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11 February 2020

Strategies for Investing in Africa's Public Health Preparedness

On January 23, the African Affairs Committee held a health forum to discuss strategies for investing in global health preparedness in Africa.

The panel members focused on three separate areas pertaining to Global Health Preparedness on the Continent. Eric Friedman from the Georgetown Law O'Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law stressed the need for African countries to develop comprehensive, inter-sectoral, human rights-based plans to reduce health inequities. He strongly recommended that African governments achieve this through national health plans and development strategies.

Mr. Richard Seifman, former Senior Health Advisor at the World Bank, elaborated on the evolution of Global Health in Africa within the last century, underpinning the vitality of collaborative approaches. His remarks concentrated on global financial institutions and their attention to pandemic preparedness, as well as domestic bipartisan in the US Senate efforts to designate January 2020 as “One Health Awareness Month”. The African Union’s development of an African Center for Disease Control is now being strongly supported by the World Bank.

In closing, Mr. Andjelo Mwembya reiterated the need to engage youth in championing the Sustainable Development Goals across the Continent. Mr. Mwembya’s strategic vision is to establish a business and entrepreneurship program for young professionals across the US-African Diaspora that will allow their African-based peers to enhance, adapt, and apply their experience and expertise across industries. 

The forum provided tangible recommendations to invest in global health preparedness across the Continent. In order to encourage African governments to promote health equity policies and strategies through their country dialogues with other NGOs, the panelists recommended the development of a program of action that may incentivize governments to seek funding. Whether these efforts are domestic or transnational, successful global health preparedness will require interdisciplinary collaboration. 

10 February 2020

The Future of Multilateral Peacebuilding:A Conversation with U.N. Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo

By Kathie Bolognese, Sustainable Development Committee

How well is the global community committed to peace and security tackling today’s unprecedented challenges of conflict and violence? What global action can be taken to resolve the world’s most intractable conflicts in this era of rapid technological change and fraying traditional alliances? 

To answer these questions, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and the Stimson Center, Alliance for Peacebuilding partnered together with the U.S. Institute of Peace on the morning of January 29,2020 to host a timely discussion on the future of the multilateral system. The program featured an in-depth conversation with keynote speaker U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, the highest-ranking American currently serving at the United Nations and the first woman to hold the position.

The panel discussion event, the UNA-NCA’s third in a series on global issues, was held at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Other distinguished speakers included Ms. Victoria Holt, Vice President, Stimson Center; Ambassador Jonathan Moore, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Lynn Pascoe, Board Member, UNA-NCA; former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ms. Uzra Zeya, President & CEO, Alliance for Peacebuilding; and Ambassador George Moose, moderator, Vice Chairman of the Board, U.S. Institute of Peace; Advisory Council Member, UNA-NCA.

Ms. Nancy Lindberg, President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP,) made introductory remarks noting the extraordinary interest in the event, for which they had to close registration, and that it wasn’t surprising given the news and headlines dominated by conflict, violence and war. She additionally expressed confidence that the audience shares USIP’s vision that, “Peace is possible, peace is practical, but it takes all of us.” 

USIP’s recently launched 2020 Strategic Plan considers the threat of fragile states, mass migration, pandemics, civil wars, and violent extremism, all of which are further complicated by increasing major competition between powers, enormous strain and fewer resources for the institutions responsible for international conflict resolution. The additional rise of global challenges such as climate change, new technological weaponry and cyberthreats further stress a greater imperative for collective action to help resolve global conflicts, while the institutions responsible for delivering this outcome for last 75 years are under greater strain than ever. 

Ms. Lindberg concluded by observing that the critical challenges we face offer an extraordinary opportunity to seize the disruptions of today to push our multilateral institutions to be more agile and adaptive to better face the complexities ahead and remain vital. Lastly, she commended UN Secretary-General António Guterres for his leadership in elevating conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and for introducing reforms that enable the UN to become nimbler and more effective in conflict settings. As the Secretary-General previously stated, “It’s not enough to extoll the virtues of multilateralism, we must show results.”

In her keynote remarks, Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo provided an overview of the many sensitive political and diplomatic activities her department undertakes while operating within a complex global and security environment. She emphasized that the international communities’ military, political and humanitarian conflict management capabilities are overstretched, and the multilateral system is struggling to respond. Yet, the world today is a safer more prosperous place thanks, in part, to an effective collective security system which has seen a significant reduction in armed and interstate conflicts.

Undersecretary-General DiCarlo went on to stress three major reasons for concern: 

  • Despite a decline in the number of conflicts, those that do occur tend to last longer and cause more suffering, especially among civilians

  • Conflicts that begin small and locally are increasingly internationalized due to the involvement of regional and global powers as supporters, enablers and conflict parties (e.g., Yemen)

  • There is a greater fragmentation of conflict actors at local levels, including nonstate armed groups that operate in loose and rapidly shifting coalitions with widely different agendas (e.g. Syria, Libya).

What is the UN’s response to these challenges? Work harder to make its tools better suited to tackle complex conflict, engage earlier and proactively, and to not only focus on high level political engagement, but to build anticipatory relations and address stress factors in a more effective way.

Improving the UN’s ability to prevent and resolve conflict was the impetus for the UN Secretary-General’s 2019 Interrelated Reforms which created a single regional political and operational structure focused on prevention and on increasing collaboration within and among the three UN pillars (development, human rights, peace and security).

While reporting on the ways in which the UN has strengthened its capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts and sustain peace, Undersecretary-General DiCarlo underscored seven important areas: Expanding its analytical lens to look at a wider range of stressors that trigger conflicts (e.g., climate change, social technologies); putting inclusion front and center with women’s participation in peace processes a major priority; providing electoral assistance to Member States; establishing UN sanctions regimes (14) that focus on individuals, entities and groups rather than blunt economic instruments; providing mediation process support within 72 hours; and increasing the UN’s focus on regional dynamics rather than country-specific approaches.

In concluding her introductory remarks on the UN’s efforts to improve  its effectiveness, Undersecretary-General DiCarlo emphasized that the UN really needs the U.S. as a strong partner whose leadership and diplomacy can play a vital role and support collective efforts to prevent crises and make peace.  

The Moderator, George Moose, then introduced the panel members and invited them to respond to  Undersecretary-General DiCarlo’s remarks, specifically, “What did you hear that you liked and what are the things you would like to hear more about?”

Ambassador Jonathan Moore stated that he liked everything we’ve heard and pointed out that the U.S. meets regularly with Under-Secretary DiCarlo, doesn’t always agree on every detail, has a perspective grounded in the policy of this administration and has had varying levels of engagement with the multilateral system. Mr. Moore concluded by noting that, “We completely agree from the perspective of the United States that the UN is essential, we are committed to its success and we are still the number one contributor to the UN system.” 

The Moderator acknowledged Ambassador Pascoe’s involvement in many of the building steps that have led to the reforms the UN Secretary-General Guterres is putting in place and asked, “What do you see that’s been important and where we go from here?”

Ambassador Pascoe was pleased the U.N.’s professionalization effort was mentioned noting that it was incoherent, unresolved and had limited resources when he left and so would be pleased to hear more about that area. He further stated that, “My love was preventive diplomacy and working to resolve issues. If you have examples of some successes, I would love to hear it.”

Ms. Holt next noted that when there is a crisis the UN is an invaluable partner for U.S. interests and U.S. values. She further elaborated on the shifting nature of conflict since World War II and asked, “How do you marry up the new conflict environment, the rise of authoritarianism and your own ability to deploy around the world for both high-level and quiet-level mediation? Also, second, what could the U.S. do to support that role? There’s always a resource question, there’s also human capital and marrying up U.S. bilateral muscle with some of the goals placed out in the multilateral environment.

Ms. Uzra Zeya commended the resolve and commitment to transformation and integration in the UN’s approach to multilateral peacebuilding, and remarked that, “When considering the future of multilateral peace building, it’s important to recognize the future is multi-stakeholder.” The really difficult question is how do we come together outside the state-to-state system to support better outcomes? She went on to share the Alliance for Peacebuilding’s willingness to step up its collaboration efforts and cited the example of the successful adoption of the Global Fragility Act as evidence of growing bipartisan consensus efforts. 

These comments set the agenda for the remaining panel discussion on the successes, challenges, and innovations taking place in multilateral conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding and were followed by a substantive audience question and answer session. To learn more, please listen to the event recording  at: https://www.usip.org/events/future-multilateral-peacebuilding.

22 January 2020

Important Update: UN Funding

Last year, Congressional support for the United Nations seemed untenable.  

The Administration proposed a dramatic reduction in funding for UN Peacekeeping Operations and the general budget- this included cutting all funding to IO&P accounts, targeting agencies like UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The proposed FY ’20 budget recommended an additional 24% reduction in State Department and USAID funding as well. 

Your steadfast efforts stopped this proposal in its tracks; Congress instead opted to fully rebuke the Administration’s proposed budget. On December 20, 2019, the President signed a bill into law featuring a number of victories for our advocates, including: 

  • Full Funding for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account; 


    • Providing $1.5 Billion to pay US assessments for the UN Regular Budget.

    • This is $460 million above the President’s request, and $113 million above FY’19 enacted levels.

  • Increases funding for the International Organizations and Programs (IO&P) accounts; 

    • Provides $390.5 million, an increase of $26.5 million over FY ’19. 

  • Provides $1.56 billion for the Global Fund, a $216 million increase from FY’19; 

    • This is the first funding increase for the Global Fun in six years. 

    • Presents a $460 million increase from the President’s requested budget. 

  • Includes $770 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI); 

    • $15 million above FY’19 levels and $81 million higher than the President’s Budget Request for FY’20.


These successes are a testament to our ability to effectively communicate to Congress the value of a strong partnership with the United Nations. While encouraging, these victories were not secured without tradeoffs. Contributions to the UN Peacekeeping Operations fund will remain capped at 25%1. As such, the FY’20 spending bill all but ensures that the US will owe over $1 Billion in peacekeeping arrears by the end of 2020. A lack of funding, and thus assurance of stability and security, leaves international allies- including hundreds of peacekeepers on the ground- at great risk. 

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in October, we must persist in communicating the vitality of sustained partnership with the UN through the provision of full funding for both the General Budget and Peacekeeping Operations. Take action now

[1]  In the early 1990s, the U.S. peacekeeping assessment was over 30%, which many Members of Congress found too high. In 1994, Congress set a 25% cap on funding for all fiscal years after 1995. Over the years, the gap between the actual U.S. assessment and the cap led to funding shortfalls. The State Department and Congress often covered these shortfalls by raising the cap for limited periods and allowing for the application of U.N. peacekeeping credits (excess U.N. funds from previous peacekeeping missions) to fund outstanding U.S. balances. For several years, these actions allowed the United States to pay its assessments to U.N. peacekeeping missions in full. However, since FY2017 Congress has declined to raise the cap, and in mid-2017, the Trump Administration allowed for the application of peacekeeping credits up to, but not beyond, the 25% cap—leading to the accumulation of additional U.S. arrears. (Luisa Blanchfield, Congressional Research Service 2019).

22 January 2020

Big News in 2020 for Global Classrooms DC

Global Classrooms DC has accomplished an enormous amount in the first half of the 2019-2020 school year. Our Fall 2019 Model UN Training Conference was a massive success, and we were able to hit capacity for the event a full month before registration closed – a first for the GCDC program. You can click here to learn more about our signature fall conference.

The biggest news for GCDC came at the UNA-NCA Board of Directors meeting in November 2019. Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon announced that she will depart GCDC to pursue a graduate degree. Nicole has served as director since August 2017, and previously worked as the Program Coordinator and a GCDC Intern.

After receiving over 30 applications from highly qualified candidates, Jaiya Lalla has been selected as the GCDC Deputy Manager. Jaiya will work under Nicole until June 2020 to get a full training experience before assuming the director role.

Jaiya_LallaJaiya (left) is currently finishing her Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs at the George Washington University, where she focuses on Asia and Security Policy. In addition to previously acting as the GCDC Program Assistant, she has experience in the Senate, at Peace Corps headquarters, the State Department, Women's Watch-China, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan DC. Jaiya hails from Southwest Florida and enjoys Bollywood dance and exploring the interfaith landscape of the District.

Looking ahead into 2020, Public Registration for the Spring Model UN Conference opened on January 15. As of January 22, over 300 middle and high school students are registered across 16 schools. That figure is the largest number of students registered this early for any Spring Conference – a testament to the dedication and passion of the students, educators, and volunteers in the GCDC program.

In addition, we have confirmed Donya Nasser as the keynote speaker. Donya served as the 2015-2016 U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, and continues to work as an active Gender Equality Advocate, Youth Strategist, and Social Entrepreneur.

Most importantly, GCDC has a number of key partnerships in coordination with the Spring 2020 Conference. We are again working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to collaborate on a topic for the Spring 2020 Model UN Conference. Students will debate how to "Integrate Just Transition Towards a Green Economy". The ILO is a tripartite UN agency that works on international labor standards, social protection, and more.

We will also again work with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to teach students how to "Protect Against Forced Migration Due to Conflict". Last but not least, for the first time UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will be sponsoring the Spring 2020 Model UN Conference. Although they are not sponsoring a topic, we will be collaborating on having environmental experts support our students during the conference.


08 January 2020

A Message from UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley

Dear UNA-NCA colleagues and members,

Welcome to the new year! As we ring in 2020, UNA-NCA embarks on its 7th decade of programming and activities. This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, established in San Francisco on October 24, 1945.

Every year, we wake up to find a new set of opportunities and serious challenges to accomplish our mission to foster positive and constructive partnership and collaboration between the US and the UN. This year is no exception. Just 5 years ago, the UN and its members almost unanimously adopted the Global Goals for Sustainable Development for 2030. From 2000 to 2015, global citizens mobilized to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty and brought 75% of girls into education systems while making major breakthroughs in combating AIDS and malaria. Yet as our deadline for the implementation of these goals approaches, we cannot be so sure that we are on track at a global- or even local- level. With deliberate efforts and multilateral engagement, we can still achieve most of these goals together. In this time of hardship, we cannot lose sight of the vitality of a strong partnership between the US and the UN.

US leadership has always been critical in driving global progress towards the Global Goals; it is perhaps most worrisome to see such intransigence emerge between the US and the UN via the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreements and- most recently- unilateral missile and drone strikes between the US and Iran. The sense of US leadership in the coalition for universal human rights feels as though it is rapidly eroding; there is no assurance that the US in the foreseeable future will rejoin multilateral cooperative efforts at the UN. Yet our short and long-term development achievements are contingent upon the willingness of the US to continuously champion key pillars of the UN, including Peacekeeping and Peace Building efforts. We must guard and protect the rights of all people across race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation across borders, including within our own. We must bolster respect for democratic processes and individuals freedom of the press and ultimately fully incorporate all 17 Sustainable Development Goals in our communities. Underpinning these values is the right to achieve economic and social equity in every society, to stop and reverse the detrimental effects of climate change, and the integral value of innovative partnerships to address these challenges together.

US citizens recognize now more than ever the importance of a strong partnership with the UN- over 70% polled across the country identified a belief that the UN must remain a strong institution with US participation and financial support. These polls verify that UN programs and operations can and must be strengthened and refined to meet evolving global needs and to invent additional means of early interventions that prevent violence and facilitate lasting peace.

This view is prevalent in the majority of our Congressional House and Senate representatives and throughout our diplomatic corps, extending across agencies including the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon. Our role in the UNA-NCA is to vigorously keep building knowledge and common interests with the UN and the capacity for lasting positive results in concert with over 200 UNA-USA chapters across the country, the UN Foundation, and the Better World Campaign's advocacy efforts.

In 2020, we will celebrate the UN's 75th anniversary by discussing and debating the lessons of progress as we seek new avenues for greater success and effectiveness of the UN in collaboration with the US. UNA-NCA is very fortunate to have a strong and considerably diverse membership, with a growing participation of students and young professionals. We continue to retain strong and active participation by people of all ages and sectors, drawing experience in federal work, universities and colleges, the private corporate sector, and a number of civil society organizations. In 2020, we will seek our members' full participation in achieving new successes by pursuing longer-term private and public partnerships in order to reach new audiences and address these new challenges.

Thank you for your steadfast participation, volunteer efforts, and leadership in our work together for 2020 and beyond. Start the year by standing up for peace, human rights, and lasting and equitable development; encourage the US to be a leading collaborative influence in making the lives of people across the world and here at home better, safer, healthier, and more collaborative.

Stephen F. Moseley
UN Association of the National Capital Area


12 December 2019

"The United States Should Strengthen Support to Kiribati" by Ambassador C. Steven McGann (ret.)

"The United States Should Strengthen Support to Kiribati"

Ambassador C. Steven McGann (ret.)

Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies

Forty years have passed since the signing of the 1979 Treaty of Friendship between the United States and the Republic of Kiribati. Although the treaty was subject to termination 10 years after going into effect, the United States and Kiribati continue to affirm the so-called " Treaty of Tarawa” as a framework for maintaining bilateral relations. Indeed, the language of the Treaty provides a strong basis for additional cooperation. Article 2 states:

The two Governments, in the spirit of friendship existing between them, shall consult together on matters of mutual concern and interest in time of need, and, in particular, to promote social and economic development, peace, and security in the Pacific region. Any military use by third parties of the islands named in the preamble shall be the subject of such consultation.

As the United States strengthens its engagement with Pacific Island countries (PICs), it is time to look once again at the spirit of this important treaty.

Reviewing the 1979 Treaty of Friendship takes on even greater significance as the United States begins to renegotiate the Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. The imperative to close some of the gaps in assistance and cooperation with the Freely-Associated States corresponds with broader U.S. security concerns in the region, particularly countering China's expanding influence. American priorities in the Pacific, while recognizing Chinese encroachment, should remain focused on implementing a comprehensive policy toward the PICs.

Kiribati plays an important historical role for the United States in the region. It straddles a key route across the Pacific to Asia. Many Americans recall that Amelia Earhart was likely lost flying over Greater Micronesia. The U.S. Marine Corps landing on “Bloody Tarawa” in 1943 is an indelible memory from the island-hopping campaign of the Pacific Theater. In the aftermath of World War II, a strong argument could have been made for Kiribati to become one of the American territories and subsequent member of the Freely-Associated States with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. Instead, it was restored to the United Kingdom in 1945. Strategically, Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the 12th largest in the world. It stretches from Hawaii to Guam and uniquely bridges most of the distance between Hawaii and Australia. It also shares the world's largest Marine Protective Zone joined with the United States. The 2013 Treaty on the Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries further cemented relations between the United States and Kiribati.

In 2008 the United States and Kiribati renewed additional cooperation at the time of the 65th anniversary of Bloody Tarawa. Kiribati signed a ship-riders agreement with the United States that allowed increased protection of its EEZ. INDOPACOM (then US PACOM) made Kiribati a key element of its Pacific Partnership Program. Using its humanitarian assistance funds, INDOPACOM constructed a steel and concrete bridge between Tarawa’s northern and southern atolls. U.S. Embassy Suva assigned an officer to travel to Tarawa frequently in order to enhance relations and assess assistance needs.

The United States should work closely with its Pacific allies, particularly Australia and Japan, as part of the ongoing trilateral strategic dialogue to enhance ties with Kiribati. Australia has played an important role in Kiribati's current development. Indeed, Australia is the single largest bilateral aid donor to Kiribati. In 2019-20, Australia plans to spend over AU$27 million in Official Development Assistance on projects ranging from health to education to policy reform. The Government of Japan recently provided assistance worth  approximately AU$11 million to the Government of Kiribati through its Economic Social Development Program.

Moreover, the United States should link assistance to Tarawa's own efforts to combat the negative impacts of climate change, especially sea-level rise. Kiribati’s 2014 purchase of land on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu in order to address possible population movements and greater food security opens the door for specific five-country cooperation in a key area. Working with Fiji on land management, rural development, health, and water and waste management issues on this Fijian island presents a promising opportunity for assistance to Kiribati before these issues overwhelm its infrastructure.

Fiji is the only country to agree to accept potential environmental refugees from Kiribati. As a result of climate change, the Pacific is expected to encounter more cyclones and other natural disasters. The Government of Kiribati has no immediate plans to relocate to Fiji, but in the case of a natural disaster, such as tsunami or cyclone, Vanua Levu would be a possible refuge even before sea-level rise becomes a greater issue. By working with Fiji, the United States and its regional partners would also show that they recognize the central role that Fiji plays in the Pacific, particularly highlighting its willingness to be a safe haven for disaster migrants.

Another potential opportunity for cooperation would be for the University of the South Pacific to encourage I-Kiribati students to attend its main campus in Suva. Courses in the I-Kiribati language and efforts at cultural preservation would also allay Kiribati’s fear of cultural extinction as a small nation facing destruction and displacement from climate change.

The U.S. Embassy in Suva is well positioned to coordinate a comprehensive whole-of-government approach.  INDOPACOM has in place mechanisms to use its security cooperation framework established by Pacific Partnership participants. The Center for Excellence and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu are poised to focus work on this issue. Similarly, the Nevada National Guard's special partnership program can continue to work with the Royal Fijian Military Force (RFMF) as well as Kiribati law enforcement elements.

The USAID Ready project assists regional governments to develop and implement environmental and disaster mitigation strategies particularly for humanitarian assistance/disaster response preparedness and recovery.  Peace Corps and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency resources earmarked for Fiji and Kiribati could also be enlisted to support this project.  Other U.S. agencies would engage as appropriate for a comprehensive whole of government approach.

These efforts should be harmonized through a gender-sensitive approach that ensures protection of women and other vulnerable populations. Fiji and Kiribati would ensure that humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning would be consistent with the overall implementation of respective National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security.

As a charter member of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the United States should also review how additional assistance would be channeled especially through its Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).  The SPC overall activities are consistent with the  priorities of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  It should be noted that four Americans have served as the SPC Director-General. As part of this review, the United States should seek to harmonize assistance through the SPC to Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau where appropriate. This could be expanded to include the territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa for a more integrated approach. The U.S. Coast Guard has a well-established relationship with the SPC, particularly regarding search and rescue efforts, that could further enhance regional maritime endeavors.

In summary, the United States can work with partner countries to use existing resources in a more coordinated manner in order to achieve immediate progress toward mitigating the negative impacts of climate change, bolstering Fiji’s leadership role in the Pacific, and providing adequate development and emergency planning assistance to Kiribati.

12 December 2019

2019 Human Rights Awards Event Coverage

By Abby Bowman, UNA-NCA Program Assistant; and Andrew Doll, Managing Director of Programs and Membership

Nominations are open now until May 8th for the 2020 Human Rights Awards.  You can learn more and submit your nominations here.

On the evening of Tuesday, December 10th, 2019, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted our annual 2019 Human Rights Awards, an event put forth annually to commemorate the anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In honor of the 71st anniversary of the adoption of this milestone document, UNA-NCA recognized individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in the DC community and around the world. This year’s honorees were The Honorable Michelle Bachelet, IMG_9327Professor Katherine Marshall, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, and World Central Kitchen. In addition to the recipients, the event featured notable speakers and presenters, including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser; Jill Christianson of the National Education Association; UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley; Deputy-Director at the UN Information Centre, Stefania Piffanelli; Director of the UN Population Fund, Sarah Craven; F. Allen “Tex” Harris, Former President of the American Foreign Service Association; George A. Jones, CEO of Bread for the City; and with special messages delivered from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and Chef José Andrés. 

The event was held at the National Education Association (NEA), and a reception was held upstairs in NEA’s beautifully-decorated atrium, where awardees, guests, and presenters mingled and shared hors d'oeuvres and drinks before heading downstairs for the ceremony to begin. 

UNA-NCA President, Steve Moseley, kicked off the main portion of the event by offering a few words regarding UNA-NCA, and Human Rights Day.  “We're also concerned with the well-being of people here in our community,” said Moseley. “So we're very concerned in our work and in our human rights awards every year to be recognizing those who cross those borders, some of whom cross the borders within our national capital area and some of whom are crossing the globe relative to many countries.”  Stressing the importance of hope in human rights, Moseley continued to underscore the importance of youth in the future saying, “young people are in many ways outnumbering us by an enormous number and they're on the streets and they're making a difference and they're bringing their older peers into the room

Jill_RemarksHe then introduced Jill Christianson, Senior Professional in International Relations at the National Education Association.  As a global advocate for human rights Christianson emphasized that “It's only with our concerted efforts that we can build and maintain a culture of human rights in the United States and beyond.”  Acknowledging these are difficult times, Christianson remarked that “We certainly know the United States has a very mixed record on treaties and ratifying them. Whether it is the many treaties of the International Labor Organization or CEDAW on Women, CRC on Children or COPD on persons with disabilities, we have a long way to go.  But that's where I'm heartened that together we have potential and persistence here.

 In presenting the Inaugural Global Human Rights Leadership Award to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, guests heard a message from the High Commissioner on the occasion of the Human Rights Awards and Human Rights Day.  Bachelet’s call to action told guests that “We need to mobilize across the world – peacefully and powerfully – to advance a world of rights, dignity and choice for everyone.”

The second award of the evening was presented to Professor Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, by Sarah Craven, Director of the UNFPA’s Washington Office who said of the awardee, “Katherine is the quintessential learning book, documentary vocalist and musician of her space.”

Upon receiving the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award, Professor Marshall, informed the audience of her personal fundamentals.  “My own anchor has indeed always been what I understand 
Marshall_Awardas social justice, working to change the deep unfairness of poverty and inequality.”  Not originally having a focus in religion, she developed this focus while working at the World Bank, where
human rights was not frequently discussed during her early years there.  One of her drives while with the World Bank was to bring human rights more into the conversation.  Remarking on the importance of the history and universality of human rights, and their use in the development conversation, Marshall commented that, “the right to freedom, to practice a religion and to hold one's belief and conscience is and should be a unifying and tightly integrated theme. This harks back to the Four Freedoms set out by Franklin Roosevelt that echoes so profoundly today. Freedom from want and fear. Freedom to speak and to worship. Understandings of what religious freedom truly means and how it can and should be applied. Have long brought people together.”

UNA-NCA was excited to have F. Allen “Tex” Harris present his namesake award along with a tribute to the U.S. Foreign Service this year.  His tribute underlined an often forgotten fact about the Foreign Service, “let me be clear on who Foreign Service Officials are and how we serve this country. We are professionals, public servants who by vocation and training pursue the policies of the president, regardless of who holds that office or what party they affiliate with.”  These are attributes he respected ab out this year’s awardee, Ambassafor Suzan Johnson Cook, former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.  “Ambassador Suzanne Johnson Cook, who was a representative during the Obama administration in representing all around the globe, the key AmericanCook_Award value of freedom of religion. This is a value which we stand by from the earliest days of the settlement of this country and a value which makes us proud and makes us Americans to recognize all religions and support them, not only in the United States, but around the world. A core value of human rights.”

Upon receiving the award, Ambassador Johnson Cook, reflected upon her time of service and how she got there, saying, “during the times of the hearings and in the time of service and now post-service. I've met some of the most tremendous an awesome men and women. Many of you who are in the room, many of you who we've sat together, work together, walk together and hopefully won together. But all of you give up your lives and give of your service so often. So I also want to thank you for your service.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award to Vivian Lowery Derryck, Founder Bowserand President Emerita of the Bridges Institute and member of UNA-NCA’s Advisory Council by the Honorable Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia.  The Mayor highlighted one of UNA-NCA’s major issues this year has been advocating for the right to representation for the people of the District of Columbia.  “I want to extend my thanks to the United Nations Association of The National Capital Area and all of your members for the advocacy that you provide around the world this year. I especially want to thank you for continuing to raise awareness about DC’s lack of statehood and for making this a human rights issue.”  Mayor Bowser and Derryck have a long relationship, and share their alma mater as Chatham College, from where they both, “share in a manner that focused on delivered by flipping women as leaders and charging us with going throughout the world to make it more sustainable, more sustainable, better, fairer and more equal for all of us.”

Closing by lauding Derryck’s accomplishment’s saying “To say that Vivian makes Washington, D.C. proud is indeed an understatement. She makes women and girls, men and boys and all of us around the world proud.”

The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, thanked the mayor saying, “You are a symbol of women's competence to govern.”  Highlighting values shared by both the Mayor and herself, as well as UNA-NCA, Derryck reminded us all that, “Quality education for girls and women is one of the fundamental human rights that animates my work to this day. It's the right that I seek for every young girl.  We have the ability to make this a national and international movement. We can seize the moment if traditional and religious leaders, women and youth get together with men's Vivian_Awardassociation in the private sector to work with the U.N. women and collectively mount a campaign to end this scourge”

The final award of the evening was presented to World Central Kitchen by George A. Jones, CEO of Bread for the City, the 2017 recipient of the Community Human Rights Award.  Demonstrating the shared values between World Central Kitchen and Bread for the City, Jones said that, “Not only is hunger sort of fundamental to our work, but it really is a kind of entree for any community member to sort of understand that there is support and resources in the community.  It's just amazing that this organization has marshaled the will, the commitment to food security to make itself present all across the globe.”

In his remarks on accepting the award on World Central Kitchen’s behalf, Executive Director Nate Mook indicated that global-local connection of all our work, “As you've seen, our work really takes us around the world. But we are based here. Our roots come from this region and we could not have served 12 million meals to date without the support of all of you and everybody here in this area.”

NateSharing the values of World Central Kitchen’s founder, Chef Jose Andres, and the central importance of food beyond sustenance saying, “Food isn't just what you eat and putting in your body to go.  Food is our health.  Food is education.  Food also touches the environment. You know, if you are cutting down the trees to cook the food. You get the erosion in the soil that destroys the marine ecosystems, you can't grow food anymore. Food touches everything.”

The evening was closed by UNA-NCA Executive Director, Paula Boland, who thanked everyone for celebrating Human Rights Day with us and for all their support during the year.  Though a celebration, this was not a time to relax.   Following UN Secretary-General António Gutteres’ call to action for youth in honor of the UN’s 75th anniversary, Boland reminded the audience that “More than ever, we must protect and empower youth who are standing up for human rights around the world and at home. Building peace, advocating for climate action and bringing education to all. Now, more than ever, we must hold leaders and institutions accountable.”

In closing, Boland gave the audience a charge: "Yes, we need dreams. We cannot live without dreams. But this is the time to wake up and take action. This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake and fight for human rights for all."

We want to thank all of our sponsors who made this evening possible!  Your support made it possible for all of us to #StandUp4HumanRights Together!

10 December 2019

UNA-NCA joins Student Delegation to Capitol Hill

Slicing through the buzz of the Russell Senate Offices was the distinct chatter of UNA-USA’s student delegation, eager to celebrate Human Rights Day by urging their senators to denounce the administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Our congressional members unite across party lines through their shared investment in the wellbeing of their constituents; our appeal is to engage all members by advocating for the implementation of innovative corporate practices and sustainable policy interventions. 

lobby_dayOur visit was timely- it coincided with the conclusion of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP25). Stagnant negotiations rendered states unable to reach a comprehensive deal regarding the standards and processes for carbon emissions management. The US joined Brazil, India, and China in condemning efforts by the European Union and numerous small island states to introduce effective regulations that would allow the international community to reach goals outlined by the UNFCCC and the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Earlier this year, the administration’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 recommended devastating cuts to UN-related accounts. Due to the vigilant advocacy of grassroots organizations like UNA-USA, the president is expected to sign a Continuing Resolution by December 20th in order to avoid a government shutdown that will in turn preserve a percentage of funding for UN Peacekeeping Operations and the General Budget. However, the overall amount of funds allocated for global programs and peace-building initiatives remain unusually low.   

The US can no longer be considered a leader in the global arena of climate innovation- in its absence, international actors have failed to produce tangible options to mitigate the devastating threat of climate change. It is increasingly imperative that civil society must hold legislators directly accountable on climate action. 

The mass demonstrations that have taken plan across the globe may soon come to define 2019. Millions of people mobilized in order to demand that their leaders prioritize direct action on climate change; in the national capital area, hundreds of students went on strike “for our future” and marched on Capitol Hill. As we prepare to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, we must carve our path forward. UNA-USA’s advocacy day is a reminder to place the new generation at the forefront of these conversations. Our stories and direct experiences will shape policy and drive social progress as we enter the new decade. We must let the impact of climate action on our lives- our health, our neighborhoods, and our future- be heard. 

Take action now and contact your representatives

For more resources, please visit: 

UNA-NCA Advocacy 


Global Climate Strike

Earth Uprising

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