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UN exam opens a world of opportunity (2)

By He Wei in Shanghai  (China Daily)

15:55, July 10, 2012

The new test is expected to take place once a year, Dai said, whereas the old exam was held just several times in the past decade.

China's annual budget to the UN in 2012 is expected to rise to $82.4 million, accounting for 3.18 percent of the overall pot. "Since China is underrepresented on the UN staff, candidates could help rectify that problem by taking the exam and launching a rewarding career in international relations," Dai noted.

Many countries have programs to boost their representation at the UN.

Switzerland, for example, has allocated funds to finance junior professional officers to work for the UN on a temporary basis through the Associate Expert Programs. Japan and the Republic of Korea run similar programs.

To promote basic "know-how", the government has also started to sponsor special training, to promote global awareness, for college students who wish to focus on foreign affairs, according to Zhang Guihong, executive dean of the UN Studies Center of Fudan University, where the training is held.

Over 103 students from 44 universities, domestic and international, joined the week-long training.

Zhou Zhou, a participant who studies international relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University, believes working for the UN will give him some "big-picture" perspectives on social issues. But he initially believed that the only way to work for the UN was to be a domestic civil servant first.

Dai said China has undertaken reforms in recent years to make selection of international civil servants more open and transparent.

It is in sharp contrast to the 1970s, when being a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a prerequisite for candidates to apply for a UN job.

"We used to merit the language ability of candidates. But now the tide has changed to expertise in particular areas such as environment, education, labor, accounting, finance, etc," Dai said.

"Apart from the knowledge they can obtain, I believe the training is a great opportunity for young, promising students to brainstorm and interact with each other," said Abhimanyu Singh, director and representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Beijing office, who is also on the faculty list for the program.

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