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12 March 2020

UNA-NCA Statement on COVID-19

We have received a number of questions/concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 developments, and how it may affect our programming and operations this spring. 
 
We want you to know that we are closely monitoring any updates on the COVID-19 disease. We are coordinating with and following the guidance of our partners and event hosts, including the UN Foundation, U.S. Department of State, and Pan American Health Organization (the regional branch of the World Health Organization for the Americas.)
 
At this time, we are assessing alternative locations and/or methods of conducting our upcoming programming and meetings should it be necessary. Currently, the UNA-NCA office will remain open and staffed.   
 
At the moment, the following programs have been postponed until further notice:
  • “The United Nations and Human Rights in Washington, DC” originally scheduled for March 24th at the;
  • "Refugee & Immigration Town Hall" originally scheduled for March 31;
  • "Spring 2020 Young Professionals' Career Dinners" originally scheduled for April 4th
 
The health and safety of our partners, volunteers, staff, and guests is our top priority. We regularly work with federal agencies and international organizations who have strict procedures on necessary cancellations. We trust their guidance on the current situation.
 
UNA-NCA is committed to providing our network with accurate information on critical global and local issues. We are concerned at the spread of misinformation across social media and news outlets contrary to what health officials and doctors have stated.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to remind the American public that the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is low. (Click here for more CDC recommendations).
 
In addition, the World Health Organization has made it clear that the vast majority of people who contract the disease will experience mild illness and recover. Those who are most at risk for severe symptoms are “people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease),” just as with influenza or rhinovirus infections (the leading cause of the common cold). (Click here for more information on myths around COVID-19).
 
Basic health and safety measures will protect you, your family, and your community, such as frequent hand-washing with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, and staying home if you feel unwell. (Click here for more information on advice for the public).
 
For any further questions on spring programming and meetings, please email Paula Boland, Executive Director at paula@unanca.org or call our office at 202-223-6092.



20 February 2020

Graduate Fellows Program Class of 2020

By Calypso Moschochoritis, UNA-NCA Program Assistant

The UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program has finally begun its 2020 session. The program focuses on current key global issues as they are faced by United Nations agencies. The mission of the program is to foster an understanding of UN issues, policies, and organizations and prepare the fellows for UN-related careers. The fellows meet once a week with experts in the UN, sustainability, conflict management, and more.

This year’s talented group of 24 students is more diverse than ever. With 14 of them having spent most of their childhood outside of the United States, they represent most regions of the world. The fellows grew up in a wide variety of circumstances, including poverty, privilege, hardship, forced migration, and refugee status. Some grew up in war-torn countries and others in peaceful surroundings. Despite differences, they all have a fire raging inside that compels them to make the world a better place. This year’s group of energetic change-makers come from nine universities in the Washington area, including Georgetown University, the George Washington University, the University of Baltimore, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the University of Maryland. Twenty fellows are master’s degree candidates, two are doctoral candidates, and two are law students.

Components of the UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program include a weekly seminar program focusing on current key global issues such as economic development and economic policy, UN budget and finance, and gender; intensive career development sessions to support the Fellows as they explore UN-related careers; and a visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, were fellows will participate in the annual UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit.

In conclusion, the UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program is an opportunity to gain otherwise hidden insight into the UN system, as well as interact with an array of people from diverse backgrounds they otherwise would not have had the chance to meet.



12 February 2020

UN Funding Threatened: The FY '21 Budget Proposal


Earlier this week, the administration proposed a budget for 2021 that drastically slashes global accounts by upwards of 22%. UN-related accounts were even more heavily targeted: contributions to UN peacekeeping activities, for example, would be cut by 29% from FY’20; an account that finances U.S. dues payments for the UN Regular Budget and a plethora of UN specialized agencies would be slashed by more than 34%; and a key account that provides voluntary contributions to UNICEF, UNDP, OHCHR, and a number of other UN programs would be eliminated entirely.  In addition, as the Wuhan Coronavirus continues its rapid spread across the globe, the Administration’s budget also slashes funding for Global Health Programs by 34% compared to what Congress provided last year.


The U.S. currently owes almost $1 billion in arrears to UN Peacekeeping. If we fail to pay our dues to the UN, we put our country, and our planet, at risk. The approval and implementation of this budget would severely limit the UN’s capacity to facilitate critical, lifesaving work and threatens the safety and success of our peacekeeping allies. Simply put- these cuts are dangerous and not aligned with priorities of average Americans. 


We must hold our elected officials accountable and reaffirm our support for full UN funding. Take action now.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the FY '21 global budget, see the US Global Leadership Coalition's full report








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.

GCDC_19-20_Poster.








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
President
UN Association of the National Capital Area

 



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