A Letter from the President
The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), serving the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, has completed another successful year in advancing its mission to:
• Increase public understanding and support of the United Nations.
• Advocate for constructive US leadership in strengthening the effectiveness and
efficiency of the United Nations.
• Prepare present and future leaders to work for a better world, both globally and locally.
In 2015 we celebrated the 70 th anniversary of the United Nations, and in 2016 we look to a challenging and uncertain future as a new Secretary General is selected and a new president of the United Sates and Congress are elected. During this time of change the work and the values of the United Nations have never been more important and effective US participation in the United Nations more essential.
We face a heartbreaking global humanitarian crisis-- the rising tide of refugees, displaced persons, and economic migration. We see the rise of nonstate terrorism and internal ethnic and religious conflict. UN Peacekeeping missions are now the most extensive military deployment in the world. Implementation of the Paris agreement on Climate Change and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development will require unprecedented UN leadership.
With limited resources and even less public understanding, the UN and its specialized agencies work tirelessness to ameliorate conflict, feed the hungry, aid the displaced, promote gender equality, human rights, and the rule of law, facilitate safe travel, telecommunications and trade, eradicate disease, and prevent nuclear proliferation.
During this critical time of transition, we at UNA-NCA have our work cut out for us-- the need has never been greater!
With deep appreciation for the support of our members, donors, and partners and to the hard work and dedication of our staff and hundreds of volunteers, I am pleased to report to you some of the accomplishments of UNA-NCA in fiscal year 2015-2016:
- Educated a more than 3000 DC area students from fifth grade through high school in the skills of diplomacy, negotiation and advocacy, addressing issues such as Syria, World Heritage Sites, Nuclear Nonproliferation Fair Trade, Access to Vaccines, and Climate Change in our year-long Global Classrooms program, culminating in the April Model UN Spring Conference at the U.S. Department of State, the largest outside event hosted by State each year.
- Provided Career Networking and Guidance Opportunities for hundreds of young professionals seeking career paths in international work through our twice annual Career Night Dinners hosted by the reorganized Young Professionals.
- Offered some 30 educational and interactive programs on implementing the Global Goals for Sustainable Development globally and locally.
- Showed how individuals and localities can implement the Paris Agreement on climate change through pledges to use clean energy alternatives.
- Provided a series of programs on the Goal of gender equality which included advocacy for DC CEDAW (equal rights for women) legislation.
- Recognized international and local leaders in human rights in our annual Human Rights awards reception on Capitol Hill and worked for constructive U.S. leadership in human rights at the UN through a series of provocative programs.
- Strengthened our advocacy core to mobilize regional support for the United Nations and its Peacekeeping missions in Congress.
- Generated Public Understanding and Support for the UN though a series of intimate discussions with key leaders of the UN and its specialized agencies, including Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliason, US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Keith Harper, and World Health Organization experts on its role in the Ebola pandemic.
- Engaged our experienced and expert Advisory Council in NCA programing, conferences and young professional development.
- Collaborated with our partners, such as the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at State, the American Foreign Service Association, the American Society of International Law, The US Institute of Peace, and the Alliance for Peace Building.
- Expanded and diversified our membership, reaching almost 1500 members of whom almost half are under forty.
- Published UN Express in a new format on a regular schedule, informing our membership of upcoming NCA events and those of our partners.
We have made substantial progress this past year in implementing NCA’s Strategic Plan and strengthening our governance procedures. We are well positioned for the challenging year of change ahead. With your support, we will work hard for a transition to an even stronger,more effective US-UN partnership.
With a small budget and staff, UNA-NCA is able to deliver extraordinary programs because of the passionate commitment of hundreds of volunteers. In FY 2015-16, we have been fortunate to have had an exceptionally hard working and professional staff, led by our experienced Executive Director, Paula Boland, our Director of Membership and Programs, Kristen Hecht, our Director of Global Education, Megan Penn, and an outstanding group of program interns. The Board of Directors is most grateful to our staff, committee chairs, co-chairs and members, cadre of volunteers, and dedicated donors, and, as president, I am most grateful for the work of our Board of Directors, Advisory Council and officers.
Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Retired)
President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area