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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.

28 October 2014

Celebrating UN Day - From the League of Nations to the UN Today

On October 24, 2014, UNA-NCA hosted  “Celebrating UN Day - From the League of Nations to the UN Today” at the President Woodrow Wilson House to celebrate the 69th Anniversary of the United Nations.

Guests were welcomed at a cocktail reception on the main floor of the house and the weather was nice enough to enjoy the setting sun on the balcony overlooking the president’s beautiful gardens.  The event’s special guest, the Honorable Bathsheba Nell Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs, confirmed by the Senate on September 18, 2014, was introduced by Ambassador Donald T. Bliss, who shared a few words from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s UN Day message and recognized the merits that got Honorable Crocker to where she is today.

Hosted in the gallery featuring artwork from scenes of World War I, the main program included speeches from Dr. John M. Cooper, historian, author and educator from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Walter Dorn, Professor of the Defense Studies at the Royal Military College.  Dr. Cooper highlighted Woodrow Wilson’s legacy as an essential force in the League of Nations that laid the foundation for the United Nation, emphasizing the principals that led him to be a key player in the creation of the League. He also remarked on how UN has adapted to new generations, and as consequence, has altered from what President Woodrow Wilson had envisioned.

Dr. Dorn started by acknowledging the history of the Woodrow Wilson House and the Presidents’ role in the founding of an international cooperative body, as well as the importance of this cause. Dr. Dorn marveled: “Nations can now gather together to discuss world problems. Just imagine, one hundred years ago, in 1914, there was nothing to regulate security issues, there were no rules for democracy, no rules to make peace.” He expressed admiration for President Woodrow Wilson and his goal to stop the next generation from venturing into another world war, emphasizing that, while not a flawless system, it is the only body that currently discusses and debates international stances to large-scale problems.

In celebrating the 69th anniversary of the UN, it is important to recognize where the organization started and where it is headed as conflicts and challenges becoming increasingly more international in scale.

24 October 2014

UNA-NCA is hosting a 2nd conference on the Post-2015 MDGs

UNA-NCA is convening a 2nd Post-2015 MDGs consultation, this time in Baltimore, Maryland.  Like the first, the Maryland Inter-generational Consultation on the Post 2015 Development Goals, will feature round table discussions on how to take local and global action under the UN's development agenda

The November Consultation is a follow up of last year’s Consultation held with community leaders in the Washington DC metro area, at The George Washington University. Last year's  Washington DC consulation was one of 12 consultations held across the country last year to address the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), from which the results were compiled and reported to the Secretary General of the UN, the Maryland Inter-generational Consultation will be held this fall with the guidance of the official Post 2015 Development Agenda to discuss local and global perspectives about setting priority goals for social, economic, and environmental progress in our world and in our own communities during the years 2015 to 2030. 

When: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
               2:30pm - 5:30pm (check-in begins at 2:00 pm)

Where: John Hopkins University 
                 Glass Pavillion - Levering Hall
                 3400 N Charles Street
                 Baltimore, MD 21218

Through round table discussions the Consultation will elicit refinements, changes, and additions to the goals so that they can be considered by both local and global leaders as benchmarks for development progress – both globally as well as locally - for the period 2015 to 2030. The outputs of the Baltimore consultation will be a compilation of collectively determined recommendations on how to engage communities to take action under the new Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Goals for Discussion: 

1. End poverty in all its forms and reduce inequality within and among countries
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all all ages, including special attention to equal access for heath services for women and girls
4. Achieve gender quality  and empower all women and girls
5. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and access for all to modern energy
6. Promote sustained , inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
7. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact on the seas, forests, and air for sustainable development
8. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development , provide access to justice for all,  and take action to build peace within communities and to stop violence, especially in our cities
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation to benefit people everywhere
10. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development with renewed emphasis on transparent government and good governance, and public-private partnerships 

11. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all  
If you are in Maryland or in the Baltimore community and would like to attend, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to receive an invitation.

 Thank you to our sponsors:
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22 October 2014

Fall Career Dinners Were a Success!

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area hosted the Young Professional Career Dinner Series at the UN Foundation with over one-hundred attendees. This signature, bi-annual event invited young professionals to engage with Washington's top professionals in their chosen field.

The event began with a networking reception and Keynote speaker, Linda Jamison, Vice President for Global Talent Development and Human Resources of the US Institute of Peace. Ms. Jamison established the framework for the career-focused dinners. She brought an understanding of the recruiting and hiring aspects in international careers, spoke about skills that have contributed to her success, and gave advice to the young professionals.
Ms. Jamison touched on some key points for preparation in an international career. She advised young professionals to travel abroad, learn a new language and “never burn bridges.” Other advice given throughout the evening include, being prepared or preparing yourself for the career you want; doing something you’re really interested in despite what others may tell you; building networks and staying connected to people in your line of work; and finding something that makes you unique and sets you apart from everyone else.
Following the reception, participants departed to their respective dinners, five of which were held at private homes of speakers throughout the DC Metro Area. The distinguished speakers came from an array of fields and organizations including three UN Agencies, the Department of State, International Law firms and many other leading organizations.

Each dinner featured prominent professionals who shared their stories, answered questions, and offered salient advice based on their experiences in the industry. Participants felt this was an opportunity to be challenged, motivated and receive mentorship from speakers as well as to network with other young professionals.

Thank you again for all our speakers and hosts, without you this event would not be possible.

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