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17 January 2018

CEDAW in DC: Gender Equity Roundtable

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On November 30, 2017, the UNA-NCA CEDAW in DC Committee hosted a gender equity roundtable at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. The roundtable was both an educational forum and a planning session for an upcoming stakeholders’ meeting with the office of the City Administrator. Representatives from several local women’s rights organizations attended the event to learn more about the proposed gender audit of D.C. agencies and to share ideas for advocacy efforts. The roundtable began with a panel discussion featuring key members of the CEDAW in DC committee: Karen Mulhauser, Chair of the CEDAW in DC Committee; Karen Foreit, a senior health researcher; and Karine Lepillez, a senior gender and social equity consultant.
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10 January 2018

Renewing UNA-NCA’s commitment to US engagement with the UN for long term Peacebuilding, Development, and Human Rights

By UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley

Dear colleagues and friends of UNA-NCA,

As the 2018 New Year begins, I am hopeful that our work together will be able to improve the tenor of the debates in politics surrounding the US engagement with, and support for the United Nations. In my 50 some years of adult lifetime work US engagement at the governmental and NGO levels, our connections across the world have undergone many radical changes in purpose and mission. Throughout most of these years, under both Republican and Democratic leaders, the US government along with the majority of our citizens have maintained a commitment to contribute to improving people’s lives and opportunity for positive social and economic development. Importantly, even when we have had sharp political differences with a particular country, the US has been relatively generous with both treasure and talent, with a view that working together across borders and exchanging ideas across cultures has both a near term and long term mutual benefit. These benefits include national and individual opportunity, peacebuilding, poverty alleviation, and the effect of fostering US values of human rights and dignity for all.

At a minimum, the US has been steadfast in generous support of humanitarian relief efforts, including famine relief even in North Korea in the 1990’s.  Whenever US engagement is not planned and measured for mutual human benefit, the resulting interactions often cause conflict or outright warfare and build new barriers between people, cultures and nations which can take decades to overcome. As a rich country, our economic and social investments around the world in education, health, entrepreneurship, training, encouragement of democratic ideals, attempts at peacebuilding and peacekeeping have been usually well received. This is especially true when these actions have been planned and conducted in a full partnership with the people of the country, and in concert with other donor governments and agencies with common and collaborative agendas. 
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20 December 2017

Human Rights Awards 2017

On Thursday, December 7th, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted its annual Human Rights Awards Reception at the National Education Association (NEA). This event correlated with the 69th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10th.

Awards were presented to Ambassador Keith Harper (ret.), former US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva; His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Nancy Rivard, Founder and President of Airline Ambassadors International; and Bread for the City, whose award was accepted by CEO George A. Jones.
 
Click the banner image below to view the complete coverage of the evening.

Human rights Awards Reception

Click here to view photos from the event!

Download the full program booklet here. 



13 December 2017

Pull out of US from International Migration Conference by President Trump stuns global community

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

On December 3rd, President Trump abruptly pulled the U.S. out of participation in the Global Compact and International Conference on Migration. The purpose of the compact and the conference is to plan a more humane global strategy on migration in light of the extraordinary and historic levels of mass migration and suffering of refugees, migrants, and other displaced people – over 30% of whom are fleeing conflict and war. The president withdrew from the conference and the compact saying involvement in the process interferes with American sovereignty and runs counter to U.S. immigration policies.

This latest withdrawal by the president from consideration of how to help address one of the most devastating global issues – the need to support people's human needs – on the week of International Human Rights Day, is directly contrary to the vast majority of American’s opinion that the U.S. should remain engaged with such UN efforts to meet humanitarian needs and to support peace efforts in the face of global conflicts. The envoys of 193 other nations participated in the conference last week in Mexico.

When added to the president's earlier decisions this year – seemingly unilateral with consultation of neither key members of the administration or congress – such as the announcement to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Accords, further underlines the United States' unwillingness to provide constructive leadership with countries around the world.

Our UNA-NCA must continue to seek more opportunities to educate and convey how important and necessary are the historical ties and commitments of the U.S. to world peace and humane actions toward those most in need.




12 December 2017

Photo Gallery: GCDC Fall Model UN Training Conference

The Fall Model UN Training Conference was a great success! Students from nine different schools around the DC-area spent the day on November 16 discussing how to protect the human rights of refugees around the world. 

Global Classrooms DC is already working on organizing the Annual Spring 2018 Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State. This conference will be held on April 27, 2018, and you can click here to learn more. We will start looking for volunteers starting in January of 2018, and you can sign up here

See below for a selection of pictures from the Fall 2017 Model UN Training Conference:

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11 December 2017

UNA-NCA Stands Up For Human Rights

“This year’s commemoration of Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of seven decades since the adoption of one of the world’s most profound and far-reaching international agreements.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every human being and stipulates that every government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres’ message on Human Rights Day.

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area celebrated International Human Rights Day on December 7, 2017 with its Annual Human Rights Awards Reception at the National Education Association. UNA-NCA members and supporters stood up for human rights recognizing the outstanding work this year’s honorees are doing to improve human rights in their communities and around the world.

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His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was presented with the UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Award by Felice Gaer, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights and former UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn award winner.

“It is easy to fall into despair, even cynicism, when you see history repeating itself, protracted conflicts and accompanying impunity. But any student of international law and justice will understand that the fight against impunity, while sometimes terribly long, is a worthy one and that while the wheels of justice may be slow to turn, the masterminds of terrible crimes can be brought to justice.”
-His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights during an interview with the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee.  Read the full interview here.

Nancy Rivard, Founder & President of Airline Ambassadors, Inc., received the UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award presented by Annette Lantos, Jr., daughter of former UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award honorees Representative Tom and Mrs. Annette Lantos.

“We have to ‘walk our talk’ – have the courage to speak out for injustices we see in our own neighborhood, or, as a flight attendant, to report a potential trafficking case on an airplane. Many individuals, governments and companies think it is easier to close our eyes, and not get involved, not make waves, but in the long run that does not serve us, or our world. As the late Tom Lantos said "The veneer of civilization is paper thin, we are its guardians, and we can never rest.”
-Nancy Rivard, Founder and President, Airline Ambassadors during an interview with the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee.  Read the full interview here.

Ambassador Keith Harper (ret.), former U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, received the UNA-NCA F. Allen “Tex” Harris Diplomacy Award by Ambassador Jorge Lomonaco, Representative of Mexico to the Organization of American States.

“...Human rights must be real on the ground and close to home. If freedom of the press or freedoms of speech, assembly, and association are under threat “close to home,” it makes it far more challenging—perhaps impossible—to effectively promote these and other rights globally. One of the things that should hearten us over the last year is the engagement of Americans in all levels whenever there has been a threat to our shared values or the undermining of our national norms. This is precisely the reaction we should have.”
-Ambassador Keith Harper (ret.), former United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council during an interview with the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee.  Read the full interview here.

Bread for the City received the UNA-NCA Distinguished Community Human Rights Award, presented by District of Columbia Councilmember Trayon White, Sr., (8th Ward).

Justice has to be prioritized at home, if you are going to talk to the city and the rest of the world about how values of justice and human rights should lead modern societies, if we want to be seen as the beacon of change, we have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
-George Jones, CEO, Bread for the City during an interview with the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee.  Read the full interview here.

Many thanks to all who made it possible and stay tuned for full coverage and pictures!




07 December 2017

Human Rights Awards 2017 Remarks by Nancy Rivard

“It is such an honor to receive this award, especially from the Lantos family, as AAI was born in their office in 1996 and they have been a fountain of inspiration and support ever since.

Secondly because my late uncle, Ambassador Jonathon Dean, was president of this United Nations Association, he also was one of my great inspirations and one of the world’s foremost authorities on nuclear disarmament.

All of us want to harvest the fruits of a life well lived, but how do we do that?

By searching for a way that we, uniquely can serve.

My search began when I was 29 and my father died suddenly. This was the wake up call that caused me to take a step towards my Soul

I gave up my corporate job at American Airlines to become a flight attendant again, to embark on a profound search for meaning that took me all over the world, visiting remote communities in Peru, Thailand, India, S. Africa & more.

I also participated at global conferences starting with the UN Earth Summit, Women’s Summit, Social Summit Human Rights Summit and Habitat 2 where I met some of the best and brightest minds on the planet.

It became clear that we had to shift public consciousness to an understanding of our common humanity if we were going to solve the global problems that faced us. 

But how? I deeply pondered this and how I could use my life to be of service.

I noticed two things in all my travels:

There were millions of children in the developing world who lacked basic amenities. Clean water, food, medical care, access to education or a comfortable place to lay their heads at night.

I also noticed my colleagues in the developed world with too many things…that weren’t really making them happy.

Many wanted to make a difference, but they didn’t know how.

A way was needed for ordinary people to not only write a check to a charity…….but get involved themselves to bring Love into Action.

I also noticed that when I traveled I was more open to new experiences, more willing to open to a new point of view.

What if there was a way for ordinary people to match their unique interests and skills to actual world need?

Two things would happen:

Children in the developing world would receive humanitarian assistance they desperately need, and it would meet a need in the travelers themselves to express their fundamental kindness, selflessness and generosity.

The travel industry could play a more fundamental role building sharing, understanding & goodwill between peoples and cultures.

Helping generate political will to solve our common problems.

I had seen unused seats on the airplanes I flew, empty overhead bins and room in the cargo hold.  Why not use that space to transport humanitarian aid and mobilize flight attendants to hand deliver it?

They could become a role model for the traveling public!

I reached out to every airline CEO I could think of Inviting them to support my idea…

There was no response

I asked my flight crews “would you join me hand delivering aid to children in need?”

They looked at me as if I was from Mars, rolled their eyes and continued talking about shopping

Dejected, I went back to my apartment and inwardly said to God, “No one is the least bit interested in any of my ideas. How can I influence the travel industry, the largest industry in the world?  I’m just a flight attendant!”

I heard a response from deep within “Stop talking about it, Start doing it”

And so I did. That month I traveled to Bosnia, and hand delivered soaps, shampoo’s and lotions collected from layover hotels….to refugee women and children. These small gifts were received like gold…

The following month I escorted Maria Jose from Guatemala to New York for donated heart surgery.

The crew asked me what I was doing.

“I have this idea that we can use our pass privileges to help children and inspire others to do the same,”

“Add me to your list”, they said.

And once I made the first step, providence intervened, and I even met my husband who provided our first major humanitarian shipment of supplies to Bolivia.

By 1996, there were 500 names on the “list”.

We officially launched Airline Ambassadors as a non-profit organization, (in the office of the former Congressman Tom Lantos), providing a way for ordinary travelers to be a living link between world resource and world need.

We have accomplished far more than we ever dreamed escorting over 3,000 children for needed medical care and hand delivering over 60 million in aid directly to 500,000 children

Every month we saw vulnerable children, but it was not until 2009 after saving a little girl in Cambodia, we learned of a dark reality in our world.

As president of Airline Ambassadors, I knew we had to get involved in the fight against human trafficking.

Amazingly, the following month, our team correctly identified trafficking on 4 different airlines. One of those cases led to the bust of a pornography ring in Boston, saving 86 children.

Our efforts following this event led to the establishment of our third major focus at Airline Ambassadors: Raising awareness of Human Trafficking and how all travelers can put a stop to it.

Thousands of victims are trafficked across international borders annually. Traffickers move victims frequently to keep them powerless and exploit them for labor or sexual slavery.

We worked closely with Congress, Homeland Security and Customs Border Protection to develop the first industry specific training which we have given at 65 airports in the US and abroad.

In September a new study was released by the International Labour Organization, Walk Free Foundation and IOM estimating over 40 million slaves in the world today!

Victims are being auctioned off publicly in Libya for $400 – we cannot stand by and do nothing.

This is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, and a crime linked to drugs, arms and terrorism generating $150 billion in profits.

We appreciate the support of Congressman Chris Smith in helping us get the word out, as well as 12 other members of Congress. And are thrilled with the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 requiring the mandatory training of flight attendants in the US.

But there is more needed:

We cannot let the critical infrastructure of the transportation industry be used to facilitate trafficking.
As the late Tom Lantos said, “The veneer of civilization is paper thin, we are its guardian’s, and we must never rest.”

My husband is presenting for us today at the Interpol Conference in Doha, Qatar on the global reporting tool we developed.  The TIP Line App (free on Google and iTunes) which you can download to your phone to report suspected trafficking anywhere in the world.

Many of us in this room travel frequently for business or pleasure.  We can be more aware of children and who they are traveling with, or young women traveling alone.

Are they frightened, ashamed or nervous?

Afraid of uniformed security?

Are they under the control of a traveling companion?

Each of us can be alert to the world around us and have the moral imperative to report suspected incidents.

Your action can save a life.

I want to share a poem taught to me by one of my great mentors – Millard Fuller founder of Habitat for Humanity:

"A drop in the bucket is only a drop

A minor and moist detail

One drop can’t change the color and taste

In a 10 quart watering pail

But if that drop has the color of love

And the taste of tears divine

One drop dropped into the vessel of life

Can change the water to wine.”









07 December 2017

Human Rights Awards 2017 Remarks by George Jones, Bread for the City CEO

First, allow me to thank you, Councilmember White, for joining us here tonight and for presenting Bread for the City with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s 2017 Human Rights award.

On behalf of our Board Directors, our Staff and all the people we serve, it is my honor and privilege to accept this wonderful award to Bread for the City.

Thanks so much to the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area for recognizing Bread for the City with this prestigious award.

When I began to think about my remarks for tonight’s ceremony, I had no doubt that it would be easy to look on the United Nations Association’s website to find alignment between UNA NCA’s goals and Bread for the City’s. As it turns out, it was easier than I thought. A quick look at United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and I immediately saw that goal numbers 2, 3 and 10, end hunger, ensure good health and end inequality respectively. Those 3 aims describe the social justice issues that Bread for the City has prioritized and focused on for over 4 decades.

Since 1974, Bread for the City has provided the DC families and individuals living on low incomes free food, medical care, clothing, legal and social services. We’ve offered the basic supports to our fellow community members to help them gain daily access to these services that we truly believe are human rights for all people. Over the same period and more and more intentionally, we have partnered with our community members to advocate for the institutional and structural reforms needed to address the systemic inequities. I believe addressing these inequities is key to eliminating the inequality experienced by people with low-incomes living in DC; people who are almost exclusively people of color.

In truth, all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) provides the world a comprehensive blueprint for making cities, states and countries more just and well sustainable. Still, it was the first SDG, “Ending Poverty in all forms” that I found especially powerful and inspiring. It reminded me about a recent conversation that took place among a group of social justice advocates here in DC. We were there to discuss the things we wanted to push DC policy makers to address, and the meeting quickly devolved into a debate about a handful of incremental budget requests. Like funding for few hundred more housing vouchers, improving the design of DC homeless shelters and extending the “TANF” (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) time limits.

I found myself becoming inpatient about this modest list of familiar budgetary and policy demands. I suggested to the group that we risked doing the same thing, asking for the same incremental investments that would doom us to the same middling outcomes we’ve seen in previous years. Incremental investments that allowed the growing income and socioeconomic divide that grips not only DC, but is playing out in every urban city in the United States.

Disparities that as the United Nations (UN) knows better than most, are replicated to varying degrees in every continent and country throughout the world.

I was asked for, okay I wasn’t asked, but I finally said why aren’t we making a more audacious request of our local government. Why aren’t we asking our policy members to commit to addressing the economic injustice unfolding in DC in complete and comprehensive way?

Though I didn’t say it as simply as the the UN has, I in effect suggested we should demand that our public policy makers adopt a vision that says we will end Poverty in DC in the next 30 years. I knew that after the civil rights era the idea of ending poverty was viewed by many in the general public as unrealistic and out of vogue.

But I was a little stunned at the instant pushback I got from this room of advocates, many who had spent years, even decades in the social justice space. My fellow advocates suggested; “ I was not being specific enough”, we would put more realistic policy and budget request at risk. One person said I was being pie in the sky, and seemed prepared to leave the room if we didn’t get back to our more sensible asks.

I assured these peers of mine that I understand that change and progress takes place in stages, and that there is in fact little risk of economic reforms happening in anyway but incrementally.

But as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his 1964 nobel peace prize acceptance speech, “there is nothing new about poverty, what is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.” In Washington DC, we have the resources to get rid of poverty. And like Dr. King, and the United Nations Association, Bread for the City believes that it is important to state explicitly, that our goal is to end Poverty.

This award we are receiving tonight from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area inspires and obligates all of us at Bread for the City in the fight to end poverty in Washington, DC.

Thank you!



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