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22 October 2014

“A World in Turmoil – the Role of the UN” with Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the UN

On October 20, 2014, UNA-NCA hosted “A World in Turmoil – the Role of the UN” with Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations in honor of the 69th Anniversary of the United Nations.  The gathering took place in the United Nations Foundation and included partners, leaders, senior members, and major donors from UNF, UNA-NCA, and UNIC.

Honorable Eliasson explained how the world is facing some of the most challenging times ever, stating: “We find ourselves in a period of test for international institutions and international governments.”  He suggested that a solution to some of these tests would be found in helping countries understand that international interests are also national, that while we all have Plan B’s, there is no “Planet B.”

Eliasson outlined the 3 pillars of the UN: peace and security, development, and human rights.  In discussing peace and security, Eliasson talked about the combined dangers of what’s happening in Syria and Iraq, with ISIL as a product of the war in Syria.  A military and a political strategy must be implemented in order for the approach to be more inclusive and effective, and the government should bring Sunnis into the solution.

The UN has been developing a new generation of goals where international development, another of the pillars, will have a big role. Today approximately 2.5 billion do not have toilets, and clean water remains a luxury in many places, said Eliasson.  Technology, trade, migration, urbanization and industrialization all make negotiating the next iteration of development goals harder to set and to negotiate.  According to Eliasson, the success of these goals will lie in being known to not only foreign ministers, but also by the private sector, civil societies, and others in the government.

The third pillar for the United Nations is human rights, though Eliasson admitted that, currently, only 3% of the UN’s budget is channeled to this area.  Elliasson indicated that this is changing in the UN’s strategy because, “if one pillar is weak, the whole system is weak.”  Additionally, from his experience as a mediator, he knows that “one of the first signs of a conflict is human rights violations,” so the UN is becoming more proactive at the human rights stage rather than waiting for the mass atrocities.

Honorable Eliasson concluded his presentation by outlining the factors that give him hope for the future:

    • Women – indicating confidently that “this will be the century of women for the benefit of not only women but men too” and that resistance to this actually shows that women’s empowerment worldwide is getting serious;
    • Youth – Eliasson observed that youth around the world approach problems from an unbiased perspective, focused on solutions, despite the debt and other uncertainties and setbacks they face after school
    • Knowledge -  Eliasson was excited about what knowledge post education we need knowledge, along with the power of technology, science, and research could and would do for climate, health, and exposing corruption, among others
    • International cooperation – Eliasson said that the UN and its leaders recognize that it is the only international effort currently focusing on the 3 pillars, and that the UN needs to not only be a catalyst for others to act but to take lead in that action when possible.
The Honorable Eliasson closed with what he felt like the UN’s true role in the world is: to be both a reflection of the world as it is and a reflection of what is should be and to actively work toward diminishing the gap between those two.



22 October 2014

UN Month Happy Hour – A Toast to Eleanor Roosevelt


The UNA-NCA Happy Hour on Thursday October 9 was all about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  A sampling of her well-known quotes were handed to guests as they arrived.  Flyers with photos and timeline facts about major events in Mrs. Roosevelt’s life were given out.  Some participants wore period hats of the 1940s – 50s.  A toast was made in honor of the First Lady’s 130th birthday, and an actress playing Eleanor Roosevelt showed up to make a few remarks and to lead the singing of that signature song from Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidential re-election campaigns, “Happy Days are Here Again.”  [For the record, ‘Eleanor’ refused to lead the singing of Happy Birthday, characteristically calling it ‘unduly self-congratulatory.’  However, she did pose the question as to whether being “65 times 2” would allow her to collect Social Security twice.  Indeed!]

Although lighthearted in nature, the purpose of the Happy Hour was to honor the First Lady as both an historical American political figure and an international human rights advocate.  While many people are familiar with Mrs. Roosevelt’s years in the White House as First Lady, far less are familiar with her work at the United Nations as Chairman of the Commission which drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And very few people know about the work Mrs. Roosevelt did for the American Association of the United Nations after she left the U.N.  It is our hope that the Eleanor Roosevelt Happy Hour becomes an annual UN-Month event which serves to entertain and educate the public about the incredible legacy of human rights advocacy and activism inspired by the exceptional efforts of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.  For more information on getting involved with the Human Rights Committee please contact Christina Hansen at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Sultana Ali This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .






17 October 2014

Young Professionals Board Seeks Leadership Positions


UNA-NCA Young Professionals Board Of Directors Positions – Open for Applications

Come join the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, UNA-NCA, a nonprofit organization serving the greater Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas. With the help of over 5,000 members, volunteers, and supporters in the greater Washington area, UNA-NCA works to build public knowledge of the UN, strengthen UN-US relations, and aid the UN in achieving its goals. 

UNA-NCA is recruiting leaders for the re-launch of our newly minted Young Professionals program. We are seeking young professionals to fill several volunteer leadership positions on the UNA-NCA YP Board of Directors to start this Winter. 

The UNA-NCA Young Professionals program cultivates future globally minded leaders in international affairs, spanning nonprofits and the public and private sectors through professional development programming and leadership and mentorship opportunities.

UNA-NCA Young Professionals is currently accepting applications for five (5) YP Board Leadership positions.

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15 October 2014

UNA-NCA Hosts Panel on Journalist Safety Internationally

On October 14, 2014, UNA-NCA, in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA), The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Internews, hosted a discussion panel on The Threats and Costs to Getting the Facts: A Review of Journalism Safety at the National Education Association’s building.

Paula Boland, UNA-NCA’s Executive Director, cordially welcomed participants and talked about UNA-NCA’s mission and opportunities to get involved. The panel was moderated by Kathleen Reen, Vice President of ICT Policy and Programs at Internew, and included George Papagiannis, External Relations and Information Officer for UNESCO, Tom Hundley, Senior Editor at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Mesfin Erko, a former Radio Journalist and Torture Survivor from Ethiopia and a board member for Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International. Daaiyah Bilal-Threats, NEA’s Senior Director for Governance, also provided welcome remarks and shared concerns about the threats that journalists face worldwide and how this threat has impacted media. Ms. Reen then started the panel discussion with an overview of the issues, security threats and programs and policies addressing safety issues that would be covered in more depth by the panel.

Panelist George Papagiannis provided the UN perspective on this issue and explained the role of the United Nations in addressing this journalism safety problem. Tom Hundley shared personal experiences of what is like to report in crisis situations, having reported from Bosnia in 1995. Lastly, former radio journalist and torture survivor, Ethiopian Mesfin Erko shared his experience as a journalist in a very conflicted country.  Mr. Erko has grave concerns for the state of journalism in Ethiopia, seeing no hope for improvement if countries like the US do not acknowledge the problem.  image

Panelists then shared ideas and possible solutions on how journalism safety can be protected.  Worldwide, journalists are building new partnerships and reaching out to different organizations that protect human rights and amnesty to increase international attention to this issue and greater enforcement of protections. Freedom of expression, according to Mr. Papagiannis, also continues to be an underlying theme of all the sustainable development goals. 

The panel concluded with a Q&A session and final remarks from each panelist on the future of journalism safety in conflict zones.




16 September 2014

Human Resources Working Group Forming

Do you have Human Resources or Talent Management expertise?

UNA-NCA is looking for human resources professionals to lend their volunteer leadership. We know that human capital is one of the most valuable resources of an organization. We are forming an HR working group to address priorities such as staff development, compensation, benefits and talent management. Volunteering your skills will help build your career portfolio and will enable UNA-NCA to attract and retain high-level talent. This group will work with members of the UNA-NCA board and will provide opportunities for you to learn more about the work of the United Nations in the National Capital Area. If interested, please email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or contact Melissa Wolfe at 202.494.1596.



28 August 2014

Back to School Campaign for Global Classrooms

In honor of back to school, we're launching a fundraising campaign to help us expand our Global Classrooms DC programming.

Our Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) program promotes international affairs education with high school and middle school aged students and teachers through in-class lessons, volunteer programs, and conferences. The program includes a culminating Model United Nations conference at the US Department of State.

Over 2,000 DC Metropolitan area middle and high school students are participating this year in GCDC. Now in its tenth year, GCDC has been a successful collaborative program of DC Public Schools, US Department of State, the Pan American Health Organization, and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA).

Tangible benefits for participating students include improved readingwritingpublic speaking,critical thinkingcross-cultural understandingconflict resolutionnegotiation, and team work, all skills that will serve students at school, in their families and communities, and on the job in any future workplace environment.

Why Give to GCDC?

GCDC has always been free for all DC public school students. We need your support to keep it open and available to all students, no matter their financial background.

GCDC inspires future generations to become involved with pressing issues on a global scale.

GCDC students develop key skills such as conflict resolution, writing and public speaking.

"I like debating in a country role because you don't have to think about it as yourself. You have to be professional. You are something bigger than yourself -- you are representing a whole country."
-GCDC Student, 6th Grade

Donate Now


Read about Eliisa's experience with GCDC

Read about Elena's experience with GCDC

Read about Mike's experience with GCDC

Read about Bob's experience with GCDC

Read about Mark's experience with GCDC



13 August 2014

Interested in Joining UN Alums?


UNA-USA has created a new affinity group called UN Alums. The objective of this group is enlist persons who have worked for the UN family to enhance the depth of first-hand knowledge, experience and credibility with respect to the UN. The group also aims to enlist persons who will fulfill  UNA-USA’s mission and goals and provide a network of UN alums that facilitates their interest to communicate/collaborate within the framework of UNA-USA and its activities.
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12 August 2014

Recap: "The Future of Africa, In Review"


On August 12th, following the YALI and U.S-Africa Leader's Summit, UNA-NCA’s Africa Committee and IREX held an event at IREX headquarters to summarize and review key highlights, takeaways, issues raised, and action items from these summits. Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Bob Pearson, President of IREX, and Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), President of UNA-NCA. Bob Pearson gave a brief overview of the summit, noting five key takeaways, which include the importance of private partnerships and the commitment of the U.S. to those partnerships. Our moderator, Elizabeth Latham, Academic Exchange Officer at the State Department, introduced our three panelists, Nulu Naluyombya, a Washington Fellow from Uganda, Honorable Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, former Deputy Minister for Health for Ghana, and Jon Temin, Director of the Africa Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
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