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22 January 2015

UNA-NCA Hosts event on "The Ebola Outbreak: Challenges and Next Steps for the Future"

In response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak, the African Affairs Committee hosted a global health forum with the theme: “The Ebola Outbreak: Challenges and Next Steps for the Future” on January 14. The attendees of the forum included international delegates, healthcare/public health professionals, and students. The event was hosted at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, DC.

The forum commenced with a keynote address from Dr. Lynn Goldman, Dean and professor at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. Her remarks were followed by that of Honorable Elizabeth Johnson Sirleaf, Deputy Minister for Administration-Liberia, who gave a riveting testimony about the current state of affairs in Liberia. Moderated by Dr. Ron Waldman, Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the panel of six experts discussed a variety of topics including technology and health systems strengthening, potential economic impact, and the engagement of civic society.

The Africa Committee will continue to engage the global community to identify ideas that will deliver practical and cost effective innovations and partnerships necessary to combat and stop the spread of this outbreak in the affected countries. 

22 January 2015

Special Program Highlighting DC/Cities for CEDAW

On January 20, we saw something extraordinary take place in the capitol city beyond the State of the Union address. While the US is one of the seven member states—and the only industrialized nation—that has failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the people of DC came to learn about how CEDAW has been adopted locally in several other communities including San Francisco (1998) and Louisville (2014) and its potential for being adopted here in Washington DC. What if we as activists and leaders stood together and made a statement to our neighbors as well as the nation that we will protect women’s human rights in the nation’s capital?

What we do locally matters nationally and globally, and we can bring the principles of CEDAW into our cities and embody them from the grassroots level up. “Women’s rights are not a women’s issue,” noted Karen Mulhauser, Chair of UNA-USA. Women’s rights and equality are concerns of everyone, a sentiment that was palpable in the room of men and women as attendees interacted, and began collaborating with one another on projects and goals, right there on the open floor of the UN Foundation.

The DC Council is working to put legislation through that will reflect the principles of CEDAW. The plan is to include a study of what the city is already doing and a comprehensive look at what is happening in the government right now with regards to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. DC Councilman David Grosso believes this could be made law within a year if they have support moving forward. Mayor Muriel Bowser, unable to attend, sent the new DC Executive Director of the Office on Women’s Policy and Commission for Women Kimberly Bassett to speak about the importance of this legislation.

The event featured a stacked group of speakers, including Chris Whatley, Executive Director of UNA-USA; Kimberly Bassett from the Women's Policy and Commission for Women in Mayor Muriel Bowser's Executive Office; June Zeitlin, the Chair of CEDAW Task Force at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; DC Council Members David Gross, Anita Bonds, and Elissa Silverman; and Maggie Forster Schmitz, President of US National Committee for UN Women.

To learn more about the movement and get further information about Cities for CEDAW, contact Ashlee Ryan, Director of Membership and Operations, UNA-NCA, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Post written by Heather Hill with edits from Karen Mulhauser and Kim Weichel

20 January 2015

2014 Baltimore Inter-Generational Consultation Final Report

UNA-NCA is delighted to present the report of the inter-generational consultation held at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 11, 2014.

The consultation was based on the key Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the UN for the years 2016-2030. Participants in the consultation included more than 160 representatives of civil society and community based organizations, universities, businesses, and government leaders, including graduate and undergraduate students from local universities.   Following the consultation, the discussions and feedback from participants was synthesized into a final report on the November 2014 Baltimore Inter-Generational Consultation on the United Nations Post 2015 Global Development Agenda.    

17 December 2014

UNA-NCA Celebrates Human Rights Achievements at Annual Human Rights Day Reception

At its annual Human Rights Day Reception on December 12, 2014, held in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Building at the Capitol, UNA-NCA celebrated the inspiring accomplishments of four distinguished human rights leaders.

Juan Mendez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at American University's Washington College of Law, received the UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Award, which goes back to presentation of the inaugural award to Professor Sohn in 1997.  In addition to his work on torture, Professor Mendez has served as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and as President of the International Center for Transitional Justice. In accepting the Award, Professor Mendez – himself a torture survivor in Argentina – called for the strengthening of institutions created to check abuses of power, in domestic jurisdictions and in international organizations, and drew attention to the call in the UN torture convention not only to recognize that torture is illegal but also to prosecute the perpetrators of torture. Coming just days after the release of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Award to Mendez resonated strongly.

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), received the UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Award for her work on women and human rights. For nearly twenty years, she has been a prominent international advocate, researcher, trainer, and writer on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. She served among the civil society drafters of the path-breaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. Accepting the Award named after UNA gender advocate Perdita Huston, Ms. Naraghi-Anderlini called for a new international architecture at the national level to promote social cohesion while respecting diversity. She expressed concern about the actions of many governments to silence peace and human rights activists in the name of national identity.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs in the Department of State, received a special UNA-NCA Award for the Use of Diplomacy to Advance Human Rights. Aside from her service in the State Department, Ms. Nossel has served as Chief Operating Officer for Human Rights Watch and as deputy to the Ambassador for UN Management and Reform at the US Mission to the United Nations. In the State Department, Ms. Nossel played a central role in leading US initiatives that changed the culture and focus of the United Nations Human Rights Council from a body focused disproportionately on Israel to one with a broader and more balanced agenda. Under her lead, the US built support for re-establishment of the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, and convinced the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to take a new approach in the long-standing debate in the United Nations over so-called defamation of religion. In accepting the Award, Ms. Nossel spoke passionately of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA. She referred publicly to the shame of the United States for its human rights abuses, and the credit to an open society for documenting and making public its violations.

Terri Freeman, former President of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, received the UNA-NCA Distinguished Community Human Rights Award. Under her leadership, the Foundation gave particular attention to the economic and social rights of residents of the Washington DC Metro Area, especially in the areas of education, workforce development, and prevention of homelessness. As the CEO of the Foundation for nearly twenty years, Ms. Freeman led its growth in assets from $52 million to more than $350 million. On receipt of the Award, she refused to leave attendees comfortable with celebration of accomplishments, reminding everyone of the recent deaths of two unarmed African-American men at the hands of police officers who will never see a criminal trial. She spoke of simultaneously working to improve conditions across the river in Anacostia and overseas. In a phrase linking the global and the local in the spirit of universality characterizing the UN’s emerging Sustainable Development Goals, she said, ‘It all starts at home.’

This year’s honorees were extraordinary. Each of them alone could have merited their own special recognition ceremony based on their achievements and accomplishments in the field.  Brought together, they represented a diverse powerhouse of individuals united by unwavering dedication to their causes and a belief in the rights of all citizens to live in a world without oppression, those same principles to which the United Nations is dedicated and to which the UNA-NCA seeks to promote through its programs, events, and supporters. 

Photo gallery for the reception.

04 December 2014

GCDC Training Conference Recap

GCDC hosted its first training conference of the school year on November 24, 2014 at the Pan American Health Organization. The conference hosted 100 middle school students from Washington, D.C. and Virginia on the issue of cyber security.  To kick off the conference, guest speaker, Diana Burley, spoke about the three cornerstones of cyber security: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

This conference focused on increasing the confidence of beginning model UN students in their public speaking and negotiation skills. With the help of our high school youth team leader and knowledgeable students from Howard University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University as chairs and policy advisors, students were broken up into two committees to craft resolutions on cyber security issues.

While playing the part of international diplomats, students made speeches, debated the potential solutions, and constructed several resolutions on the strategies the international community should use to tackle cyber security. By the end of the conference, students reported that they felt more confident that they can work with others to construct creative solutions to complex issues. 

12 November 2014

Recap of "Maryland Inter-Generational Consultation on UN Development Goals"

On Tuesday, November 11th, UNA-NCA held an Intergenerational Consultation about the key Sustainable Development Goals being proposed by the UN for the years 2016 to 2030 with the members of the Baltimore and greater Maryland communities. More than 160 representatives of civil society and community based organizations, universities, businesses, and government leaders, including 50 graduate and undergraduate students from several area universities gathered at the main Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore. Participants discussed how the proposed 17 goals apply to global needs for development, and how these same goals have relevance to the needs for improved life in the US and the Baltimore and Maryland area. This Consultation was one of 33 area events being held around the US sponsored by the UN Association of the USA and with support from the UN Foundation.

IMG_2593Opening remarks were given by US Senator for Maryland, Benjamin Cardin, UNA-NCA President, Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired), and Thomas Lewis, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Johns Hopkins University. Senator Cardin, who is also the current US Congressional Delegate to the UN, noted the critical role played by the UN in the range of issues on the agenda from peacekeeping, refugee support, public health in the face of epidemics such as Ebola, and the importance to all nations of climate change.  He urged the group to help all our citizens better understand and recognize how the proposed development goals are important for and relevant to both the poor around the world and many of our needs in Maryland and the US. He emphasized the economic returns to our own economy when the growth in economies of all countries occurs from essential investments in education, health, and many other areas.

President Bliss then introduced the event’s plenary speakers: The Honorable Kurt Schmoke, President of the University of Baltimore and former Mayor of Baltimore and Jenna Slotin, Deputy Director  of the Post 2015 Initiative at the UN Foundation.  Mayor Schmoke emphasized the opportunity in this agenda for all of our citizens to find common cause with the citizens of other countries to address the critical needs for education, training, affordable housing, equitable justice for all, transparency, and good governance. He stressed that one of the necessities to achieve success on all of the goals is to ensure that assistance has the leadership, interests, and pride of ownership of the citizens receiving the aid and most directly impacted. He also stressed the key role that education plays at every level – early childhood, K- 12, and university higher education –  to enable us to become global citizens, fully appreciative of our own environments and that of others around the world. IMG_2595

Jenna Slotin described the evolution and significant progress made by the developing countries around the world from 2000 to 2014, with the global agreement among donor countries to concentrate on 8 focused development goals (the Millennium Development Goals), a first in human history. She noted that the majority of 190 UN member nations are supporting the establishment of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for the period 2016 to 2030, which would better integrate and recognize the cross cutting needs to be inclusive of all people, to be more transformative, and to have long-term sustainability combined with measured accountability, good governance, and transparency.  The UN recognizes that the goals must be recognized as universal to all countries and communities – not just meeting the needs of those in less advantaged countries but also meeting the needs of the poor in developed countries like the US – in order to be successful.

Following the plenary session, meeting participants were organized into 13 discussion tables, each focused on one of 9 umbrella topics covering various aspects of the 17 UN proposed goals.  The table topics included:  Poverty/Inequality; Health/Wellness/Hunger/Nutrition/Food Security; Gender Equality/Gender Empowerment; Climate Change/Environmental Protection/Sustainable Development/Water/Sanitation/Energy; Economic Growth/Workforce Development; Peace/Justice/Violence Prevention/Human Security; Infrastructure/Innovation/Sustained Growth in Industrialization; Transparency/Good Governance/Partnerships; and Education.

Twenty-six volunteer facilitators and table reporters guided discussion participants to consider how the goals meet global needs, how they can be applied and adapted to the US, Baltimore and Maryland context, and what actions are needed to move the goals forward. 

IMG_2597The participants’ discussion emphasized developing new partnerships and public and private cooperation, the need for sharing experience and knowledge, identifying holistic solutions, and finding innovative ways of financing. There was agreement that we share in many ways one common planet with many common challenges, especially the need for livable urban areas as more than 60 percent of people around the world are migrating to cities, where stable water access, effective sanitation systems, employable skills, education, peaceful collaboration, equity, and recognition of every individual’s human rights are essential for quality living in close proximity. The common threat of global warming and its damage to communities’ infrastructure, food supply, and economic security were underlined. 

The UNA-NCA is committed to follow-up this consultation with more outreach and services to its membershipreport_out and partnership with other organizations in the central Maryland and Baltimore areas to address the critical common needs for poverty alleviation and to help foster a community understanding of the role of the UN in addressing these needs.  UNA-NCA will continue to advocate and help our communities to consider and support adoption of the post 2015 development goals and keep the community abreast of the debate at the UN as nations begin to forge a common agreement on these challenging goals over the next 15 years. 




05 November 2014

UNA-NCA hosts the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Association

On Friday, October 31, guests gathered at the UN Foundation to hear Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, engage in a lively conversation that delved into the extensive work of the IAEA, beyond its engagements with nuclear plants around the world.  Director General Amano summarized, “we are often described as a nuclear watchdog in the media but our activities are much more extensive.”  IAEA is its own independent organization, rather than a specialized UN agency, and has its own membership with 162 member states.

While we may first think nuclear, attendees learned about the strides IAEA has made in the world of health care and disease prevention. In addition to contributing to the continued eradication of small pox, IAEA has helped develop technology to reduce the spread and instances of bovine spongiform encephaloparthy, otherwise known as mad cow disease. With the recent spread and threat of Ebola, IAEA has been focused on developing technology to detect the disease faster, from four days to four hours, saving crucial treatment time. Several of the most heavily impacted countries have requested use of this new test and are working closely with IAEA.

Amano also stressed the struggles some African nations currently face in detecting and treating cancer. From his travels, Amano indicates that cancer is often viewed as a developed nations’ problem but deaths caused by cancer are greater than deaths from HIV, AIDS and malaria combined in developing nations.  Today more than 16 African countries lack the nuclear based medical machinery to detect and treat cancer and the amount of development funding received for this need is only 2% that of what is received to address HIV. While IAEA is not able to provide much money, they are able to provide much needed training and help eliminate some of the social stigma that exists around cancer treatment in certain parts of the world. While many believe cancer affects only the developing world, IAEA reaches beyond the boundaries to provide much needed tools around the globe.

Director General Amano also emphasized that honesty is an integral part of communication relating to nuclear energy and that countries need a diverse “energy mix.” Prevention and mitigation are necessary for nuclear plants, as well as having a strong, deep defense so that if one system fails, there are back-ups.  While countries ultimately create their own laws and guidelines for nuclear energy and waste, the IAEA serves as a valuable resource for creating new technology and research to better inform these policies.

The IAEA is a diverse agency focused on enhancing technology, addressing energy and environmental challenges, and improving the treatment of widespread diseases.

28 October 2014

UNA-NCA is excited to announce a new membership benefit!

We have partnered with the Peace Operations Training Institute (POTI) to give UNA-NCA members a 10% discount on all POTI classes and 5 classes for free. Members in good standing will receive their discount code via email by the end of October.

POTI’s curriculum includes general introductory courses on peacekeeping as well as more detailed courses on international humanitarian law, the conduct of humanitarian relief operations, peacekeeping ethics, the protection of civilians, mine action, the role of women in peace and conflict resolution, the prevention of violence against women, and related topics. In addition to these individual courses, POTI offers specialty certificates focusing on specific professional areas. Each year the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations “welcomes” the programs and courses they offer.

UNA-NCA members receive a 10% discount and the following courses for FREE:

1.       Principles and Guidelines for UN Peacekeeping Operations;

2.       Core Pre-deployment Training Materials;

3.       Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the Women Peace and Security Agenda in Africa;

4.       Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the Women Peace and Security Agenda in Asia and the Pacific;

5.       Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the Women Peace and Security Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Register for classes!  Don’t forget that you will need a discount code to register and current members will receive this via email in the next 3-5 business days. 

Want to become a member or need to renew an expired membership? Do so today and do not forget to select UNA-NCA as your chapter of choice! Note: New/renewed membership takes up to 2 weeks to process.

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