Robin De Zeeuw
Interviewer: Maryam Aslam
Robin De Zeeuw is a second-year university student at the Erasmus University College (EUC) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. There, he is working on completing his double major in International Relations & Political Science and Economics & Business. Although he was born and grew up in the Dutch Caribbean, Robin has had extensive experience in high-school and university-level MUN participating in everything from admin to Secretariat. He served as the President of the General Assembly of THIMUN 2016 and also as a Board Member for the MUN organization at EUC. He believes that Model UN is something that should serve as an enabling feature to individuals and that it is critical to the development of certain skills in a high schoolers academic and social career. He is also involved in the HELA initiative as an Advisory Board Member and encourages students to take their MUN experience and make something of it.
Please tell me a little about yourself.
Legally, I am a Dutch citizen and part of the European Union. However, in reality I am anything but. I was born on the recently hurricane-devastated island of St. Maarten but grew up on Curacao, living there for 16 years. I did the IB Diploma there and since last August I live in Rotterdam as a university student at the Erasmus University College (EUC). I do a double major in International Relations & Business. Next to my university degree I am also a part-time scuba diving instructor. In the summers & winters I work on a resort on Curacao as part of a scuba dive team, doing up to four dives a day. It doesn’t earn much but as it’s also one of my favorite hobbies I enjoy it like none other. Apart from that I am particularly passionate about the UN and its future, hence my work in MUN.
How do you think the study of international relations improves one’s understanding of global matters?
That depends. A lot. First off I’d say it depends on yourself. Anybody can study anything and get a degree in it. However if you really want to study international relations and gain an insight to global matters you have to be prepared to go the extra mile. Learning about IR theories is only half the work – You have to be able to apply the realist perspective to understand GB’s rationale for Brexit and simultaneously Liberal Institutionalism. Studying IR theory definitely helps someone understand global matters but if you want to develop a well-rounded perspective on issues and be able to excel go the extra mile.
What personally motivates you to educate others on this topic?
Whereas when my parents were my age they had a very optimistic view of the future, I have a rather bleak one. It’s a well-known fact that we’re on the edge of a bad and worse situation in terms of politics, economics, social issue and especially the environment. However, I’m also an optimist and believe that our generation (90s kids and those after) are able to change this view. But if we’re going to get there we have to be informed on the issues that face us. While social media and the news does its best on informing us about global issues we need more initiatives like the QLC and MUN conferences where young, ambitious minds can come together and work on a platform for change. So many of us are either ignorant or just don’t have the possibility to stand up and speak. Some might brand me an idealist for trying to change the world but I believe education is the first step in the direction of change.
What’s your stance on supranational political organizations (like the EU) in general, and your opinion on the future of the EU and organizations like it?
I thinks it’s a bit ironic that this question comes up today. In the past week I’ve had this same discussion about three times. That makes it an important issue I’d say. I think that the concept of a supranational political organization is Utopian and that a well-oiled machine is far away. A bit controversial opinion I’d say that the world isn’t ready for the real supranational political organizations yet. Real being in this case those organizations that really govern, implement legislature and ensure security on a regional, and potentially global, level. There is too much of a divide between the Global North/South or MEDC/LEDCs for a true supranational political organization to work. The UN is very good at trying to bridge the gap but there needs to be more dedication from powers such as the P5, EU & BRICS. In their current form, many supranational political organizations are structurally flawed – we need only bring up the issue of the UNSC. But I’m more than confident that in the future, our generation will be able to achieve what the drafters of the UN Charter set out to do.
In what ways do you hope that your workshop will benefit its participants?
Last year at the QLC I was amazed at the enthusiasm and interest that I got from the students there. Because of their enthusiasm and willingness to learn I think my workshop on historical leadership practices really worked and that people picked up a lot of information on how they could change their future leadership practices. One trend that I did pick up on is that most of the students knew all of my American & Asian examples but there was a bit of a knowledge gap when it came to European leaders. That was part of my rationale for creating this workshop as I hope to fill a knowledge gap and hopefully inspire students to learn more about international relations!