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28 June 2017
UNA-NCA Participates in UNA-USA 2017 Leadership Summit
Over 300 members and supporters from 40 states attended last week’s UNA-USA Leadership Summit, with both leadership and members from the National Capital Area turning out in full force. More than a dozen panels and discussions involving high-ranking UN officials, covered issues ranging, including personal experiences working on submitting local recommendations through the UN commissions; building partnerships for the Global Goals at the local level, and sharing chapter best practices. That was just the first day! Advocacy_Day

One of the panels discussed how to turn the same passion kids learn in Model United Nations into advocating for the UN itself. At the Annual Spring Model UN Conference held at the State Department this year, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson emphasized the same message. He encouraged the students attending the conference to pursue their passion in international relations, and use the skills they acquired in Model UN beyond school. Being able to speak up and advocate for issues young people care about translates into any interest they pursue.

The second day of the Leadership Summit was just as packed with talks around international action on climate change, UN plans for women and girls, and much more. They also covered the refugee crisis, which one of the most recent UNA-NCA events elaborated on. The event, moderated by Patrick Realiza, Chair of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee, served as a platform for refugees to share their first-account stories. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions aims to find peaceful means to end the lasting violence, and finding people-to-people connections to contextualize what’s happening on the ground is the first step to progress.
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Special guest speakers at the Leadership Summit included the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights at the UN Human Rights Office Andrew Gilmour, Hamilton: An American Musical’s Samantha Ware, among others.

But perhaps the favorite day of many attendees was Advocacy Day on the Hill, reported to be the largest convening ever of Americans advocating for strong US-UN engagement, reaching more than 50% of the entire Congress (271 meetings). Over 25 UNA-NCA members met with their local Congressman or Congresswoman and Senators from Maryland, Virginia, and the District. Each delegation was well-represented, and everyone was able to tell their stories about how much the work of the UN meant to them, including an 8 year old elementary school student. Ana_Statement

We called upon our congressional representatives to do everything they can to ensure that these cuts are not realized, and to continue to support strong US-UN relations. Our Maryland team prepared talking points on the wide ranging work of the UN, as well as how the administration’s proposed budget cuts would jeopardize and endanger key programs, populations and many parts of the world for use by the members of congress on CSPAN and sign-on letters.

Having constituents speak directly to their representatives or office staff member had an enormous impact, and brought the UN face-to-face with Congress in ways that couldn’t have been done without the dedication and passion of our members.
 

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