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31 August 2016

UNA-NCA and IRC Silver Spring Provide Supplies to Refugee Children

UNA-NCA and International Rescue Committee Silver Spring Stand #WithRefugees in Washington DC

backpack6Since 1975, more than 3 million refugees have entered the United States. Over the years, the home country of refugees has varied. In the 1990s they primarily came from Europe following the situation in Kosovo and fall of the Soviet Union, recently refugees have primary traveled from Myanmar (Burma), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Somalia according to the PEW Research Center. Individuals have traveled to cities throughout the United States, including the DC Metro area, most without any belongings or supplies.

This summer, hundreds of UNA participants helped stuff 1,000 backpacks with pens, notebooks, and other school supplies for distribution across the United States. These backpacks are part of UNA-USA’s Back to School backpack project and will be given to refugee children ensuring they have basic supplies to support their learning as they head back to school this year. The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area partnered with the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring, Maryland to help distribute 50 backpacks to school-aged children from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade in the DC Metro area. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and supports individuals whose lives have been changed and affected by them. The IRC Silver Spring office serves a diverse group of individuals originating from countries backpack3including Afghanistan, the DRC, Iraq, Syria, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ethiopia, El Salvador, and many others. The goal of refugee resettlement is to help new refugee families integrate and become self-sufficient members of their new community. These backpacks will help refugee children feel welcomed and prepared to succeed in school.

Through Global Classrooms DC (GCDC), UNA-NCA’s flagship education program, will also be teaching students grades 6 – 12 on the current and ongoing refugee crisis. Students will be learning about “Human Rights of Refugees and Immigrants” through Model United Nations (UN) during the 2016 – 2017 school year and simulate countries in the United Nations Human Rights Council at the Annual Spring 2017 Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State.

Currently, the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement since World War II. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that nearly 34,000 people are displaced from their homes every day. It is necessary for individuals and governments to help support refugees in their communities.

“We must stand together with the millions of men, women and children who flee their homes each year, to ensure that their rights and dignity are protected wherever they are, and that solidarity and compassion are at the heart of our collective response.” – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

International Rescue Committee – Silver Spring
Facebook: www.facebook.com/IRCSilverSpring
Contact us: 301-562-8633

Global Classrooms DC (GCDC)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GlobalClassroomsDC
Twitter: @GCDC_ModelUN
Contact us: 202-223-6092 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Twitter: @Refugees #WithRefugees
Online: www.unhcr.org

31 August 2016

Recognizing Women's Equality Day

UNA-NCA Recognizes Women's Equality Day

This year, UNA- NCA recognized Women’s Equality Day by continuing its work with partner organizations and educating communities in the greater Washington, DC area on the importance of achieving gender equality. Celebrated annually on August 26th, Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Since that time, women have begun voting more than men: almost 64% of eligible women voted in 2012, compared to almost 60% of men. And for the first time ever, a woman has been nominated by a major party for presidency in the 2016 presidential election.

Despite these advancements, gender equality has not yet been achieved. Meanwhile, just three U.S. Supreme Court justices, only 20% of Members of Congress and 24% of state legislators are women. Moreover, female CEOs run just 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies. Even when women are represented in leadership and management, they continue to be paid less than men for the same work. The gender pay gap is a reality for women across the board.

In 1979, the United Nations passed the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and it was signed the next year by President Carter. Nearly 40 years later, the U.S. Senate has not ratified CEDAW. This makes the U.S. one of only seven UN member states that has not ratified, along with Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Tonga, and Palau.

UNA-USA and many of its chapters have joined with other organizations to urge municipal legislatures to pass laws that implement the principles of CEDAW at the local level. A DC for CEDAW Committee consisting of UNA-NCA members and advocates from partner organizations has made strides for gender equality in the nation’s capital. In March 2015, DC Councilmember David Grosso introduced CEDAW legislation that was co-sponsored by all other Councilmembers. In 2015-2016, UNA-NCA convened three public forums to education people in the Washington, DC area on gender-related topics: sexual assault, women’s health, and transforming gender inequality in the workplace. While there has not yet been a hearing before the Judiciary Committee, UNA-NCA’s CEDAW IN DC ORGANIZERS remain fully committed and will continue to organize public education and advocacy meetings, and encourage members and supporters to be part of an online advocacy campaign. These conversations and programs are also taking root in Baltimore, Fairfax County, and Montgomery County.

In honor of the women who struggled to get the right to vote, UNA-NCA will not let our policymakers forget that we want gender equality. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. What better way than to have our communities pass CEDAW legislation?

If you are interested in joining this effort, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

23 August 2016

UN’s Response to the Haiti Cholera Epidemic

Statement by UNA-NCA President

Pursuant to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/3, UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, a New York university law professor, has issued a hypercritical report on the UN's response to the Haitian cholera epidemic allegedly introduced by Peacekeepers from Nepal in 2010. 

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has transmitted the report to the General Assembly and for the first time acknowledged the UN's complicity in the initial outbreak of cholera. The Secretary General has promised "a significant new set of U.N. actions" within the next two months to address the issue after consultation with Haitian officials and Member States.

The UN has not specifically admitted that it caused the epidemic and has not waived its immunity from legal action, and shortly after the Secretary General's announcement, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last Thursday upheld the lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit seeking compensation for Haitian cholera victims

It remains to be seen what specific actions the UN will propose. Whatever they are, they are likely to be very costly to the Member States of which the US is the largest contributor. Nevertheless, the Secretary General's acknowledgement comes at a critical time as UN Peacekeepers face intense criticism for abuses, misfeasance and neglect of duty in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali and other conflict areas.

With the rise of ethnic conflicts in failed and failing states and the upsurge in displaced populations, UN Peacekeepers, the largest military deployment in the world, are an essential, cost-effective alternative to US intervention in troubled areas that can be breeding grounds for non-state terrorism. Facing a crisis in credibility the United Nations must hold Peacekeepers accountable and Member States must provide the support needed to assure strong, well trained, well-equipped and responsible Peacekeeping missions.

UNA-NCA has consistently advocated strengthening UN Peace Operations and urged the United Nations to accept responsibility for any abuses or negligence. On February 26, 2014, the International Law Committee (ILC) organized a program on "Remedies for Harm Caused by UN Peacekeepers" at the American Society for International Law headquarters. ILC Member, Ambassador David Birenbaum (ret.), moderated an expert panel including a law professor, litigator, and former UN legal advisor. 

As a result of the program, the ILC drafted a Resolution which was approved by the UNA-NCA Board of Directors on May 14, 2014. The Resolution urged "the United Nations, notwithstanding its immunity, to establish a standing claims commission in accordance with its Status of Forces Agreement with Haiti or otherwise promptly provide an appropriate modality to address the claims of the Haitian victims of cholera." The Resolution further stated that the United Nations "which was founded to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person and to foster respect for international law, is not above the law, but is subject to accountability and is expected to provide effective remedies to those whom it harms." 

UNA-NCA remains fully committed to robust, accountable, and effective UN Peace Operations. We will continue to advocate stronger US and NATO support for Peacekeeping missions, building on President Obama's proposals at the successful UN Summit on Peacekeeping last September. And we will continue to urge the UN to accept responsibility where abuses or negligence may occur.


Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)

15 August 2016

UN Peacekeepers—A National Security Issue

The Washington Post has published a statement by UNA-NCA President addressing the role of UN Peacekeepers in protecting civilians in 16 conflict areas on four continets.

An August 7th Washington Post front page article “Where will we run this time?” describes the desperate conditions of 160,000 South Sudanese fleeing ethnic conflict and living in United Nations Peacekeeping camps. Perhaps inadvertently, the article also describes a serious US national security issue. 125,000 UN peacekeepers, the largest military deployment in the world, attempt to keep the peace and protect civilians in 16 conflict areas on four continents, many of them failed or failing states and therefore breeding grounds for nonstate terrorism. Unless Americans are willing to send US troops to Somalia, Mali, South Sudan, Lebanon and other hot spots, we must depend on UN peacekeepers to defend against conditions in which terrorism may take root.

At one-eighth the cost of US boots on the ground, peacekeepers are a bargain. For underfunded, undertrained, and underequipped peacekeepers to be up to the job, amidst charges of child and sexual abuse and neglect of duty, US and NATO support is required. The September 2015 summit at the UN, organized by President Obama, was a start with the US commitment to double the number of US military advisors and, in conjunction with NATO,  provide engineering, medical, intelligence and IED detection support. Some 50 nations from China to Colombia agreed to provide 40,000 new troops and police. Rules of engagement must be clarified to protect civilian populations.

Stronger, more effective and responsible UN Peacekeeping is an essential and cost-effective tool in preventing the conditions that give rise to nonstate terrorism.

Ambassdor Donald T.Bliss (ret.)
President, UNA-NCA

03 August 2016

Remembering Frank Hodsoll

Frank Hodsoll, a member of the UNA-NCA Advisory Council, succumbed to cancer on July 24.

Frank had a long and distinguished public service career. A lawyer educated at Yale and Stanford, he entered the US Foreign Service in the 1960s. Beyond serving overseas in Belgium, Frank had stints at the White House, the State and Commerce departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Under President Reagan Frank chaired the National Endowment for the Arts. He persuaded President Reagan to establish the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the Congress to enact the National Medal of Arts. His work on film and video preservation was recognized by the movie and television industries with an Oscar and an Emmy. Frank retired from federal service in 1993 as the first Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management & Budget.

Frank’s public service included time on the UNESCO committee responsible for selecting and overseeing UNESCO World Heritage Sites. More recently, in consultation with the Better World Campaign, he engaged in advocacy on Capitol Hill for a waiver of legislation adopted in the 1990s which made it impossible for the United States to pay dues and voluntary contributions to UNESCO once Palestine was admitted to membership. A presentation he made on UNESCO to the UNA-NCA Board while I was serving as president of UNA-NCA was widely praised. Frank will be widely and greatly missed.

A. Edward Elmendorf 
Former UNA-NCA President

"Frank Hodsoll was key among those and his leadership of the NEA will be remembered for the advances he initiated that made a true difference for artists, the arts, and all Americans."

--Jane Chu, National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Chairman

"Mr. Hodsoll emphasized making the arts more accessible to the public, increasing audiences for arts organizations and expanding arts education, a goal that has proved especially difficult to achieve."

--Bruce Weber, The New York Times

03 August 2016

Legacy Circle Spotlight on Karen Mulhauser

UNA-NCA enjoys a Legacy Circle of members who offer support through planned giving of sums large and small.

Gifts may be made monthly, under wills, or in other ways. UNA-NCA is introducing members of its Legacy Circle to other members and supporters. This week, meet Karen Mulhauser:

unnamedKaren Mulhauser first became involved with UNA-NCA in the late 1990s when her good friend Perdita Huston, a UNA-NCA board member, kept inviting her to NCA events.  Upon Perdita's death in 2001, Karen encouraged NCA to become the fiscal sponsor for funds raised for an annual Perdita Huston Award to recognize "people who live the life and values of Perdita." For several years, Karen raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring international awardees to DC to receive $10,000 awards.  When asked to join the NCA board, she eagerly agreed.  Later, when asked if she would run for President, she agreed on condition that she could focus on gender equality issues -- and would never again be the youngest person in the room.  Afterwards, Karen began serving as Chair of national UNA-USA. In recognition of Karen's longstanding commitment and contributions, she received the UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award presented at the annual membership meeting.

As President of Mulhauser and Associates, Karen has provided consulting services to nonprofit organizations, grant-makers and candidates since 1988, gaining many years of leadership experience as a board member and nonprofit CEO.  Before consulting, she directed the Center for Education on Nuclear War and an affiliated coalition, Citizens Against Nuclear War.  From 1975-1981, she was Executive Director of the National Abortion Rights Action League having first served as Director of NARAL's Washington office. Deeply committed to voluntary service throughout her life, Karen has served on over 35 nonprofit boards.  Until recently, she chaired the Advisory Council of Women's Information Network (WIN).  Since 1994, WIN has named its annual Karen Mulhauser Award for a woman who has done the most to mentor and support young, pro-choice, Democratic women. As an entrepreneur, she founded and was President of America’s Impact, a nonpartisan committee that identifies leaders with principled foreign policy positions and co-coordinates Trusted Sources, a voter engagement initiative for nonprofit groups. She also started and coordinates a network of over 870 self-employed women in the Greater Washington area called Consulting Women.

A 1965 graduate of Antioch College with graduate studies at Tufts Medical School, Karen trained as a biochemist and worked at Boston University and Albert Einstein Colleges of Medicine as a research associate before realizing she would rather work with people than with rats and rabbits. She taught high school chemistry and physics at the Cambridge School of Weston from 1967-1970, where she created a course on the social responsibility of scientists for students committed to science careers, and she initiated sex education programs. From 1970-73, she trained family planning professionals in federally funded programs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

Learn more about the Legacy Circle, or contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Co-Chairs of the UNA-NCA Legacy Circle.

03 August 2016

SG Watch

Follow our coverage of the Race for UN Secretary-General. We'll be posting updates as the race progresses as well as our own takes on what is happening. 

Follow the 1 for 7 Billion Campaign

The 1 for 7 Billion campaign urges Secretary General candidates to promote their views with transparency. The campaign calls for a selection process that looks past gender or region to find the best person for the position. Coverage is compiled for each candidate to be able to learn about them more easily.

Follow Coverage

UNA-NCA President's Charge to the UN Security Council

7/27/2016 As it becomes time for the UN Security Council to make a recommendation for the selection of the new SG, UNA-NCA President, Amb. Don Bliss (ret.) urges them to continue the open selection process. 

Read More

Open Debate for UN Secretary-General

7/6/2016 The first-ever debate in the race for UN Secretary-General began on July 11, 2016 in New York. Each candidate presented an opening and closing statement and interacted with moderators, ambassadors, and the audience to answer questions about four key points: human rights, peace and security, climate change and sustainable development, and the internal workings of the UN. This debate is a major step in the implementation of a more transparent selection process.  

Read More

The Race for the Next Secretary-General

6/28/2016 UNA-NCA Program Assistant Sydney Spencer writes about the ongoing race for Secretary-General. Spencer discusses the entire process of the selection of the UN's leader, current front-runners, the role of civil society, and the possibility of the UN to select the first female Secretary-General. 

Read More on UNA-NCA's Blog

The Field Grows and Shifts

Malcorra-600x402                Susana Malcorra, Argentina’s foreign minister and a former high-
                                         ranking UN official, is one of the latest
                                        candidates to run for Secretary General

6/9/2016 As current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term winds down, campaigners are stepping up for the position. On June 7, the latest round of candidates appeared before an audience at the UN and the general public. A decision on final nomination is expected to be reached in late August or September.     

Read More

In Secretary-General Election Process, Does Job Description Outweigh Geography and Gender?

4/27/2016 In an unprecedented move to make the process of electing a new Secretary-General more transparent, nine candidates were publicly interviewed during the week of April 12. In individual two-hour sessions, the candidates - four women and five men - were questioned by UN member governments, organizations, and civil society representatives. Questions focused on candidates' qualifications and visions for the future of the UN, while also bringing up issues of transparency, accountability, as well as corruption and recent accusations of sexual abuse by peacekeeping troops.

Read a Statement from Our President

It's Time For a Female Secretary-General
2/23/2016 As current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term winds down, a new movement has been assembled to support the election of the first woman for the position, after eight successive men have filled the role. The Campaign to Elect a Woman Secretary-General aims to search for and promote the most qualified female candidates, while at the same time involving governments and civil society to promote openness in a selection process that has long been secretive and private.

Read More

See the Questions Submitted for Secretary General Candidates

2/27/2016 The next UN Secretary General will be elected this year and, for the first time ever, candidates will be announced and interviewed publicly. The first series of interviews will be held April 12-14, and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service accepted questions that were shared in person, through video or audio recordings, or verbally read aloud. The process for selecting the next Secretary General has become incredibly public and more accessable to the world.

View Submissions


27 July 2016

Statement from UNA-NCA President on the Security Council in the Selection of the New Secretary General


The United Nations General Assembly and its President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) are to be commended for the open process of vetting and selecting the next Secretary General. Member States have nominated 12 experienced candidates who have appeared before the General Assembly in a public forum to present their vision and answer questions, including questions from civil society. A 13th nominee is expected soon. This is a stark departure from past practice where the Security Council met in secret and presented its recommendation, often heavily influenced by the P-5 veto, to the General Assembly. Nominally exercising its Article 97 appointment power, the General Assembly routinely ratified the Security Council’s selection. This time the world gets a close look at the experience, priorities, strengths and weaknesses of some very thoughtful candidates.

It remains to be seen whether the Security Council will respect this process. The Council has met with the candidates which is a good start, but a secret straw vote was taken last week which is a step backward, even though the results were leaked to the press. The top three candidates apparently were Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia and Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, and Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, the Director-General of UNESCO. There were a number of other well qualified candidates, including but not limited to Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, Susanna Malcorra, Foreign Minister of Argentina and former UN Chef de Cabinet, and Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change.

We urge the Security Council to make its recommendation in an open and transparent process, following the example of the General Assembly.

Factors such as geographical rotation and gender are appropriate considerations, however, given the global challenges facing the next Secretary General, it is essential that the most qualified candidate be selected. Chapter XV of the Charter offers little guidance on the role of the Secretary General, except to state that she or he is the "chief administrative officer." The eight men who have held the position have exercised their responsibilities differently and brought varied talents, strengths, and priorities to the job. Over 71 years, Secretary Generals have created a position of moral authority advocating  for peace and security and human rights, impartially mediating disputes among nations, and facilitating economic development.

A timely and relevant study of the styles, priorities and contributions of the eight Secretary Generals is found in a 2014 book, The United Nations Top Job, by Lucia Mouat, a former UN correspondent and editorial writer for the respected Christian Science Monitor. In recounting the crises faced, working relationships, lasting contributions, and the assessment of their peers, Mouat shows the importance of selecting a Secretary General with the experience, stature and skill to define her or his responsibilities in the complex UN system and challenging global environment.

Mouat recounts how each former Secretary General described the job: Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden--" the most impossible job on earth;" U Thant of Burma-- a  "moderator" and "mediator;" Kurt Waldheim of Austria-- a diplomat with a "close working relationship with member states;" Javijer Perez de Cuellar of Peru-- "guide, conciliator and impartial arbiter;" Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt--"humble servant of the Security Council;" Kofi Annan of Ghana—“moral authority” rooted in "fidelity to Charter principles;" and Ban Ki-moon of South Korea--"consensus-builder."

How do we wish the next Secretary General to describe his or her job? In the open, competitive process established by the General Assembly, we all have an in-depth look at how each of the candidates will answer this question. We would hope that the next Secretary General will serve as the “conscience” of the world, able to communicate a clear vision of the mission and priorities of the United Nations, and to reach out to all peoples, States and institutions in a fair and impartial manner guided only by the principles embedded in the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)

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