The winning team, featured with the judges.
The United Nations Association at UCLA recently hosted the first edition of their GenUN Case Competition. In the case competition UCLA students analyzed and proposed solutions to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. As of February 2016, the United Nations (UN) has identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria. Despite some of the best efforts by International Agencies across the world, the crisis has continued to intensify without a seeming end.
The case competition was designed to give future leaders a chance to critically think about the issue and voice their solutions. The Syrian Refugee Crisis is a multifaceted issue and the participants had to delve deeper into the issue. The participants were guided in this effort by Dr. James Gelvin, a UCLA professor and renowned author. Dr. Gelvin gave a brief background of the Syrian issue at the kick-off event and explained some of the salient features of the issue. After the kick-off event, the participants were given a week to study the issue and come up with their solutions.
The solutions proposed by the different teams exemplified the innovation and energy of the youth. Team Break Through focused on helping refuges through educational initiatives. One of their propositions was the formation of Fraternal Clubs for the refugees at host countries. These clubs would be safe havens for refugees to recover as they integrate with the local communities. Team KLK came with tech-savvy solutions to deliver aid to the Syrian Refugees. The recommended using small UAVs that can fly under the radar and provide aid. They also focused on developing drones that can be made locally and cheaply to make the solution feasible for the poorer parts of the country.
The winning team was Refugee Relief Corps. Their solutions were extremely meticulous and detailed. The team focused on the crucial issues of delivering aid, relocation of the refugees and post-conflict solutions. Their solutions looked at structural development to promote long peace and security. A summary of their solutions can be found at the end of the article.
The judging panel for the case competition included Ryan Kaminski, Senior Program Manager of Human Rights and Special Initiatives at UNA-USA, David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities, and Dr. James Gelvin. Their expertise and experience ensured that the proposed solutions were pragmatic and factually consistent. They also questioned the teams on their presentation to create more concrete solutions. Furthermore, after the case presentation, the judges took part in a panel discussion. The panel gave their views on the role of the US in global issues, the importance of youth participation and how youth can prepare themselves to be the leaders of tomorrow. The panel also answered several questions from the audience. Sayed Juneja, a second year student at UCLA, remarked that he had never thought so deeply about the Middle East and learned a lot at the event.
The Syrian Case Competition allowed the participants to step into the shoes of world leaders and create concrete solutions in real time. It is also enabled the world to look at how the youth tackles complex issues. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. At UCLA, we explored some brilliant ideas and the time for our ideas is undoubtedly approaching.