Gilia Lolli Ceroni, NPTS ’18

Internship at the United Nations – Conventional Arms Branch

Since I started my Master in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, I knew that I wanted to take the opportunity to do an internship at an important organization. Since I have always lived in Europe, it was important for me to remain in the United States, so I decided to apply for a six-months internship at the Conventional Arms Branch of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in New York.

My tasks included taking notes at events related to Disarmament, assisting the Chair of the Disarmament Commission to keep track of the changes made by the delegations to the consensus document, assisting the Chief of the CAB at some briefings to delegations and analyzing Military Expenditures reports.

One of the great things of being at the UN is the variety of conferences, events, meetings that you can attend every day. I was particularly interested in the Security Council, considering that Italy is currently one of its members. I had interesting conversations with the Italian diplomat dealing with disarmament and became friend with one from another country member of the Security Council, who deepened my knowledge on how it works. Regular meetings aside, the UN sometimes organize one-week long conferences on a specific topic that are attended by high-level participants – which includes Ministries, Ambassadors, show-business people and yes, sometimes even princes. For this reason, you can meet very interesting people and some days can be quite surprising. For example, I will never forget the day I was standing in front of the Secretary General, who was giving a speech on refugees. The room was fairly small and dark, and honestly the main reason for me to be there was to have the chance to meet Gutierrez. However, a minute into his speech, I decided to have a look at the people who were standing close to him, and there he is: Ben Stiller, just few meters away! He was just one of the interesting people I had the chance to talk to after important meetings or conferences.

“Me and Ben Stiller at a UN talk on refugees.”

Being at the United Nations also means that you get to share this experience with hundreds of other students and young professionals from around the world and with different backgrounds. One of the great events that they attend is a weekly happy hour in the Delegates Lounge, which has a beautiful view on the river. Moreover, interns keep others updated on any interesting event going on at their branch or elsewhere.

After my first internship ended, I had the chance to be part of the Chilean delegation at the Nuclear Ban Treaty negotiations, which gave me the opportunity to meet several diplomats, and they even invited me to a dinner. I guess you do not share a cheesecake with a senior diplomat – while talking about disarmament – every day!

Last but not least, living in New York was an amazing experience. The city has a lot to offer: from free movie screenings in the park, to concerts, awesome food, rooftops with incredible views and so on. However, it is also a tough city and I now understand the saying “if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”.


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