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03 October 2018

Review of The Critical Challenges of Human Trafficking and Corruption

On September 20, 2018, UNA-NCA's International Law Committee and The Partnership for Transparency Fund presented The Critical Challenges of Human Trafficking and Corruption before an overflow crowd at the United Nations Foundation.

Human Trafficking and Corruption are too often considered in separate silos. This program demonstrated that they are inextricably connected. Organized crime could not pursue human trafficking without the explicit cooperation of public officials.

Principal Speaker Katie Ford, former CEO of Ford Models and founder and CEO of Freedom For All, told the chilling stories of two young women who had become human slaves and, fortunately, were saved by Katie's organization.

The first woman’s name is Grace, a native of an African country, with a graduate degree in Norway. Grace’s story started after she responded to a job offer in a Gulf country, little did she know that she would soon be forced to work in a sexually abusive environment as a domestic worker. Not only did she receive no pay for her work, but she was told she owed a debt of $2,500 to her captors.

When others in similar situations were told by a woman from their home country that she would pay their debt, they were forced into prostitution and some were never heard from again. Grace was rescued by Katie's organization. After being rescued Grace started an organization to prevent others from being trafficked.

Soon after a man named Sam, promised to help her start the organization and became the organization’s first chairmen, ended up sexually harassing Grace as well. As Katie described it, every aspect of Grace’s story was marred with bribes and corruption.

While a majority of the victims come from developing countries and Central and Eastern Europe, they all too often end up enslaved in Western developed countries. The second woman’s name was Shandra. Shandra had earned a college degree and had been a trader at an international bank in Indonesia. She paid $3,000 to get a job in the United Sates. She was provided with a visa and a flight to New York City, was greeted upon arrival with a professional looking sign. Upon arrival at the house where she expected to work, a gun was placed to her head and she was forced to work as a prostitute in New York City and Connecticut. She was sold from person to person and even escaped twice, but to no avail, the police she turned too after escaping didn’t even believe her story. While the United States is the leader in combatting trafficking, it’s police force still lacks the necessary funding for adequate training and enforcement.

Principal Speaker Amb. Lou deBaca, now a professor at Yale University, was formerly Ambassador-at-Large and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State on Trafficking in Persons, and Director of DOJ's Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking ("SMART").

Ambassador deBaca placed the issues at this forum in both an historical and a public policy context. He not only noted the long history of slavery, but summarized events in the U.S. that underscored that forms of human slavery have continued here and are rarely prosecuted. He stressed that while much is being done to counter both corruption and human trafficking, the responses are far too little, given the magnitude of the problems and the highly organized approaches of the criminals running transnational human trafficking operations.

Panelist Kelly Ann P. Whelan, Consultant to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna, provided a UN perspective, noting its engagement, as well as her recent experiences in Ukraine. The country situation she described added significantly to the audience's knowledge of not only how pervasive trafficking is, but of how it is enabled by corrupt public officials at every level. 

Panelist Frank Vogl, Co-founder of Transparency International and Partnership for Transparency Fund, and author of the recent book Waging War on Corruption, stressed that legal solutions alone will not suffice and that the challenge has to be seen as well from a moral perspective. Now, on the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, it is imperative that efforts be redoubled on every front to counter human trafficking. The goals of human rights and anti-corruption organizations are fundamentally the same-- to ensure that everyone everywhere can live a life of dignity. This demands far deeper partnerships between civil society organizations engaged in countering human trafficking and those in the realm of anticorruption.

In a discussion that was moderated by Robert Craft, Senior Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Co-chair of UNA-NCA's International Law Committee, the audience’s questions largely focused on what practical measures could and should be taken.  One question from the audience asked about the use of crypto-currencies as ways the traffickers secure illicit funds without detection. The panelists noted that so far this does not appear to be a major factor, but more generally efforts to curb international money laundering need to be a major part of the assault on the criminals engaged in trafficking.

27 September 2018

GCDC Partner IOM Interacts in the Classroom to Promote Migration Issues

On September 26, experts from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had the opportunity to speak to students from Alice Deal Middle School, a public school in northwest Washington, DC. Around 50 students in total participate in the school's Model UN program, including going to conferences in the DC-area and organizing their own middle school MUN conference. 

IOMVisit918Rachel Sanchez (center), Operations Associate at USA FOR IOM, speaks to the middle school students at Alice Deal. 

The students from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade were preparing for an upcoming mini-Model UN simulation related to migration that was part of GCDC’s year-round curriculum program. In these mini-simulations, students take on the role of a diplomat and represent their assigned countries, and find solutions with other delegates. The question-and-answer period focused on how countries can work together in real life, what major challenges stand in the way of countries helping migrants in all their forms, and what current situations are happening across the globe.

One of the most difficult aspects to learning about migration is to understand the massive scale that the issue operates at. According to IOM, approximately one in seven people is a migrant. It is estimated that about 258 million people are international migrants who have left their country, and approximately 750 million are internal migrants who have moved within the borders of their country. 

IOM serves as the United Nations Migration Agency, and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits both migrants and society. Established in 1951, IOM provides humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, promotes international cooperation on migration issues, and helps governments and non-governmental organizations find solutions to migration-related challenges. IOM aims to protect migrants' human rights that are guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, promotes awareness of migrant issues, and monitors and updates statistics on migration trends around the world.

In addition, the speakers gave a comprehensive overview of how international relations and the skills of Model UN can play into a career. Model UN requires a variety of abilities to succeed, including public speaking, negotiation, writing, research, and advocacy, to get your ideas across. The vast majority of these skills are transferrable across different industries, fields, and careers. Students also have the opportunity through Model UN to learn about a variety of international issues, from migration to gender equality to the environment, and more.

19 September 2018

A Panel Discussion on Russia and Human Rights in the United Nations

by Tselmegtsetseg Tsetsendelger, UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee

Following its examination of China and Human Rights in the United Nations, UNA-NCA turned its attention to the human rights record of a second permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the Russian Federation. In May 2018 the United Nations Human Rights Council, through its Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, convened to discuss the human rights situation in the Russian Federation. In conjunction with this important review, the Human Rights Committee of UNA-NCA released a four part post entitled “Russia, the UN and Human Rights” to provide background on key components of the topic.

The discussion on September 13 at the Washington office of the American Jewish Committee built on the background paper and looked at the interactions among the Russian Federation, the United Nations and its human rights machinery. Specifically, the panelists discussed how the different parts of the UN human rights system work in addressing the situation in the Russian Federation, how the country uses its diplomatic tools to influence the UN human rights agenda, as well as the role of civil society actors and how they view the UN as a forum for addressing human rights.

Although the title of the conversation focused on the Russian Federation, the discussion went well beyond one country to reflect wide-ranging insights and experiences of our expert panelists.Felice Gaer of the Jacob Blaustein Institute shared general observations about how the UN human rights machinery operates, from the perspective of a non-governmental organization representative and academic analyst as well as that of a UN expert; she also provided a first-hand account of Russia’s recent engagement with the UN Committee against Torture, of which she is the Vice Chair.  Ted Piccone of the Brookings Institution spoke mainly on the way that Russia, often together with China, seeks to use its diplomatic tools to undermine the UN’s effectiveness in addressing human rights issues. Sarah Mendelson of Carnegie-Mellon University described Russia’s approach to human rights in the UN as well as steps taken to counter that approach, based in part on her experience as a practitioner of UN human rights work when she was the U.S. Ambassador to the Economic and Social Council.  Natalya Arno of the Free Russia Foundation focused more specifically on limited steps as well as significant shortcomings in the way that different parts of the UN address Russia’s domestic human rights situation, speaking from the critical perspective of a civil society advocacy organization.

Please view the recording of the event for the full discussion and the question and answer session that followed. 

View Event Video Here 

05 September 2018

"Equality: It's All In The Family" Review

On August 22, UNA-NCA’s Africa Affairs Committee and the Women's Learning Partnership collaborated with the George Washington University Gender Equality Initiative and the Institute of African Studies to host Women’s Learning Partnership(WLP) documentary film Equality: It's All in the Family. The film outlined some of the root causes of discriminatory laws and highlights pathways toward a legal reform.

Following the film, a vibrant panel discussion ensued,moderated by Paula Tavares, a from Women, Business, and The Law group at the World Bank, focusing on family law reform in African countries.
Opening_RemarksThe panelists came to a consensus that there can be no peace, security, or development without the involvement of women at all levels of decision-making processes within their respective governments. They also expressed the need for women to have a continued and a powerful voice against gender inequality and mentioned the need to implement critical international commitments including the support of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2063 Agenda of the African Union.

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula of Tanzania, from the GW Institute of African Studies, spoke about how every woman should be empowered to become drivers of social change in their communities. Speaking in her national capacity, she recounted several social challenges including inadequate and lack of access to education for girls, ensuring how some of these issues are intricately linked in achieving peace and security, human rights, and above all key development on the continent.

In the ensuing discussions, it is evident that women's voices should be heard rather than silenced in order to achieve gender equality. We need more women taking action to advance this vital work, the Ambassador cautioned. 
The overall objective of the event was to encourage the public, scholars, students, and policymakers interested in this issue to learn how inequitable family laws affect the security and well-being of women, girls, and their communities. 

The UNA-NCA Africa Affairs Committee is pleased to join WLP's global campaign and build on these efforts. We hope to continue to grow and catalyze the necessary investments to further advance this important campaign agenda to reform these family laws in Africa and beyond.

05 September 2018

Remembering Arvonne Fraser

By Vivian Derryck, UNA-NCA Advisory Council, and Karen Mulhauser, UNA-NCA Past President

Arvonne Skelton Fraser, died on August 7, 2018 at her St. Croix River house at the age of 92. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the New York Times obituaries thoughtfully document her long life of contributions to women’s issues, human rights, the Democratic Party and social equity.

If you want to honor Arvonne, please don’t send flowers or cards. Instead, go out and organize for a cause, donate to and volunteer for candidates, read the news and talk to your family, friends, neighbors and elected officials about important issues. This is how Arvonne spent her years as an admired leader, feminist, ambassador, author, wife of Congressman and Mayor of Minneapolis Don Fraser, sister of Bonnie Skelton, mother of Tom, Mary, John, Lois, Anne and Jean, grandmother of seven grandchildren, and friend, mentor and teacher to so many. You may also share stories and pictures on her memorial website here.

Arvonne began her career in the MN Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party [DFL] and was its president from 1956- 1962.  Her leadership in the women’s movement included a term as president of the Women’s Equity Action League in 1972, pioneering work as the Director of the Office of Women in Development at USAID in the Carter Administration and service as a U.S. representative to the UN Commission of the Status of Women. She was a member of the U.S. delegations to the first two conferences of the UN Decade for Women: Mexico City in1975 and Copenhagen in 1980.

Arvonne was committed to the U.N., so she was delighted when Don spent a session in New York as a Congressional delegate.  Indeed, in 1995 when Arvonne and Don shared the UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Award, Arvonne called the award one of the highlights of her professional life.  In addition to their joint awards, Arvonne received many awards and recognition for her work in women-in-development and women’s equity from the U.S. and other governments as well as from numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  

Arvonne modeled a committed feminist who saw the importance of listening, compromise and building coalitions.  Over the decades, she and Don also modeled a partnership which represented a shared passion for public service with an emphasis on human rights, improving lives in developing countries, democracy–strengthening and women’s equality--both in the developing world and here in the U.S.  With a rich mix of strategic thinking, global perspective and strong commitment to women’s equity, Arvonne leaves a legacy as a global citizen of integrity and conviction.

30 August 2018

Tribute to an exemplary diplomat – Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman

By Paula Boland, UNA-NCA Executive Director
On August 24, 2018, UNA-NCA and the international affairs community lost one of its finest diplomats less than a week after the passing of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Ambassador Princeton Lyman was an active Advisory Council member and avid supporter of our chapter.

Ambassador Lyman began his government career with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and served as USAID Director in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1976 to 1978. His extensive career in government also included assignments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1986), U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989), Director of Refugee Programs (1989-1992), U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (1992-1995), and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1996-1998).Princeton Lyman will be deeply missed, but he will live on as an exemplary patriot, diplomat, and friend,” Constance “Connie” A. Morella spoke of her fellow Advisory Council member.As a member of Congress in the 90’s, I traveled to South Africa before and during his Ambassadorship and salute his legacy of negotiating an agreement in the country’s transition to democracy. In all his diplomatic assignments, Ambassador Lyman’s calm, reasonable demeanor enhanced his practice of listening, learning, and leading.”

More recently, he served as the United States special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013. As special envoy, he led U.S. policy in helping in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Ambassador Lyman previously held the position of Ralph Bunche Fellow for African Affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. From 1999 to 2003, he served as Executive Director of the Global Interdependence Initiative at the Aspen Institute. From 2008-2010, Ambassador Lyman was a member of the African Advisory Committee to the United States Trade Representative.

In his role as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Ambassador Lyman supported the U.S. government in developing a strong relationship with the United Nations. His predecessor, Sheba Crocker, saidPrinceton understood better than most the value of US engagement and leadership in multilateral institutions, and the importance of those institutions to advancing U.S. interests on issues ranging from peace and security and conflict resolution to protection of refugees, human rights, and humanitarian issues.  His voice and commitment will be sorely missed.”  

Fellow Advisory Council member and longtime friend of Ambassador Lyman, Ambassador George Moose noted,

“Princeton is no doubt best known for his critical role as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, in nurturing and facilitating the negotiations that led in 1994 to South Africa’s historic and peaceful transition from apartheid to multi-racial democracy. Less well known, but no less important, was his leadership of the State Department’s International Organization Affairs Bureau from 1996 to 1998, which coincided with the first two years of Kofi Annan’s tenure as UN Secretary-General.  Here, again, Princeton played an indispensable role in facilitating communication between the UN in New York and the U.S. policy makers in Washington. Their partnership was instrumental in mobilizing and galvanizing U.S. support for Annan’s ambitious agenda for reforming and revitalizing the UN and restoring its credibility, most notably in the areas of peacekeeping and human rights.  I had the opportunity to see and appreciate the value of his efforts from my perch as head of the UN Office in Geneva.  The fact that the world has lost both of these extraordinary leaders and visionaries in the space of just one week is doubly tragic.”

Ambassador Lyman was an active supporter of the UN Association and its mission of educating and mobilizing its members for a strong US-UN partnership. UNA-NCA awarded Ambassador Lyman with its Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award in 2015 at its Annual Membership Meeting. In his remarks, he emphasized, “What we do here at UNA and in UN Associations across the world is vital to enabling the UN to be effective, for its writ to be respected, and for it to be able to do its work…” “…No matter what its shortcomings and problems, the United Nations time and time again is the institution to which the world turns for some of the most difficult problems.”    

Ambassador Lyman was admired by his colleagues and consulted regularly by the network of foreign affairs organizations. Ambassador Lyman will certainly be missed at home and abroad, but his legacy will live through the work of the many organizations and people he touched and mentored throughout his journey. Rest in Peace.

UNA-NCA welcomes contributions in honor of Ambassador Lyman. See details here

Ambassador Lyman 
receiving the 2015 UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award at the Annual Membership Meeting. 


Ambassador Lyman with UNA-NCA Board members Karen Mulhauser and Richard Ponzio at the 2016 UN Day event at the National Education Association.

20 August 2018

A Tribute to Kofi Annan

Stephen Moseley, President of UNA-NCA

This weekend, the world lost a significant leader. Kofi Annan led the UN as Secretary-General for two consecutive terms from 1997 to 2006. Most recently, in 2016, he served as a special UN envoy to review and reveal the murder and genocide of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for revitalizing the UN and for giving priority to human rights during his tenure as Secretary-General. The Nobel Committee also recognized his firm commitment to containing the spread of the HIV virus in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.

As Secretary-General, he addressed the struggles for peace in Kenya after a disputed election and challenged Saddam Hussein to disclose his weapons in Iraq before the American and Allied forces invasion there. Through his tireless diplomacy, he garnered support for the UN from key members who were falling behind in their financial support for the UN, compelling the US to pay its arrears of dues to the UN. His soft-spoken demeanor and elegant presentation as the world's diplomat enabled him to address the UN's interests and mission in many of the most challenging places including Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Born in Ghana in 1938, Kofi Annan was the first UN Secretary-General from Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, he was the first Secretary-General to assume office after a career in civil service at the UN. Kofi Annan held a series of significant appointments: first, at the World Health Organization (WHO); second, in Ethiopia with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); finally, as the deputy and then head of UN Peacekeeping Operations.

His leadership was not without controversy on several occasions. He faced significant challenges in trying to bring peace in the war in Kosovo and received criticism for being overly cautious in calling for armed protection and air strikes from NATO when Bosnian Serbs overran UN peacekeeping forces in safe-haven areas. Later, he failed to recognize in advance the impending genocide in Rwanda. He unsuccessfully challenged the US and Britain’s decision to attack Iraq without a UN mandate, and called the US's position illegal.

By the time he left office, however, he had considerably strengthened the UN's image and reputation, not only by bolstering the UN's financial health and stability, but also by bringing about an improved and more coordinated humanitarian assistance operation. Under his leadership, the UN established the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, which in many ways successfully transformed the focus and accomplishment of multilateral and bilateral global aid assistance to address poverty, public health, education, the environment and maternal and child health.

In a tribute to Kofi Annan, the New York Times characterized his leadership of the UN as "redefining the UN in an era of turbulence." The current Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said in a heartfelt statement, "In many ways Kofi Annan was the UN." Nikki Haley, the current U.S. Ambassador to the UN said, “Kofi Annan devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful place through his compassion and dedication to service.” Madeleine Albright, who served as Ambassador to the UN from 1993 to 1997, called him "one of the world's foremost advocates for peace, development and international understanding... our world is a better place because of Kofi Annan."

Kofi Annan will always be remembered for setting a high bar for addressing the dignity of the individual and upholding the human rights of all. As he said in 1999, "For the end of the 20th Century, one thing is clear: a United Nations that will not stand up for Human Rights is a United Nations that cannot stand up for itself.” Thus, it is most fitting that we celebrate Kofi Annan's life in this 70th Anniversary year of the signing of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

See full obituary here and video here.  

14 August 2018

GCDC: A Busy Summer and An Exciting Fall

Although schools are out for summer break, Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) has been staying busy for the past few months!

Firstly, every summer, GCDC updates its curriculum with new activities, statistics, and topics, as well as it's signature mini-simulations. We produce no-prep mini-simulations that GCDC as part of its program creates mini-simulations, which are highly condensed versions of Model UN conferences. As opposed to taking three-four days that a normal MUN conference, mini-simulations typically take 45-60 minutes. Though they can be extended into an entire day, it allows a class to work as quickly as possible to find solutions to the issue presented. For the 2018-2019 school year, nearly every unit has multiple mini-simulation options for students to practice their essential skills of public speaking, negotiation, and group work. 

Secondly, the GCDC team ran a successful Model UN workshop. From July 9th to 11th, the Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Program ran a workshop with eleven students from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD. The mission of this workshop was to give students fundamental skills and knowledge to be an active participant in Model UN simulations. 

Finally, we have developed a number of key partnerships that will expand the scope of topics for the year-round curriculum. We are working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to focus on the topic of migration for both the Spring 2019 Model UN Conference and a year-round unit. GCDC is also working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to highlight providing decent employment opportunities for young people. Additionally, we are partnering with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) to expose students to the women in peace and security agenda. 

GCDC is launching into the upcoming school year with plenty of excitement! We are looking forward to the Fall Model UN Training Conference taking place on November 15, 2018 at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This year, we will be focusing on the Global Opioid Crisis, and in a World Health Organization (WHO) committee. Many Americans may be familiar with the epidemic happening in our own country, but the easy availability of opioids have caused the increase in misuse and deaths that lead to worldwide crisis. In addition, many countries are extremely restrictive with life-saving pain medication, and suffer from too little access. Students will explore how to bridge this divide, and learn from countries’ experiences on both ends of the spectrum.

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