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02 April 2018

2018 World Autism Awareness Day

10 years ago, the UN General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) at the beginnong of 2008. This year, WAAD falls on the day after Easter.

We are hoping you might be willing to participate in a couple small efforts to help raise attention of the observance and the need to help improve understanding of what autism is (and isn’t), help improve the quality of life of those with autism, and to help tackle the stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences at home and abroad.

Ideas to celebrate and support WAAD:

  • Wear blue on 2 April in recognition of WAAD -- or wear your favorite autism awareness shirt
  • Don’t have one?  There are many places online for you to order one including the Autism Speaks online storeAmazon, and WorkPlacePro
  • Change your porch light to a blue lightbulb leading up to (and on) the day. Blue lightbulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Amazon, and many other stores
  • Share with your networks information on World Autism Awareness Day
  • Entering in the Autism Speaks Walk in DC at the Washington National Mall on Saturday, October 6th, 2018 and or at Towson University on Sunday, October 14th, 2018

If you have other ideas, we welcome them!

19 March 2018

2018 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards Nominations

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s (UNA-NCA) annual Human Rights Awards Reception commemorates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by presenting the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award, the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, the F. Allen “Tex” Harris Diplomacy Award, and the Community Human Rights Award to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions in the field of human rights.

We invite you to submit your nominations for the 2018 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards. This is an opportunity for you to honor those you know who are working to further human rights, and we are excited to see who this year’s recipients will be.

The Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1) Advocated respect for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights treaties and instruments;
2) Championed the effective role of the UN as well as regional organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights;
3) Advocated respect for human rights as a priority in US foreign and domestic policies; and
4) Elevated the role of non-governmental organizations in promoting and protecting human rights.

The Perdita Huston Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1) Advocated to eliminate discrimination against women and girls around the world; and
2) Made significant contributions for greater gender equality through increasing economic opportunity and development, promoting human rights, and supporting peace and security for women and girls.

The Tex Harris Diplomacy Award is presented to current or former American diplomats who have:

1) Advocated respect in American diplomacy for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties and instruments;
2) Made significant achievements in human rights through the use of diplomacy; and
3) Demonstrated leadership in the diplomatic community on human rights issues.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1) Provided leadership to advance the cause of human rights through a local group or organization in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and/or Northern Virginia area and;
2) Demonstrated personal and professional contributions to advance the cause of human rights in the public, private, and/or non-profit sector. 

The deadline for nominations is April 27th, and selection begins in May. Please be sure to submit your nomination forms here.

Coverage and information on recipients from last year's nominations can be found here along with a full list of award criteria.

16 March 2018

Coverage of the UN, International Elections Observation and Global Support for Democratic Elections

UNA-NCA and its Human Rights Committee in partnership with the American Foreign Service Association had the pleasure of hosting a distinguished panel of experts on Wednesday, February 28th to discuss the role of the UN in international election observations and global support for democratic elections.

The panel was moderated by Doug Wake, former First Deputy Director of the OSCE/ODIHR, and featured Dr. Beata Martin-Rozumiowicz, Director for Europe and Eurasia, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); Hassan Kelleh Sesay, Electoral Assistance Division - Department of Political Affairs, United Nations Headquarters; and Cristóbal Fernández, Section Chief - Electoral Technical Cooperation, Organization of American States.  Together, the panelists discussed how their different organizations aimed to ensure free and fair elections on the global level sharing their experiences from Europe, Africa, and the Americas.  Click below to watch the video of the event.

14 March 2018

UN holds largest ever Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-62)

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

This week and next (March 12 to 23) more than 3,500 women and men are meeting in and all around the UN Headquarters in New York City to address the theme Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls. This annual event for the past 61 years brings together CSW representatives from all the member countries of the UN, and has participants from local grass roots civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and includes most of the UN agencies. One unfortunate and sad note is the fact that hundreds of people who had applied on time for their visas, and already had prepared their presentations for panels did not get their visas from the US embassies to come to the US.   These are unrelated to the larger political issues surrounding visas from some countries, and may be a reflection of the staffing and management status of our embassies.
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12 March 2018

The Global Refugee Crisis, One Person at a Time

By Carla Ruas, Member, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee


From a young age, Amir Ashour assisted members of the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq, providing safe housing to those whose lives were threatened – by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), by the government, and in some cases, by their own families. But instead of receiving an award for his heroic human rights activism, Ashour was accused of running brothels. He was beaten up and arrested by the Iraqi government multiple times. Fearing for his own life, Ashour fled the country in 2015 and found refuge in Sweden.

The young activist shared his remarkable life story during
The Global Goals Refugee Crisis panel at the UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit. The event, which took place at the United Nations on February 23, gave UNA-USA members an opportunity to attend panels about the most pressing issues facing the organization. One of the most daunting challenges is no doubt the global refugee crisis, as worldwide displacement hits its highest level on record.
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07 March 2018

UNA-USA 2018 Global Engagement Summit - The largest gathering of US support for the UN

By Sydney Spencer, UNA-NCA Program Assistant


A room, which is so frequently filled with global powers and esteemed diplomats, welcomed a new audience on February 23rd. It was on this New York winter morning that over 1,500 aspiring global leaders, international development professionals, and gressroots advocates gathered in the United Nations’ General Assembly Hall for 2018 UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit.


Previously known as Members Day at the UN, the Global Engagement Summit brought together UN advocates, top grassroots leaders, and members of UNA chapters from all over the country for a day of dynamic and informative discussions on the UN’s most pressing issues. This year’s summit had the honor of hosting key UN officials including Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed; President of the UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák; U.S. Youth Observer to the UN Munira Khalif; and many more.

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06 March 2018

Behind The Scenes At The 2018 United Nations Youth Assembly

By Jordan Ashley Hibbs, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

Two weeks ago, I found myself on the crowded, bustling streets of New York City, commuting through morning rush hour traffic. I could hardly contain my excitement as I walked through Midtown East with a coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other. I first stopped by the Turtle Bay Music School to pick up my registration pass, I then headed to the United Nations Headquarters, where I would be joining over 1200 youth from all over the world to participate in the 2018 Youth Assembly. As a youth delegate representing the United States, I was ready to learn more about the United Nations, hear from great speakers, and discuss the role of youth in addressing global challenges.



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28 February 2018

President of the UN General Assembly Addresses UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit

By Farah Faroul, Member, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

The UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit held on February 23rd at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City welcomed more than 1,200 members from across the United States. The Honorable Teta Banks, Chair of the UNA-USA National Council introduced His Excellency Miroslav Lajcak, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly and Foreign Minister of the Slovak Republic who reminded participants of the major world events that prompted the creation of the UN.

Following two world wars, a major global platform was needed for nations to come together, hold peaceful talks, resolve issues and prevent future wars. He further submitted that the prevention of war is the “noble cause” of the UN. Following the creation of the UN in 1945, several multilateral bodies were created. However, the UN is unique in that it is the only universal multilateral body with open membership for all countries, such as the League of Arab Nations, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe. He further submitted that 72 years later that the UN is still very much needed and encouraged everyone to stand up in defense of it. On the role of the UN General Assembly (GA), President Lajcak submitted that while it does not deliver binding decisions, it can level the playing field by giving all member states the same voice and same platform to have their issues heard.
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