Director of UNIC holds lecture as part of United Nations Lecture Series


The Beacon/Cabrini Rudnicki

Robert Skinner is the director of the United Nations Information Centre in D.C

Cabrini Rudnicki, News Editor

On April 12, the last of the 2018 United Nations Lecture series was held.

Robert Skinner, the director of the United Nations Information Centre in Washington DC, spoke in a lecture titled “The United Nations in a Time of Transition: Its Role and Challenges.”

Skinner used his lecture as an opportunity to talk about the relationship between the UN and the United States.

“There is a perception that the UN works against American interests,” explained Skinner. “This is absolutely and fundamentally not true. If you ask any staff member of the UN, ‘what would happen if the U.S. left the UN?’ they’d agreed it’d be a disaster.”

“Everyone recognizes that while there are rising countries that challenge the United States in some areas,” continued Skinner, “the U.S. remains the sole superpower. This may change over time, but between military, economic, and historically diplomatic power, the U.S. is the leader.”

Skinner continued to talk about the UN charter’s preamble, which shares the similarity of United States documents with the phrase, “we the peoples.” Skinner went through the main elements of the charter’s preamble.

“Saving generations from scourge of war, reaffirming the fundamental need of human rights, and social development are the three legs of the stool that the UN stands on.”

He also gave description of what his day-to-day work life was like, which includes acting as hosts for foreign ambassadors, as well as gaining connections with different people in the UN system.

Finally, Skinner spoke about the security council, a mega-council which contains 15 members, five of which are permanent, and include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The council works as the principal decider in changes to the UN charter.

“One of the things that is talked about a lot, but a lot is never done about it is, should we change the rules of the security council?” Skinner explained. “It’s 73 years after [the creation of the United Nations], and it’s a fundamentally different place.”

Skinner has been the director of the United Nation’s information office since 2015. Prior to this, he was the executive director for the New York Office Operations and UN Relations at the United Nations Foundations where he oversaw partner relations and led communication programs.

Dr. Andreea Maierean, an assistant political science professor, introduced the speaker to the audience. Maierean also thanked different members of faculty and staff for their involvement with the lecture series throughout the year.

Psychology sophomore student Amanda Imbalzano explained her reasoning for attending the event.

“I’m in one of Dr. Maierean’s classes, and we’ve been learning a lot about the United Nations,” she said. “When the speakers come, I think it’s really interesting to hear from their perspective versus the classroom perspective.”

Neishmy Rodriguez, a junior international studies student, also described her feelings on the lecture.

“I thought it was really helpful for me as an international studies student,” said Rodriguez. “It’s important because I myself want to work for the United Nations, it’s important for me to gain these contacts and connections.”

The lecture series has been held every year since the 2011-2012 school year. It is presented in partnership with the Humpty Dumpty Institute’s Higher Education Alliance for the United Nations. Wilkes University is the only Northeastern Pennsylvania school participating in the program.