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12 December 2019

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


"The United States Should Strengthen Support to Kiribati"

Ambassador C. Steven McGann (ret.)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



12 December 2019

2019 Human Rights Awards Event Coverage


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



10 December 2019

UNA-NCA joins Student Delegation to Capitol Hill


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

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

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

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

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

Take action now and contact your representatives

For more resources, please visit: 

UNA-NCA Advocacy 

UNA-USA

Global Climate Strike

Earth Uprising



09 December 2019

2019 Human Rights Awards Press Release


UNA-NCA Honors Those Dedicated to Improving Human Rights


The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s 2019 Human Rights Awards will recognize individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in local communities, and around the world.

 
WASHINGTON, DC – (December 6,  2019) –  On the evening of Tuesday, December 10th, 2019, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) will host their 2019 Human Rights Awards Reception, an event put forth annually to commemorate the anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In honor of the 71st anniversary of the adoption of this milestone document, UNA-NCA will recognize individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in their communities and around the world. This year’s honorees are The Honorable Michelle Bachelet, Professor Katherine Marshall, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, and World Central Kitchen. In addition to the recipients, the event will also feature notable speakers and presenters, including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The Honorable Michelle Bachelet is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the inaugural UNA-NCA Global Human Rights Leadership Award will be presented in her honor. While Bachelet is not able to accept the award in person, she will be featured prominently in the programming. Bachelet assumed her role as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018, following prominent positions as two-term President of Chile, as well as the country’s Health Minister, and first female Defense Minister of Chile as well as in Latin America. In all of these posts, Bachelet has made clear her commitment to promoting the rights of those most vulnerable in society.

Professor Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, will receive the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award. In an interview with UNA-NCA, when asked about the connections between the UN and human rights, Marshall stated that, “The UN is a secular organization and human rights is in many respects considered its religion… human rights framing and the SDGs are important contributions from the UN.” 

Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Former U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, will receive the F. Allen “Tex” Harris Human Rights Diplomacy Award. She will be presented with this award for her exemplary service to advancing human rights through the use of diplomacy.

The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, Founder and President Emerita of The Bridges Institute, and a member of the UNA-NCA Advisory Council, will receive the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award. In discussing the significance of the award and its namesake, Derryck reflected on her personal connection with Huston, drew attention to their parallel paths, and stated that, “Receiving this award is the culmination of everything I’ve worked for all these years.”

World Central Kitchen will receive the UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award; Nate Mook, Executive Director, will accept the award on behalf of the organization. Mook has stated that he finds food security to be strongly connected with human rights issues, and that the work of WCK maintains at its core a commitment to connecting with specific local and community contexts.

The event will be held at the National Education Association, 1201 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036. Doors will open at 5:00 p.m. for registration, with a reception beginning at 5:15 p.m., and the program running from 6:00 to 8:00. Members of the media interested in attending are asked to register by contacting Executive Director Paula Boland at paula@unanca.org or 202-223-6092 for details.

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21 November 2019

Students at the Fall 2019 Model UN Training Conference Propose Real-World Solutions to Malnutrition


All photos credited to Sonia Mey-Schmidt (PAHO/WHO)


On November 14th, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) hosted our annual Fall Model UN Training Conference. Global Classrooms DC, the flagship education program of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), has been partnering with PAHO, the Latin American branch of the World Health Organization, for 16 years. Each fall, we have hosted a Training Conference where several hundred students are introduced to Model United Nations, where they represent a country and discuss current issues with other delegates.

paho19-1
Throughout the day, over 170 students representing 80 countries gathered at PAHO to discuss global malnutrition. We were pleased to have 12 schools from previous years return while also welcoming two new schools to our program, including a home-schooled delegation. The majority of students, who ranged from 5th grade to 10th grade, had never done Model UN before and were putting the skills they had learned into practice for the first time.

paho19-6The topic of the conference was especially relevant, since malnutrition affects every country in the world, whether in the form of obesity or undernourishment. According to the UN, one in three people in the world suffer from malnutrition, and many countries suffer from what is known as the double burden, where a country struggles with both undernutrition and obesity in their community.

The day began with a welcome from Paula Boland, Executive Director of UNA-NCA, who introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Sonja Caffé, currently serving as the Regional Adolescent Health Advisor at PAHO. Dr. Caffé is also a past Fulbright fellow and has worked with the United Nations for over 20 years, first with UNICEF and later with PAHO/WHO. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of addressing the triple threat of undernutrition, obesity, and micronutrient deficiency. She also encouraged delegates to think broadly and propose bold solutions to this critical issue.

Following opening ceremonies, students began by discussing their countries’ views on how best to address global malnutrition. In their speeches, delegates highlighted how malnutrition affected both paho19-4their own countries and the international community as a whole, and emphasized the need for international cooperation to find a solution. These opening speeches were also an excellent opportunity for students to practice their public speaking skills in a professional setting while honing their ability to succinctly condense their argument into short and concise proposals. Students also learned about the advisory role that the WHO plays, specifically in terms of how the WHO fits into a broader UN-led strategy to combat malnutrition.

As each country made their views known and proposed new ideas, it became clear that there was broad consensus on the urgency of the issue. The proposals of these delegates were multifaceted and comprehensive, ranging from addressing how poverty is tied to malnutrition to proposing a data-driven approach to better understand how each country is affected by malnutrition. During the first unmoderated caucus, where delegates can informally meet with others and negotiate directly with other countries, a number of countries formed different blocs that were focused on different aspects of malnutrition. Each of these blocs were made up of like-minded countries who agreed on a set of solutions. By the end of the morning session, delegates had begun writing their draft resolutions, which contained their proposed solutions for the issue.

Once the blocs finished their resolutions, students began negotiating with each other. Blocs that found they had similar views merged their resolutions in a bid to garner more support, and delegates’ negotiating and presentation skills were tested as each bloc attempted to present their resolution in the best possible light to others and to secure their votes. With 80 countries being represented, a resolution had to have the backing of at least 41 countries to be successfully implemented, so delegates were hard at work convincing others that their solutions were realistic and would help solve global malnutrition.

paho19-2By mid-afternoon, the sponsors of each resolution, or those who had written the majority of the text, jointly presented their resolution and took questions from delegates. Questions included how these proposals would be financed, as well as how these proposals would be reconciled with the national sovereignty of each individual country. At the end of the afternoon session, the committee entered into voting procedure, and delegates voted on the 12 resolutions that had been drafted and debated throughout the day. In total, three resolutions passed. The first focused on educating the public about malnutrition and encouraging countries to promote healthier foods. Another recommended establishing an international fund for countries with severe malnutrition to draw from, and the last focused on redistributing food and preventing food waste through international coordination.

Overall, the Dias was extremely pleased with the level of debate throughout the day. Students showed a remarkable understanding of the complexities of malnutrition, and were able to approach the issue from multiple directions. Delegates also showed themselves to be well-researched, and many of them were able to cite statistics that they had prepared ahead of time. paho19-3Despite their relative inexperience with the procedures of Model UN, delegates quickly grasped the rules of procedure and had a vigorous and substantive debate on the difficulties surrounding solutions to malnutrition. The Dias was especially encouraged to see students of all ages participating, with younger students being unafraid to advocate for their own countries and debate with older students. Throughout the day, delegates were prompted to consider the real-world impact of their policies and how every country’s participation is necessary to solve major international problems such as malnutrition.

The Fall Training Conference is part of a year-long curriculum for students who care about their global and local communities, and is implemented through Global Classrooms DC (GCDC), the flagship education program of UNA-NCA. With the collaboration of its partners, GCDC creates a curriculum that uses Model United Nations to cultivate an international perspective, promote understanding of the UN system, and encourage students to interact with others from diverse backgrounds. The curriculum is used by middle schools and high schools from across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and is an opportunity for students to become more active local and global citizens by being exposed to larger issues and different viewpoints.

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The Global Classrooms DC Fall Model UN Training Conference is implemented by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, which is a chapter of UNA-USA. Each year, GCDC also hosts a competitive Model UN conference in the Spring, where students can showcase everything they learned throughout the year. For more information, you can visit our website.





19 November 2019

Fall 2019 Young Professionals Career Dinners Event Coverage





cd2On Saturday, November 2nd, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted the Fall 2019 edition of its semi-annual Young Professionals’ Career Dinners. This signature event of UNA-NCA is an opportunity for young people to discuss global career paths and network with experienced professionals in their fields of interest. This fall’s event began with a networking reception at the United Nations Foundation with nearly 100 guests, followed by introductory remarks from UNA-NCA President, Stephen Moseley, and UNA-NCA Executive Director, Paula Boland.
cd4Moseley recognized the enthusiasm of all of the young professionals in attendance, and applauded their interest in the realm of careers in international affairs. He also expressed his gratitude for the event’s speakers, and assured the participants that the evening would be a memorable one. Moseley then introduced Paula Boland, Executive Director of UNA-NCA.

Boland highlighted October’s UN Month programming, noting that the Fall Career Dinners really serve as an extension of this important month’s events, and emphasizing that the Career Dinners are the signature event of UNA-NCA’s Young Professionals program. She graciously thanked the event’s sponsors, including Stephen Moseley, Tom Bradley, Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), Edison Dick, Jordan Hibbs, and Markley Roberts, as well as corporate sponsors, Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), and Waterford, Inc., in addition to the hosts of the off-site dinners, Heather Hill and Karen Mulhauser.

Boland then introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Loyce Pace, President and Executive Director of the Global Health Council. She stated, “Loyce Pace comes to this role with years of experience, having been on the ground in more than 10 countries, delivering health programs and mobilizing advocates. She has also held leadership positions in global policy and strategic partnerships at the Livestrong Foundation, and the American Cancer Society,” and commended Pace’s role as a strong advocate for global health.

Pace offered a telling of her personal career journey, acknowledging specifically her beginnings in opportunities she was provided by working with community leaders and local champions who were committed to the same types of things as she. With this, she encouraged the young professionals in attendance to participate in a voluntary capacity at the community level, saying, “It will take you far, not just professionally, but personally,” and highlighted opportunities available through organizations such as UNA-NCA.cd5

She noted that, as her career continued, she noticed more evidently the similarities in issues faced on the ground across the world. For Pace, this connection was important, as she has found that these types of similarities in problems can transfer to similarities in effective solutions. She recognized that what brought her to Washington was likely similar to what brought many of the attendees to the dinners that evening: An understanding that policy and politics matter. Pace was honest with the event participants about the limitations and challenges she has faced in her work, a perspective that certainly was useful for understanding that even those who have achieved major successes have also dealt with struggles along the way. Pace was truly effective in making connections with her listeners through her honesty and her sharing of many personal and career anecdotes, and she concluded her speech with a dedicated portion of time for a question-and-answer segment with the event participants. Pace’s address was evidently well-received, and surely put the participants in the right mindset to engage in successful conversations in the following portion of the evening - the dinners themselves.

cd3This year, participants had the choice of registering for one of six themed dinners, each led by professionals from specific fields. This term’s dinners were: “Careers in the United Nations” (led by Sarah Jackson-Han, Senior Policy, Strategy, and Communications Advisor, UNDP, and Laura Fuller, Head of Communications, UN Environment Programme), “International Law” (led by Angelita Baeyens, Programs Director of Advocacy & Litigation, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Renee Dopplick, UNA-NCA International Law Committee Chair and Co-Chair of the UN and International Organizations Committee of the ABA Section of International Law), “Human Rights & Journalism” (led by Heather Hill, Director of Communications and Marketing, World Hope International, and Jenn TopperCommunications Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press), “Climate & Gender” (led by Jamie Wen-BessonCommunications Officer, Advancing Gender in the Environment, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Cara Honzak, Senior Technical Advisor for Population, Health & Environment, Pathfinder International), “International Education” (led by Tonija Hope NavasDirector, Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University, and Kristen Shannon, Program Officer, Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, IREX), and “Global Health” (led by Dr. Carol Labor, Principal Consultant, Women's Wellness Group, and Chisina Kapungu, Director of Learning and Organizational Strengthening, WomenStrong International). The dinners were hosted both at the United Nations Foundation, as well as in private homes, and each session was structured in a manner to foster discussion and promote engaging conversation in a uniquely intimate and comfortable setting. Each session’s speakers offered career advice to young professionals eager to learn about the type of work that they do, and the participants and speakers were able to share stories, experiences, and pose questions to one another in a collaborative way.
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The Fall 2019 Young Professionals’ Career Dinners were a great success, and UNA-NCA is already looking forward to hosting the Spring 2020 dinners next year!



08 November 2019

Full Coverage of UN Month 2019


UNA-NCA celebrated the United Nations' 74th Anniversary this year focusing on the theme "Our Planet.  Our Future."  Three events were hosted in honor of the organization, beginning on October 8th with the annual Eleanor Roosevelt Happy Hour, celebrating the former First Lady and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We then hosted UN Environment Program Executive Director Inger Andersen for a convesation with Center for Climate and Energy Solutions President Robert Perciasepe, moderated by the UN Foundation's Managing Director for Climate and Energy, Ryan Hobert.  Finally, UNA-NCA concluded UN Month with a discussion on "The UN and Human Rights in 2019" featuring keynote remarks by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, followed by a discussion with Ambassador Keith Harper (ret.), former U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, and Ambassador Sarah Mendelson, former U.S. Permanent Representative to ECOSOC.

Click below to view coverage and learn more!


October 8 - Eleanor Roosevelt Happy Hour

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October 18 - Our Planet.  Our Future

Climate_Panel

October 28 - The UN and Human Rights in 2019

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29 October 2019

"The UN and Human Rights in 2019" Event Coverage

By Micayla Costa, Human Rights Committee Member, and A. Edward Elmendorf, UNA-NCA Past President

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour and former Ambassadors Sarah Mendelson and Keith Harper focused on the many human rights challenges facing the UN, at a UNA-NCA UN Month forum on Capitol Hill, on October 28th.  Gilmour, the New York Representative for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, placed current problems in a historical context, including the horrors of civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and the Rwandan genocide. Citing differences of perspective among UN Security Council members, including the P5 (comprised of China, France, Russia, the United
Kingdom, and the United States), on the extent to which the Council should engage on human rights issues associated with international security problems, P1010772Gilmour called for an expansive view, as opposed to that of China and Russia.  In terms of other Security Council reforms, Gilmour mentioned changes in composition, and modifications of the use of the veto. With indirect reference to the dialogue in the United States about its overseas engagement, Gilmour said that the UN is engaged in nation-building. He expressed his concern regarding human rights violations in many areas of the world, and called for the protection of people, who bring human rights grievances to the UN, from reprisals by their home governments. 

Serving as discussants prior to open questions and answers, Mendelson, former U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, and Harper, former U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, agreed on the current backlash against human rights. They saw an important absence of global leadership for the protection of human rights, lamenting the current absence of the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council. They called for the U.S. to re-engage as a member of the Council and to provide new leadership on human rights issues in the Council and beyond. They argued that full deployment of U.S. diplomatic capacities in capitals around the world might, for example, have assured the election of Costa Rica over Venezuela in the recent UN General Assembly election of members of the Council.  The importance of a Council comprised of human rights advocates, with minimal numbers of spoiler states which may discourage action by the Council regarding abuses, was underscored. Harper stressed the importance of UN work to support human rights defenders.

P1010762Gilmour said that the UN’s human rights agenda has evolved considerably over the decades.  For many years, it had been determined solely from the perspective of leading world powers.  More and more, the agenda has become widely global, yet inclusive, as reflected in the universality of the UN’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While Gilmour emphasized that the SDGs are only goals and not rights, Mendelson said that the Goals should be seen as a hopeful development, stressing the SDGs’ ability to mobilize young people.      

During the discussion, the speakers stressed the significance of protecting current human rights standards and institutions against backlash attacks from authoritarians and others abroad and at home. Civil society organizations, whose work is at the core of international protection of human rights, face increasing threats, both on a personal level, as well as through regulatory changes which reduce civic space, and limit NGO fundraising. Concerns were expressed about potential threats to the international protection of human rights that could arise from the “Commission on Unalienable Rights,” recently created by Secretary of State Pompeo. 

The speakers stressed the complicated position of ethnic conflicts in regards to human rights, as these cases can often be posed as security concerns, rather than as human rights issues. Considering these situations as ones which concern human rights may expedite their being addressed, before they can evolve into even more difficult issues of international peace and security. 

The uncertainty of the international environment is a critical factor in the realm of human rights.  For example, the unexpected fall of the Soviet Union spawned P1010777a massive expansion of human rights reform in former Soviet republics, and created an international environment which facilitated the establishment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Similarly, LGBTQ issues lacked significant international attention prior to the last decades. This situation has steadily improved, however, and in 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council established an Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).  The Independent Expert, a distinguished Costa Rican lawyer, has visited and reported on country performance on LGBTQ matters, and addressed the UN General Assembly’s Committee on Human Rights and Social Issues on UN Day 2019. 

Gilmour observed that UN human rights failures, in part due to their prominence in the public eye, are much easier to identify than human rights successes. Still, Gilmour, Harper, and Mendelson were certain to make note of key human rights successes throughout their discussion, including the UN-mobilized support for the reforms now under way in Sudan, and for the actions of UN peacekeepers in South Sudan in protecting civilian populations.

The event concluded with a full house of attendees, who engaged in informal discussions and networking after the distinguished speakers concluded. This type of continued dialogue and collaborative learning is encouraged under the auspices of the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee, where new members are welcome, and where multiple advocacy opportunities are currently available.



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