations and then listening to him deliver it. Additionally, my colleagues at the Mission have fully prepared me to travel to Rwanda this winter break on a Young Fund grant to conduct research for my senior thesis, helping me to arrange interviews and offering me insider tips. I have truly made lifelong friendships with my colleagues here at the Mission.
Sara Amri ‘11
As a part of the Oxy-at-the-UN Program, I split my time interning with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as well as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which is now part of UN Women. I had the opportunity to attend the opening session of the General Assembly and regularly attended Second Committee meetings, which is the Economic and Financial branch of the General Assembly. I acted as a representative of the UNWTO at these meetings and was responsible for creating briefing documents to be utilized by my office, our headquarters in Madrid, and other relevant UN staff members. Within UNIFEM, I worked under the Director of the HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality Program. I helped conduct research to identify new resources that addressed the intersection of HIV/AIDS and gender equality, compiling a comprehensive literature review and summaries to be utilized in UNIFEM’s Gender and HIV/AIDS Web Portal. I also had the opportunity to attend and help out at a conference on Resolution 1325: Women, Peace, and Security, where the former President of Chile and current head of UN Women, Michele Bachalet, was speaking.The highlight of my UN experience was the amazing individuals I met as well as the lasting friendships that were forged. My office truly treated me with incredible kindness and went out of their way to make sure that I had a holistic and fulfilling experience while at the UN. I was invited to attend various embassy banquets, inter-agency meetings, and I even represented the UNWTO at the Millennium Development Summit where I got to see various Heads of State address the General Assembly, including President Barak Obama (…whom I later met!).
Rosie Avolio Toly ‘11
NGO Branch of the Department and Economic and Social Affairs
I worked at the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The NGO Branch helps NGO’s work with the UN in a variety of ways, though mostly through giving NGO’s access to UN meetings and conferences. NGO’s must apply and get status in order to access the UN. Half of my time was spent working with NGO’s to process these applications. I additionally, I did independent research to find new NGO’s with innovative best practices, which the UN would like to work with. Throughout my time at the NGO Branch, I was exposed to many new NGO’s, and innovative practices taking place. I want to work in the non-profit sector in the future, and my time at the UN broadened my understanding of NGOs and their practices. Overall, I greatly enjoyed my semester at the UN. I gained a greater understanding of how the UN works, and the complexity of world politics.
Kristin Beck ‘11
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
My internship was in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in the Policy, Evaluation, and Training Division on the Evaluation Team. My work was primarily on an evaluation of peacekeeping command and control structures and I also did some work on the evaluation of the United Nations Mission to Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT). My office was mostly divorced from the everyday functioning of the missions so I worked more with the theories and policies of UN peacekeeping than with the logistics of them. I spent much of my time working on developing the command and control evaluation, which had to go through several stages before any interviews could be conducted. Most of my days were spent writing. I worked on the background papers for the evaluation and wrote much of the terms of reference, which define and refine the scope of the evaluation. The rest of the time I attended meetings with the other members of my team for the various evaluations and took notes or refined our terms of reference according to what was discussed in the meeting.The most interesting thing about my internship was being able to work with the people who write peacekeeping policy while simultaneously evaluating a major aspect of the missions—command and control. Our meetings with high level leadership in the Department, including the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, allowed me to understand the nature and the future of peacekeeping from the inside out, starting with its major problems. As a result I feel like I gained a nuanced understanding of what it is that peacekeeping does, and although I spent most of my time talking and writing about its failures, I was simultaneously convinced of its vital importance in international relations. My internship in DPKO was perhaps the most challenging task I have ever been given; I was asked to think, write, and analyze for 8 hours every day, and by the end of the semester I was exhausted. But my time in DPKO has defined my years at Occidental and opened up countless doors for me. Even if I never work there in the future, the UN has made its impact on me.
Stephanie Chin ‘11
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Policy Development and Studies Branch
Gender Advisory Team
In my work with OCHA, my sub-branch was in charge of ensuring that responses to humanitarian crises fully accounted for the gendered needs of men, women, boys, and girls. Throughout my internship I learned how to view the world with a gendered lens, paying attention not only to women’s issues but also to each gender and age group, as their needs are diverse and unique. My duties ranged from taking notes and writing briefs during the opening of the General Assembly (which exposed me to many world leaders), analyzing reports from the field to evaluate if and how gender was incorporated, and attending meetings to draft the strategic implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (on Women, Peace, and Security for post-conflict situations). My main project was to act as the logistics coordinator for the Annual Face-to-Face Meeting of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Gender in Humanitarian Action. Through this meeting I was able to meet many of those who work in my sub-branch’s field of interest from the UN and from NGOs. Although work was rigorous, I found that everyone in my branch and department was very helpful and friendly and I was even able to attend the same meetings as Under Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos. As most students who have experienced the Oxy-at-the-UN program would say, it was the hardest yet most rewarding semester I had and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Marzieh Goudarzi ‘11
Sudan Integrated Operations Team (SIOT)
The Sudan Integrated Operations Team (SIOT) of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations welcomed me to their team at a very critical time in the fall of 2010. Sudan, still transitioning from civil war to stability, was preparing for the Southern Sudan Referendum, which if passed, would officially divide the nation into two independent states. The SIOT played a major role in coordinating this unprecedented process. The overall function of the SIOT is to integrate the work of political, military, and logistical affairs officials at UN headquarters in New York who work with the UN missions on the ground in Sudan, with the goal of improving the efficiency through increased communication and cooperation. Because Sudan has two peacekeeping missions, UNMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan) and UNAMID (United Nations/African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur), the work of this team is crucial in keeping information flowing efficiently.I worked under the guidance of a wonderful political affairs officer (coincidentally, a graduate of Occidental College), who treated me like a colleague and provided me with the opportunity to contribute to the work of the team. I was in charge of drafting weekly situation reports for the UN Security Council on the major events reported by each of the missions. I was also given independent research tasks, one of which was a larger project investigating South Sudan’s rights to resources if they were to secede from the North. My research delved into international law as well as the historical and political factors that impacted the issue. I took the lead on this project and had the opportunity to speak with experts from all throughout the UN community, including an officer on the ground in Khartoum. The product of my research turned into an official memo that was sent to UN Under-Secretary General of Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy, providing him with a thorough understanding of the complex situation and guiding him on the advice that the UN might give to the future leaders of Sudan. I also attended and worked on the planning of an important meeting of high-level international leaders for the acknowledgement of the upcoming Southern Sudanese Referendum process. The meeting was attended by heads of state and foreign ministers from around the world, including President Barack Obama, and successfully brought international attention to the referendum and the need for a safe and transparent process. My time at the UN gave me a much stronger understanding of the way in which the organization functions in international affairs, especially in its capacity as a peacekeeper. I also gained an understanding of the organization’s greatest challenges and the way in which they hinder the achievement of its goals. Ultimately, however, I was able to see that despite the challenges, there are intelligent, progressive, ethically-minded individuals working for international peace and cooperation at the United Nations and making a positive impact. I am very grateful to Oxy for this incredible opportunity.
Ben Kaufman ‘11
While working as an intern at DPKO-DDR, I was able to work hands on with many projects. My country areas of focus were DRC, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, and the Sudan. Being fluent in French was a great asset as I was able to translate and proofread documents as well as communicate to Francophone missions.
Sky Mangin ‘11
ECOSOC and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch (EICB)
Department for Economic and Social Council (DESA)
In the fall of 2010, I interned for the Department of Economic and Social Council (DESA), specifically in the ECOSOC and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch (EICB). One of the first things that I learned is that if one thought that Oxy’s habit of truncating the names of institutions into acronyms doesn’t compare to that of the UN. The office worked closely with the Economic and Social Council, one of the principal organs of the UN as well as the secretariat (hence the term “inter-organizational).I worked on a variety of projects and the staff and my supervisor were incredibly responsive to my interests tailored some projects based on them. I attended some General Assembly meetings, partnered with professional staff to create a communication strategy for ECOSOC, attended Peace-building Commission meetings, and created multiple data sets. Some include a dataset of best practices by the private sector in educational programs, innovative economic development policies in Haiti, and identifying key stakeholders in the role of education across the globe. I was lucky enough to pitch an idea for a panel discussion and was encouraged by the office to bring my idea closer to reality – resulting in a concept note for a special event panel titled “Implementing a Sustainable Education Strategy in Haiti”. I also supported the office’s preparations for the annual ECOSOC special event on philanthropy, which has brought key figures such as Bill Clinton, Greg Mortenson, Bill Gates, etc. to the same table to discuss solutions towards fulfilling the development of the Millennium Development Goals.The particular office that I worked for felt more like a family than anything. We had a open-door policy, which I took advantage of and got to know my everyone on staff. I found myself not working only for my supervisor but for the whole office, which provided a busy and rewarding experience. One of my fondest memory was the annual ECOSOC holiday party where each branch prepares a short musical skit based on a particular theme each year. Our entire office, including our chief, were super-enthusiastic and ordered costumes ahead of time, had rehearsals after work hours, and just had an amazing time bonding. I still keep in contact with the international interns (via Skype) and would highly recommend this program.
Amy McDonough ‘11
United Kingdom Mission to the UN
As an intern with the United Kingdom Mission to the UN, I was assigned to the Mission’s Development and Human Rights Division. Within that, I worked on issues of the Economic and Financial Committee of the General Assembly (Second Committee), which addressed a wide range of issues concerning economic growth and development, including the global financial crisis, poverty eradication, and sustainable development. My first project was to provide support for the events on maternal and child health and malaria during the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit. Throughout the rest of semester, I attended a variety of meetings on behalf of Mission staff, including meetings of the Second Committee, the European Union, and the General Assembly as a whole, and had to give written and oral reports to staff in New York and London. This gave me a really well-rounded perspective on how the UN functions on a daily basis, and I came away from the experience with a much more positive outlook on the institution’s role than I had previously.
Madeline Rose ‘11
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division For Sustainable development
Emerging Issues branch
Like so many other opportunities provided to me by Occidental College, interning at the United Nations feels like a dream too incredible to actually have been real. As one of two interns in the Emerging Issues Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division for Sustainable Development, my responsibilities were threefold: I was asked to, first, further conceptual development and implementation of the UN Development Account Project ROA 105, “Strengthening National Capacities for the Integration of Sustainable Development Principles into Development Strategies in Countries Emerging from Conflict” in Liberia, Lebanon and Nepal; second, develop a chapter in a Policy Guide Book entitled, “Scientific and Technological Innovations for Sustainable Cities,” following the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; and third, contribute fundraising efforts for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (Rio +20) coming this summer in Rio de Jainero, Brazil. Through my contributions to each of these projects, I was given the opportunity to assist one of my supervisors on the joint European Union – United Nations partnership project, entitled, “Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention,” and invited to a Training of Trainers Workshop in Turin, Italy, held by the UN Inter-Agency Framework Team for Conflict Prevention and the UN Systems Staff College, Turin.Needless to say, my responsibilities were diverse. Between coordinating project implementation expectations with lead representatives from the Liberian Reconstruction and Development Committee via telephone and conducting gap analysis reports between existing Nepalese Sustainable Development Strategies and UN Development Assistance Framework Platforms, researching state of the art Smart Grid urban development strategies; writing Grant letters to some of the world’s most prestigious foundations for an upcoming world conference, and learning (hands on!) preventive diplomacy and conflict mitigation strategies amongst some of the world’s leading environmental security practitioners and scholars, and taking two of the most incredible courses from two of the best Professors I have ever worked with, I came away with a skill set at once broadened, globalized and interdisciplinary, while at the same time more narrow, nuanced and specified. Equally needless (but nevertheless being said) to say, this experience changed my life impermeably, perennially and in the most inspiring of ways.While the appreciation I feel for all of those in the Diplomacy & World Affairs Department, International Programs Office, Oxy-at-the-UN Faculty and United Nations Supervisor Staff who made this experience possible for my fifteen colleagues and myself could never be fully expressed in words, I do hope that our continued pursuits in achieving a more peaceful, prosperous, equal and environmentally sustainable world may at least in some way reflect our collective gratitude. That being said, my sincerest thank you, I feel, is also very much so in order here.
Rebekah Stewart ‘11
Development and Human Rights Section of United Kingdom Mission to the UN
In the fall of 2010, I interned in the Development and Human Rights Section of the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations. As an intern with the UK Mission’s Human Rights Team, I had the opportunity to work primarily in the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which is the committee of the General Assembly that considers resolutions on social, humanitarian, and cultural issues, throughout its working period.One of my main responsibilities was acting as the point person for the United Kingdom in the formal meetings of the Third Committee and reporting on human rights issues of interest to the UK’s Foreign Office in London on a regular basis. I also had the opportunity to assist with negotiations on a wide range of human rights-related General Assembly resolutions, and towards the end of my internship, I lead negotiations for the UK on a GA resolution on inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.As a Diplomacy and World Affairs student focusing on human rights, this experience was an incredible opportunity for me. I really enjoyed having a behind the scenes view of how UN member states interact with each other, and I now have a much more comprehensive understanding of how the international human rights system functions. I will never forget this experience, and I would highly recommend the Oxy at the UN Program to future Occidental students.
Katherine Wright ‘11
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
I interned for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Issues pertaining to refugees are extremely diverse given the humanitarian and security needs of conflict-driven refugees. This therefore allowed me to attend a wide range of meetings at the UN.At UNHCR, my primary assignments were to attend Second (Economic and Social) and Forth (Special and Decolonization) Committees. During this time I was able to attend meetings on issues such as the legal status of Western Sahara, human rights in the Gaza Strip, and the worldwide issue of urban slums.I also attended meetings within the General Assembly where I covered the General Debate. During this time I was assigned to report and synthesize on all the statements of heads of state from Africa and the Middle East. Throughout the rest of the semester, I also covered many of the issues raised in the General Debate in the Security Council.But some of the most rewarding meetings were those held off the record in informal negotiations. Attending these negotiations allowed me gain insight into how resolutions are drafted.My experienced as an Oxy-at-the-UN intern shaped my educational and professional goals and I would highly recommend interning with UNHCR.
Other 2011 Participants:
Chelsea Moore ‘10
Department of Public Information,
United Nations Radio
Being a radio nerd to the core, I was incredibly excited to be the first ever Occidental at the United Nations Program participant to intern at UN Radio. Everyday UN Radio reports on the activities of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations, helping to spread the word about the important work they are doing around the world. During my internship I was treated as a journalist and held responsible for producing features and news stories for international broadcast with a listener base of 300 million. I had the opportunity to interview prominent international relations figures such as Jeffery Sachs and Tom Weiss. I also got to attend a media conference in St. Lucia and act as a UN correspondent, reporting on sustainable development issues.Check out some of the features I produced:
Sarah Richey ‘10
Department: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
Central Emergency Response Fund
This semester I am working at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Within OCHA, I’m working in the reporting unit of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). CERF provides emergency funding in both sudden-onset and under-funded emergencies. Since I have been here, we have sent allocations to Bhutan, Indonesia, Somalia, Guinea, and the Philippines. One of my responsibilities is to write short informational pieces about how these funds are allocated within the country. These pieces are turned into online stories, press releases, and newsletter articles. Just last week I used a write up on Namibia to prepare a document for the UK that will help them determine humanitarian funding for the next four years.In addition to these short writing assignments, I’m working on a lengthy evaluation of the reports submitted by the recipient countries in 2008. Each country that receives CERF funding turns in a report on how CERF funds were used throughout the year. While these reports are generally helpful, they could be dramatically improved. This evaluation is designed to identify how CERF adds value to the overall humanitarian response in emergency situations, and to make recommendations for how reporting can be improved in the future. I have already submitted my suggestions for the new reporting template that is being written. Even though I am an intern, I am doing valuable work that will ultimately affect how the Fund operates.
Alexis Huff ‘10
Department: Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Africa Division II
Supervisor: Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Mission in Liberia
I am a Diplomacy and World Affairs major and a native of Los Angeles, CA. My primary academic interests are security sector reform, international political economy and transnational organized crime; and my research focus area is (West) Africa. My internship is with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Africa Division II, which includes the UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC, Somalia, Burundi, Cote D’Ivoire and Liberia. My supervisor is the Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), but I also work for the other missions on occasion. A typical day in my internship includes summarizing events in the UNMIL field operations, attending meetings with member states and UN officials, drafting talking-points for senior officials, summarizing mission-related external and internal reports, and compiling press updates on Guinea and Liberia. I have also been asked to translate mission documents from French into English, take department minutes in Security Council meetings and I helped organize the Liberia National Police Donor Forum in September.The best thing about the Oxy at the UN program is our proximity to events and people that previously could only be experienced through our academic work. In addition, meeting the other interns has been a great networking and learning opportunity, since I am very interested in a career in international relations, the UN and county mission interns represent the full spectrum. The most poignant moments of the internship have been the opportunity to meet Mr. Edward Luck (the Undersecretary General on the Responsibility to Protect), Sir Brian Urquhart (who organized the first peacekeeping mission in 1956), Ambassador at Large for the Republic of Liberia, Philomena Bropleh-Mensah and the newly-appointed Liberian Minister of Justice, Chancellor Christina Tah.
Julia Bleckner ‘10
Department: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Gender Branch
I work all over the place. In the Gender Branch of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) I have consolidated and analyzed the gender architecture throughout Security Counsel Resolutions and Secretary General reports. I have also helped prepare arguments for different member states in debates having to do with gender and humanitarian action. In the Advocacy and Visual Media Unit of OCHA I work every aspect of advocacy campaigns and different humanitarian films. In this capacity I have gotten to film Charlize Theron, George Clooney, Waangari Maathai and John Holmes. For United Nations Development Programme, I have been editing and preparing films and advocacy materials for Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Assault.My faith in the UN has been, to an extent, restored. Yes, the general structure, bureaucracy and politics amongst member states make diplomacy seem, at times, impure and hopeless. But there are a wide variety of branches within the United Nations made up of people who truly are working for the common good of humanity and dedicate themselves to solving the world’s most pressing problems. As a skeptic and critic of the UN, I am truly thankful to have gained an educated appreciation for the heartfelt work that different branches put in to serving the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Claire O’Connell ‘10
Department: Peacekeeping Operations in the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration Section
My internship at the United Nations is one of many valuable experiences I’ve been able to pursue through Occidental College. Experiencing the United Nations during the opening debates of the General Assembly was an exciting introduction to my internship. I witnessed President Obama’s historic address to the United Nations, watched Hugo Chavez play air guitar for the General Assembly, and sat through the majority of Colonel Qaddafi’s ninety-seven minute speech. In my Oxy seminars, high profile guests have visited our classes weekly. We have been visited by Sir Brian Urquhart, one of the three founders of UN Peacekeeping Operations, who created the iconic blue helmet hours before the deployment of the first UN Peacekeeping Operation. We have been visited by Edward Luck, the Special Advisor and Assistant Secretary General focusing on the Responsibility to Protect, who has nearly single handedly generated support and advocacy for the Responsibility to Protect.The most rewarding part of this experience has been my internship in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) Section. This intellectually stimulating experience has expanded my career expectations in ways I could have never imagined previously. I work with colleagues following the DDR programs in peacekeeping operations across the world. My duties range from producing independent research reports, to managing our websites, to following and reporting on the DDR programs in the DRC and Chad, to attending high-level policy planning meetings with my colleagues. This experience has given me a new perspective and outlook that I know will influence my future career choices.
Katherine G. DeMocker ‘10
Department: Office of Disarmament Affairs
Intern for the Senior Advisor to the High Representative of Disarmament Affairs
My internship in the Office of Disarmament Affairs has provided me with the opportunity to be exposed to all the major initiatives and projects relating to non-proliferation and disarmament within the United Nations. As it is a smaller office, I am always aware of almost everything happening and, as a consequence, I am able to become very involved in a variety of projects. Right after the opening of the General Debate during the fall, the First Committee session begins, where issues relating exclusively to disarmament are thoroughly discussed. As such, interns within ODA have the opportunity to attend major negotiations between member states relating to topics of disarmament. This year in particular (2009), there was significant emphasis on disarmament, by the United Nations as a whole and particularly by President Obama and the United States. As such, ODA was very involved in the opening on the General Debates and the High Profile Summit on Disarmament that took place for the first time. Interning at the front office of ODA has allowed me to work with the major players in the field of disarmament at the UN as well as ambassadors and organizations wishing to meet with the High Representative or other officials in our office.My supervisor is one of the senior advisors to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and is responsible for drafting all major publications or speeches relating to disarmament that are read by the High Representative and the Secretary General of the UN. As such, my responsibilities often involve a fair amount of research relating to a given event or piece. I was even given the opportunity to draft talking points and a few full speeches that were read by the High Representative. Another major component of the internship involves taking notes or collecting documents at the First Committee for my office and compiling and analyzing specific statistics on requested subject areas. I often develop structure and background for projects and edit speeches before they are finalized. I developed a web-based calendar of major disarmament events, accessible globally and provide general office assistance as needed. This particular internship is very flexible in approaching my areas of interest, as I am able to write speeches and work closely with office personnel, while having the freedom to do external research for my own projects or articles relating to disarmament.Outside of my direct internship responsibilities, there have also been many opportunities to explore open meetings or conferences hosted by the United Nations or visit the missions to a wide range of countries and related agencies. Thus far, I have visited the U.S. Mission, the Iranian Mission, the Chinese Mission, the Mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Italian Mission, and the Israeli Mission. I also met Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when she spoke at the conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, First Lady of France Sarkozy (Carla Bruni) while she was working to promote UNAIDs work, and many other ambassadors and representatives. It has definitely been a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Ashleigh M. Ferran ‘10
Department: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division For Sustainable Development, Emerging Issues, Energy and Transport
The mission of the Division for Sustainable Development is to integrate the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in policy-making at the international, regional and national levels. As the substantive secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the department I intern for largely supports technical cooperation and capacity building. My assignment within this department is specifically within the Emerging Issues Branch, which focuses on new issues that are of growing global concern, for me the issues of energy and transport.Thus far my work as an intern has been two-fold. Initially, the majority of my work was in supporting the drafting of the Secretary General’s Report on Transportation that will be submitted next spring in advance of the 2010 CSD review session. I was largely responsible for researching identified topics, compiling relevant statistics, and generating a large variety of charts, tables, and graphs to be included in the report. Once the initial draft of the report was complete, I created a master PowerPoint presentation providing a conceptual overview of the report enhanced by visual content.Since the completion of these projects, I have now been preparing a Provisional Program for the proposed “Senior Expert Level Roundtable on the Sustainable Development of Lithium in South American Countries.” This work involves researching lithium extraction and refining processes, lithium battery technologies, and the electric vehicle market. After reviewing the market as a whole, I have now been responsible for outlining the event’s objectives and expected outcomes, drafting a conference agenda, and compiling a list of potential speakers and guests.
Tsuyoshi Domoto ‘10
Department: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
As an intern at the liaison office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New York, I have had the opportunity to learn about the United Nations and its inner workings from an intimate perspective. The liaison office in New York serves as the eyes, ears and the mouth of our parent organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.My main role in the office has been to attend the Second (Economic and Financial) as well as the Fourth (Special and Decolonization) Committee meetings as well as others, if necessary, and to report back to my supervisor on any relevant information which was discussed at these meetings pertaining to the mandate of the UNHCR. In addition to these larger meetings, I have also had the opportunity to attend the informal consultation meetings, which are held in smaller conference rooms and are more personal. In these meetings by Member States and other important players discuss and draft resolutions.I especially enjoyed the General Debate, which was held in September where leaders from all around the world converged on the floor of the General Assembly to state their national positions on important issues and laid out plans for a better and brighter future. This semester at the United Nations has been an exceptional experience, one I would highly recommend to my peers at Oxy as well to the prospective Occidental students.
Casey McCormick ‘10
Department: United Nations Public-Private Alliance for Rural Development
Interning for the United Nations Public-Private Alliance for Rural Development (UNPPA) has been an incredible experience. The alliance works as a platform to facilitate public-private partnerships for development initiatives in four pilot countries. From the first day on the job, I have been expanding my knowledge of the challenges faced by developing states that hinder to their progress in achieving internationally agreed upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.Additionally, because the UNPPA works with in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch, I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of the numerous projects that the Branch focuses on in their work to coordinate the Department of Economic and social Affairs (DESA) and ECOSOC. I have had the opportunity to work on the Annual Ministerial Review, the annual ECOSOC book, initiatives with the Peace Building Commission, and several communication projects.Though every day has been different, I generally spend a lot of time researching, writing proposals, attending and summarizing the outcome of many types of meetings, and involving myself in all aspects of the department. I have also been able to attend meetings ranging from the General Debate of the General Assembly, to the Security Council and more ECOSOC meetings than I can count, including special events like a Seminar on Food Security in Post-Conflict Countries.The incredible range of tasks I have been able to work on, as well as the fantastic staff in my office, have allowed me to learn more about the reality of the United Nations in three months than I could ever be taught in a classroom. This real world experience will undoubtedly be part of the foundation upon which I base my professional life.
Claire Anderson ‘10
Department: Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women
I am a Diplomacy and World Affairs major, and my specialty is Middle Eastern human rights (with a special focus on women’s rights). I applied to Occidental specifically because of the Occidental-at-the United Nations program, and I am thrilled to finally be here. I have always been quite involved at Occidental – working/organizing student committees for DWA and the Dean, being a Resident Advisor, working part-time at a campus job, and editing the DWA publication Global Perspectives (copy editor for 2007-2008, and Editor-in-Chief for 2008-2009). The semester before the UN program, I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, ended up living there for eight months, and am still eager to go back.At the UN I am an intern with the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI). OSAGI is a small office with a huge mandate, and my area of work is women, peace and security – the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325. The broad description of my work indicates the large variety that I encounter daily – from organizing meetings to attending Security Council briefings to writing speeches – and more! This experience has taught me the intricacies about the internal operations of a multilateral organization, and I believe this knowledge will be valuable for my future international endeavors.
Olivia O’Sullivan ‘10
Department: Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Sudan Integrated Operational Team
My internship is with the Sudan Integrated Operational Team in the Peacekeeping Department. That means I sit with all the political and military officers who handle both peacekeeping missions in Sudan. The team is great and very helpful when it comes to answering questions and thinking of interesting projects for me to be involved in. They also buy me coffee all the time. My jobs change a lot, sometimes I do not have so much to do, other times I can be quite busy. I am normally able to stick to 9-5.30, although I’ve stayed much later on occasion, it is usually because I’ve decided to finish or work on something myself.On a regular basis, I write weekly reports on the missions and any incidents that have occurred, to go to the under-secretaries general for peacekeeping and field support. Otherwise, I usually get more ad hoc jobs, like taking minutes in meetings, editing and contributing to communications with the missions, and writing talking points for meetings with countries that contribute troops and police to peacekeeping. I am also a default adviser on Microsoft Word, as the designated ‘young person’ in my team.The longer-term projects I have had have been the more interesting ones – I wrote a long report (around 23 pages double-spaced) on concerns for the future of Southern Sudan in the event of self-determination. This was used by a team from peacekeeping who went on an assessment trip to South Sudan for a month towards the end of my internship. I also prepared briefings, maps and materials for them to take on their trip. I wrote two shorter reports on international law as it related to the African Union’s plans for the Darfur Peace and Justice Process, and one summarizing different approaches to protection of civilians in peacekeeping missions, for use in discussing this issue with the Mission in South Sudan. I have found these projects the most rewarding, and I have really appreciated how quickly I have been able to learn a lot about the United Nations and Sudan from working on them.
Allegra Palmer ‘10
Department: Peacebuilding Support Office
I am interning for the Peacebuilding Support Office, which supports the Peacebuilding Commission: an intergovernmental advisory that helps countries emerging from conflict prevent the risk of relapse into conflict while promoting long term sustainable post-conflict development. I work in the Communications Department of the Front Office, which assists the Assistant Secretary General for Peacebuilding. By working in the communications department I help research, draft and edit all external relations materials of the Peacebuilding Support Office. Most recently I researched and helped draft a speech for my Assistant Secretary General. I also helped organize a press conference to announce the Peacebuilding Commission’s partnership with Yoko Ono to launch the 40th anniversary commemorative edition of the song “Give Peace a Chance” on iTunes for which net proceeds will go to the Peacebuilding Fund.
Alessandra Valconi ’09
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Coordination and Response Division, Africa I
During the fall of ’08, I interned at Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Coordination and Response Division, Africa I (OCHA CRD Africa I). Consolidating large office names into acronyms was only one of the many things I learned during the my time at the UN. My particular office dealt with the coordination of humanitarian issues specific to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Burundi. Some of the tasks I was involved in included attending and taking notes at Task Force Meetings, preparing the Assistant Secretary General Catherine Bragg for multiple trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa. and assisting in the compilation of the Consolidated Appeals Process for Africa I countries. I also created an in depth financial analysis database for all Africa 1 countries broken down by clusters, donors and receipients which allowed me and my supervisor to idnetify trends and gaps within the funding system and humanitarian efforts.However, the most exciting part of my internship was working closely with the desk officers for the DRC. During November, the fighting in North Kivu escalated, which forced the UN to conduct daily video teleconference meetings with MONUC (the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the DRC). In these meetings Special Representative to the Secretary General Alan Doss, Military General Gaye and many other officials would report to represetnative from OCHA, DPKO, DPI, and DPA at UN Headquarters the situation from the field. For about a month it was my duty to show up bright and early to take notes on these meetings and convey any concerns from the OCHA CRD DRC desk. I wrote many reports on the situation during that time, supported the desk officer in ARRIA Formula meetings, translated Situation Reports that came from North Kivu into English for dissimineation to the rest of OCHA and after much debating on friday night about who should write the notes to management me and one of my supervisors would alternate this task.Since my internship at the UN, my passionate interest in human rights and humanitarian assistance has only strengthened. I currently work as the Program Assistant for the South Asia Programs at Operation USA, an international NGO that works in disaster relief and poverty alleviation projects, and will soon be taking on the position as Program Associate for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Nicholas Phillips ’09
(Cambridge University, ‘08/ Occidental College ’09)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – New York (Liaison) Office
I was one of two interns under the supervision of Michelle Cervantes, Senior Policy Coordination Assistant at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees New York Liason Office. Two other interns, both law students, worked in the same office for another supervisor. As interns for Michelle, our task was ostensibly to keep track of refugee (and Internally Displaced Persons) issues at the UN Headquarters and report these back to the Geneva Headquarters, via Michelle. In practice, this meant going daily to the various main committees of the UN, observing their debate, and taking note of different states’ input into refugee issues. Mostly this was done in the plenary sessions, but part of it entailed observing negotiations over the precise wording of resolutions in break-off groups. Observing international diplomats engaged in nuanced exchange, and getting a sense of the issues behind the issues, was particularly fascinating. In addition to the main committees, I attended the Security Council, when it debated refugee issues, the Peacebuilding Commission, and together with the other UNHCR interns, covered the General Assembly, again taking note of refugee issues addressed by the Member States. We produced a report summarizing the current position of the UN Member States towards current refugee issues. As well as the formal meetings of the UN, I covered various one-off meetings, side-events, and seminars. I also covered Inter-Agency Standing Committee briefing meetings, again, in order to produce reports for Geneva.When I wasn’t in the main building following debates, I collated and analyzed the past fifteen years of Security Council resolutions that dealt with refugees, and the past fifteen years of statements by the High Commissioner, and prepared a briefing document for the current High Commissioner as background to his imminent statement. I also helped set up and marshal at an event to promote UNHCR’s Gimme Shelter campaign, which was supported by Ben Affleck.My interesting stories don’t so much come from UNHCR as from the surrounding experience. Smoking a cigarette outside World Bar, across the street from the UN, I got chatting to the Afghan Ambassador to the UN, who used to live in the same town as me in England. I ended up interviewing him at the Afghan Mission for my research project on The Responsibility to Protect. The point is: you never know who you might meet, and when; and that smoking can be good for you!
Rebecca Nashleanas ’09
Department of Political Affairs – Policy Planning and Mediation Support Unit
In the fall of 2008, I interned for the Department of Political Affairs in the Policy Planning and Mediation Support Unit. I worked on a variety of projects during my time at the United Nations. I began with editing confidential Mission Reports from missions in the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, and the Georgia-Russian conflict. Later my area of specialty would become the CAR and the Special Political Mission (SPM) that was going on there called BONUCA. I went to Security Council meetings, departmental meetings and had numerous meeting with my supervisor about the country and the mission there. Aside from transcribing these meeting notes it was also my duty to create data tables with all the information on the country as well as proofreading all materials that my supervisor wrote about the mission. My secondary project was researching the Peace Building Commission and the role DPA would play in the PBC process. I created data tables with all of the missions, their priority plans, progress, agendas, and monetary allotments. Besides my main project commitments I was also in charge of transcribing notes for the SPM weekly budgetary meetings for DPA and creating and distributing the monthly event calendar.I will never forget the day I shook the hand of the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as he came to the DPA offices to thank us for our work during the General Assembly nor my elation at meeting Jane Goodall on Peace Day. However, the fondest memory I hold from my time at the United Nations was when I got to sit in on the General Assembly meeting for the Millennium Development Goals where Bill Gates spoke candidly and with conviction on the need for immediate progress on the MDGs. As I sat watching the member countries of the United Nations come together to fight poverty, end child mortality, promote universal education, support maternal health, increase environmental sustainability, eliminate gender disparity, combat HIV/AIDS, and do it all as a collective body I was greatly moved. For me, that meeting showcased the essence of the United Nations, the unified body of countries coming together to fight for the greater good.
Rebecca Shipps ’08
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Darfur Team
When participating in the Oxy at the UN Program in New York, I had the privilege of working with Darfur Team in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Coincidentally, the transfer of authority from an African Union headed mission (AMIS) to a hybrid mission in partnership with the United Nations dubbed the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) coincided with the end of my internship. One of my continuous projects was creating a summary report for the Security Council each week that outlined all the recent developments from the region. In creating this document each week, I was reminded of the urgency of the work at hand and was given a chance to read extensively on all incidents occurring in the region. From sitting in on high-level meetings with heads of state, to compiling binders of essential documents for the Under-Secretary General of Peacekeeping, I truly gained unique insight during this time that I value to this day.Currently, I am in my second year of teaching 4th grade in the Bronx through Teach for America. While this is quite a change from my undergraduate studies, this summer I was able to meld my passion for international relations with my newfound profession of teaching while interning for Teach for All, essentially the international version of Teach for America. Upon the completion of this year, I plan on continuing to blend both interests in the non-profit sector before applying to graduate school.
Patrice Hall ’08
Office of the Special Advisor for Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women
I interned for the Office of the Special Advisor for Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women. I spent a lot of time attending meetings on Security Council Resolution 1325 and researching the number of countries that had or were in the process of creating National Action Plans, which are intended to incorporate the principles of the resolution. I created a presentation for the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women on the State of African Women in Politics. I also translated documents, took notes, and assisted in organizing inter-agency meetings. During this time, I had the opportunity to sit in on an Arria Formula in which Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues and founder of the Global Movement V-Day, spoke. She introduced herself to me before the meeting and afterwards I had a casual chat with Val Kilmer (!!!). Most importantly, I also had the opportunity to interview some of the women who were most influential in creating SCR 1325 for my independent research project. Most recently I was employed as a Program Assistant for the Gender Unit, the Children’s Program, and the Truth Seeking Unit of the International Center for Transitional Justice.
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