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14 March 2019

With Renewed Vigor: Highlights from the 2019 Global Engagement Summit

By Andrew B. Doll, Managing Director of Programs and Membership

IMG_1207-2The United Nations Association of the USA is the country’s leading grassroots advocacy movement in the United States with over 20,000 members spread across over 200 chapters.  Their members are committed to global engagement and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in their local communities. This year’s Summit marked a record participation and commitment to building a strong US-UN partnership.

This year, under the banner of “Shared Partnerships – Shared Responsibilities”, previously known as “Members Day,” the Global Engagement Summit brought together over 1500 dedicated UN Advocates and over 100 universities in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to help strengthen our mission and resolve through high level keynote remarks and panel discussions on topics such as humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, the UN and partners on the ground, and the affect of local leadership on the SDGs.

As one of the largest chapters of UNA-USA, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) made a strong showing with over 50 IMG_2945leaders from across the generations, including Past-Presidents, staff, program assistants,  graduate fellows, and committee leaders.  Originally, from Japan and currently studying Education at the George Washington University, UNA-NCA Program Assistant, Aika Okishige, called the experience, “One of the most memorable experiences I have had in my life.”

Convening in the General Assembly Hall, in the seats of diplomats and world leaders, can be a surreal experience.  “Although I knew in advance that I would be attending the 2019 Global Engagement Summit,” said UNA-NCA Program Assistant Thomas Oggier, “I did not really process that fact until I was standing in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. The realization of the fact that I was in the focal point of the world’s leading multilateral institution, was truly an awe inspiring moment.”

The summit began with one of the most anticipated and inspiring moments as UN Secretary-General António Guterres walked onto the floor of the General Assembly Hall to meet, shake hands, and take photos with participants before his keynote address.  A highly respected, yet casual and approachable leader, the Secretary-General welcomed participants with a call for bolder climate action.  Today, I am asking for your help in sounding the alarm and highlighting the solutions,” asking all to make the topic trend via #ClimateAction.

Climate Action and change were recurring themes during the summit, not only during the plenaries, but also throughout the breakout sessions.  These sessions provided “an extraordinary opportunity because it connects you with inspiring speakers from all over the world,” said Program Assistant Marietta deJulio-Burns, who attended the Action Track session “Shared Action for Human rights: The UN and Partners on the Ground” featuring H.E. Mr. Milenko E. Skoknic Tapia, Permanent Representative of Chile to the UN, and Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project.  Such diversity of panelists truly provided an enriching experience by covering a wide range of issues within a limited time. Other panel topics IMG_1154included “Cities and the Sustainable Development Goals” moderated by former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award recipient, Gillian Sorensen; as well as “Conflict Resolution and Humanitarian Response: Yemen,” and “Planet Earth: Partnering for Urgent Climate Action.”  Click on the session titles to watch the livestream of the Summit, or click hereto view other sessions.

Special sessions took place at lunchtime, including a workshop about the UN Universal Periodic Review Process and opportunities to engage members in domestic consultations this fall; and a session at the U.S. Mission to the UN to learn about careers in the Foreign Service. The Summit was followed by a happy hour jointly hosted by the Young Professionals from the Southern New York Division and UNA-NCA.

The Global Engagement Summit was an opportunity for UNA members – regardless of chapter – to recharge our batteries and be reminded of the importance of our work. But, it can’t end there.  With renewed vigor, the take away from the Summit must be to engage with our peers, our communities, and our leaders to advocate for sustainable policies and actions.  Learn what you can do with the Global Engagement Summit Action Guide.

13 March 2019

High Alert to Support Full UN Funding

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

This week, the Administration presented its Fiscal Year 2020 Proposed Budget to Congress for October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. The budget proposed will dramatically reduce U.S. support of the core activities of the United Nations by nearly 25% and further proposes even greater reductions and elimination of US support of many of its operational agencies and other specialized agencies. Congressional leaders for foreign affairs policy and appropriations have already stated this week that the proposed budget is "dead on arrival", and that they will fight to ensure that the support for the State Department diplomacy remains strong. Additionally, they wish to secure resources to strengthen the UN and support the U.S. humanitarian and development aid both multilaterally with the UN and bilaterally with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We need to increase and voice our support to stop such attacks on the budget of the UN and U.S. diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

This marks the third year in a row that the President has called for dramatic cuts in international affairs spending, effectively proposing that the U.S. wash its hands of leadership and responsibility for building peace, aiding the growing numbers of people in desperate poverty and dire health emergencies and instead, lower the U.S. level of support for peacekeeping forces. The budget also proposes a dramatic shift from the balanced effective organization of emergency humanitarian aid, which is carefully articulated between the delivery systems of the UN and the direct aid from USAID, and bureaus of the State Department. The Administration proposed a new agency under U.S. government control, which while sounding like a management improvement, would both jeopardize the global alliances and effective agencies of the UN, likely interfere with collaborative efforts with other major nations, and include a cut back of over 30% in funding of such humanitarian aid from the U.S.  The new agency proposal masquerades as a new effectiveness and efficiency plan, while in fact covering up the reality that this approach will put even more people at risk of starvation, poor health, and economic instability. Such actions are often the very ingredients that fuel terrorism and violence in many parts of the world and undermine national security interests.

The proposals and budget changes would roll back the improvements made in addressing world poverty over the past 25 years. It would place many nations’ plans at risk by lowering education opportunities, especially for girls, increasing the health risks of global pandemics, which cross borders to all countries. The threat to economic stability for many countries in not making advance investments through humanitarian and development aid and maintaining peacebuilding and peacekeeping to prevent wars from spreading or regenerating will only lead to the longer run need for increased resources in the decade ahead.

We know from recent polls that our own U.S. citizens consistently say that maintaining a strong UN and sound investments in American Diplomacy for collaboration with other like-minded countries are sound and essential investments for sustaining democracy and finding peaceful means to resolve and prevent conflict. These international investments in American diplomacy through foreign aid and UN support amount each year to less than 2% of the total U.S. budget and, within that small amount, U.S. funding for the UN programs is less than 1/4 of 1% of the U.S. annual budget. What could be more cost-effective? We also know that if the U.S. Department of Defense had to send U.S. troops to keep peace in the more than 16 UN Peacekeeping Missions operated by forces drawn from other countries, the cost to the U.S. would be more than eight times than it costs currently, and more American lives would be directly at risk.

For several years, UNA-NCA members have joined with other organizations and UNA-USA chapters from across the country to help Congressional Members more fully understand these important funding needs. With many new Members in the 116th Congress, the education about the roles and programs of the UN will be even more critical this year. Our Advocacy Committee has already begun these meetings, and we look forward to more members participating in and supporting this part of our mission.

Please read here the more detailed analysis of the proposed budget prepared by our colleagues from the Better World Campaign. To see an excellent overview of the top program priorities for the UN's work around the world, see their report this month titled "Promoting Peace, Projecting Strength: the U.S. and the UN in 2019."

08 March 2019

DMV Proclamations for International Women's Day 2019

District of Columbia Mayor's Office Proclamation


Montgomery County Executive's Proclamation


06 March 2019

UNA-NCA February Advocacy Visits

By Bonnie Worstell

Last week, experienced members of UNA-NCA’s Advocacy Committee and staff visited six offices in a two-day advocacy effort. The teams met with staff of representatives hailing from Maryland and Virginia to discuss the issue of fully funding UN assessed obligations, in anticipation of the approaching 2020 Omnibus Budget discussions. On Tuesday, advocates met with staff of newly elected Denver Riggleman (VA-5) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), followed by a visit with the staff of house veteran Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2). On Wednesday, they met with staff of newly elected David Trone (MD-6), house veteran Rob Wittman (VA-1), and newly elected Abigail Spanberger (VA-7).

Every three years, representation from each country negotiate the UN assessed dues for the UN Regular Budget and the UN Peacekeeping Operations. In late 2018, the U.S. completed its most recent negotiations on the “scales of assessment,” lowering our dues for UN Peacekeeping to 27.8% and maintaining 22% responsibility of the regular budget. However, legislation passed in 1995 limits Congressional appropriations to peacekeeping operations to no more than 25%. In the past, Congress has acted in a bipartisan matter to overturn the limitations 80 percent of the time.

However, in the past two years, the U.S. has failed to overturn this limit and has thus accrued over $500 million in arrears for UN Peacekeeping. Advocates visiting the offices asked that in addition to fully funding our existing obligations in 2020, and voluntary contributions to specialized agencies, the U.S. appropriate to pay back the arrears as well.

The visits with staff of the two newly elected representatives included a thorough introduction to UNA-NCA and its many programs and activities, as well as explaining our relationship with UNA-USA and the Better World Campaign and sharing personal experiences with the UN.

Rep._Riggleman_visitThe first visit on Tuesday was with Mr. Jason Eagleburger, Legislative Assistant for Foreign Affairs for Representative Riggleman (VA-5). During his career in the U.S. Air Force, the representative had encountered the work of the United Nations. After hearing the position of our advocates, Mr. Eagleburger shared that the representative supports a strong US-UN partnership. The team further discussed the Congressman's concerns about the continuing unrest in Haiti despite long-term UN Peacekeeping involvement.

Rep._Wexton_VisitSecond, the team visited with Mr. Mike Lucier, the Legislative Director for Representative Wexton (VA-10). UNA-NCA advocates were able to share more information about the work of the United Nations, and were delighted to hear that Mr. Lucier would be joining the UN Foundation in a visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York City that week to learn more. The program assistants, who joined the meeting, shared with Mr. Lucier their experience at the recent UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit, in which Secretary-General António Guterres underscored his dedication to serving youth globally.

UNA-NCA works to provide professional development opportunities for Program Assistants in many ways, including inviting them to join advocacy visits with Congressional staff. UNA-NCA’s spring interns described the experience as “a great opportunity to work on my public speaking,” and an opportunity to gain “more insight on what it means to be an advocate.”

Ruppersberger_visiThe last meeting on Tuesday was with Mr. Walter Gonzales, Deputy Chief of Staff for Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2). UNA-NCA has meet previously during past Hill visits with Mr. Gonzales on a variety of UN-related issues. Mr. Gonzales expressed his personal support of the UN, which included a UN Foundation sponsored visit to two recently successful UN conclusions of UN Peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. Besides discussing the issue of full funding, the team discussed possible future collaboration.

David_TroneThe next day’s first meeting was with Ms. Jessica Semachko, Legislative Correspondent for Representative Trone (MD-6). In this meeting, advocates explained the issues at hand while highlighting the Congressman’s ability to make a difference, given his position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Due to the Congressman’s interest in education, the advocates also provided more information about UNA-NCA’s flagship education program, Global Classrooms DC, and the UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program.

Second, the team met with Mr. Chris Ragsdale, Defense Fellow, for Representative Wittman (VA-1). UNA-NCA volunteers discussed the value of UN Specialized Agencies as it pertains to their capacity to help accomplish the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A priority of Virginia’s first Rep._Wittman_visitdistrict is water and oceans, due to its position on the coast, thus, advocates discussed the efforts of SDG 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The team emphasized the importance of appropriating these “voluntary” contributions to the related UN Agencies concerned with the environment.

Lastly, UNA-NCA advocates met with Ms. Kara Benson, a Legislative Fellow handling Foreign Affairs for Representative Spanberger (VA-7). Ms. Benson emphasized the Congresswoman’s intention to work across the aisle to pass legislation in relation to her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Although the Congresswoman fully supports a strong US-UN partnership, volunteers underscored the value of the UN to the U.S. Research Rep._Spanberger_Visitin 2018 showed that the UN brought in $1.74 billion in contracts with American companies in 2017, including millions to Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.

The UN continues to be a vital partner for the U.S. by providing an occasion to promote American values abroad and working towards peace among nations. Studies have shown that a majority of voters (79%), across party lines, agree that the UN is needed today.

The challenges facing the global community have changed since the UN's creation, and the UN must evolve and adapt alongside these issues in order to adequately respond to the challenges facing the world. This is a prime opportunity for the United States to increase its support and demonstrate its leadership and values on the world stage. After all, our participation greatly enhances U.S. national security, diplomatic, economic and defense interests.

UNA-NCA invites members of our chapter who are interested but not yet engaged in our Advocacy Committee to contact our Vice President for Advocacy, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , about getting involved in future advocacy opportunities. The committee aims to do Congressional visits quarterly in order to engage all of your Representatives with relevant issues relating to the UN, and fulfill UNA-NCA’s mission to “increase public understanding and support of the United Nations, encourage constructive U.S. leadership in strengthening the United Nations, and prepare present and future leaders to work for a better world, both globally and locally.”


27 February 2019

World Bank is uniquely placed to combat threat of pandemics

By Richard Seifman, UNA-NCA Board of Directors
This article was originally published by the Financial Times on February 25th.

Your article “Pandemic bonds under scrutiny” (February 21) points to the global inadequacy of dealing with future pandemics. It is not “if” but “when” and “where” there will be another infectious disease outbreak requiring extreme measures to control.

One institution capable of leading a serious response is the World Bank. It can convince the financial decision-makers of developing countries that dealing with infectious diseases early on is critical for their economies and livelihoods. In other words, it can make a compelling case for containing pandemics before they reach others.

Pandemics not only potentially kill millions but are also a major barrier to economic growth everywhere. A severe pandemic can cut global gross domestic product by up to 1 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is about $570bn. That’s 0.7 per cent of worldwide income.

Prevention, preparedness, detection and response can safeguard lives and remove obstacles to trade, travel, tourism and education. The costs of a pandemic are likely to be in the billions, and ultimately in the trillions, whereas much smaller amounts paid now for prevention would be a far more effective investment.

The Gates Foundation, Unicef and the World Health Organization, among others, are engaged in any pandemic fight. But none of them can mount the kind of collaborative effort needed to prevent the global spread of deadly diseases such as Ebola or Zika.

The World Bank is perfectly placed to play a unique role in containing the spread of potentially catastrophic illnesses. It is going through a change of leadership, with David Malpass proposed by the US as its new president. But whoever takes charge, making pandemic investments must be a priority.

Richard Bissell

Former Assistant Administrator, USAID

Richard Seifman

Board of Directors, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area
Technical Review Panel Member, The Global Fund, Washington DC, US

06 February 2019

UNA-NCA High-Level Panel Discussion Addresses Migration from Central America

Read Event Coverage Here

10 January 2019

This Year and Beyond, We Must Be More Vigorous

By: Stephen F. Moseley, President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

Dear Colleagues, members and friends of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area,

The start of a New Year is a wonderful opportunity to review and reassess how we are performing and accomplishing our association's mission to enhance U.S. engagement with the UN to improve its effectiveness and work globally. We are proud of the exciting programs we conducted through-out the year on Human Rights, Global Classrooms, international law, anti-corruption, UN day, and the work of UNICEF. We are also proud of our enhanced advocacy with citizens and policy leaders in our community and with Congressional leaders. These are just some of the efforts. 

In turn, we can be proud of the progress of the UN, in it’s partnership with other global, multilateral and bilateral international institutions to address long standing goals which have improved the lives of millions of people around the world. These goals include significant increases in life spans for most people with better heath, more nutrition, more schooling at most levels for more children, protection and championship for human rights, especially women’s rights, and progress in setting goals for improving the environment to halt climate change, and to accomplish  breakthroughs on limiting nuclear weapons. 

There are now new strategic plans in place at the UN under its new leadership to increase investment in the management of violence and conflict prevention before conflicts break into warfare, to have reviews against measurable indicators of progress by every nation on the sustainable development goals. Internally, the UN's leadership has a management team with 50% women as of 2018.

Some UN sponsored talks are finally underway to find a peace for Yemen, facing the largest humanitarian disaster in recent history with millions of starving children. For our work this year and beyond we must be more vigorous in the face of many changes and challenges around us.  There are many new faces and voices in the incoming class of congressional and state legislators, that also means for us at UNA-NCA, there are more key people that we must engage and educate about the UN issues and how they can best participate. 

More and more young people are willing and interested to participate in global affairs on issues of climate change and the environment, on human rights, on poverty alleviation and to work for violence reduction and peace building, even more so than peacekeeping in the traditional UN sense. 

UNA-NCA is now, while still the largest chapter of the UNA-USA family, part of the growing movement in over 200 chapters across the country in most states and in many communities and campuses. In the past year we are all too aware that the current U.S. Administration has pulled out of its membership in the UN Human Rights Council and recently announced it will not support or attempt to enforce the findings and work of the Human Rights Special Envoys; it has stopped any U.S. national government efforts to support the global goals on climate change and continued to say it will pull out of the Paris Climate Change accords agreed upon in 2015; it has given only scant attention to the SDG's; and  has continued to threaten the financial support by the U.S. of most of the operating agencies that receive significant support from the U.S., including the UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women  and many others. 

In the past year, the Administration doubled down to prevent any legislation that would allow the U.S. to make payment to and maintain membership in UNESCO, and has recently refused to issue the funding appropriated to the UN Relief Works and Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), on a bipartisan basis from Congress, for the health clinics and schools for innocent children in Gaza. The reduced participation by the U.S. on a collaborative basis with the other UN members, is now undermining the achievements led by the U.S. for almost 75 years which has set high standards for human rights, sound and effective humanitarian assistance in the midst of wars, and natural and man made disasters, the thoughtful management of refugee crises, and global migration trends. Most sadly, there is now the risk the U.S. policies and decreased resources could reverse the dramatic gains made by all of us together for eradicating severe poverty, stemming the growth of new wars, stopping health pandemics which can threaten everyone in both rich and poor countries, make uncertain the actual climates needed for global food production, and reduce the stability and opportunity for economic growth in all countries which depend upon a process of global cooperation among countries, which is enhanced and reinforced every day through the dialogue among member states at the UN. 

For our work ahead this year we need your support and participation, and more volunteers to join our advocacy work, our substantive program panels, our support for the 1,500 kids we serve in global classrooms in 5th through 12th grades in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and we need your ongoing contributions to support our small staff and office for this work.

Please regularly read the Thursday UN Express that we publish and circulate to some 17,000 people every week, and look at our website for updates about programs, the names of our staff, program leaders, Board of Directors and Advisory Council members who all do so much to move us forward.  Let us know if you would like to volunteer more in these programs, become regular members of the working program committees, and to be considered in our 2019 and 2020 elections for program leaders, board members and Advisory Council members. 

Stand up and join in making our work this year even more successful in fulfilling our mission to making the UN and the world it serves, a better place for all of us and for our children and grand children. 


Stephen F. Moseley, President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area 


19 December 2018

Classroom Interactions Promote Model UN Training


Many schools were able to enjoy the Fall 2019 Model UN Training Conference on November 15. However, because of the inclement weather and surprise snow storm, Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon has been working with schools who were unable to come.

SchoolVisit3Over the past month, Nicole has ran two mini-simulations based on the same topic of the Fall Training Conference: the Global Opioid Crisis. Both simulations allowed students new to Model UN to practice their skills, even though they were unable to participate in a full day conference. Still, the shortened time frame allowed students a more intensive experience to practice Model UN and prepare them for the Spring 2019 Model UN Conference.

On November 29, Nicole visited Cabin John Middle School in Potomac, MD. The organizers at Cabin John Middle School worked with their coordinating elementary school to invite students from the 5th grade to participate, as well. Bells Mill Elementary sent a number of students who had practiced Model UN in their own group, but never before had been in as large as a group. With the combined number of students, about 75 kids were participating in a mini-simulation focused on discussing the Global Opioid Crisis.
On December 14, Nicole worked with students from Bullis School, also in Potomac, MD. About 10 students participated the workshop, and were able to work in double delegations, or a group of two students who represent one country together. This dynamic allowed them to come up with more ideas on how to address the issue, as well as learning to work more effectively in groups.

Both sessions were able to produce a number of resolutions, or documents that outline possible solutions to a problem. Although there was not enough time to vote on the different resolutions presented, the students have since been able to use those resolutions as follow-up to the sessions and improve on their skills. 

Read more about the Fall 2019 Training Conference Here

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