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23 May 2018

The UN, Human Rights and Russia: Part II

By: UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee

This is Part II of a IV-Part Series which will be released on a weekly basis, and will detail Russia's human rights record in the United Nations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) considered Russia’s human rights record through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process during the week of May 14th. This review will take place as part of the UNHRC’s third cycle of reviewing all Member States’ implementation of international human rights commitments through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism established after the 60thanniversary United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) summit. Most of the issues discussed in the remainder of this paper are not so much about the human rights situation in Russia itself but about the interplay between Russia and the UN’s human rights system. If you missed the previous part of the post please read it here

Russian and the UN Human Rights System 


What has been the role of the Government of the Russian Federation (and previously the USSR) with regard to the evolution of the UN human rights framework, what are its official positions today, and how does it employ its diplomatic and other tools to advance, hinder or shape the UN's human rights work? 

Russia (and previously the USSR), as a major world power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has played a key role in shaping the UN approach to human rights throughout the world. As the state recognized internationally as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation inherited both a set of international legal obligations in the field of human rights and a complex historical / diplomatic legacy for dealing with human rights issues in multilateral settings.

On the legal side, in the first instance, the USSR was a founding Member State of the United Nations that agreed (albeit reluctantly) that its purposes and principles would include “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion” (UN Charter, Article 1, paragraph 3). Moreover, the USSR was an active participant in the drafting and Russia has taken over the USSR’s status as a state party to almost all the international human rights instruments negotiated through the UN system. 

One part of the legacy inherited by the Russian Federation, however, is that the USSR was one of only two Member States that did not vote in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 (it abstained, along with its closest allies and South Africa). Another is that the USSR, after accepting the UDHR in principle and supporting the adoption of legally binding instruments to further define human rights obligations, was constantly among those states most actively seeking to limit the scope of those obligations and increase the number of permissible limitations which could be imposed on the exercise of human rights by individuals. The USSR was also among the states most opposed to the establishment of any independent oversight bodies at an international level that would have investigative powers or a mandate to deal with matters deemed by the state concerned to be “essentially within [its] domestic jurisdiction”.[1]

The Soviet Union was also always at the forefront of efforts to deflect attention from individual civil and political rights, where it was clearly at a disadvantage, while placing emphasis on economic and social rights or collective rights. The USSR also gave lip service to the right of peoples to self-determination in the context of decolonization (while rejecting its applicability to territory and peoples under Soviet domination) and to “security” (including the rights to life, peace, and development). Soviet and then Russian approaches to human rights in the UN system must be seen as part of a continuum, not only because of the legal continuity of Russia as the USSR’s successor state but also due to a large degree of continuity among personnel and policies from the Soviet period into the present day. Many of the positions taken by Russian diplomats at international meetings in the second decade of the 21stcentury are quite similar to those taken by Soviet diplomats in the early 1980s.

At the same time, it must be recognized that first Soviet and then Russian policy toward these issues evolved radically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at least rhetorically accepted international norms on human rights, openness and electoral democracy. The radical shift from traditional “hardline” Soviet policies perhaps culminated in Russia’s support for the outcome of the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. On that historic occasion, Russia joined the broad international consensus that agreed among other things on the establishment of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (which the Soviet Union had consistently opposed) along with the transformation of the historically weak UN Human Rights Centre in Geneva into a more robust Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Russian statement at the conclusion of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights included the following remarkable passage:

“The final document has confirmed that every individual belongs to the human family in general and is neither the property nor an instrument of the State and that human rights are therefore not the internal affair of any one country. In the past it was precisely our country, the former Soviet Union, which initiated the sad tendency to evade control or criticism by invoking sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. We spread this cunning idea throughout the world, pressing it on many. Unfortunately our resourceful disciples are still numerous and active. We therefore feel a special responsibility and are particularly satisfied that we have been able to record, in the final document, that the defence of all human rights is a subject of legitimate concern to the international community and that, notwithstanding the specific circumstances of different States, every one of them has a responsibility, notwithstanding those specific circumstances, to promote and defend all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”[2]

PutinSubsequently Russia agreed to many innovative mechanisms within the UN system and the rapid expansion of OHCHR. Nevertheless, by the early 2000s Russia began to revert to a position which was more critical of – in some cases hostile toward – much that the UN human rights machinery was doing. This tendency could perhaps be correlated quite roughly with the election of a new Russian president in the year 2000, although this would be an oversimplification; Russia had already strongly opposed the concept of humanitarian intervention, for example, as advocated by Western countries in the context of the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Russia’s opposition to robust UN action on human rights has become more pronounced over the past decade, however; it has been particularly strident since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, intervention in Eastern Ukraine, and active military involvement in the Syria conflict. 
*Photo Credit: PRI
 
Russia expressed a particularly dim view of the UN Security Council (UNSC) delving deeper into human rights issues during a recent thematic debate chaired by the United States, when the Russian representative:

“Shared the concerns of those who feared that human rights might be used as a means to exert power over other countries.  He went on to say that it would be impossible to guarantee respect for human rights without first guaranteeing peace and security, stressing that preventing and settling armed conflicts were the main prerequisites for correcting human rights violations, and not vice versa.”[3]

This position has been expressed in recent years not only through opposition to UN resolutions relating directly to Russia and its interventions in Ukraine but also to vetoes of multiple Western-led efforts to expand the human rights focus of the UNSC (specifically including vetoes of draft UNSC resolutions addressing human rights, for example, in Myanmar and Syria).[4]

Several sources have documented what they describe as an increasing alliance of Russia with other leading human rights violators, including China, to thwart UN actions perceived as threatening to national sovereignty.[5]It would be inaccurate to suggest that such efforts have always been successful or cost-free, however. The Russian Federation failed to gain election to the UNHRC in 2016, when the UNGA decided by secret ballot to seat other candidates from the Eastern European Group of States rather than the Russian Federation. This was the first and thus far only case in which a UNSC permanent member sought but was not elected to the UNHRC. In fact, it was a rather rare case of a permanent member failing to be seated in any UN subsidiary body to which it was a candidate. Most observers attributed Russia’s failure in this case to its position on Syria, which drew opposition not only from Western and other states with strong human rights records but also from a broad group of Arab and other Islamic countries.[6]



[4]http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/middleeast/russia-unsc-syria-resolutions/index.html; While generally resistant, Russia has not consistently blocked the UNSC from taking any action on these human rights matters; for example, had Russia objected, the UNSC President would not have been authorized to issue a strong statement “on behalf of the Council” on the situation Myanmar on 6 November 2017 (see S/PRST/2017/22





14 May 2018

The UN, Human Rights and Russia: Part I

By: Human Rights Committee

This is Part I of a IV-Part Series which will be released on a weekly basis, and will detail Russia's human rights record in the United Nations.

Part I: 
The Impact of Russian Diplomacy on the UN System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and the Role of the UN System in Addressing Human Rights in Russia

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is considering Russia’s human rights record at its May 2018 session. This review is taking place as part of the UNHRC’s third cycle of reviewing all Member States’ implementation of international human rights commitments through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism established after the 60th anniversary United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) summit. UNHRC scrutiny of Russia at a 2013 session produced more than 225 recommendations from other Member States, over 160 of which Russia undertook to implement in full or in part.[1]

Russia is also the subject of a series of UNGA resolutions adopted since Russia’s 2014 occupation and illegal “annexation” of Crimea. These resolutions all condemn human rights violations in Crimea and call on Russia as the occupying power to address these abuses. Most recently, in December 2017, the Assembly adopted A/RES/72/190, “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” by vote of 70 to 26, with 76 abstentions. In so doing, the Assembly urged the Russian Federation to uphold all its international legal obligations as an occupying Power and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a second thematic report by the end of the current session.[2]

The regular review of Russia’s human rights record through the UPR process and the unprecedented attention to Russia’s responsibility for human rights abuses in occupied Crimea make it timely to consider the broader context in which these developments take place. In particular, given the scrutiny that Russia’s record is now receiving, it may be of interest to review the role that Russia and the Soviet Union have played over the years in shaping the evolution of the UN system for the promotion and protection of human rights. Similarly, to place the most recent developments in historical context, we may consider how the human rights performance of Russia (and previously the USSR) has itself been scrutinized by UN machinery.

Without extensively addressing the substance of particular human rights violations in Russia, we can proceed from the premise that very serious and large-scale violations of human rights were systematically perpetrated in the Soviet Union, that serious abuses continued to take place in the Russian Federation throughout the post-Soviet period, and that such abuses have again become much more widespread and systematic over the past several years.[3] In its final report on the September 2016 parliamentary elections in Russia, for example, a mission fielded by the leading regional multilateral human rights and democracy institution noted that “democratic commitments continue to be challenged and the electoral environment was negatively affected by restrictions to fundamental freedoms and political rights, firmly controlled media and a tightening grip on civil society.” [4]

pic1cap2Most objective observers suggest that the situation continued to deteriorate in 2017 and early 2018 in the run-up to the 18 March 2018 presidential elections which President Vladimir Putin won in a landslide. As the most prominent anti-Putin politician and well-known blogger Alexander Navalny called on fellow citizens to take a stand against corruption, galvanizing them by the release of a documentary focusing on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged abuses, widespread protests were met with disruption and large-scale detentions. The lack of freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is an issue that the people of Russia have learned to deal with by being creative with their dissent. But with the limited action taken by the government to fix the issues that the people see to be the most important, these dissenters are taking their anger and frustration to the streets. The authorities have responded, in turn, with increasingly draconian measures allegedly targeting “extremism” and “foreign agents” but actually designed to limit the space for political and social dialogue. An International Election Observation Mission deployed for the March 2018 Presidential elections concluded that “restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression, as well as on candidate registration, have limited the space for political engagement and resulted in a lack of genuine competition.”[5]

Most of the issues discussed in the remainder of this piece are not so much about the human rights situation in Russia itself but about the interplay between Russia and the UN’s human rights system. Some of the key questions which remain to be answered are to what extent the UN human rights system can serve as a valuable vehicle to address human rights violations in Russia (or any other country) and how effective the UN system can be in addressing such abuses, at a minimum to draw attention to serious concerns and if possible to encourage actual improvements in the situation faced by individual victims of human rights abuse.



14 May 2018

Headstart on Lifelong International Engagement: 14th Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference


MUN18-6On Friday April 27, 2018, over 600 students, educators, parents, volunteers, and guests gathered at the U.S. Department of State and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the 14th Annual UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model United Nations Conference.   

The conference welcomed 5th to 12th grade students from nearly 40 schools and groups from not only the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, but also as far as Texas and Lebanon. Throughout the intense one-day conference, student delegates debated possible solutions to important international issues from the perspectives of their countries. They covered current topics like renewable energy, the crisis in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, sports diplomacy & gender equality, crisis of malnutrition, and the crisis of child soldier. Acting like true diplomats would, students participated in a variety of middle school and high school committees: the UN Environment Programme, the UN Security Council, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board, the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as UNICEF.  

MUN18-2The conference was opened by Paula Boland, the Executive Director of UNA-NCA, and Mark Schlachter, Public Affairs Director of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs a the U.S. Department of State (pictured right). Mr. Schlachter started his remarks by honoring Dean Acheson, the former US Secretary of State and a central figure in America’s foreign policy, after whom the auditorium of the opening ceremony was named. He then highlighted the close connection between attending MUN conferences as student delegates and a future career in foreign affairs, encouraging students to continue engaging in international affairs both in and out of the classrooms. Then the audience had the pleasure to enjoy a welcome video from Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Ambassador Haley stressed that while the issues that student delegates discuss might change from conference to conference, “the importance of diplomacy continues.” You can click here to see her video!

Munira Khalif, the US Youth Observer to the UN, speaks to the studentsThe Keynote Speaker for 14th Annual GCDC Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State and PAHO was Munira Khalif, the 2017-2018 U.S. Youth Observer to the UN (pictured left). Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Munira’s experience as a first-generation Somali-American raised her awareness of the sad reality that many children, especially girls, lack the opportunity to attend school. She dedicated her work to female empowerment through education, and encouraged the students at the conference to align their skills with their passion, and continue to engage in global issues and the work of the United Nations. Stephen F. Moseley, the President of UNA-NCA also spoke, reminding students their ability to connect with the rest of the world at this age and congratulated them on a head start in a lifelong engagement in international affairs. Lastly, Queen Balina, the 2018 Global Classrooms DC Secretary-General, officially opened the conference.


“I really liked this conference, especially because it was the first of many GCDC Conferences I will do in the State Department. Thank you!” – 8th Grader from Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC


MUN18-3With the ceremonies concluded, students found their different committee rooms and began their morning sessions. Meanwhile, educators and guests gathered in the Delegates Lounge for the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland greeted the guests and highlighted this year’s conference sponsors and partners. Special thanks to AIRSCHOTT, O’Melveny Law Firm, the National Education Association, Estate Production, The Griffis Family, Morgan Stanley, Starbucks at 21st & P St NW, and all those who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program for your generate support! After the Open House, educators and guests had the opportunity to visit different committee rooms and witness the students in action.

Into the afternoon, the delegates continued working together with other to draft resolutions that outlined their ideas and solutions to solve their committees’ respective challenges. Many Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, or college students and professionals with extensive Model UN experience, shared with the conference staff that they were extremely impressed by the students’ preparation and the quality of their performance.

MUN18-5The educators had the opportunity to attend the the Professional Development Workshop, engaging with educators through innovative global education activities and getting vital feedback on the year-long GCDC curriculum as well as the conference.

The closing ceremonies featured D. Josiane Lee, Recruitment and Outreach Officer at the  U.S. Department of State, who introduced available programs and scholarships available to high school students sponsored by the State Department. UNA-NCA Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon the student Secretary General Queen Balina then gave out the committee and position paper awards to recognize outstanding work done by participating students.

In its 14th year, the GCDC Model UN Conference continued to provide opportunities for young students to fully immerse in global education, discussing some of the world’s most pressing international issues with student delegates from diverse backgrounds, while learning from inspiring leaders and professionals in the field of foreign affairs.  

Thank you again to all our speakers and a very special thank you to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization for the continued support throughout the years.


“This is my first time participating in the GCDC conference, and I am very satisfied with what I have learned, and the experience.” – 11th Grader from Alpha Kappa Alphia Sorority, an education enrichment program in Maryland



UNA-NCA also thanks the United Nations Federal Credit Union, and other GCDC Spring Model UN Conference sponsors and supporters. Thank you to Elliott Lyles for continuing to photograph UNA-NCA events. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – this conference would not have been possible without your support!

MUN18-4




10 May 2018

Our Mission is More Important Than Ever

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

This year, the mission of UNA-NCA is more important than ever to engage our fellow citizens in the Maryland, Virginia and DC area to better understand and support U.S. engagement and leadership in the United Nations, and to provide our full share of funding. You are well aware of the major threats to the UN from some policy leaders in the US, and 30 to 50% cutbacks for operations and specialized UN agencies proposed again this year. 

Your personal financialsupport for UNA-NCA is critical for our mission. Dues paid by over 1,000 members – including free membership for students – represent less than 10% of our budget.  Our ability to carry out programs is dependent on the generosity of many individuals who make gifts to UNA-NCA beyond their membership – in amounts from $200 to $10,000.  In addition, a few very generous families devote as much as $25,000 through their foundations.

Every donation directly supports our programs on Peace and Security, International Law, Sustainable Development, Human Rights, Gender Equity and our UN Graduate Fellows program.  Our Young Professionals program provides career and leadership development opportunities. Our flagship year-round education program, Global Classrooms DC, serves hundreds of middle and high school students throughout the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. Our Advocacy program has reached national and local policy leaders to provide education on critical and timely issues and increased the number of members in contact with public officials. 

Please consider increasing your gift by 10% or more over last year to sustain these programs.  We will continue to seek contributions from new members and expand outreach to more of our neighbors and young people to engage them for the long-term support of US engagement with the UN.  Too many people still have little understanding of the critical role played by the UN directly and indirectly for peace, development, justice and a safer environment for all of us.

Most of our work is carried out by a large number of volunteers who lead our program and advocacy committees and serve as board members. Your donations enable us to pay for a small but hardworking staff, and a modest office operation including rent, materials development, communications, and program support.  In addition, all board members and volunteer officers individually make or facilitate donations of $500 or more each year.   

Through our Board of Directors and Advisory Council, and with the representatives from UN agencies in the DC area, we are fortunate to have outstanding working relationships with many of the most active foreign affairs policy and development leaders in our community. We both value their volunteer time and support. 

This is a critical time to strengthen America’s historical partnership with the UN.  Most people throughout the world recognize that, even during difficult times in relations between our government and others, most of our citizens are deeply committed to building good relations through diplomacy.  Our common interest is for all to have prosperity, peace, justice, a safe environment, and to meet needs of the poorest, including the largest number of refugees in modern history from natural disasters, war and violence.  The United Nations with active leadership support from the United States is critical to progress in meeting these goals. 

UNA-NCA wants your help and support to strengthen these ties, and especially to ensure that our programs continue to engage our youth and young professionals -- to fully understand and appreciate how the UN makes a difference for every generation

Please respond to this appeal now, on-line through our website UNANCA.org via credit card; or send a check to UNA-NCA, 2000 P Street NW, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20036. Any member can join our UNA-NCA Legacy Circle by making a monthly donation of $25 or more as an automatic payment, arranged easily through your checking account or credit card.  If you would like to discuss other gift arrangements for UNA-NCA, please call 202-223-6092 or write to us at anytime at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

With your personal, volunteer and financial commitments, we at UNA-NCA pledge to make a difference for creating a better world every day.  Thank you so much.



09 May 2018

Keynote Speaker Inspires Future IR Professionals at the UNA-NCA Spring Career Dinners

By Tselmegtsetseg Tsetsendelger, YP Communications Director, and Robert White, YP member

IMG_5419
The UNA-NCA Spring Young Professionals’ Career Dinner was fortunate to have Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, co-founder of the (International Civil Society Action Network) ICAN and former recipient of the UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, as a keynote speaker this year. Sanam weaved stories of her own career journey and stories of other women from Nigeria to Afghanistan, about strength, and resiliency as an inspiring factor of her career and drive to continue her work. She spoke of the women in conflict zones rising above their uncertain climates to create lasting impact in their communities and why investing in women is proportionate to investing in the larger community.

“I have been fortunate because, in the 22 years of doing this work, I have always found the woman peacebuilder. I have also found that every one of them talks about the boys, the sons, the husbands, the fathers, and so forth. So through women, we get to everybody.”

In addition, Sanam outlined the challenges that tomorrow’s leaders will face in their fight to fulfill the promise of the UN Charter. To provide guidance and share lessons learned from her own career journey, Sanam imparted six thoughts on career choices for young professionals:

One: know yourself

Two: know when to reach out for knowledge or use your imagination for a solution

Three: have integrity

Four: have empathy

Five: care

Six: do with excellence

Following Sanam’s speech, the participants of the Career Dinner went to attend their respective dinner topics. This year the event featured six different topics ranging from 
IMG_5491
Global Partnerships to International Education, during which the participants had the chance to discuss changing career fields, working in an uncertain political climate and engaging in the workforce as a young professional.

Every year the UNA-NCA Young Professionals’ team is excited to connect mid-career and expert professionals with passionate young professionals to deepen the participant’s knowledge of the field from an insider’s point of view. The next career dinner will take place in the fall of this year and we look forward to seeing you there!



27 April 2018

United Nations Association Hosts Premier Model UN Conference at State Department

Global Classrooms DC, the flagship education program of the UN Association of the National Capital Area, will host its 14thAnnual Spring Model UN Conference on Friday, April 27th at the U.S. Department of State and Pan American Health Organization. The conference is the largest partner event held at the Department of State, bringing together over 700 students, educators, volunteers, and guests. Throughout the rest of the year, Global Classrooms DC works with teachers and students in order to increase youth engagement in international affairs by means of improving public speaking, conflict management skills, and understanding of global issues.

This year’s featured speaker is U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, Munira Khalif. Her experience as a first-generation Somali-American citizen has heavily influenced her strong advocacy for universal access to education and women’s and girl’s rights. Through her commitment to the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, leadership of youth non-profit, Lighting the Way,and advocacy efforts to guarantee girls education in developing countries, Munira seeks to highlight the transformative power of education on an international scale. 

Our students appreciate the opportunities provided by the conference, which not only expand the parameters of their academic life, but also lay the foundation for their growth as global citizens. This year, the students will be discussing a variety of topics and working together to come up with solutions. Students will represent countries from every corner of the globe, and focus on sports diplomacy and gender equality, renewable energy, crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region, malnutrition, and child soldiers. 

Attendees at this year’s conference will include students and teachers across the DMV region, in addition to diplomatic officials, local government, foundations, and business representatives. Some of which include the UN Federal Credit Union, Culturfied Foundation, O’Melveny & Myers, and more. 

For more information and to confirm participation, please contact Global Education Managing Director, Nicole Bohannon, at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



11 April 2018

Report on the Highlights of the 62nd CSW


By Sydney Spencer, Program Assistant, UNA-NCA

8,000 nongovernmental organizations from all over the world attended this year's 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the highest attendance in the commission's history.

On April 4th, UNA-NCA in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding, hosted the event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women.”

The event was moderated by Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW and UNA-NCA Board Member and featured the panelists Jordan Hibbs, Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy; Helena Minchew, Program Officer at the International Women's Health Coalition; and Kimberly Weichel, UNA-NCA Advisory Council Chair.

These women provided attendees with invaluable insight into the 2018 CSW including its positive takeaways, member state commitments, and areas in need of improvement.

Overview of the 62nd CSW

For those who don't know, the CSW is the key intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and female empowerment. Since 1956, the CSW has held an annual two week conference for UN Member States, civil society organizations, and UN entities to discuss pertinent issues facing women.  

This year's topic focused on rural women and the unique and unjust burdens they experience including unequal land rights, early marriage, and violence. These issues were not only discussed in an assembly of Member States, but also in the form of subtopic-specific sessions occurring at multiple times throughout each day of the conference. Concluding the CSW, a set of Agreed Conclusions is established with the purpose of unifying the global direction for gender equality and female empowerment.

The 62nd CSW Agreed Conclusions

Panelist Helena Minchew gave a thorough and candid overview of the Agreed Conclusions set at this year's CSW. She highlighted some of the document's important victories such as protecting women human rights supporters. The document also included clauses calling for the protection of women of all diversities and a recognition that women's lack of agency over their own lives is an infringement on personal well-being. Lastly, Ms. Minchew discussed another monumental clause acknowledging that forced child marriage is a barrier to female education.

Pertinent Topics Omitted from the Agreed Conclusions

While this year's Agreed Conclusions contained many ground breaking topics, it left many issues untouched. The document had no mention of abortion even though unsafe abortion is a large factor in maternal mortality, especially in rural areas. The conclusions also left out any language regarding intimate partner violence, another detrimental phenomenon impacting women all over the world. Of equal concern is that LGBTI issues were left untouched in the Agreed Conclusions and also in the CSW subtopic sessions. All of the panelists made it clear that there is significant progress to be made for future CSW conferences.

 A Lack of Presence from Key Stakeholders

All of the panel members expressed frustration with respect to the lack of rural women physically represented at the 62nd CSW, an issue that was mainly attributed to visa complications. Unfortunately, many of the rural women - especially from the global south - were denied entrance into the U.S.

Antonio Guterres's Priorities for the UN

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was commended for his acknowledgment of areas for gender equality improvement within the UN. To address these areas, Mr. Guterres set three priorities for the UN's internal body. The first of these goals included reaching gender parity within the UN. Although the top governing roles within the UN have reached parity, there is still a need for improvement amongst the middle and lower UN roles.

The second priority addresses a crucial flaw within the UN - sexual abuse of UN peacekeepers. Mr. Gueterres has called for the elimination of this behavior from UN peacekeepers and has implemented standardized mandatory training for all peacekeepers.

Finally, Mr. Guterres called for an end to sexual harassment within the UN. He has reinforced this priority by establishing training for UN staff and creating multiple victim advocacy groups for staff. While there still remains many crucial issues to be addressed at next year's CSW, Antonio Guterres reaffirmed the world that as an entity, UN is committed to gender equality.

To learn more about the 62nd CSW, you can view the broadcast from our event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women" here



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!



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