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13 April 2021

Global Health Initiative: Investing in African Health Care in The Wake of COVID-19

By Laura Rodriguez, UNA-NCA Communications and Membership Program Assistant

On March 25, 2021, the UNA-NCA African Affairs Committee hosted a virtual panel discussion that covered topics including the importance of economic investment and unique collaborations within African health care. Using the framework of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, the evening’s panelists came together to discuss the challenges that have been exacerbated as a result of COVID-19 across the continent of Africa and presented hope and opportunities in the form of solutions. 

UNA-NCA African Affairs Committee Chair, Lydia Daniels, kicked off the event by expressing the goal of the committee to “engage NGOs in capacity-building efforts in several African countries impacted by the global pandemic.” She connected this back to the goal of the presenters and discussion of the night — to highlight the tools and resources that NGOs and partners can use to initiate solution-building in the region. 

Carolyn Nganga-Good, the Branch Chief at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), introduced the first of the five panelists for the night, Dr. Yolanda Ogbolu, the Chair of the Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice Department and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Nursing (UMSON) and School of Medicine. 

Dr. Ogbolu outlined the gaps in technology between low human development countries in Africa compared to high human development countries like the U.S., and proposed the challenge of looking at development through a global lens with the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, “The developing world carries 90% of the disease burden, yet poorer countries have access to only 10% of the resources that go to health.” Given this, Dr. Ogbolu stressed that, “health is wealth,” since lower-income communities will experience poorer health across the board. Dr. Ogbolu noted that “people and countries are really cracking because they’re focusing under the assumption that money is the most important thing, but power is the real protagonist of the story: power of the few, powerlessness of many, collective power of those fighting for change.” Ending on an optimistic note, Dr. Ogbolu pondered the topic of African progress in the midst of COVID-19, stating that while some countries were not able to give large protections, “some gave cash or free electricity, or advance their digital services much faster than what was anticipated.” She also noted the important establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will potentially allow the region to become more self-reliant and fulfill services such as the distribution of surgical masks and medications. 

Following Dr. Ogbolu, Eric Friedman, J.D., the Global Health Justice Scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health and Project Leader for the Platform for a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), spoke on the importance of rights-based governance for global health in the post-pandemic world. Mr. Friedman touched on the possibilities that could arise in forms of solutions to the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, such as: the establishment of universal healthcare to improve surveillance and detection of infectious diseases; enhanced accountability and participation, which would combat community mistrust of current health systems and authorities in the sector as well as give a voice and equity-based solutions to marginalized populations in the region; the right to health in all sectors; and lastly, avoiding action with “extraterritorial effects that undermine the right to health such as the hoarding of resources like vaccines and medicine.” Mr. Friedman also spoke about the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), a proposed global treaty with a mission of ensuring global and domestic health equity and accountability.

The conversation took a more in-depth look at economic growth with Dr. Hezekiah Adesanya, the former Philadelphia Area Chapter Chairman and Board Member of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA), who honed in on the pharmaceutical industry in Africa as a “strategic regional growth driver.” Dr. Adesanya highlighted the connection between the industry’s ability to meet community medical needs across the region, reduce disease burden, all of which “directly impact GDP, and increase the prosperity and economic well-being of a nation or demographic of people.” He proposed a several-point strategy to accomplish this growth, including innovation and research to discover new entities or improve upon existing ones, as well as improve commercialization and develop a strategy to maintain a good market share both locally and globally. Dr. Adesanya signaled the potential of already growing pharmaceutical markets in places such as Nigeria and other nations within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWA), stating that when properly harnessed, “these existing growth opportunities will spur economic growth in all areas.” He also focused on the importance of members of the African diaspora community in combating misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and access and other information gaps in the region regarding the healthcare sector. 

Dr. Val Okaru-Bisant, the CEO & Founder of Afrocosmo Development Impact, LLC, spoke about the crucial role of female-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, and the resilience under pressure that they have demonstrated amid the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Okaru-Bisant depicted SMEs as the backbone of Africa’s economy, with 80% of the workforce in most African countries working in this sector, and more than 50% of which are women. She also stated that most of the women and individuals within the SME sector make up the informal sector as well, which connects to the “six survival challenges” that AfCFTA member nations face: the formalization of the informal sector, and lack of incentives to do so — such as affordable licensing, registration, and infrastructure costs; technical skills development; the challenge of scaling up, particularly for female and youth-owned SMEs; both financial and non-financial capital; and lastly, education on business and trade policy at the grassroots level. Dr. Okaru-Bisant ended by noting that “optimistically, female-owned SMEs in Africa are very resilient,” regardless of the survival challenges they face. 

The last speaker of the night, Dr. Njide Okonjo-Udochi, President of the Millennium Health Group, PC, explored topics including the role of donor agencies, the state of healthcare on the African continent, and vaccine rollout initiatives across the region. Dr. Udochi pointed out that 3.4% of the COVID-19 infection worldwide came out of the African continent, with an approximate 2.4% case fatality rate. She stated the importance of bilateral and multilateral donor aid from NGOs, local governments, as well as philanthropic and private sector collaboration in the forms of programs, grants, tenders, contracts, open funding opportunities, and other innovative aid initiatives. Dr. Udochi also noted the lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic, through the implementation of early lockdowns and strict government-backed public health initiatives — despite the many challenges that the health care sector faced such as a lack of trained medical personnel, equipment, or testing supplies. She ended her portion of the discussion on the progress of COVID-19 vaccine accessibility or lack thereof, stating that through the Covax initiative, 600 million doses, or 20% of the population has been vaccinated. She stated “government agencies have to focus in order to help many countries improve their logistics as well as storage for the vaccines, not only for now but also for the future.” 

After addressing the need for implementing strategies to support sustainable and efficient health systems, along with the important synergy of African government support, investors, and donor agencies in meeting community needs, the panelists then transitioned into a Q&A session, during which they addressed the value of the African diaspora community abroad in implementing change on the African continent by leveraging their expertise and accessibility to technology. 

Above all, the role of technology and the mentality that “health is wealth,” are crucial in building an effective, collaborative and long-lasting response to the issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Dr. Ogbolu stated, “I am because we are,” stressing that if the COVID-19 crisis is addressed and tackled in Africa, it will impact the whole world. By addressing the power dynamics that dictate the severity of the issues that marginalized populations face across the continent — not just the power of international bodies and organizations such as the UN and the WHO, but also the shifting of power to the people who need it the most. Queshia Bradley, the Program Development Manager for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, closed the event by stating that the “unique landscape we find ourselves in for collaboration and public and private partnerships” provides an opportunity to keep questioning and finding innovative solutions to current-day issues, as well as engaging in capacity-building efforts to strengthen potential in the region — whether it be within the pharmaceutical industry and education sector, or scaling community commerce. 

30 March 2021

What’s Atomic Energy Have to Do With Pandemics? It Will Surprise You!

By Richard Seifman and A. Edward Elmendorf, UNA-NCA Board Members

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded in 1957 at the dawn of global interest in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and as a means to determine and inhibit the extent to which a country is producing nuclear material which can be used for military purposes, including nuclear weapons. What most of us know about IAEA is its expertise in responding to nuclear accidents, as was the case in Japan with the Fukushima reactor, and in conducting conventional nuclear inspections of its 172 Member States. The most intensive attention has concerned its inspection responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015.

But the IAEA has and fulfills many other functions building on its mission as the international authority to “encourage and assist research, development and the practical application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.”

So, what does this have to do with COVID-19, epidemics, and pandemics? Everyone agrees we need to find ways to get ahead of future infectious diseases, any one of which can be devastating for mankind. A multisectoral approach for doing so lies in understanding and responding to the infectious disease interface between human and animal health, called “zoonotic diseases”, or more broadly the human-animal- environmental health linkages, referred to as “One Health.” Last September we disseminated a draft speech for a middle-income country for possible use in the UN General Assembly to propose that the UN Secretary-General convene an expert group to set out a UN One Health strategy.

Initiating practical action in the spirit of One Health under what could become one component of a larger UN strategy for One Health, the IAEA Director-General, Rafael Grossi of Argentina, has proved himself prescient in understanding that multidisciplinary capabilities involving United Nations agencies, academia, and the private sector, are needed. He sees IAEA as having an important role to play and is bringing this nuclear watchdog into the fray. As an article in the March 24, 2021 Foreign Policy Editors put it succinctly, “Rafael Grossi Has a Plan to Stop Future Pandemics:”

“On Grossi’s watch, the Vienna-based IAEA is deploying its extensive network of laboratories around the world, mainly in association with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up a global early warning system for animal-borne viruses, which are sure to follow COVID-19 and possibly become future pandemics.” And, it won’t just detect them if all goes according to plan. Grossi last June launched the so-called ZODIAC program, an acronym for Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action, which can potentially use such technologies as nuclear irradiation (a sterilizing technique used in blood transfusions) to destroy threatening viruses before they spread into another global pandemic.

“I think by this summer, we are going to already deliver equipment and training, especially to focal points in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America,” Grossi told Foreign Policy in an interview from his headquarters in Vienna.

Foreign Policy reported, “Grossi’s new initiative builds on previous IAEA efforts, including Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory — a network to help the IAEA’s 172 member states improve laboratory capacities to detect and control diseases threatening livestock and public health early. The agency is also working with the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health to monitor crops worldwide.”

This IAEA initiative is more than welcome by a global community continuing to experience the health, economic and social affects of COVID-19, and frightened about what might come next without ready answers. A very good start IAEA: We need to follow and support adding “nuclear” to our arsenal against a common enemy — infectious disease.

15 March 2021

UNA Tribute to Ed Luck

By Toby T. Gati, President of TTG Global LLC

Ed and I came to UNA-USA at about the same time.  I was one year ahead of him in completing  the Master’s Program at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and Ed graduated from Columbia and joined UNA-USA the following year.  We were always a team, working together for almost two decades on every program that UNA-USA undertook.   We worked on policy issues of national importance, and developed the  Parallel Studies Programs with the USSR, China and Japan which  brought so much international acclaim to  UNA-USA.  We also wrote articles together for scholarly journals and for newspapers and magazines on American foreign policy and the UN, as well as on the challenges facing the international system.  We both had front row seats to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and worked tirelessly to inform policymakers and academics about the monumental changes that we knew were coming.  When we wrote our articles or policy papers, we would exchange ideas while sitting in Ed’s office and then decide who would write which paragraphs.  When it came time to put our thoughts together into one piece, they almost always meshed perfectly.

While I had the luxury of running policy programs, Ed, as President and CEO, had to run a large, complex organization that required full time management, diplomatic and representational skills, as well as  the ability to fundraise.  Ed succeeded at all these tasks and left UNA in much better shape after ten years than when he became President in 1984.

At work, Ed always treated everyone with respect and valued their opinions.  He cared about people and their everyday concerns, as well as about policy issues.  Those who worked closely with him also knew that he had a wry sense of humor, which I am sure helped him get through some of the tough times he faced both at UNA and at the UN.

On a personal level, he was a fiercely loyal friend and colleague.  He also adored his wife Dana and his daughter and nothing made him happier than to sit and talk about their successes.  He and Dana often held events for the UNA  staff at their beautiful home  and all of us looked forward to these gatherings.

In 1992, I left UNA-USA to work in the Clinton White House on US-Russian relations and US policies towards the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union.  Ed went on to an incredibly successful career at the United Nations, including as the first Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and  UN Assistant Secretary-General. The list of other important positions he held and the themes he wrote on is simply too long to list here.

A lot of people in countries around the world -- probably none of whom knew Ed personally -- benefited from his commitment to R2P and his unceasing efforts to make the UN function better.  At the same time, students who attended  Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs were able to benefit from Professor Luck’s  immense knowledge of international relations and conflict resolution.   

And now Ed is gone.  It is an enormous loss, both personally and professionally.  I have never known anyone who cared more about what he did, and especially about how our country could develop a better foreign policy at  the UN and how the United Nations system could be more effective.

Whatever he did, he did with enthusiasm and commitment. Ed, I will miss you.

11 February 2021

GCDC Educator Professional Development Workshop Provides Tools for Model UN Success

On February 3, 2021, Best Delegate, a global Model United Nations education organization, graciously hosted the Global Classrooms DC Professional Development (PD) workshop virtually. The PD workshop, hosted yearly by GCDC, serves as an opportunity for educators to gain a deeper understanding of Model UN to set their students up for success during simulations. With support from the Rotary Club Foundation of Washington DC, the one hour session welcomed middle and high school teachers from private, public charter, and public schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from schools across the nation in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Minnesota. 

Using Best Delegate's How to Prepare for Virtual Model UN Conferences on Zoom Guide, the session focused on the 10 steps to prepare students for virtual Model UN simulations and the upcoming GCDC Spring 2021 Model UN Conference. Model UN serves as an opportunity for students to be curious about the world around them and learn about UN actions and global issues. In simulations, students are assigned countries to represent and advocate for on different issues – just like in the real United Nations. The activity is also one of the most effective ways to teach students critical skills, including writing, negotiation, researching, and public speaking. As a member of the GCDC Community, the year-round program, educators gain access to a full school year of 8-unit curriculum on UN policies, procedures, and global affairs to prepare the students. 

For the purpose of the workshop, participants were presented with the topic of “Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” in an UN Office for Outer Space Affairs committee. The session began with a breakdown of how to best approach researching the committee topic using the information included in a background guide. In Model UN, this guide serves as an introduction to the issue that delegates are debating. The background guide oftentimes includes key topic areas that students will focus on during committee.

Since students serve as delegates for one country during a Model UN simulation, the session next covered best practices in researching country profiles, as well as brainstorming resolutions for the topic. In breakout rooms, educators were encouraged to come up with their own solutions on the topic presented in the beginning of the session, as well as how they would share information about the research process with their students. During the discussion, one participant noted that it is important for students to have a model for a successful international solution, such as the sustainable development goals, so that they are able to analyze why those particular solutions have been effective.

The Model UN Professional Development session concluded with an overview of how to prepare students for success in a Model UN committee. Using the information outlined about the research process, educators were presented with best practices for opening speeches and creating resolutions. Through the one hour workshop, both new and seasoned Model UN coaches felt confident that they would be able to use the information learned from the session to help their students prepare for success in future Model UN conferences.

Missed the workshop? Watch the full video here.

28 January 2021

UNA-NCA Welcomes the Biden-Harris Administration and US Re-Engagement on the Global Stage

The UNA-NCA Board of Directors and staff congratulate and extend a warm welcome to President Biden and Vice President Harris for their active and prompt engagement to serve the needs of all Americans through domestic and foreign policy initiative supported by outstanding appointments to the Cabinet and senior policy teams.  

Those of us in the UNA-USA family are committed to engaging our members and communities towards the renewal of close working relations with our congressional representatives for positive and cooperative support of the United Nations. At this time of crisis with COVID-19 raging across the U.S.-greatly impacting our economy and families' wellbeing, we see how important it is for the U.S. to be playing a leadership role along with other countries through multilateral means. Our opportunity to find cooperative economic ties for intertwined global and national economic growth, to join in the Covax collaborative for vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution to countries, both rich and poor, and to find new approaches to lower the temperature of major threats to peace and security, are essential for our own well-being across America. 

The immediate actions by the Biden-Harris Administration in just its first week have demonstrated a stark difference to their predecessor’s stance on multilateral affairs.  From rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, to continue active membership and support of the World Health Organization, and launching an active and immediate effort to give asylum to and process qualified immigrants from all countries including people of Islamic faith, among many more actions, demonstrate to our citizens and those around the world that the US is committed to reengage as a leader and partner on the global stage. 

This week has been instrumental in forming the Biden-Harris Administration’s foreign policy and national security teams.  On Tuesday, Anthony Blinken was confirmed as Secretary of State, bringing a lifetime of excellence in foreign affairs, and yesterday was the confirmation hearing for the US Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Linda Thomas-Greenfield who also brings extensive diplomatic experience in Africa and other parts of the world.  Also former US Ambassador to the UN and former National Security Advisor to President Obama, Susan Rice, has joined the new Administration as head of the Domestic Policy Council. In addition, former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, will lead the US Agency for International Development, and serve on the White House's National Security Council. 

These appointments reflect the recognition by the new Administration that our domestic and foreign policy issues are intertwined, demonstrating the need for highly qualified public officials who think constructively about US common needs along with the interests for peoples’ well-being everywhere.

The UNA-NCA agenda for 2021 for full support and positive engagement of the US in the international community, including its fair share of financial support, is fully aligned with the new Administration’s priorities. Our programs will emphasize the development and growth of our youth and young professionals in understanding foreign affairs and the UN and building skills to become agents of change.  UNA-NCA has and will continue to accomplish this through its Global Classrooms DC, Graduate Fellows, and Young Professionals programs, all of which have been adapted to effective virtual platforms. These programs continue their partnership collaborations with several UN agencies, State Department, NGOs as well as area schools and universities.

Our advocacy programing is helping engage and train new advocates to join in concert with our officers, board members, and advisory council members to be effective "ambassadors" to our Congressional delegations and to our community at large about the critical needs for UN support and partnership with the US. Increased contributions are made on relevant topics through the Coffee Chat Series as well as briefing memos and blog contributions. 

Our ongoing programs in Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, Human Rights, and International Law reflect the interlinked themes of the 2030 Agenda embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This monumental agenda was in large part possible due to the leadership of the Obama Administration, and we will continue to carry on that legacy with the involvement and commitment of the new Biden-Harris Administration. 

UNA-NCA will, through a year-long research project on all 17 SDGs, map the status and challenges for our DMV jurisdiction. This project will help us understand and interrelate the common local and global goal needs and relationships. We will also continue to stress in our advocacy outreach to Congress and to our state and local officials the opportunity and benefits of the integrated multisector approach needed to make immediate improvements in our citizens’ lives locally and to realize the actions and investments needed for sustainable changes.

In welcoming the new Biden-Harris Administration we want to continue to reach out to our members, leaders, young professionals, and students to say that your interests and devotion to a sound and constructive US-UN engagement are the guiding principles behind our programs and initiatives which are increasingly aimed at engaging our colleagues across gender, race, ethnicity, origins, and generations. Our programming will remain virtual as long as needed to ensure the good health and safety of everyone. Please continue to communicate and participate with us regularly. 

20 January 2021

Results - UN75 - Global Conversation

The UN’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, saw UN75 as an opportunity for the organization to listen to the people it serves.

Throughout 2020, the UN carried out its most ambitious effort to date to consult the global public, working closely with UN offices at the regional and country-level, as well as partners from all sectors. It asked people what they most want for the future – and what they most fear. It also asked about their expectations of international cooperation and the UN in particular. 

The results were communicated through the following reports:

13 January 2021

Walking for Freedom: Experiencing Venezuelan Displacement Through a VR Lens

Panel Discussion on the exodus of Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela
By Amy Olejniczak, Sustainable Development Committee Member


On December 17, 2020, the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its nonprofit partner USA for IOM facilitated a discussion about the displacement of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, following the presentation of Walking for Freedom: A Venezuelan Story at the Global Migration Film Festival.

Walking for Freedom: A Venezuelan Story is an immersive 360° documentary short describing the journey of Venezuelan refugees and migrants across the Simón Bolívar International Bridge that links Venezuela and Colombia. The film encourages viewers to quite literally walk a mile in the shoes of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and experience their heart wrenching plight as they walk away in search of new opportunities.

The exodus of Venezuelans is the largest in recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 5.4 million Venezuelans are living outside of their country as of November 2020. That number is expected to reach 6.2 million worldwide by end of 2021. Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador are their main host countries. A number of difficulties surround refugees and migrants from Venezuela, including decreased income, greater health risks, familial losses, pandemic-related challenges, and increased gender-based violence. 

IOM Washington Chief of Mission Luca Dall’Oglio opened the event, which took place on the eve of International Migrants Day. He highlighted the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the precarious conditions facing Venezuelans across the region. The film’s production team then participated in a panel discussion to discuss their experiences filming and the current situation. Maria Moreno, Head of Operations and Private Sector Engagement for USA for IOM, moderated the panel.

Carlos Macher, Director of Walking for Freedom, shared that he hopes to “represent and portray a story that needs to be shared and told in a 360-degree way to open our eyes to the reality before us and is growing.” 

Executive Producer Juan Pio Hernandez’s drive is sharing the Venezuelan story and changing the narrative around refugees and migrants. Juan Pio says that the imagery in the documentary short “helps the audience conceptualize this place. With virtual reality, we don’t have a frame anymore… it bridges the gap of being there.”

Macher describes his experience filming at the Simón Bolívar bridge, noting “an artificial bridge has been built and you can see the difference at the yellow doors. As a Peruvian, it is heartbreaking seeing two countries and populations who are historically friends so divided.” He remembers going to the border and the remains of trucks offering aid blocked from entering Venezuela.

This is the epicenter of the crisis. The filmmakers experienced the solidarity in the stories of those who give this movement depth and purpose firsthand. Hernandez says the experience was very emotional and seeing the country’s destruction has been difficult.

Hernandez describes life for Venezuelans in their own country. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed even more opportunities to continue to help. The production team was filming in May and June of 2019.

The situation has worsened since this period. Moreno emphasizes that from the UN’s perspective, there is currently a massive inter-agency emergency response underway in an attempt to assist about 3.3 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Refugees and Migrants Response Plan 2021 calls for $1.44 billion to address the increasingly urgent health and socioeconomic-related needs.

Viewers can visit walkingforfreedom.org to see and share the film. The production team calls for action from all: Funding is needed. The crisis is worsening every day. Macher encourages viewers and advocates to commit to action where they can and beyond. It can be as simple as “sharing a post on Instagram or a link to the film.” He adds, “let’s focus on resilience and let’s talk about contributions Venezuelans bring to our society.” 

In closing remarks, Tom Bradley, UNA-NCA Vice Chair of Programs echoes, “let’s work for Venezuelans, advocate for them, support them, resettle them, and make their lives better. They are willing to work to make their lives better – we just need to give them the chance.”

For more information on the film, please visit: http://www.walkingforfreedom.org/ 

06 January 2021

Brian Urquhart (1919 - 2021)

By Ok Pannenborg, UNA-NCA Advisory Council

Credit: UN Digital Archives 

A giant of international relations and universal peace has left us

Last Saturday one of the most consequential leaders of the world's international system in the 20th century passed away at the venerable age of 101. Brian Urquhart arguably was the most accomplished global peace arrangement implementor the world had in the second half of the 20th century and may well join the historical pantheon of the great and the good, next to presidents, economic and social leaders and thinkers, world religious leaders and philosophers and kings. While most of these were or are national or issue-specific protagonists who achieved global recognition, Urquhart was a global leader by nature. As the number 2 at the U.N. for many years, he was seen and respected as a shepherd of the world's international order and system, as a global representative of the world community. While he was born British, he became the quintessential universal leader whose nationality and origin were felt to be irrelevant. His early joint learning experience with Indira Ghandi whom he was in class with at primary school gave him an early feel for the diversity of perspectives that would guide the shape and reach of the international system following the Second World War and emergence of the newly independent states from colonial rule. 

Brian Urquhart's significance lay in his unparalleled ability to implement and bring to fruition the newly minted values, norms and standards embodied in the multitude of United Nations' treaties, conventions and arrangements. Recalling the unique importance of conceptualizing and elaborating the new world ideas, postulates and standards agreed upon in the charters and covenants of the United Nations by such luminaries as Cassin, Malik, Chang, Falk, Myrdal, Röling, Abi-Saab, Galtung and many others, it was Urquhart who subsequently became the prime mover to actually translate these into practice in the real world of major conflict, national political contentions and geopolitical risk. Concepts such as universal peace, individual or collective self-defense, equal rights and self-determination, prohibition of use of force, non-intervention in domestic affairs, war crimes, and human rights and fundamental freedoms are all lofty ideals and currently globally accepted standards, they can remain distant in the letter of international law if not actually applied and regionally, nationally or locally enforced: it was here that Brian Urquhart set the gold standard and showed that these had meaning in the real world and should and could become an integral part of a more peaceful and better human condition. 

His military experiences in WW II, his sense of humor in combination with his phlegmatic calm in crisis, his irreverence and his understatedness guided his successes in lowering temperatures and successfully preventing conflict and war from the 1950s into the 1980s in the Middle-East (Suez, Lebanon, Cyprus, Sinai, etc.), Africa (Congo/Katanga, Namibia, etc.), Asia (Kashmir, etc.) and many other places, all the while overseeing the U.N.'s peace-keeping forces and their deployment (the U.N. 'blue helmet' was among his ideas to ensure they could be distinguished from other forces).

Appropriately, his work and approaches on behalf of the greater good and interests of the world community as a whole, as brought together under U.N. auspices, were recognized by the awarding of the Nobel Prize in 1988 to the U.N. Peace Keeping Forces. 

As students and practitioners of the principles of the United Nations and its Associations around the world -and in particular our U.N. Association here in the U.S. Capital Area- we will miss Brian Urquhart as our shining light of 'can do': while continuing to further develop deeper and better understanding and codification of U.N. ideals and values, we will remember him for a long time to come as the best 20th century champion for implementing these principles in practice among all conflict parties involved, with understanding, humor, tolerance and flexibility but equally with determination and mutual-interest-convincing, for those communities whose well-being and future often is dependent on their actual application.

See BBC radio piece by Mark Mallock-Brown here (45.00 minutes in).

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