BU student attends conference in Mexico

Both events, that take place only every two years, were held in Mexico from August 10th to the 21st 2005.

One of the things that made the strongest impression on me was the diversity reflected in the IYA and ICM. There were of course discussions and debates between people of different cultures and of all ages, but it went beyond that, as diversity created a fascinating challenge.

How can an inclusive worldwide movement like Amnesty International reconcile diverse views on its mission? A particularly interesting example of this were the debates we had on sexual and reproductive rights, where delegates from different countries expressed different opinions on the rights of women depending on their cultural background.

However, even more fascinating than diversity was the determination of all delegates to find a consensus. Despite the sometimes-heated debates, delegates did their best to make sure everyone was heard during the plenary sessions, as well as in the working parties. Be it in the Financial Strategy working party (dealing with resolutions related to the movement's income and its distribution), the Organizational Strategy working party (where resolutions related to research and work on own country were presented), or in the Human Rights Strategy working party (discussing Amnesty's position on the use of military force and the role of the organization in conflict prevention, among other things), divergent opinions were always reconciled in the end. The delegates' desire to see Amnesty work in an ever more strategic and effective way took precedence over everything else.

My participation to the IYA and ICM taught me a lot about Amnesty International, but also more generally on the role and functioning of NGOs, as well as on international meetings, which play an important role in world politics. I realized, for example, the impressive logistics that such a meeting demanded in terms of transportation, food, accommodation, or translation. With close to 400 people from about 80 countries, more than a week of meetings, and hundreds of pages of documents (resolutions, reports, consultations, studies, articles) , translation into English, French, Arabic, and Spanish was provided by 42 interpreters - all volunteers. But above all, my participation in the IYA and ICM confirmed once again something I know to be true: education is more than what we learn in school.

So get involved, engage in first-hand experiences. Who knows, you might be one of the next recipients of the McConnell Student Opportunity Fund.

Christina Lazarova, a second year politics student from Montreal, QC

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