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22 August 2017

Farewell and Thank You to UNA-NCA's 2017 Summer Program Assistants

“Program Assistants are such a vibrant part of UNA-NCA. They bring ideas, passion, and above all, an amazing commitment to our mission of building a strong US-UN partnership. Getting to know them every semester and seeing them grow professionally is one of the things I enjoyed the most. UNA-NCA is grateful for the wonderful contributions all and each one of them make. Thank you!” Paula Boland, Executive Director

"This summer we were lucky enough to have a great group of summer program assistants. Each one brought great energy to the office on a daily basis and was a pleasure to work with due to their professionalism, enthusiasm, and willingness to take on new tasks. I wish them all the best as they head back to school and their future endeavors. I am excited to see what they will accomplish." Megan Penn, Director of Global Education
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16 August 2017

Statement from UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley on the Violence in Charlottesville

From the President of UNA-NCA

Our UNA-NCA Chapter joins with fellow citizens and neighbors to condemn the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12 and 13th, resulting from the assembly of white supremacist demonstrators and their organizers. UNA-NCA’s mission is to espouse the rights of all peoples of the world, and in our communities here in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, to gather and peacefully express their opinions in order to foster better understanding and cooperation. Our American Constitutional rights of assembly and free speech, as well as the rights of others to assemble and express opposing opinions, are still subject to reasonable boundaries which must respect the peaceful rights of all to express themselves without violence.

All of us must strongly condemn any and all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism or intolerance. There are not two moral sides in the dispute between neo-Nazi ideology and those who oppose it. Groups who proffer neo-Nazi views encourage the hatred of, and incite violence against, other races and religions. The goal of such groups, as has been demonstrated throughout history, as well as the recent events in Charlottesville, is to suppress any legitimate opposition through violence and intimidation. Any ideology that seeks to suppress opposing views through intimidation or violence cannot be countenanced by any interpretation of our constitutional rights nor by any person of moral character.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, modeled in many ways upon our own American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, also makes clear that we can never condone views that incite violence against or hatred of others. Our association will always oppose those who advocate for racial supremacy, discrimination, or intolerance. We therefore applaud and welcome the Virginia Governor’s call for an investigation of the horrendous actions and violence experienced in Charlottesville. Our Federal Justice system must underline and make clear that Constitutional protections of free speech and our tradition of public discourse cannot be used as a shield for incendiary views that encourage acts of violence.

We have witnessed too often violations of human rights in other countries, including member states of the United Nations. Often these violations are enshrined in imperfect laws and led by both private and public oppressors with authority. We must stand up to stop any such violations in this country whether it be a demonstration of hatred at the local level or a coordinated assault on voting rights at the national level. We must also join with other nations to support the freedoms and rights of people everywhere. Through the UNA-NCA's Human Rights Committee's work and our other education and advocacy programs, we are dedicated to fostering human justice and peaceful resolution of differences. UNA-NCA will continue to espouse our principles for inclusion and tolerance of all people regardless of background, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, race and religion or economic status, including all immigrants, people of color, refugees, and women and children whose rights are protected by our laws and system of justice. Where intolerance, lack of common decency and failure to recognize the humanity and dignity of all people results in violations of justice by private or governmental groups, we must work together to call for tolerance and peaceful dialogue, and respect for all peoples rights in our communities.

UNA-NCA is the Chapter of the UNA-USA which represents the communities and people from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, with about 1,200 members with great diversity including youth, young professionals and adults who are citizens and working and volunteering together for these beliefs and to help support the effectiveness of the United Nations, and support of it by the people and government of the U.S. Never has this been so important for all of us to apply these principles in our own communities. Join us in standing up and speaking out for tolerance and inclusion of all.

Stephen F. Moseley
President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

16 August 2017

Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): A Lawmaker’s Perspective on Strong U.S. Leadership in the United Nations and on Climate Action

On August 8, 2017, UNA-NCA's Sustainable Development Committee hosted a program featuring Representative Don Beyer (VA-08)  discussing the potential consequences and risks associated with the United States’ recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The event highlighted the importance of building and maintaining strong US leadership on the global issues, most notably those pertaining to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

By: Jordan Hibbs, Member, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee


On August 8, 2017, the Sustainable Development Committee of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted a program entitled, "Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Lawmaker's Perspective on Strong U.S. Leadership in the UN and on Climate Action." The event took place at the Rayburn House Building on Capitol Hill, where more than 100 people gathered to hear about the experiences and challenges of U.S. Representative for Virginia, Don Beyer.
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01 August 2017

2017 Summer Session with Latin American Youth Center Highlights Important Leadership Skills

Global Classrooms DC had the opportunity to work with the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a local organization that serves over 4,000 youth and families in DC and Maryland’s Prince George’s Counties at four sites and dozens of service points through partner schools and organizations.

Throughout July, GCDC worked with the Center’s Latino Youth Leadership Council, a summer program focused on learning leadership skills that the high school participants can take with them, whether in university or life beyond school.

Over the course of three sessions in as many weeks, GCDC focused on learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and the impact of the United Nations, public speaking skills, and writing effective policy recommendations.
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19 July 2017

Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters

IMG_4011On July 12, 2017 UNA-NCA, in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, held “Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters,” a discussion on the critical importance of the relationship between the United Nations and the United States in strengthening the human rights agenda. Felice Gaer, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Vice Chair of the UN Committee against Torture, and 2016 UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Awardee, provided her perspective on human rights and the role of the United States. UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley, moderated the conversation.

Ms. Gaer provided detailed background information on the UN Human Rights system, and the role that each aspect of the system has in protecting human rights around the world. Most central to Ms. Gaer’s remarks was her discussion of the Human Rights Council and the implications of the United States’ recent suggestion to leave the council. She highlighted the urgency of the United States’ threat, “Abandonment of the Council by the United States would guarantee that human rights would shrink on the world stage; that human rights would shrink within the United Nations; and that mechanisms and states would pay a phony lip service to human rights.”

IMG_4016Citing the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s report, Game-Changer: the US at the UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Gaer argued that United States’ presence in the Council has, in fact, made a difference. She highlighted four main impacts that the United States has had on the Council: scrutiny of the world’s worst human rights violators, promotion of universal human rights principles, improved treatment of Israel, and a more rights-respecting approach. The United States has been a game-changer in the Council, and continued participation could result in further improvement. Ms. Gaer concluded her discussion with a call for the United States to continue to be an active participant in the Human Rights Council- “The US must lead, not leave.”

Read Full Remarks Here

IMG_4029UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley led the group discussion with Ms. Gaer, allowing attendees to seek the speaker’s expertise in a wide range of human rights issues. The group discussed the increasing role of China, ways to strengthen the UN Human Rights system, and the future of human rights in the United Nations.

Special thanks to the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and Ms. Gaer for helping to make this event possible.

19 July 2017

Felice Gaer's Keynote Remarks: Whither the UN and Human Rights? Why 2017 Matters

The UN Charter, adopted in 1945, mentioned human rights 5 times. It also mandated a Commission on Human Rights as a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council -- the only such ECOSOC body mentioned by name in the Charter.  The United States served as the first Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which first met in 1946. The US was a member of that body for all but one of its 60 years in existence.

Importance of Human Rights to the US and the US to Human Rights

The US role in the struggle to promote international human rights has been unique. The US has been a leader and a fighter – for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 and other achievements to enshrine the universality of human rights for all. The US was the principal mover behind the creation of the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993.  Until now, it has been the largest contributor of voluntary funds to the Office of the High Commissioner as well.

Americans view respect for human rights of every person as a defining feature of political life. Since the 1970s, the quest for human rights has been given a significant role in American foreign policy.

That role, and the UN body foremost in pressing to advance human rights (the Human Rights Council), are now under threat. The threat is more than the usual one  which comes from rights violating countries seeking to neglect, minimize, distort and defuse human rights standards and measures to protect those rights.  The current threat is from the United States – which threatens to leave the Council, not to lead it. Abandonment of the Council by the United States would guarantee that human rights would shrink on the world stage; that human rights would shrink within the United Nations; and that mechanisms and states would pay a phony lip service to human rights, which would be distorted to protect ‘sovereignty’ not citizens; religions not the individuals who are adherents to the religions; the right to abuse your citizens in the name of the general population and not the protection of  individual rights against the state.  Scrutiny of gross violator countries would decline, and the UN would isolate rights in a Geneva based body rather than mainstream it throughout the UN system and the world writ large.
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13 July 2017

UNA-NCA Facilitates Peacebuilding Conversation with Cypriot Youth

On July 10, 2017, UNA-NCA partnered with Cyprus Friendship Program to engage 26 Cypriot teenagers in a discussion about the UN and peacebuilding at the United Nations Foundation. Half of the youth were from the North, and half were from the South. The conversation centered around youth engagement in the United Nations. UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley spoke to the teens about the United Nations Association as well as the United Nations Association of Cyprus, urging the students to get involved in their local chapter as a means for change. Mr. Moseley also engaged the groups in a short conversation about the Global Goals, asking them which goals they felt most connected to.

The group participated in an activity to learn more about how perceptions and stereotypes contribute to certain attitudes toward countries and international issues. This was followed by a wonderful discussion with Robert Skinner, Director of the United Nations Information Center. Mr. Skinner talked extensively about the most recent attempt at peace negotiations in Cyprus, and the history and future of the UN in Cyprus.

The students came back to the Global Goals later in the program with an in depth discussion on Goal 4, Quality Education. The group discussed how the goal applied to Cyprus and how a focus on the goal could contribute to peace in Cyprus. The teens were very passionate about education and wanting to invest in the history of Cyprus by educating students about the common Cypriot history everyone in the room shared.

All of the students were extremely enthusiastic and passionate about being actors of change in their country. Overall the group highlighted that they didn’t want the international community to give up on Cyprus.

Thank you to the Cyprus Friendship Program, Robb Skinner of the UN Information Center, and the United Nations Foundation for working with us on this amazing and enriching event.

29 June 2017

The Refugee Crisis: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions

By Jose Muela, UNA-NCA Program Assistant and Patrick Realiza, Chair, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

Contributors: Anick Chaipraditkul and Kenneth Lemberg, Members, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017 the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) Sustainable Development Committee hosted a panel discussion entitled, “The Refugee Crisis: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions” at the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. The event focused on Global Goal #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Patrick Realiza, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, served as the moderator for the panel of four.

The panel reflected the diversity of the Refugee Crisis. Each of them approaching the issue from a different background, they provided unique and complementing lenses through which to view the crisis. They discussed the backgrounds, experiences and personal perspectives of refugees and other displaced persons, as well as of those working in the field to resolve the crisis. As noted by Mr. Realiza, “With peaceful inclusive societies and common interest, people across the globe can help bring justice and safety to all those affected and displaced by the refugee crisis.”
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