‘Youth should be more represented in the government as actors of change’
Oleh Puryshev ‘15 became interested in the United Nations system while participating in Pace University’s Model UN program at conferences in Washington DC and New York. Along with his delegation partner Annie Stishov ‘18, he won an “Outstanding Position Paper” award for their representation of Rwanda in a simulation of the UN Security Council at the 2015 National Model UN conference in New York.
Oleh’s success in Model UN was matched by his commitment to engagement with global politics in the “real world.” He was deeply involved in the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine and believed that the government needed to be more transparent and accountable to the voices of its citizens.
Oleh was appointed a Youth Delegate for Ukraine in 2015, assisting the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in attending committees and side events, writing speeches and developing policy on issues related to youth and security. The Youth Delegate program is a UN effort to encourage Member States to include young people in global policymaking processes.
“At Pace, I gained not only a deep theoretical understanding of the UN system but a practical knowledge that played a pivotal role in my ability to become a Youth Delegate,” said Oleh. “I was surprised how similar the work was to the Model UN simulation. From the Model UN class, I was already aware of how committees operate, how the agenda is set, how to write resolutions and how the voting procedure works. When I was assisting the Permanent Mission of Ukraine, I used my knowledge to assist in writing speeches and even drafting a text for a resolution.”
Oleh also worked closely with Youth Delegates from other Member States to encourage broader attention to problems facing young people around the world. During the UN Economic and Social Council’s Youth Forum, he worked with other delegates to create a project for promoting the new Sustainable Development Goals in their respective countries. He focused particularly on discussions regarding civic education.
“I believe that education is key to developing politically aware citizens who will address issues of inequalities and human rights,” said Oleh. “Youth should be more represented in the government as actors of change who are willing to eradicate corruption in governmental institutions and promote social and economic prosperity. Modern democracy can only function properly if all citizens will have at least a basic understanding of how the government operates and the role of its citizens.”