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07 March 2017

National Capital Area Chapter of the United Nations Association Adopts A Refugee School in Kenya

Funds raised will help build classrooms and purchase school supplies through the nationwide Adopt-A-Future campaign in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2016) — The National Capital Area (NCA) chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) announced today that it is adopting the Elnino School in Dadaab, Kenya as part of the Adopt-A-Future campaign which supports refugee education worldwide in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The NCA chapter has set a fundraising goal of $30,000 to help build classrooms and purchase school supplies for the Dadaab School, which serves 928 male students and 668 female students for a total of 1,596 students ages 6 to 13 who have been forced to flee their homes in the midst of devastating conflict.

"We have all seen the heartbreaking images of refugee children who have been forced to leave their homes to escape violence and war," said the NCA chapter of the UNA. "If these children can't get an education in the camps where they are currently sheltering, they won't have the skills they need to either return home, should conditions allow, or to make a life for themselves in another country." NCA residents will make a difference in the lives of students who have already been through so much by supporting the Adopt-A-Future campaign, which seeks to prevent a lost generation of millions of refugee children."

It is currently estimated that over 65 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest figure ever recorded. Approximately 600,000 refugees currently reside in Kenya; more than half of these refugees are under 18 years old. The Adopt-A-Future Campaign supports refugee children worldwide, but is currently giving special emphasis to Kenya as the country has absorbed thousands of new refugees from conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Somalia, but has received little media attention and very limited philanthropic support.

All funds raised through the Adopt-A-Future campaign will be matched by the Educate A Child Fund of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nassar of Qatar and other philanthropic partners. To help the chapter meet its fundraising goal, please visit http://www.unausa.org/programs/adopt-a-future.

All donations to the Adopt-A-Future campaign are tax deductible.

01 March 2017

The Refugee Crisis: UNA-NCA’s Response


UNA-USA has launched a campaign to raise funds to support the education of refugee children around the world. We need your help.

There are 70 million refugees and displaced persons in the world, more than the combined population of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand-- the largest number in recorded history.

And more than half of them are children. 80 percent are women and children.

One out of every 113 people on the planet is uprooted-- that's 24 people every minute. They are forced from their homes because of persecution, violence, conflict or natural disasters.

The average length of time a person is displaced is 17 years. Children become adults. Will they have the education and training to be productive members of society when they return home or resettle in a new country?

A refugee child who is not in school is at risk of being abused, trafficked, or radicalized by extremist groups.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is working to prevent a lost generation by educating refugees children in camps and other settlements around the world. But they need our help.

To put it diplomatically, many of us are concerned that the United States government today is not as welcoming to refugees as we should be and have been historically. We need to step up and take action to address this global crisis, and UNA-NCA now provides the opportunity!

The United Nations Association-- USA has initiated the "Adopt-A-Future" program to provide educational facilities, equipment, textbooks, backpacks, and uniforms to refugee children around the world. For example, it provides support to some 60 schools in two UNHCR camps in Kenya, housing the largest number of refugees in the world.

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), one of the largest and most active chapters of UNA-USA, is raising funds to support "Adopt-A-Future" and to enable our chapter to provide assistance to schools for refugees in Africa and the Middle East. Please contribute to this worthy cause. Contributions are fully tax deductible.

Ways to contribute:

  1. Mail a check made out to UNA-NCA with “Adopt-A-Future” written on the memo line.
  2. Bring a check or cash to the UNA-NCA office, 2000 P Street NW Suite 630, Washington, DC, 20036.
  3. Call UNA-NCA at 202-223-6092 for contributions through credit card.
  4. Contribute online here and make sure to mark chapter as "DC-National Capital Area" as your local chapter.

We will keep you posted on the campaign and on the schools that we help on our website.

Your support is welcome and greatly appreciated.

With deepest gratitude,
Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Retired)
President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

15 February 2017

Statement by the UNA-NCA President on Whether the Carbon Tax is the Way Forward on Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement

When some of the leading statesmen of previous Republican administrations form the Climate Leadership Council and call for a Carbon Tax, it is time to listen. Former Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz, former Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, and former presidential economic advisors, Marty Feldman and Greg Mankiw have proposed a market based solution to combat the devastation of global warming and satisfy US commitments under the Paris agreement.

While we await the evolution of the Trump Administration's policies on climate change and the Paris Agreement and as Congress and the Administration work on tax reform and deficit reduction, it is time to put a carbon tax on the table. In his previous life, Secretary of State Tillerson called for a carbon tax, and Secretary Mattis' Defense Department has recognized the serious national security implications of climate change. Democratic members of Congress from the UNA-NCA region, such as Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Delaney, have previously proposed carbon tax legislation. It is time for the parities to work together in considering how a carbon tax would address many of the global and domestic challenges we face.

UNA-NCA is not endorsing any specific proposal or approach, but we urge both parties in Congress and the Administration to give serious consideration to incorporating a carbon tax in tax reform and climate change legislation.

- Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Ret.)
President, UNA-NCA

13 February 2017

UNA-NCA's Cities for CEDAW Initiative

The UNA-NCA Board voted on February 10th, 2015 to form an ad hoc committee for the purpose of supporting citywide legislation, which embraces the principles of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. (CEDAW). On March 3rd 2015, Councilmember David Grosso introduced the legislation. Unfortunately, there was not a hearing and a vote before the 2015/2016 legislative session ended. We are working to have it introduced again and will continue educating and advocating for a hearing before the DC Council Judiciary Committee and a vote this session.

Several organizations have joined UNA-NCA as Supporting Organizations and UNA-NCA is continuing to recruit additional partners to encourage the DC Council to support the legislation and help bring gender equality to the Nation’s Capital. If you are a member of an organization that would like to support this effort, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If you would like to promote CEDAW in DC, please use our current flyer. For social media, please use the hashtag #DC4CEDAW. 

Thank you to all the organizations who have already signed up to support the legislation:

·         Baha'is of Washington, D.C
DC National Organization of Women (NOW)
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

·         League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
·         Luz Maria Foundation
·         Mothers Outreach Network
·         National Advocacy Center Of The Sisters Of The Good Shepherd
·         National Women's Law Center
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC
·         The Federal City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
·         The Zonta Club of Washington D.C.
US National Committee for UN Women
Women's Information Network
Women Enabled International

We would also like to thank the DC Council members who sponsored the legislation in 2015. DC Council  Chairman MendelsonCouncilmembeDavid GrossoCouncilmember Charles AllenCouncilmember Vincent OrangeCouncilmember Mary ChehCouncilmember AnitaBondsCouncilmemberMcDuffie, Councilmember Yvette AlexanderCouncilmember Elissa SilvermanCouncilmember Brianne Nadeau, and Councilmember Jack Evans.


The United Nations approved CEDAW in 1979 and it was signed by President Carter in 1980, but it has not yet been ratified by the US Senate. By supporting a Human Rights bill we can help implement a citywide action plan to ensure equality for women and girls in the economic, political, social and cultural arenas.
In 2014, municipalities across the nation began signing onto the Cities for CEDAW initiative, pledging to step up where the federal government has failed and to implement the principles of CEDAW at the local level. DC has the potential to join the ranks of cities that have passed binding legislation, cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami Dade County if the bill is passed. Many other communities have passed resolutions supporting the concept of gender equality. 

The key provisions in the bill introduced in 2015 and potentially to be introduced in 2017 are:

·         District Government agencies will be required to conduct gender analysis reporting according to the guidelines developed by the Office of Human Rights (OHR)

·         The gender analysis will include the collection of disaggregated data and an evaluation of gender equity in the District Government agencies operations

·         Each agency will designate a management or executive level employee to serve as a liaison to the OHR to coordinate the completion of the gender analysis

·         OHR will develop timelines for completion of the gender analysis

·         Annually, OHR will develop a citywide action plan to address any deficiencies identified in the gender analysis reporting

·         OHR will present the annual action plan to the Mayor and monitor the implementation of the citywide action plan

·         OHR will make available to all District Government agencies training in human rights with a gender perspective

While we continue to urge the U.S. Senate to ratify CEDAW, we believe it is important to build support locally and begin to implement its provisions by passing CEDAW ordinances in as many cities as possible and securing the endorsement of mayors for this approach.  This effort will help to raise awareness of women’s issues covered by CEDAW as well as build a constituency of the public and local elected officials.  If you are a member of an organization that would like to support this effort, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

09 February 2017

2017 Call for Nominations for UNA-NCA Board Officers and At-Large Director Positions

According to Article IX of UNA-NCA’s bylaws, the Governance Committee of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) will constitute itself in a Nominating Committee from time to time. The Nominating Committee chaired by past president Karen Mulhauser, wishes to invite UNA-NCA members to submit names of candidates, including themselves, for vacant officer and at-large positions on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors.

According to UNA-NCA's bylaws, each member who has been in good standing for the preceding year should be given the opportunity to submit the name of any member in good standing for nomination for any vacant office or for membership on the Board of Directors. We invite your suggestions for nominees for the positions listed below. Names and a brief statement of the nominee's qualifications should be submitted by March 10th, 2017 via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or via fax at 202-223-6096.  

Because UNA-NCA intentionally does not elect all its officers at the same time, there are many positions in which the incumbent is either completing a term or can remain in office for another term if re-elected. The Governance Committee seeks candidates that include, but are not limited to, stakeholders from corporate, philanthropic, government, foreign policy, international relations and academic leadership. The committee also seeks nominees that will help enhance the board’s reflection of key diversity dimensions, including geographic region, race, age, gender, education and socioeconomic class.

A Ballot will be sent to members in good standing in May and election results will be presented at the June 8th Annual Membership Meeting. One or more candidates may be suggested below: 

Officers (two-year term)
Vice President, Advocacy: ______________

Vice President, Communications: ______________

Vice President Development : ______________

Vice President, Education and Programs: _____________

Vice President, Membership and Volunteer Engagement : ______________

Vice President, Young Professionals : ______________

Student Representative (one-year term) :  ___________________


Directors-at-large (three-year term) - One or more candidates may be suggested below:  


Officers serve in the UNA-NCA Executive Committee which meets every other month and are expected to commit 5-10 hours a week. Officers and Directors at large are expected to attend Board of Directors meetings (minimum of four every year). 
According to the bylaws, Board members are expected to participate in defining strategic directions for UNA-NCA, to fulfill financial and managerial oversight responsibilities, to volunteer time to UNA-NCA Committees, to recruit members, to help to identify new funding sources, to assist in fundraising, and to make annual gifts that represent significant and meaningful commitment, with full appreciation for the person's financial ability and other obligations

The Board adopted an annual contribution policy of $500 ($200 from each Board member and $300 “give or get”). The policy enables every Board member to be recognized as a Global Citizen in the UNA-NCA Annual Report. Board participation and compliance with this policy will be taken into account by the Governance Committee during this year’s nomination process.   

If you have any questions about the positions vacant please do not hesitate to contact Nominating Committee Chair Karen Mulhauser at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and Executive Director Paula Boland at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 202.223.6092.        


08 February 2017

Statement by UNA-NCA President on How International Treaties Strengthen US National Security

 The challenges of the 21st century are mostly global in nature—terrorism, climate change, pandemics, an interconnected global economy, among many others. International treaties are an efficient and essential means of addressing these challenges. Treaties such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Treaty, the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and some 12 Treaties on International Terrorism, to cite but a few examples, are critical tools in keeping our citizens and future generations safe from the ravages of war, environmental degradation, global instability, and authoritarian aggression. Moreover, they universalize values embedded in our Constitutional Republic and free society.

According to press reports, a draft executive order has been circulating in the Administration that would initiate a review of multilateral treaties to ascertain which negotiations or treaties we should leave. Hopefully it is on the back burner for the present. Entitled "Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties," the review would not involve treaties directly related to national security, extradition and international trade. Treaties that have been ratified by a two-thirds Senate majority presumably advance our national security. After all, the Senate has hardly rushed to ratify international treaties. There are more than 40 pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, some for many years. A constructive review would undoubtedly demonstrate the value of ratifying several treaties that strongly advance US interests. For example, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea would strengthen our hand in the turbulent South China Sea and Persian Gulf and protect our marine environment. The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities would universalize US law on disabilities and even the competitive playing field globally. The Conventions on (1) The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and (2) The Rights of the Child would enshrine US values in the fight against the subjection of women and abuse of children in other cultures. We should be embarrassed that the US is the only country that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have more company in failing to ratify CEDAW: Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

In a meeting this week, UNA-NCA's International Law Committee discussed the possibility of doing a series on how international treaties serve US national security interests. If you are interested in working on such a program, please contact UNA-NCA Membership and Program Director, Hanna Hayden ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

-Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired)
President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

07 February 2017

“The UN Association – USA: A Little Known History of Advocacy and Action” by James Wurst (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016) Reviewed by Robert J. Berg

Robert J. Berg is the Chairman of the Alliance for Peacebuilding and former senior adviser, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UN Economic Commission for Africa and World Federation of United Nations Associations.

"I recommend the history of UNA-USA by James Wurst, but maybe for different reasons than other reviewers.

First, the good points..and they are many. The history of UNA-USA and its predecessor, the American Association for the United Nations, is one that is amazing. We are all well versed with how leading Americans in the mid and late 1940s backed the UN...Eleanor Roosevelt, et. al. In addition, I learned, there were a Who's Who of corporate, labor, media and national political figures who worked for and supported the AAUN and UNA-USA. And I learned that Eleanor Roosevelt didn't just support the AAUN, she started in late 1952 as a very active volunteer in it and later chaired its board for many terms.

The insiders who ran AAUN/UNA were not mere rooting sections: they helped shape numerous UN policies and were closely consulted by, e.g., FDR and several secretaries of state. I dare say that few civil society organizations of its modest size (never much over 30,000 members) had such influence on the global stage.

Well before the concept of "Track II Diplomacy" was named, the early leaders of AAUN/UNA were acting directly to help shape international relations. "Parallel" studies focused on hard issues like Russia, China and Iran. Numerous policy recommendations helped shape the UN system.

Naturally, there was an historic UNA focus on U.S. financial support of the UN that was an important counter to recurrent attacks starting with McCarthyism in the early 1950s and continuing to current times. And here the leadership of major corporate leaders involved in AAUN and UNA (an example is John Whitehead, former head of Goldman Sachs) has had an outsized influence for the good. And there were a whole set of less well known outstanding citizens who were able to help in UNA's work. I am sorry that Andy Rice was not given due recognition in the book, but am glad so many were.

Rarely was there clear sailing. Always there was the need to deal with the consequences of poor performance in a few parts of the UN (e.g., the desire to control news, a policy adopted in UNESCO; and more famously the General Assembly equation of Zionism with racism) and the furor of Congressional UN-bashers of various stripes. This called for great political creativity and persistence by the US defenders of the UN. It is inspiring to read about all this.

At the same time, the book is perhaps too quick to say that the decline in U.S. Government support of the UN meant that UNA was almost fated to decline in the last couple of decades. In fact, U.S. financial support of the UN increased over these years. And the UN has and is accomplishing amazing things. An example is the impact of all the actions pursuant to the 1990 World Summit for Children. (Full disclosure: I was senior adviser to the Summit.) As a consequence of the agreements at the Summit and heroic work particularly by UNICEF and WHO with numerous national governments, infant and young child mortality has dropped so much that the UN could (if its public affairs leaders were bolder) claim that the UN has saved more lives in this one campaign alone than were lost is all of WW II. Similarly, overall, the Millennium Development Goals were an historic success. For example, if current trends continue the world is on course to eliminate for the first time in all of human history the worst forms of poverty, by 2030. And in the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs) there is now a goal to institutionalize conflict resolution expertise in all countries. The SDGs and the UN-brokered climate treaty provide a course that will mean a better chance for billions of people.

All this progress is being challenged, of course, by an as yet unproven but already scary Trump Administration which leads, perhaps as never before, to the need for a powerful UNA.

The book does, in fair part, explain why the UNA is not today up to the task to lead to the scale of major positive impacts it had in the past. It is a sad litany. Basically, the board of UNA failed in its duty to secure solid leadership and finances for UNA. It certainly had a fine example of leadership in the presidency of Ed Luck (1984-94) who went on after his service in UNA to be Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and to invent a major advance in human rights with the policy of the Responsibility to Protect. Ed came into UNA's presidency and had to rescue finances while he built up solid programs...so he proved this is possible. After a not too graceful change of presidents in 1994, UNA had a string of inadequate presidents. And when the person who presided during 1999-2009 came in, he ended UNA's excellent public policy work, a move that I told the then UNA chair was akin to a self-inflicted lobotomy. Among other things, not having stellar public policy work lessened the marketability of the Association with key funders.

Whether or not it was inevitable to save the organization by merging into the UN Foundation is another issue. One can say, however, that the Foundation has the kind of major leaders in its ken that UNA used to have. The question for the future is whether the citizen activists remaining in the UNA network will be able to have the sense of influence on policy and connection with major leaders that the book so nicely recalls for us today. That is a challenge the Foundation needs to meet.

I want to thank Ed Elmendorf, former UNA-USA president, and many others who worked with him, for making the book possible.

I recommend that a 20 page summary of the book be provided to each member of the UNA."

31 January 2017

Statement from UNA-NCA President on US-UN relationship

As Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" went to war to save the world from Nazi/Fascism, a small group of quiet thinkers met secretly in the State Department to plan the postwar peace. Spurred by the visionary leadership of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the United States developed a new world architecture designed to sustain the peace. Cognizant of the failure of the League of Nations to prevent the second world war after it was abandoned by the United States, American leadership in San Francisco and in Congress (in quickly ratifying the UN Charter) established the institutions that are dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflict, the promotion of universal human rights, and the global uplifting of standards of living. The anchor, the United Nations, has not worked exactly as envisioned, but it has done extraordinary work in resolving many conflicts, advancing universal values and norms, improving the lives of the poorest members of the global community, providing essential humanitarian assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters, and facilitating global cooperation in many sectors such as aviation, telecommunications, agriculture, trade, and disease prevention. Most importantly, for more than 70 years there has been no major war among the great powers. Presidents from both political parties have supported this new world order, and the United Nations has been most successful where there has been strong and effective US leadership, such as the support provided by and for President George H. W. Bush during the first Gulf War.

Many UNA-NCA members have expressed concerns, given the uncertain signals and chaos of this transition period, that the world order designed and supported by bipartisan US leadership for more than 70 years may be under attack. We at UNA-NCA recognize that the UN is an imperfect institution that needs strong US leadership to enable it to fulfill the vision of its Charter. Through quiet diplomacy, working with like-minded states, great progress has been made and will be made in the future. But the US must be at the table. Arrogant threats, the withholding of funding, and non-participation in programs where we don't always have our way are completely counterproductive and based on ignorance about how diplomacy actually works. Legislation pending in Congress to defund the UN unless the Security Council reverses it resolution on the West Bank settlements is a case in point. 14 Members of the Security Council voted for the Resolution, including Great Britain and France. If US leaders are concerned about this resolution, they should be talking to our allies who voted for it and not trying to make the forum in which the vote took place the scapegoat. Given the uncertainties of the moment, the greatest threat to the global world order is simply ignorance of history and ignorance about the work, values and potential of the United Nations and other international institutions. So what can we do about it ? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Join UNA-NCA's energized Advocacy Committee and let your members of Congress know how important US leadership is at the United Nations.
    • Get involved and help organize programs that inform and educate policy leaders, the public and the next generation of leaders about the work and values of the UN.
    • Support UNA-NCA to enable us to expand our educational programs for the next generation of global citizens and broaden our reach in the national capital region.
    • Support the UNA-USA's "Adopt-A-Future - Educating a generation of refugee children." If the US Government is stepping down, US citizens must step up to meet this global crisis. Our chapter will be soon launching an initiative on this—stay tuned.
History teaches that the US Government and the United Nations ultimately respond to the wishes of the people, especially as they organize to make their hopes and aspirations known. As US citizens and as global citizens, now is the time to take our stand and make our voices heard.

Many other UNA chapters across the country are also organizing to express their members' strong support for continued US full funding of the UN by Congress and the Administration.

-Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired)
United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

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