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16 August 2017

Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): A Lawmaker’s Perspective on Strong U.S. Leadership in the United Nations and on Climate Action

On August 8, 2017, UNA-NCA's Sustainable Development Committee hosted a program featuring Representative Don Beyer (VA-08)  discussing the potential consequences and risks associated with the United States’ recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The event highlighted the importance of building and maintaining strong US leadership on the global issues, most notably those pertaining to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


By: Jordan Hibbs, Member, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

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On August 8, 2017, the Sustainable Development Committee of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted a program entitled, "Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Lawmaker's Perspective on Strong U.S. Leadership in the UN and on Climate Action." The event took place at the Rayburn House Building on Capitol Hill, where more than 100 people gathered to hear about the experiences and challenges of U.S. Representative for Virginia, Don Beyer.
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01 August 2017

2017 Summer Session with Latin American Youth Center Highlights Important Leadership Skills

Global Classrooms DC had the opportunity to work with the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a local organization that serves over 4,000 youth and families in DC and Maryland’s Prince George’s Counties at four sites and dozens of service points through partner schools and organizations.

Throughout July, GCDC worked with the Center’s Latino Youth Leadership Council, a summer program focused on learning leadership skills that the high school participants can take with them, whether in university or life beyond school.

Over the course of three sessions in as many weeks, GCDC focused on learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and the impact of the United Nations, public speaking skills, and writing effective policy recommendations.
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19 July 2017

Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters

IMG_4011On July 12, 2017 UNA-NCA, in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, held “Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters,” a discussion on the critical importance of the relationship between the United Nations and the United States in strengthening the human rights agenda. Felice Gaer, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Vice Chair of the UN Committee against Torture, and 2016 UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Awardee, provided her perspective on human rights and the role of the United States. UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley, moderated the conversation.

Ms. Gaer provided detailed background information on the UN Human Rights system, and the role that each aspect of the system has in protecting human rights around the world. Most central to Ms. Gaer’s remarks was her discussion of the Human Rights Council and the implications of the United States’ recent suggestion to leave the council. She highlighted the urgency of the United States’ threat, “Abandonment of the Council by the United States would guarantee that human rights would shrink on the world stage; that human rights would shrink within the United Nations; and that mechanisms and states would pay a phony lip service to human rights.”

IMG_4016Citing the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s report, Game-Changer: the US at the UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Gaer argued that United States’ presence in the Council has, in fact, made a difference. She highlighted four main impacts that the United States has had on the Council: scrutiny of the world’s worst human rights violators, promotion of universal human rights principles, improved treatment of Israel, and a more rights-respecting approach. The United States has been a game-changer in the Council, and continued participation could result in further improvement. Ms. Gaer concluded her discussion with a call for the United States to continue to be an active participant in the Human Rights Council- “The US must lead, not leave.”

Read Full Remarks Here

IMG_4029UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley led the group discussion with Ms. Gaer, allowing attendees to seek the speaker’s expertise in a wide range of human rights issues. The group discussed the increasing role of China, ways to strengthen the UN Human Rights system, and the future of human rights in the United Nations.

Special thanks to the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and Ms. Gaer for helping to make this event possible.






19 July 2017

Felice Gaer's Keynote Remarks: Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters

The UN Charter, adopted in 1945, mentioned human rights 5 times. It also mandated a Commission on Human Rights as a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council -- the only such ECOSOC body mentioned by name in the Charter.  The United States served as the first Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which first met in 1946. The US was a member of that body for all but one of its 60 years in existence.

Importance of Human Rights to the US and the US to Human Rights

The US role in the struggle to promote international human rights has been unique. The US has been a leader and a fighter – for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 and other achievements to enshrine the universality of human rights for all. The US was the principal mover behind the creation of the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993.  Until now, it has been the largest contributor of voluntary funds to the Office of the High Commissioner as well.

Americans view respect for human rights of every person as a defining feature of political life. Since the 1970s, the quest for human rights has been given a significant role in American foreign policy.

That role, and the UN body foremost in pressing to advance human rights (the Human Rights Council), are now under threat. The threat is more than the usual one  which comes from rights violating countries seeking to neglect, minimize, distort and defuse human rights standards and measures to protect those rights.  The current threat is from the United States – which threatens to leave the Council, not to lead it. Abandonment of the Council by the United States would guarantee that human rights would shrink on the world stage; that human rights would shrink within the United Nations; and that mechanisms and states would pay a phony lip service to human rights, which would be distorted to protect ‘sovereignty’ not citizens; religions not the individuals who are adherents to the religions; the right to abuse your citizens in the name of the general population and not the protection of  individual rights against the state.  Scrutiny of gross violator countries would decline, and the UN would isolate rights in a Geneva based body rather than mainstream it throughout the UN system and the world writ large.
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13 July 2017

UNA-NCA Facilitates Peacebuilding Conversation with Cypriot Youth

On July 10, 2017, UNA-NCA partnered with Cyprus Friendship Program to engage 26 Cypriot teenagers in a discussion about the UN and peacebuilding at the United Nations Foundation. Half of the youth were from the North, and half were from the South. The conversation centered around youth engagement in the United Nations. UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley spoke to the teens about the United Nations Association as well as the United Nations Association of Cyprus, urging the students to get involved in their local chapter as a means for change. Mr. Moseley also engaged the groups in a short conversation about the Global Goals, asking them which goals they felt most connected to.

The group participated in an activity to learn more about how perceptions and stereotypes contribute to certain attitudes toward countries and international issues. This was followed by a wonderful discussion with Robert Skinner, Director of the United Nations Information Center. Mr. Skinner talked extensively about the most recent attempt at peace negotiations in Cyprus, and the history and future of the UN in Cyprus.

The students came back to the Global Goals later in the program with an in depth discussion on Goal 4, Quality Education. The group discussed how the goal applied to Cyprus and how a focus on the goal could contribute to peace in Cyprus. The teens were very passionate about education and wanting to invest in the history of Cyprus by educating students about the common Cypriot history everyone in the room shared.

All of the students were extremely enthusiastic and passionate about being actors of change in their country. Overall the group highlighted that they didn’t want the international community to give up on Cyprus.

Thank you to the Cyprus Friendship Program, Robb Skinner of the UN Information Center, and the United Nations Foundation for working with us on this amazing and enriching event.



29 June 2017

The Refugee Crisis: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions

By Jose Muela, UNA-NCA Program Assistant and Patrick Realiza, Chair, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

Contributors: Anick Chaipraditkul and Kenneth Lemberg, Members, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017 the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) Sustainable Development Committee hosted a panel discussion entitled, “The Refugee Crisis: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions” at the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. The event focused on Global Goal #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Patrick Realiza, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, served as the moderator for the panel of four.


The panel reflected the diversity of the Refugee Crisis. Each of them approaching the issue from a different background, they provided unique and complementing lenses through which to view the crisis. They discussed the backgrounds, experiences and personal perspectives of refugees and other displaced persons, as well as of those working in the field to resolve the crisis. As noted by Mr. Realiza, “With peaceful inclusive societies and common interest, people across the globe can help bring justice and safety to all those affected and displaced by the refugee crisis.”
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28 June 2017

UNA-NCA Participates in UNA-USA 2017 Leadership Summit

Over 300 members and supporters from 40 states attended last week’s UNA-USA Leadership Summit, with both leadership and members from the National Capital Area turning out in full force. More than a dozen panels and discussions involving high-ranking UN officials, covered issues ranging, including personal experiences working on submitting local recommendations through the UN commissions; building partnerships for the Global Goals at the local level, and sharing chapter best practices. That was just the first day! Advocacy_Day

One of the panels discussed how to turn the same passion kids learn in Model United Nations into advocating for the UN itself. At the Annual Spring Model UN Conference held at the State Department this year, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson emphasized the same message. He encouraged the students attending the conference to pursue their passion in international relations, and use the skills they acquired in Model UN beyond school. Being able to speak up and advocate for issues young people care about translates into any interest they pursue.
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15 June 2017

2017 Annual Membership Meeting

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