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15 June 2017

2017 Annual Membership Meeting

image_15On June 8 2017, over 100 members and supporters of UNA-NCA met at the United Nations Foundation Headquarters for the 2017 Annual Membership Meeting to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and to recognize its outstanding chapter leaders and volunteers. Keynote speaker Robert Skinner, Director of The United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Washington, DC, spoke on “Advocating for a Strong US-UN Partnership in Challenging Times.” Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Ret.) presented the 2016-2017 Annual Report, thanked outgoing Board members, and passed the Presidential gavel to incoming President Stephen F. Moseley. Four awards were proudly presented to exceptional chapter leaders, including the first-ever Edison W. Dick Advocacy Leadership Award.

Outgoing President, Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), opened the Annual Meeting, framing the focus on the years’ transition. The transition in welcoming a new UNA-NCA board, a new US President, and a new UN Secretary-General, all within the course of a few short months. He discussed President Trump’s mention of leaving parts of the United Nations, and reiterated the importance of the organization’s mission and re-tripling our efforts of advocacy. The importance of civil society in advocating for a strong US-UN partnership is greater than ever, and our work must continue in suit.

image_8Ambassador Bliss welcomed the Honorable Constance (Connie) A. Morella, to announce Edison W. Dick as the inaugural recipient of the UNA-NCA Edison W. Dick Advocacy Leadership Award for his service as the founding chair of the Advocacy Committee of the former UNA-USA Board of Directors, and as an active member of the UNA-NCA Advocacy Committee. Advocacy has assumed an ever-increasing importance in the work of UNA-USA across the country. Building on this award, UNA-NCA is committed to strengthening and expanding its advocacy work into its program committees and developing tools and training materials to engage its members actively in advocacy for a strong US-UN partnership.
Read Full Remarks Here    

image_4_copyAmbassador Bliss then welcomed keynote speaker Robert Skinner who underscored the challenges United Nations peacekeeping operations face today. Skinner emphasized the historical reliability of US leadership at the United Nations and challenged members to consider the history of US-UN relations, to see that issues cannot be solved without diplomacy and support of the United Nations, and to understand that US-UN relations are critical. Themes of maintaining hope through civil society emerged as well as fueling the desire to speak out. Skinner cited the Paris Accord as an example, with hashtags like #WeAreStillIn as beacons of hope that the people will be heard, with over a thousand businesses, governors, and advocates pledging to stick with the Accord. Skinner concluded with a call to continue speaking out — “And I emphasize that word PEOPLES, as the preamble of the UN Charter begins not with ‘we the governments’ or ‘we the nations’ but meaningfully with WE the PEOPLES.  And, if there was ever a time for the voices of the people to be heard – all of our voices – it is now.” 
Read Full Remarks Here

Ambassador Bliss again took to the podium to briefly present the 2016-2017 UNA-NCA Annual Report put together by the UNA-NCA staff, which featured some of the key events, programs, and crucial people and partners that made the year the success it was. He showed pride that 49% of the members were under forty years old, and that the organization successfully reached out to 48 schools, including Title I Schools though its flagship education program Global Classrooms DC.  His only qualm with the publication: there were not enough pictures of himself.
View the Annual Report Here

Former UNA-NCA President and Chair of this year’s Nominating Committee, Karen Mulhauser, presented the results of the 2017 Board Election. The elected officers include:

Vice President of Advocacy: Lyric Thompson

Vice President of Communications: Sandra Coburn

Vice President of Development: Timothy Barner

Vice President of Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiends 

Vice President of Programs: Christina Hansen

Vice President of Young Professionals: Laura Blyler

The 2017 Directors-at-Large include: Diane Adams, Patricia Beneke, Dawn T. Calabia, Heather Lane Chauny, Renee Dopplick, Michael R. Marsh, Michael Onyemelukwe, Ambassador Lynn Pascoe, Richard Ponzio, and Ambassador Osman Siddique.

Bradley Wiggins from The George Washington University was elected to serve as the Student Representative. UNA-NCA would like to thank the outgoing Board members for their exceptional service, including Thomas Bradley, Kristen Cheriegate, Kasara Davidson, Vanessa Francis, Melissa Kaplan, Jessica Mueller, and Jesse Nickelson.

Three additional awards were presented throughout the evening. Newly elected President Stephen F. Moseley presented the Arthur W. Johnson Award to Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), former President of the UNA-NCA, for his exemplary leadership and commitment to the work of the United Nations. Ambassador Bliss was touched by the remarks given in his honor and expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to serve UNA-NCA. He reaffirmed his commitment to staying actively engaged in the work of the chapter, particularly in the area of UN strengthening and reform.  

IMG_2270Former UNA-NCA President, Edward Elmendorf presented the Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award to Patrick Realiza, Chair of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee and Co-Chair of the UNA-NCA Communications Committee, for his outstanding volunteer service and commitment to the work of the United Nations.

IMG_2307Roger Griffis presented the final award - the Richard and Anne Griffis Program Leadership Award to UNA-NCA's flagship program, Global Classrooms DC. Led by Director of Global Education, Megan Penn, the program was recognized for bringing access to global education and critical skills to thousands of middle and high school students in the DC metropolitan area.

The Annual Meeting concluded with remarks from UNA-NCA Executive Director, Paula Boland. Ms. Boland reiterated the importance of UNA-NCA’s mission during these challenging times because real effective change happens here, at home, using Eleanor Roosevelt’s words ‘It starts in your backyard.’ She encouraged members to keep mentoring, educating, and empowering. 

The Annual Meeting was followed by a festive reception in which the diverse members of UNA-NCA enjoyed one another’s company: mingling, discussing current events, and sharing their experiences with the organization. 

It was a pleasure to see so many dedicated members attend UNA-NCA's Annual Meeting. Special thanks to the United Nations Foundation for providing the excellent venue downtown, and to the United Nations Association of the USA for their organizational and logistical support. 

The Annual Meeting was followed by UNA-USA National Council meetings and the largest UNA-USA Leadership Summit,  which culminated with the historic day on the hill, with over 300 members visiting their congressional representatives. UNA-NCA members met with Maryland, Virginia and DC representatives. More to follow next week!

14 June 2017

Edison W. Dick Accepts Inaugural Edison W. Dick Advocacy Leadership Award

Thank you, Congresswoman Morella. You were a superb representative for the 8th Congressional District and still are a wonderful internationalist and supporter of the United Nations. Your presentation is very meaningful to me.

I greatly appreciate the current leadership of UNA-NCA for devising this important theme for tonight- thank you, Don, Steve, Paula. Immediate Past President Ed Elmendorf is also a co-conspirator in this effort. I am deeply honored and humbled by this award. However, there are many people with whom I should share it.

David Scotton has been an inspiration and mentor since I first became involved with UNA-NCA. His dedication and knowledge have been of invaluable support to me and to UNA. Happily, David remains co-Chair of our Advocacy Committee and an influential voice for the UN in Washington. Melissa Kaplan has been a diligent and superb co-Chair of the chapter’s Advocacy Committee for the past 4 years. I am confident she will remain at the center of our advocacy efforts for many years. I am also pleased our incoming Vice-Chair for Advocacy, Lyric Thompson, is here tonight.

I would like to play tribute to an individual who could not be with us tonight due to a conflict. Steve Dimoff was the Director of NA’s Washington office during the entire time that I served on the National Board of Directors.  He certainly inspired the effort to recognize the importance of advocacy as a necessary furtherance of policy for our organization. He was as knowledgeable as anyone regarding our executive and legislative branches of government. He was key to implementing UNA’s Advocacy effort. I was privileged to work very closely with Steve - he deserves a good chunk of this award. Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank my family for their everlasting support. I am delighted that Sally and our son, Warner, are here tonight.

UNA-NCA has a vibrant advocacy program. This is due to both the proximity to the levels of government and the power and strength of the chapter itself. Our claim to be the best chapter in the entire UNA system is valid but is met with a certain amount of skepticism in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, we work closely with other chapters and with the UNA-USA Advocacy Committee which does an outstanding job. I believe the Committee Chair, Mel Boynton, is here tonight. Tribute must also be given to UNA’s dynamic Executive Director, Chris Whatley. UNA’s advocacy effort has been skillfully advanced and enhanced as a result of UNA joining forces with the UN Foundation and its Better World campaign.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Kathy Calvin, Peter Yeo, Jordie Hannum, Micah Spangler and BWC’s leadership team for spreading the message about the importance of the UN in the world and the necessity for a vibrant United States role in the organization - especially during this difficult political environment.

UNA’s Leadership Summit, with its strong advocacy component, begins on Sunday. There are so many important advocacy issues to be addressed. Not the least of which is full funding for the UN - or as John Whitehead said, “In full, on time and without conditions.” Currently, we are facing devastating impacts of cuts to United Nations funding. There are also the myriad peace and security issues, the entire arena of sustainable development goals, including global health and climate change- especially after last week’s actions on the Paris Accord’s human rights problems abound. I do not have to recite the litany of advocacy issues for this audience. Advocacy also entails providing basic facts to skeptical or unfamiliar audiences - for example, such as those on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It is often necessary to explain that 88% of Americans support an active role for the US in the UN and that total United States. Funding for the United Nations amounts to a horrifying 0.2 percent of the total federal budget.

I am looking forward to working with our chapter and everyone here to further this advocacy initiative. Thank you again for this honor and thank you all for coming.

12 June 2017

2017 Board Election Results

UNA-NCA is delighted to confirm the election of the following candidates for vacant positions on our Board of Directors. 

Officers (2-year term):

  • Vice President, Advocacy: Lyric Thompson                                          
  • Vice President, Communications: Sandra Coburn
  • Vice President, Development: Timothy Barner
  • Vice President, Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiens
  • Vice President, Programs: Christina Hansen
  • Vice President, Young Professionals: Laura Blyler                                  

Directors-at-Large (3-year term):

  • Diane Adams
  • Patricia Beneke
  • Dawn T. Calabia
  • Heather Lane Chauny
  • Renee Dopplick
  • Michael R. Marsh
  • Michael Onyemelukwe
  • Ambassador Lynn Pascoe
  • Richard Ponzio
  • Ambassador Osman Siddique

Student Representative (1-year term)

 Bradley Wiggins (The George Washington University)

UNA-NCA wishes to thank the following individuals for their service on its Board of Directors:

Thomas Bradley, Kristen Cheriegate, Kasara Davidson, Vanessa Francis, Melissa Kaplan, Jessica Mueller, and Jesse Nickelson.

Bios for all Board Members may be accessed here

These results were announced at the 2017 UNA-NCA Annual Meeting June 8, 2017. 

08 June 2017

Closing Remarks From Outgoing UNA-NCA President, Ambassador Donald T. Bliss

As I complete four years as President of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), let me express my deep gratitude to our members, volunteer leaders, supporters, and dedicated staff for making this such a rewarding and enlightening experience. Thank you for the honor and privilege.

image 1I wish I could say that I am leaving you in a better place. We all know, however, that we are facing something of an existential crisis. There are voices in the US Administration and Congress that are questioning the value of the post-World War II global order. We face proposals to slash funding for the UN, foreign assistance, and diplomacy and to withdraw from international organizations and international treaties. Perhaps even more disturbing, we face a lack of understanding by the American public and many opinion and policy leaders about the multifaceted work of the United Nations and the values embraced in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The mission of UNA-NCA, serving the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, has never been more important. We must redouble our efforts to: 
    • Increase public understanding and support of the United Nations. 
    • Advocate for constructive US leadership in strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations. 
    • Prepare present and future leaders to work for a better world, both globally and locally.

Yet amidst the chaos of conflicting messages, there is an opportunity that comes with the challenge. Our response must start with the proposition that any institution—certainly one 72 years old—must be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances and increased challenges that require a global response. The world is a far different place from the one in San Francisco in 1945. The United Nations has expanded its reach beyond preventing wars between states to provide humanitarian assistance to record numbers of refugees and persons displaced by human and natural causes, to set goals that will mobilize governments, civil society and the private sector to eliminate extreme poverty and gender inequality and uplift global standards of living, to advocate for basic human rights, to resolve ethnic and religious conflict within states, to protect our planet’s fragile environment, to combat the 21st century threats of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, pandemics, cyber security, drug addiction, famines and growing economic inequality. These challenges do not stop at sovereign borders. No wall will keep them out. The United States cannot solve these problems by itself. They can only be addressed successfully through global cooperation. And the United Nations is the global institution that convenes and engages all sovereign nations in meeting these challenges. The UN works 24/7 to feed the hungry, eradicate disease, and facilitate safe travel, efficient communications, and free and fair trade, among many other missions.UNA-NCA has responded vigorously to these 21st century challenges, first, by strengthening our flagship programs that inform policy makers and prepare the next generation of leaders and, second, by undertaking new initiatives that encourage US leadership in strengthening a more efficient and effective United Nations.

On the first front, we:

  • Educated thousands of GCDC program participants, primarily from DC, Maryland and Virginia in the skills of diplomacy, negotiation and advocacy, addressing issues such as the Situation in Somalia, Rising Sea Levels, Human Rights of Refugees, access to Primary Education, and Technology for Sustainable City Development in our year-long Global Classrooms program, culminating in the Model UN Spring Conference at the U.S. Department of State, the largest outside event hosted by State each year, and the Pan American Health Organization.                                                      
  • Secretary_of_StateHosted a keynote address by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, in one of his first public appearances at the 2017 Spring Conference.
  • Under the leadership of David Scotton and Melissa Kaplan, we mobilized and trained an advocacy  team to meet with Senators and Members of Congress to support full funding of the United Nations and its Peacekeeping missions.
  • Celebrated the legacy of former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and welcomed the arrival of Secretary-General António Guterres with a lecture by former UN Undersecretary and Dean of the Maryland School of Public Policy, Robert C. Orr, with commentary by National Security Council and State Department leaders.
  • Discussed the priorities of the new Secretary-General with UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, at an event hosted by Ambassador Esther Coopersmith.
  • Under the Leadership of Laura Blyler and Lanice Williams, we provided Career Networking and Professional Development Opportunities for hundreds of young professionals seeking career paths in international work through our bi-annual Career Night Dinners hosted by our Young Professionals and UNA-NCA leaders.
  • Under the leadership of Ed Elmendorf and Steve Moseley, we offered educational and interactive programs on implementing the Global Goals for Sustainable Development globally and locally through public forums and community consultations.
  • Under the leadership of Past President Karen Mulhauser, we provided a series of programs on gender equality which included advocacy for passing The Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) legislation in DC. 
  • Offered many substantive programs with expert speakers on UN issues organized by UNA-NCA Program Committees on Sustainable Development, Human Rights, African Affairs, and International Law.
  • Under the leadership of Christina Hansen and Heather Hill, we recognized international and local leaders in human rights in our annual Human Rights awards reception on Capitol Hill.
  • Under the leadership of Kim Weichel, we engaged our experienced and expert Advisory Council in programming, conferences, and young professional development.
  • Under the leadership of Laurence Peters, 20 graduate students participated in our Graduate Fellows program this spring which prepared them to pursue careers in international affairs and offered mentoring opportunities.group at members day
  • Collaborated with our partners, including the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the State Department, the Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations Information Center, the American Foreign Service Association, the American Society of International Law, the US Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Freedom House, and many others.
  • Strengthened and published our weekly UN Express, informing our membership of upcoming NCA events and those of our partners, and providing commentary on key UN-related issues. 

UNA-NCA has also undertaken several new initiatives designed to address the challenges of today:

  • We have issued position statements and advocated for stronger US leadership and a more effective United Nations on issues such as the Syrian Refugee Crisis, supporting reforms in the selection of the UN Secretary-General, support of the Paris Climate Agreement, ratification of Treaties including the Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect US national security and economic interests, responding to terrorist attacks, and recognizing the UN’s unsung heroes.
  • UNA-NCA leaders have addressed issues of UN reform in speeches to regional organizations, letters to the editor,  and articles in scholarly journals (see “Strengthening the United Nations Peace and Security Mandate, Ambassadors Review, Fall 2016) and by teaching adult classes on the UN.
  • Under the leadership of Past President Ed Elmendorf, we launched a new book on the History of UNA-USA, illustrating the effectiveness of citizen advocacy.

luis7Our UNA Cox Chapman Fellow, Foreign Service Officer Luis F. Mendez, has spoken at 17 area schools on US-UN relations and mentored several students.

We have engaged our members, Graduate Fellows, Interns and the public in an interactive Blog of key issues and challenges facing the United Nations.

  • UNA-NCA has sponsored the Elnino School in the Kenya Dadaab (Dagahaley) Refugee Camp, as part of UNA-USA’s Adopt-a-Future Campaign—raising around 8K to provide education for refugee children.
  • UNA-NCA and the US Institute of Peace have formed a partnership to prepare concrete recommendations to strengthen and make more efficient UN Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding operations as part of the UN Secretary-General’s and the US Administration’s reform initiatives.
  • We have engaged in collaborative activities to express support for UN initiatives from the Paris Climate Agreement to Gender Equality in joint letters to Congress and citizen rallies.

Under the leadership of VP for Operations and Strategy, Melissa Wolfe, we continue to make progress implementing NCA’s Strategic Plan, which we have extended through 2018. With a small budget and staff, UNA-NCA is able to deliver extraordinary programs because of the passionate commitment of hundreds of volunteers. In FY 2016-17, we have been fortunate to have had an exceptionally hard working and professional staff, led by our experienced Executive Director, Paula Boland; our Director of Membership and Programs, Hanna Hayden; our Director of Global Education, Megan Penn; our Global Classrooms DC Program Manager, Nicole Bohannon; and an outstanding group of program interns. The Board of Directors is most grateful to our staff, committee chairs, co-chairs and members, a cadre of volunteers, and dedicated donors, and, as President, I want to thank our Board of Directors and officers for their active engagement and continued support.

With great confidence in our future, I pass the torch to Steve Moseley, our President-Elect, who has contributed his passion and expertise in countless hours and in countless ways to NCA’s many initiatives.

With much appreciation,

Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Retired)

31 May 2017

Educator Appreciation Reception 2017

Over 30 educators and guests gathered at the United Nations Foundation on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 to celebrate the work of educators, including teachers, parents, and Model UN advisors. The reception was organization by UNA-NCA in partnership with the Culturfied Foundation and the program included a panel discussing Global Educators in the 21st Century, with many perspectives shared by the speakers and audience participation.

Megan Penn, UNA-NCA Director of Global Education, moderated the panel with Amy Trenkle, an eighth grade teacher at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC, and Luis Mendez, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and Una Chapman Cox fellow at UNA-NCA. Their opening statements highlighted the importance of including global education in the US, the DC area and internationally.

Luis Mendez shared his personal experience visiting public, public charter and private schools throughout his year-long fellowship through the State Department, teaching students about his life story. Mr. Mendez has been dedicated to inspiring thousands of students to reach for their dreams through educating them on the importance of the United Nations, along with supporting Model UN programs and clubs in the schools that he visits.

Amy Trenkle emphasized that in Model UN, students are able to take charge of their own learning. For educators to succeed, they need to constantly talk to their students and embrace what they want to learn and how they would like to learn it. She referenced her use of field trips, such as museum visits and outside classes, as a way to present a more interactive approach in the learning process.

During the question period, educators from DC, Maryland and Virginia also stressed the importance of raising awareness on international issues and creating global citizens through global education programs like Global Classrooms DC and Model UN. The discussion and event also sparked curiosity in new teachers interested in learning more about our program, who want to create their own Model UN clubs. To top off the event, all guests participated in a raffle with prizes donated by Culturfied Foundation that went from a spa day basket to Starbucks gift cards and wireless speakers.

UNA-NCA is grateful to all its educators, volunteers, partners and sponsors, and looks forward to having another successful school year!

24 May 2017

Statement from UNA-NCA President on the Administration's Budget Proposal

If we have learned anything during the 72 years since the founding of the United Nations, it is that real progress is made through international cooperation and diplomacy--from the Marshall Plan to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In August 2015, the global community—193 member states of the United Nations—unanimously agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals that would mobilize governments, civil society and the private sector to address the underlining causes of global instability-- such as extreme poverty and rising income inequality, killer diseases like malaria, polio, measles, and HIV/AIDS, inadequate education and skills training, gender inequality, and the lack of sustainable institutions that foster the rule of law and inclusive societies.

Since the allied victory in World War II enabling the creation of global institutions that are premised on US leadership and enshrine US values, it has become increasing clear—in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and in threats like terrorism and nuclear proliferation-- that the military alone does not provide the solution.

Sadly, the Administration’s proposed budget fails the test of history. It flies in the face of the global community’s march toward progress. It offsets an increase to $640 billion in defense spending by cutting diplomacy, foreign assistance, funding for international organizations, and funding for programs that combat poverty and lead to jobs and upward mobility domestically. And it does this while cutting taxes in ways that accelerate economic inequality in the United States, already among the highest among developed nations. Compared to FY ’17, the Administration’s budget proposes:

· a 32% cut in international affairs, reducing diplomatic and counselor operations, cutting in half cultural exchange programs and eliminating funding for USIP, the Woodrow Wilson Center and other peace promoting institutions

· a 37% cut in UN Peacekeeping funding, despite rising ethnic and religious conflicts and threats of genocide in conflict zones

· a 27% cut in funding international organizations, jeopardizing the prevention of pandemics, the enforcement of nuclear nonproliferation, ensuring safe and secure international air travel, and putting US funding obligations in arrears

· eliminating US support for the UN Population Fund, which has saved millions of lives by providing women’s health care

· eliminating funding for UN climate change programs, relegating climate leadership to China and India

· a 26% cut in Global Health Accounts, which seek to eradicate communicable diseases and improve access to health care, which, according to researchers, will result in six million additional deaths

· a 29% cut in foreign assistance, redirecting aid from two dozen most needy states to those deemed essential to US security

· a 31% decrease in humanitarian assistance, undercutting Ambassador Haley’s assurances in Jordan this week to increase aid to refugees

· eliminating emergency food aid from US farmers despite four world famines.

· slashing funding for domestic safety net programs while promoting income inequality by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans and forfeiting US leadership in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In today’s fast changing world, every institution—from the United Nations to the US Congress—is in need of reform. History teaches that US leadership is critical to enabling the UN to respond efficiently and effectively to international challenges. US leadership begins by meeting our funding obligations and working through the United Nations and other international organizations to address problems that can only be solved through global cooperation.

The ball is now in Congress’ court, and the Administration’s reactionary proposals have little chance of success. In the words of a leading conservative Congressional Republican: “The budget was dead before the ink was dried.” Nevertheless, the voices of those committed to global solutions to systemic problems must be heard on Capitol Hill. UNA-NCA has made advocacy our energizing theme. Join us at our Annual Meeting on June 8th to support our expanded advocacy initiatives.

Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired)
United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

16 May 2017

Senate Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is Critical to US Security, Energy, Trade, and Economic Interests

Given recent troubling events in international waters and substantial losses of valuable US mineral and offshore energy resource rights, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area urges Senate Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to meet compelling national security and economic interests

On May 9, 2017, The International Law Committee of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, in partnership with the American Society of International Law and the International Law Section of the American Bar Association, held a symposium of leading experts on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The unanimous conclusion of these experts is that Senate ratification of UNCLOS is critical to US national security, energy, trade and job creation interests and objectives.

The experts included Ambassador to UNCLOS John Norton Moore (Ret.), Walter L. Brown Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, Douglas R Burnett, International Law Advisor to the International Cable Protection Committee, Myron Norquist, leading scholar on UNCLOS, and Ruth Wedgewood, Edward Burling Professor of International Diplomacy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. UNA-NCA expresses appreciation to Bob Craft, Chair of the International Law Committee  and the entire committee, including Wes Rist of the ASIL and Renee Dopplick of the ABA, for organizing this event.

167 countries and the European Union have ratified UNCLOS, leaving the US, which has not done so, at a serious strategic disadvantage.

As set forth by Ambassador Moore (Ret.), the benefits to the US of ratification are substantial and include:
·         A fourfold extension of US territorial waters from 3 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles.
·         Doubling of the contiguous zone from 12 to 24 nautical miles.
·         Eightfold Extension of US rights to archeological and historical objects found at sea to 200 nautical miles.
·         Massive extension of oil, gas, fishing rights, and other activities for economic exploitation to 200 nautical miles off our coast and Pacific island possessions.
·         Expansion of oil and gas rights from the narrow geologic continental shelf to 200 miles and beyond to approximately the entire geological continental margin, which extends 600
          miles off the Alaska coast.
·         Establishing innocent passage transit rights through territorial waters.
·         Establishing a new regime of strait transit rights and overflights that meet US defense requirements for naval aircraft and submarines.
·         Establishing US rights to strategic minerals, including copper, nickel, manganese, cobalt and rare earth minerals, valued at $1 trillion.
·         Granting the US the only permanent seat on the International Seabed Authority, which determines property rights beyond the jurisdiction of any nation.
·         Protecting submarine transoceanic cables essential to telecommunications and the internet.
·         Providing for dispute settlements between nations that enforce Convention provisions and protect US vessels from seizure or harassment by foreign entities.
Failure of the US to ratify UNCLOS has been very costly to the United States. For example:
·         The US has lost a Deep Sea Mining Bed site, USA-1, the size of Rhode Island, valued at $250 billion to Belgium.
·         The US has lost a Deep Sea Mining Bed site, USA-2, the size of Rhode Island, valued at $250 billion to the UK.
·         The US risks losing the two additional seabed mining sites, USA-3 and USA-4,  valued at $500 million.
·         If  foreign countries threaten US naval ships, such as Iran in the Persian Gulf, China in the South China  Sea, or North Korea in the Sea of Japan, the US cannot effectively 
          enforce the UNCLOS-protected rights to navigational freedom.
·         Jeopardizes US rights to oil, natural gas and minerals in the Artic shelf.
·         Removes US ability to shape the rules for deep seabed mining.
·         Removes US ability to shape the rules for shaping the outer continental margin.
·         Risks international regulation of the US outer continental margin,  an area larger than Jefferson’s  Louisiana purchase.
·         Eliminates ability to block undesirable amendments.
·         Eliminates ability to shape ocean law.
·         Undermines US negotiating credibility after having achieved all US objectives in negotiating UNCLOS.

Although President Trump has not yet declared a position, since the successful negotiation of UNCLOS, all prior presidents,  all Secretaries of State, and national security leaders have supported ratification. The US Navy’s ability to operate in contested waters in accordance with international law would be greatly enhanced. Industry and environmental groups have joined together to support ratification. The only impediments have been a knee jerk ideological opposition to treaties by a minority of Senators and the Senate calendar itself that fails to allocate time for consideration of a complex treaty that serves the US interest in countless ways.

UNA-NCA strongly supports Senate ratification of the Convention on the Law of the Sea to advance and protect US national security and defense interests, support global preservation of the oceans heritage,  uphold the credibility of strong and successful US diplomacy,  accelerate energy resource development and independence, ensure valuable US mining rights, promote job growth, and protect fair and efficient trade, commerce, and communications.

Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)
President, United Nations Association of the National Captial Area

10 May 2017

Hopeful Despite Challenging Times: Students gather at the U.S. Department of State and PAHO for Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference

On May 2, 2017 UNA-NCA had the pleasure of welcoming nearly 700 students, educators, parents, volunteers, and guests to the Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model United Nations (UN) Conference, hosted at the U.S. Department of State and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). 

Students from 5th to 12th grade came from nearly 40 schools and groups mainly in the Washington DC metro area, but also as far as Texas. Across eight total middle and high school committees, delegates debated solutions to addressing rising sea levels, access to primary education, human rights of refugees, technology for sustainable cities, and the situation in Somalia. The students discussed these topics as representatives of countries from every corner of the globe through the UN Environment Programme, the African Union, the UN Human Rights Council, a Special Summit of the UN General Assembly, and the UN Security Council.

Donald_T._BlissThe conference was opened by Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired), UNA-NCA President. He discussed the important role the UN plays in global corporation, citing the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and aviation safety standards, and the importance for the United States to remain actively involved in the UN.  Megan Penn, Director of Global Education for UNA-NCA, shared with the audience her experience in Model UN and shared some words of advice and encouragement for the delegates. Prior to hearing from the Keynote Speaker, the audience heard a wonderful speech from Luis F. Mendez, a State Department Foreign Service Officer who has worked with Global Classrooms this past year as part of his Una Cox Chapman Foundation Fellowship. He stressed how he is hopeful for the future after having the privilege to work with a number of schools in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area.

The Keynote Speaker for 13th Annual GCDC Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State and PAHO was Nicol Perez, US Youth Observer to the UN. Born in Bolivia, Ms. Perez shared her story of immigrating to the US, how she started in Model UN as an initially shy and quiet delegate, and later founding her own NGO empowering Latin American women to establish their home businesses. We had the pleasure of the presence of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson who delivered an inspiring speech on integrity and encouraging the students to pursue their passion in international relations. Lastly, the GCDC Student Secretary-General, Steve Mirabello, opened the conference.


“The fact that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to us showed how important this conference is” – Student from Potomac Falls High School

GCDC_Open_HouseStudents went straight for their committee rooms in both the U.S. Department of State and PAHO, to begin their sessions. Educators and guests had the opportunity to see the committees in action, as well as attend the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland led the Open House, highlighting this year’s conference sponsors and partners. We give many thanks to UNFCU, Konnected, Culturfied Foundation, O’Melveny and Myers LLP, AIRSCHOTT, NEA, Carlos M. Molina, Una Chapman Cox Foundation, Starbucks at 21st and P St., Trader Joe’s at 25th St. NW, and all those who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program. 

Untitled_design After lunch, the students went straight back to work, and wrote draft resolutions that outlined their ideas to solve their committees’ respective challenges. Some of the students shared with GCDC Staff the highlights of the day thus far, and what they learned through preparing for the conference. Meanwhile, the GCDC team ran the Professional Development Workshop, getting educators on their feet through global education activities and getting vital feedback from educators on the year-long programming and curriculum as well as the conference.

“It’s shocking that some of these issues are not covered by the media so the model UN definitely broadened my worldview.” – Student from Bishop Ireton High School

“The unmoderated causes have been my favorite part of the experience so far because it is easier to form ideas. It is a more casual way of getting to know each other and our viewpoints.” – Student from Al-Rahmah School

_RLS6156To round out the day, closing ceremonies featured Acquania G. Escarne, Recruitment and Outreach Officer at the U.S. Department of State, who drew attention to the State Department programs available to high school students. UNA-NCA Director of Global Education, Megan Penn, and Mr. Mirabello, the Student Secretary-General, gave out the committee and position paper awards to recognize outstanding work done by participating students.

The GCDC Model UN Conference was a great success in being a place for the leaders of tomorrow – and today – to participate in and discuss some of the world’s most pressing international issues while working with students from other communities and backgrounds.

“Working with others to figure out resolutions has been my favorite part of the conference.” – Homeschooled Student

Thank you to all our speakers and a very special thank you for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization for continued support and hosting the event throughout the years. UNA-NCA also thanks the UN Federal Credit Union, and other GCDC Spring Model UN Conference sponsors. Thank you to Elliott Lyles for his continued support photographing UNA-NCA events. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – this conference could not run without your support.

For full coverage of the Opening Ceremonies, watch the video below or on YouTube here:

Did you use the GCDC Model UN app?! If so, we would appreciate you completing the following survey: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3536122/Konnected-User-Feedback

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