Learning about the United Nations through Distance Education

By Srivastava, Suresh | UN Chronicle, June-August 2004 | Go to article overview

Learning about the United Nations through Distance Education


Srivastava, Suresh, UN Chronicle


At a time when the role of the United Nations has come under deep scrutiny, the need for strengthening the Organization's contribution to world polity has become more imperative than ever.

The Indian Federation of United Nations Associations (IFUNA) has since 1962 been engaged in the vital dissemination of awareness about the United Nations role and its myriad activities in promoting world peace and development. The IFUNA Institute of U.N. Studies is a key organization involved in the spreading of knowledge regarding UN activities and functions. The Institute, based in India, was established in 1969 as the Department of Indian Federation of United Nations Associations, under the chairmanship of Nagendra Singh, an international civil servant and then Judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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The Institute conducts a six-month correspondence course on the "United Nations and international understanding", which aims to: impart basic knowledge about the United Nations and its specialized agencies; develop awareness of its aims, objectives and ideals; stimulate people's participation in its programmes, activities and achievements; promote research, information, communication and education about the aims and objectives of the United Nations Charter and its work; and promote the interest of youth in the United Nations and its role in establishing world peace and harmony among nations.

The course has received high accolades at various national and international fora. The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) has commended it and expressed a keen desire for UN Associations in other countries to emulate the course. WFUNA extended strong support, as the course enables a more nuanced knowledge of UN activities, vis-a-vis contemporary human rights issues, foreign policy and projects, such as women's development, anti-child-labour programmes, literacy, education, health and sanitation.

The course contains seven compulsory subjects, spanning the historical imperatives behind the formation of the United Nations, its structure, constitution and objectives, and eighteen optional subjects covering a wide spectrum of relevant issues, from the study of UN specialized agencies, commissions and organs and their character, to their role in peacekeeping and development projects worldwide. …

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