Thoughts of Win Tompkins, a PCFR member and a student at the Met School:
Dr. Rima Salah, a distinguished U.N. official of 28 years, was the guest speaker at the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations on Dec. 16.
Her talk, focusing on the migrant crisis, came near the end of a year of a flood of Muslim refugees and other migrants crossing from the Mideast, North Africa and South Asia into Europe. She also talked about child soldiers, U.N. peacekeeping missions and addressed various criticisms that the U.N. has faced over the years.
As a long-time U.N. official she needed to talk about these issues. But I found her remarks a bit too vague though she was a very engaging and indeed passionate speaker.
It was difficult to figure out what might be her specific solutions to the refugee crisis, sometimes ineffectual U.N. peacekeeping efforts and the spread of arms and child soldiers.
When pressed on how to improve the migrant crisis, she tended to present vague ideas about simply treating refugees more humanely.
More specifically, however, she asserted the need for having more women in peacekeeping efforts, in part to better facilitate dialogue among warring factions, supported the idea that the next U.N. secretary general be a woman, and seemed to back banning, or at least placing tougher restrictions on, the global arms industry.
--- Win Tompkins