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25 July 2018

Positive Cooperation with the UN's Help on Migration

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

In the midst of so many frightening stories regarding the stalemate among countries to address the global migration crises, some remarkable stories in the past weeks highlight how international collaboration encouraged by the UN can make a difference. 

On July 22nd, in the dark of the night, Israeli forces helped more than 400 White Helmets flee Syria to Jordan through a corridor in Israel. These volunteer emergency workers saved thousands of civilian lives in Syrian war zones but found themselves stranded in an emergency situation. The United Nations urged the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Jordan, and Israel to cooperate and arrange their escape from Syria with transport and border crossings into Israel before crossing into Jordan. The collaborative nations are also working together to create a process by which these brave volunteers will reach their later settlement from Jordan to the U.K., Canada, and others (not including the United States). The extraordinary efforts by these countries to save the White Helmets and their families demonstrates the values shared in this operation can overcome what otherwise has been a month of little to no cooperation on so many global issues about migration and related peace initiatives.
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18 July 2018

Model UN Workshop Helps Student Break Out of Their Shells

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.

On the first day, students were introduced to the GCDC Program and all the work we accomplish. Following this, students were given small exercises to get them familiar with the work of the United Nations. After a short discussion on the UN, the workshop started focusing on how this work is simulated in Model UN.

The next skill development that was focused on was writing and researching a position paper, which in Model UN is the one-page summary of a country’s position and recommendations for policy solutions. With help from GCDC Program Assistants, students wrote brief position paper outlines by using a paper that compared the ingredients in a burger to the major aspects of a position paper.

Workshop2018-2For the third skill, public speaking, students were given a small office supply article, such as a pen, and were tasked with speaking for 30 seconds on why people should buy it. After a lively discussion, students had the opportunity to practice their own public speaking skills through a speech from Malala Yousafzai. Their classmates gave them observations and suggestions to better improve their delivery, and everyone improved. After this, students regrouped and were randomly called on to give a 30 second extemporaneous speech on a subject, such as “should homework loads be reduced?” The day ended with the selling office supplies exercise, where students showcased their greatly improved public speaking skills.

On the second day of the workshop, students were able to learn and practice negotiation, collaboration and resolution writing skills. These essential skills that will help them not only at Model UN conferences, but also throughout their life to find better solutions in a group settings.

Workshop2018-3In order to illustrate the importance of the ability to negotiate and collaborate to resolve the vital issues students were given what we call “Alone on Deserted Island”, which forces groups of students to decide together what items they would keep if stranded on a deserted island. This activity was designed specifically to practice prioritization, compromising, as well as advocating for their opinions.

Next, students had to craft a restauant menu, complete with choices for appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Students had to take into account characteristics of customers like financial level, age, food preferences, and dress code as well as the essential needs of each customer. This activity helped students to realize that even such thing as creating a menu requires the consideration of a variety of different perspectives.

Workshop2018-4That afternoon, students learned and practiced resolution writing skills. Mentors explained the importance of resolutions and how resolutions that are written by the United Nations influence different countries and people around the world. Students were given a chance to brainstorm policies they as countries would recommend to protect the human rights of refugees in Syria - a mini simulation where they represented their countries perspective. This activity helped students to learn research and writing skills. Such skills are needed not only for MUN Conference but also for writing their school and university essays.

On the third and final day, students combined all the new skills they had learned from the previous days by participating in a mini-simulation where they were assigned countries to represent and discus about the human rights of refugees in Syria. In addition to learning about the conflicts in Syria, human rights issues, the mini-conference encouraged students to think about the ways countries work together to solve a global issue like the refugee crisis. It was also an effective way to familiarize students with the rules and procedures of Model UN, and to teach students public speaking, negotiation, collaboration, and writing skills.

During the morning session, student delegates made opening speeches presenting their country’s perspective on the topic. Later, they discussed possible solutions about increasing refugee admissions, fighting extremist terrorist organizations like ISIS, protecting civilians, and allocating resources from developed and developing nations to prevent human rights violations and provide better living conditions for people in the refugee camps.

Two blocs or groups were formed as students realized the conflicting interests of different countries. For example, a major clash during the debate was that Syria, Russia, and China proposed that all countries should take an apolitical stance on the Syrian Civil War, while Saudi Arabia called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Workshop2018-6In the afternoon, student delegates presented two draft resolutions or documents outlining their solutions to the committee. During the presentation of each draft resolution, the sponsors were asked to answer other delegates’ questions about some specific clauses they wrote. By answering the questions, sponsors were able to explain and clarify some of the clauses, and find out how to amend their draft resolution to make sure that the solutions were feasible. Throughout the simulation, students worked together to brainstorm the possible solutions can be included in the draft resolution, and successfully found a common ground for countries with different positions through negotiation. Some of the students were step up to be the leaders of their group and make sure that everyone was on the same page. They also enjoyed expressing their ideas by making speeches, debating and discussing during moderated and unmoderated caucuses.

In the end, GCDC believes that the students gained invaluable skills pertaining to Model UN. Furthermore, we know that they have emerged from the workshop with more knowledge about the UN, international politics, and current events than when they entered into it. We are proud of our work done in partnership with Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD and hope that our guidance has inspired students to share their passion for Model UN.

If you want to learn more about Global Classrooms DC, you can email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website.

09 July 2018

A Letter from former U.S. Permanent Representatives to the United Nations

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

July 2, 2018

Dear Mr. Secretary,

As former U.S. Permanent Representatives to the United Nations, we are well aware of the scale and scope of the critical humanitarian work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

UNRWA runs more than 700 schools for over 525,000 students, as well as 42 health centers that absorb 3.5 million patients annually. The Agency provides emergency food and other humanitarian aid to over 1.7 million civilians. Like other United Nations agencies, UNRWA is in the process of reform, and at the same time, remains a vital source of stability in the Middle East.

Historically, the United States has provided generous financial assistance to UNRWA. As UNRWA’s top donor, the United States has exercised its leadership and influence to help ensure that UNRWA’s operations and engagement reflect U.S. values, priorities, and interests.
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05 July 2018

The Times They Are A-Changin’: Cause for Upholding the Role of the UN

By Stephen F. Moseley, UNA-NCA President 

The Times They Are A-Changin’, a famous song written, played, and sung by Pulitzer Prize writer Bob Dylan 55 years ago, captured the imagination and prophecy of the 1960's generation at the beginning of the Vietnam War protests across the country and around the world. Concurrently, there was a strong surge in protests to end race discrimination, declare a domestic war on poverty, and demand equal civil rights for all, including equal opportunities for women. These protests became a defining voice across the U.S. for changes in government policy that would engage communities and businesses to bring about more equal access to the benefits of the growing economy. This also led to questions and criticism of America’s decision for unilateral intervention in the far-off land of Vietnam; Americans saw a dominant U.S. clashing against a tiny country, demonized as a dire communist threat to America. Eventually, the United States lost the war. Since, we have struggled with the lesson that the world is never so clear cut as it may seem at any point in time from the vantage point of a single country. Most importantly, we began to better understand over time that peace among our communities is vital, and to appreciate our wonderful diversity of cultural, racial, religious ways of life.
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28 June 2018

2018 UNA-USA Leadership Summit Advocacy Day

Advocacy_DayOn Tuesday, June 12th, UNA-USA members from across the country visited almost 500 offices on Capitol Hill in one of our largest advocacy pushes in history. UNA-NCA members visited the offices of their Congressional representatives from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. As part of this initiative, under the leadership of UNA-NCA staff, our members from DC visited an additional 180 Representatives and Senators offices’ to advocate for continued U.S. support of the UN and their mission. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), team members left a copy of the UDHR and other materials, spoke to staffers and advocated for continued support of the UN and the need for strengthening the US-UN relationship.

Many team members also had opportunities to sit down with staffers in the offices of Representatives and Senators, where each group discussed the UN's stance on issues such as protecting reproductive rights, peacekeeping missions, the environment, human rights, education, the future of the United States within the United Nations and budgeting concerns.
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27 June 2018

Withdrawal from the Human Rights Council is an Untimely Backward Step

Donald T. Bliss, UNA-NCA Past-President and Co-Chair of the UNA-NCA Peace & Security Committee

The withdrawal of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council is another abdication of US global leadership, following withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords and the Trans Pacific Partnership, among other “go it alone” initiatives of the Trump Administration. It is most unfortunate that this comes during the 70th anniversary of the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights, by which the world’s nations unanimously adopted the aspirational values to which our nation’s founding documents aspire.

One stated reason for the withdrawal is that the 47-member Council includes some “bad actors” with poor human rights records like China, Venezuela, and Cuba; however, the US withdrawal empowers these countries to shape the global human rights agenda. Another “bad actor,” Russia, lost its election to the Council during the Obama Administration.

Another reason given for the withdrawal is the Council’s longstanding bias against Israel. It is true that Israel is the only country that has a stand-alone item on the Council’s mandate, No. 7, providing for special sessions. During the first three and a half years under Bush ‘44, when the United States had no ambassador, there were six special sessions on Israel. President Obama nominated Keith Harper, to serve as Ambassador to the Council, and during the following seven years of the US representation on the Council, there was only one special session on Israel.

According to some reports, a third reason for withdrawal may be a recent UN report criticizing the US record in addressing poverty. Why should the US be immune from criticism?  With 25% of the world’s incarcerated, with proposed Muslim travel bans and policies that separate migrant children from their parents, why should the US not be held accountable for our adherence to the values that we have long espoused?

Importantly, historical evidence shows that US leadership is critical to an effective Human Rights Council.  US leadership on the Council during the Obama Administration was able to redirect the agenda to serious human rights abuses in countries such as North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Burundi, South Sudan, Belarus, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

Given this Administration’s downsizing bilateral human rights advocacy in its dealing with states like North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia, it should be especially important to work multilaterally to advocate for human rights globally. US leadership at the Human Rights Council over the long term should be the most effective way to address widespread abuses.  The Council is far from perfect, but, like most UN agencies, it works a lot better with strong US leadership.

Donald T. Bliss is a former President to the United Nations of the National Capital Area and served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.

20 June 2018

A Statement on the Occasion of World Refugee Day

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

Every year on June 20th, we celebrate the UN World Refugee Day. This year, we must stand up and speak out for the human rights of the more than 65 million refugees and displaced people. Most of these, nearly 80%, are refugees who have had to flee their homes, towns, and countries because of violent conflict and warring parties where there is no end in sight. Every day, we see on TV or read in the front page headlines the horrors of their plight in camps, on boats, on unstable rafts trying to find safety, food, and shelter. The wars that underpin this tragedy are now fueled by not-so-hidden competing big powers, particularly Russia and the U.S., and many state or national governments battling both their own citizens, and terrorist groups. The world's refugee crisis is made even more difficult by the increasingly immoral and illegal treatment of refugees at borders which often ends with the incarceration of women and children, who are usually already separated from their husbands and fathers, for months at a time.

Now in the U.S., the current practice is a cruel approach of deliberately separating desperate mothers from their babies and young children by placing them in separate detention centers in the U.S. This week we now see that after separating them, the mothers are then deported, leaving their children in cages and detention centers run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrols. The President and the Attorney General have issued a zero tolerance policy towards these women and children who have crossed our border out of desperation from Central and South America. The President says they might be criminals or terrorists, yet the pictures of this tragic and inhumane treatment of women, babies, and children ages 2 to 15, show that these are just immigrants seeking asylum in accordance with our laws, even if they have tried to enter the country openly or at night across borders. Ironically, many of today's migrants seeking to live peacefully in the U.S. would have been welcomed in any prior administration provided they had the opportunity to make their case. They would have been allowed to keep their children close, and in most cases start a path to good lives, and been a welcome worker and neighbor to all of us.

The scar upon America for this inhumane process will run deep for years to come due in part to the explosive fuel that is added to every discussion or reasonable attempt to find a better solution for America and these desperate people. We are in direct violation of international law for protection of refugees which the U.S. and most nations in the UN have signed.

In the wake of our invasion of Iraq more than 15 years ago on the grounds of fake facts from an earlier administration, there is now a flood of conflict through the Middle East. From Iran to Iraq to Syria to Yemen to Turkey and Lebanon, the United States and its key allies are not responsibly addressing these issues. Indeed, for nearly four years we turned a blind eye to one of the most desperate tragedies for the Rohingya people who fled under conditions of deliberate genocide from the Myanmar government forces.

Sadly on June 19th, the eve of World Refugee Day, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will immediately withdraw from membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. This is a decision that effectively abandons the serious attention given to major human rights abuses and the considerable progress in reforming and improving the Council made by the U.S. since re-joining in 2009.  

Today, all of us throughout the United States, and those of us who vigorously support the work of the UN, its Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the High Commissioner of Human Rights, must make our voices known to the Administration, to Congress and our State leaders. We must ensure that the U.S., no matter the challenges, must create a better immigration policy that serves our nation. We can never forgo our common dedication to human rights for all, and to our country's founding principles of commitment to everyone's dignity. Our country is stronger for being the land of immigrants and freedom.

20 June 2018

2018 Annual Membership Meeting

On Friday, June 8th, over 100 members, volunteers, and staff of UN Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) met at the United Nations Foundation for the 2018 Annual Membership Meeting. Guests heard from UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley on the 2018 Annual Report and progress of UNA-NCA in the last year. This year’s keynote speaker was Gillian Sorensen, former Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, who spoke on the need for continued support of the UN and the work on the current refugee crisis. Three awards were presented, as well as the announcement of the new members of the UNA-NCA Board of Directors.
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