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27 February 2019

World Bank is uniquely placed to combat threat of pandemics

By Richard Seifman, UNA-NCA Board of Directors
This article was originally published by the Financial Times on February 25th.

Your article “Pandemic bonds under scrutiny” (February 21) points to the global inadequacy of dealing with future pandemics. It is not “if” but “when” and “where” there will be another infectious disease outbreak requiring extreme measures to control.

One institution capable of leading a serious response is the World Bank. It can convince the financial decision-makers of developing countries that dealing with infectious diseases early on is critical for their economies and livelihoods. In other words, it can make a compelling case for containing pandemics before they reach others.

Pandemics not only potentially kill millions but are also a major barrier to economic growth everywhere. A severe pandemic can cut global gross domestic product by up to 1 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is about $570bn. That’s 0.7 per cent of worldwide income.

Prevention, preparedness, detection and response can safeguard lives and remove obstacles to trade, travel, tourism and education. The costs of a pandemic are likely to be in the billions, and ultimately in the trillions, whereas much smaller amounts paid now for prevention would be a far more effective investment.

The Gates Foundation, Unicef and the World Health Organization, among others, are engaged in any pandemic fight. But none of them can mount the kind of collaborative effort needed to prevent the global spread of deadly diseases such as Ebola or Zika.

The World Bank is perfectly placed to play a unique role in containing the spread of potentially catastrophic illnesses. It is going through a change of leadership, with David Malpass proposed by the US as its new president. But whoever takes charge, making pandemic investments must be a priority.

Richard Bissell

Former Assistant Administrator, USAID

Richard Seifman

Board of Directors, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area
Technical Review Panel Member, The Global Fund, Washington DC, US

06 February 2019

UNA-NCA High-Level Panel Discussion Addresses Migration from Central America

Read Event Coverage Here

10 January 2019

This Year and Beyond, We Must Be More Vigorous

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

Dear Colleagues, members and friends of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area,

The start of a New Year is a wonderful opportunity to review and reassess how we are performing and accomplishing our association's mission to enhance U.S. engagement with the UN to improve its effectiveness and work globally. We are proud of the exciting programs we conducted through-out the year on Human Rights, Global Classrooms, international law, anti-corruption, UN day, and the work of UNICEF. We are also proud of our enhanced advocacy with citizens and policy leaders in our community and with Congressional leaders. These are just some of the efforts. 

In turn, we can be proud of the progress of the UN, in it’s partnership with other global, multilateral and bilateral international institutions to address long standing goals which have improved the lives of millions of people around the world. These goals include significant increases in life spans for most people with better heath, more nutrition, more schooling at most levels for more children, protection and championship for human rights, especially women’s rights, and progress in setting goals for improving the environment to halt climate change, and to accomplish  breakthroughs on limiting nuclear weapons. 

There are now new strategic plans in place at the UN under its new leadership to increase investment in the management of violence and conflict prevention before conflicts break into warfare, to have reviews against measurable indicators of progress by every nation on the sustainable development goals. Internally, the UN's leadership has a management team with 50% women as of 2018.

Some UN sponsored talks are finally underway to find a peace for Yemen, facing the largest humanitarian disaster in recent history with millions of starving children. For our work this year and beyond we must be more vigorous in the face of many changes and challenges around us.  There are many new faces and voices in the incoming class of congressional and state legislators, that also means for us at UNA-NCA, there are more key people that we must engage and educate about the UN issues and how they can best participate. 

More and more young people are willing and interested to participate in global affairs on issues of climate change and the environment, on human rights, on poverty alleviation and to work for violence reduction and peace building, even more so than peacekeeping in the traditional UN sense. 

UNA-NCA is now, while still the largest chapter of the UNA-USA family, part of the growing movement in over 200 chapters across the country in most states and in many communities and campuses. In the past year we are all too aware that the current U.S. Administration has pulled out of its membership in the UN Human Rights Council and recently announced it will not support or attempt to enforce the findings and work of the Human Rights Special Envoys; it has stopped any U.S. national government efforts to support the global goals on climate change and continued to say it will pull out of the Paris Climate Change accords agreed upon in 2015; it has given only scant attention to the SDG's; and  has continued to threaten the financial support by the U.S. of most of the operating agencies that receive significant support from the U.S., including the UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women  and many others. 

In the past year, the Administration doubled down to prevent any legislation that would allow the U.S. to make payment to and maintain membership in UNESCO, and has recently refused to issue the funding appropriated to the UN Relief Works and Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), on a bipartisan basis from Congress, for the health clinics and schools for innocent children in Gaza. The reduced participation by the U.S. on a collaborative basis with the other UN members, is now undermining the achievements led by the U.S. for almost 75 years which has set high standards for human rights, sound and effective humanitarian assistance in the midst of wars, and natural and man made disasters, the thoughtful management of refugee crises, and global migration trends. Most sadly, there is now the risk the U.S. policies and decreased resources could reverse the dramatic gains made by all of us together for eradicating severe poverty, stemming the growth of new wars, stopping health pandemics which can threaten everyone in both rich and poor countries, make uncertain the actual climates needed for global food production, and reduce the stability and opportunity for economic growth in all countries which depend upon a process of global cooperation among countries, which is enhanced and reinforced every day through the dialogue among member states at the UN. 

For our work ahead this year we need your support and participation, and more volunteers to join our advocacy work, our substantive program panels, our support for the 1,500 kids we serve in global classrooms in 5th through 12th grades in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and we need your ongoing contributions to support our small staff and office for this work.

Please regularly read the Thursday UN Express that we publish and circulate to some 17,000 people every week, and look at our website for updates about programs, the names of our staff, program leaders, Board of Directors and Advisory Council members who all do so much to move us forward.  Let us know if you would like to volunteer more in these programs, become regular members of the working program committees, and to be considered in our 2019 and 2020 elections for program leaders, board members and Advisory Council members. 

Stand up and join in making our work this year even more successful in fulfilling our mission to making the UN and the world it serves, a better place for all of us and for our children and grand children. 


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


19 December 2018

Classroom Interactions Promote Model UN Training


Many schools were able to enjoy the Fall 2019 Model UN Training Conference on November 15. However, because of the inclement weather and surprise snow storm, Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon has been working with schools who were unable to come.

SchoolVisit3Over the past month, Nicole has ran two mini-simulations based on the same topic of the Fall Training Conference: the Global Opioid Crisis. Both simulations allowed students new to Model UN to practice their skills, even though they were unable to participate in a full day conference. Still, the shortened time frame allowed students a more intensive experience to practice Model UN and prepare them for the Spring 2019 Model UN Conference.

On November 29, Nicole visited Cabin John Middle School in Potomac, MD. The organizers at Cabin John Middle School worked with their coordinating elementary school to invite students from the 5th grade to participate, as well. Bells Mill Elementary sent a number of students who had practiced Model UN in their own group, but never before had been in as large as a group. With the combined number of students, about 75 kids were participating in a mini-simulation focused on discussing the Global Opioid Crisis.
On December 14, Nicole worked with students from Bullis School, also in Potomac, MD. About 10 students participated the workshop, and were able to work in double delegations, or a group of two students who represent one country together. This dynamic allowed them to come up with more ideas on how to address the issue, as well as learning to work more effectively in groups.

Both sessions were able to produce a number of resolutions, or documents that outline possible solutions to a problem. Although there was not enough time to vote on the different resolutions presented, the students have since been able to use those resolutions as follow-up to the sessions and improve on their skills. 

Read more about the Fall 2019 Training Conference Here

19 December 2018

2018 Human Rights Awards Event Coverage


Celebrating 70 Years of Human Rights Progress

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNA-NCA recognized individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in their communities and around the world. The Awards Ceremony took place at the National Education Association on the evening of December 6th

Over 180 guests attended the program, including a networking reception with the honorees and sponsors. Welcome remarks were made by UNA-NCA President Stephen Moseley and National Education Association's Secretary-Treasurer, Princess R. Moss.  UN Information Center Acting Director, Stefania Piffanelli introduced Secretary-General António Guterres' Human Rights Day message and video.

After thanking sponsors for their generous support, Mr. Moseley gave the floor to The Honorable Constance Morella, former Congressional Representative from Maryland and OECD Ambassador, to present the UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award. This award was received by United Nations Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng, for his outstanding work as the UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, working in the continent of Africa, recognizing countries that are vulnerable to genocide and working with world leaders to preemptively prevent genocide. After expressing his gratitude in receiving the award Under-Secretary Dieng proclaimed, “There is no need to convince you of the profound significance of human rights, especially as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This commemoration should be an occasion for celebration but also reflection of how much has been achieved. Indeed, we should not dismiss how far we have advanced in the normative development of the overall framework of international human rights law.” Under-Secretary Dieng ended his remarks by saying, “I started this intervention by honoring the privilege to serve. I end it by reiterating my commitment to service, hand in hand with all of you, in the pursuit of human rights for a better and just world for current and future generations.”

Monica Palacio, Director of the DC Office of Human Rights, took the stage next to present the UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award. The recipient of the award was Karen Mulhauser, UNA-NCA Past President and UNA-USA Past National Council Chair among other positions. This award was given to Ms. Mulhauser for her decades of successful coalition building and lifelong activism championing women’s rights and gender equality, among many other issues. Ms. Mulhauser began her remarks by honoring the late Perdita Huston and her groundbreaking work on behalf of women’s rights around the world through her journalism, coalition building, and activism, “I miss my big sister very much” Ms. Mulhauser  said, “UNA-NCA has offered me opportunities to continue this work as we strive to have local governments adopt the principles of UN’s women’s treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. It is this commitment to gender equity that is one of the dominate threads in the fabric of my life.” Ms. Mulhauser then alluded to the next steps on her journey, “At age 76, I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to spend what time remains helping to save the planet.  When I reflect on the next 70 years and human rights, I keep coming back to the very basic thought that humans have a right to live and we need a planet on which to live….. I would love to talk with Perdita about all this - and in fact have imagined conversations with her.  ‘Perdita, what would you do?’ – and my big sister helps me figure it out.”

Next Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President of the UN Foundation took the stage to present the UNA-NCA F. Allen "Tex" Harris Diplomacy Award which was received by Ambassador Robert R. King, Former U.S. Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea for his diplomatic skills protecting human rights in North Korea. After expressing his gratitude and thanking his wife and colleagues, Ambassador King proclaimed, “one thing that I think we need to remember as Americans is that more than anything else, it is our values that make us American. It’s not that we speak the same language and necessarily not that we have ancestors from the same place. Not that we have other elements that are common in people in many countries. The thing that makes us different is that we share the same values and the values that we share, our values of human rights, of democracy, the kinds of things that make us what we are, and it’s this common ideology that more than anything reflects what it means to be an American.” Ambassador King ended his remarks by commending the efforts of UNA-NCA as, “extremely important” in the efforts to fight for human rights all over the world.

Finally to present the UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award, Greater Washington Community Foundation President, Bruce McNamer introduced Parisa Norouzi who accepted the award on behalf of Empower DC, where she is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. Empower DC was presented this award for its tireless work in the DC area with the homeless and disenfranchised. Ms. Norouzi began her speech by declaring what an honor it was, “to receive this award, but also just to be in the room and in the presence of so many people who share our values as we’ve talked about and our pursuit of freedom and human dignity and justice for all people.” She went on to deliver a powerful speech centered around the deep routed history of DC communities in fighting for human rights from the abolition movement to the civil rights movement to the women’s suffrage movement and warned the audience about the obstacles that many DC natives face today such as homelessness, disenfranchisement, and underemployment, “We work with people who are trying to survive in the city on minimum wage or less and we almost never come into contact with some of the people that you all may work with on a regular basis. Other people who share values of human rights, but who are in a completely different arena of this city.” She then spoke to the divisiveness of DC and the need to unite on all fronts to tackle human rights abuses together, “We have such divisions in the city that I think one of the things that I really want to take away from this experience tonight is to do more on my end to try to build more connections with folks like yourself. Because you know, we can’t achieve any of this work if we don’t know each other. If we don’t communicate with each other and if we remain in those silos.” Ms. Norouzi ended her speech by thanking UNA-NCA for their recognition and was met with a standing ovation. 

The evening closed with remarks by UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland, who reminded us of how much work remains to be done to advance human rights globally and at home. “The anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate successes and recommit ourselves to the principles outlined in the Declaration’s 30 ArticlesThe best way to honor this incredible legacy and hope for a better world is by Standing Up for Human Rights.”  

Her remarks were followed by the UN's video celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Check out photos from this celebratory evening!

Thank you to our generous corporate sponsors:

AirSchott and the Schott Family

American Friends Service Committee

Beth Grupp Associates

Black Professionals in International Affairs

Empower DC

Human Rights in North Korea

International Center for Research on Women

Korea Economic Institute

National Education Association 

Northern Trust

Strategy for Humanity

The Bridges institute

The Greater Washington Community Foundation

UNHR Geneva

United Nations Information Center

And to our generous individual sponsors:

Tim Barner & Kathy Guthrie
Patricia Beneke   
Robert Berg and Vivian Derryck
Don & Nancy Bliss
Laura Blyler   
Tom Bradley   
Dawn & Tino Calabia 
Larry Cooley & Marina Fanning
Susan Cutri   
Billie Ann Day
Edison W. & Sally Dick
Nancy Donaldson   
Renee Dopplick   
A. Edward & Susan Elmendorf 
Roger  Griffis  
Morton H. Halperin  
Christina & Shaunen Hansen 
F. Allen Tex Harris 
Charito Kruvant   
Ellen McGovern   
Ambassador George Moose
Stephen F. Moseley
Jud Nirenberg   
Michael Onyemelukwe   
Ambassador Lynn Pascoe  
Abigail & John Pereira 
Ted Piccone and Susan Gibbs
Wayne Pieringer   
Thomas Riesenberg   
David Scotton   
Richard Seifman & Judy Bachrach
Ritu Sharma   
Ellie Van Houtte   
Kimberly Weichel   
Chris Whatley

13 December 2018

Stand Up For Human Rights!

As we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we must be aware of the Human Rights around the world that are currently under threat. While we must commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we must also take action to ensure its principles are being upheld in every corner of the world. 

In recognition of this important anniversary – and acknowledging that much work is left to do to secure human rights for all – a resolution was just introduced in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to honor this historic document. Take action and ask your Representative and Senators to become an original cosponsor of this resolution!

13 December 2018

Happy Human Rights Day


On December 6th we celebrated The 2018 Human Rights Awards at the National Education Association as we honored individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in their communities and around the world. Full coverage of the event coming soon.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Human Rights Day:

"For 70 years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a global beacon – shining a light for dignity, equality and well-being … and bringing hope to dark places. 
The rights proclaimed in the Declaration apply to everyone -- no matter our race, belief, location or other distinction of any kind. 
Human rights are universal and eternal. 
They are also indivisible.
One cannot pick and choose among civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. 
Today we also honour the human rights defenders risking their lives to protect people in the face of rising hatred, racism, intolerance and repression. 
Indeed, human rights are under siege around the world. 
Universal values are being eroded. The rule of law is being undermined. 
Now more than ever, our shared duty is clear: 
Let us stand up for human rights -- for everyone, everywhere. 
Thank you."

11 December 2018

OLLI December 10 2018 Human Rights Conference

Presentation By: Ed Elmendorf, Past UNA-NCA President

A personal note: in the 1960s I had the privilege to work, as a very junior foreign service officer, at the US Mission to the UN in NYC.  Like Eleanor Roosevelt 15 years earlier, I was assigned to a UN body then considered unimportant, the UNGA Third Committee, responsible for HR. I worked then also with John Humphrey, Director of the UN Secretariat HR Division, and represented the USG in the UN Committee on Periodic Reports on HR – the primitive and unsophisticated predecessor of the present Universal Periodic Review.

International institutions, especially the UN, have been central to articulation of HR norms ever since WWII. UDHR 1948 and Human Rights Covenants 1966 were 2 of 3 tiers of International Bill of HR. The first and second tiers were declarations of principle and their presentation in legal form. Third tier – ‘measures of implementation’ – has proved much more difficult.  This is hardly surprising, given our own experience in the United States. It is the focus of my presentation today.  ‘Measures of implementation’ include not only formal legal enforcement actions, but also public and private dialogue and TA.

International measures of implementation for HR force us to face the central tension in the UN Charter, between the Charter mandate for the UN to promote HR and the Charter requirement not to intervene in any matter ‘essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of member States.’  In practice, the threshold separating domestic jurisdiction from international concerns has shifted substantially since the UN’s early years away from full autonomy for state action. This is the first of two remarkable changes in international relations over the past 70 years. The second is the enormous growth in the importance of non-state actors on the international stage, from the business community, NGOs, terrorists, and individuals.  Both of these changes open up space for HR action.

While the UN is not and cannot be engaged in enforcement of HR, outside the framework of SC action under UN Charter Chapter VII on threats to peace, the UN now engages with the HR performance of its member States, in quite specific ways. To do this it has equipped itself with institutions, procedures and practices which bring successes and failures in individual countries to light and strengthen domestic action for HR respect. The range is notable, and goes well beyond the standard treaty bodies established under international conventions to review reports by states on their respect for rights established under individual treaties.  Institutions include the UN High Commissioner for HR, the UN Human Rights Council of 47 states and its so-called ‘special procedures’ of independent experts, the Council’s Universal Periodic Review of country HR performance based on the UDHR standards, and special  commissions of inquiry, as on Syria and North Korea. This is not just a matter of dramatic public confrontations but more importantly of continuing contact and pressure, including through human rights officers in UN local resident coordinators’ offices and advisers in 27 countries, and on peacekeeping missions, as well as technical assistance and individual thematic and country-specific expert mandates at the country level. 

None of these institutions is perfect; indeed, many, such as the Human Rights Council, are deeply flawed – reflecting the messy world in which we live. The apex of measures of implementation is the International Criminal Court – not formally a UN body but certainly part of the global structure of institutions and procedures falling under the term of ‘measures of implementation.’  Beyond states, civil society plays a key role, in Geneva and beyond.

My focus here is on civil and political rights, in a more or less traditional sense.  But, we cannot forget the wide range of UN action on women’s rights and gender issues.  A few years ago, the UN merged several smaller entities into what amounts to a large and increasingly consequential UN agency, called UN Women.  There is also a major intergovernmental body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  The CSW has a long and distinguished history, and now has an annual meeting at the UN bringing together thousands of people.

The media make the failures of the international community successfully to address dramatic HR violations apparent. International accountability for HR violations remains rare today. Full international accountability cannot be expected for the foreseeable future, and would probably require some type of world-wide federated state – something not acceptable today, or tomorrow. The international HR system remains an expression of the world as it is, and only actions by states can change that. Remember that, for many, the UN Secretary-general is, and should remain, more ‘secretary’ than ‘general.’

UN HR successes are less widely known than failures, but they cannot be ignored even if poorly documented, in Sri Lanka and other countries.  One concrete example: A 3-person UN Mission on HR in South Sudan visited that country and investigated the horrendous HR conditions prevailing there in conditions of civil war, including violations by local armed forces. Drawing attention to widespread lack of accountability, the Commission showed that the local government can be held accountable, when a Military Tribunal imposed jail sentences on ten soldiers.  Victims requested the UN Commission to assist in assuring that those who commit crimes are identified and prosecuted. Such assistance goes well beyond any traditional notions of domestic jurisdiction.  It would be difficult to contemplate such action by UN experts in this country, for example in the current conditions along the US border with Mexico! 

The present challenges to the web of procedures and institutions stimulating improved HR performance at and by the UN are many: To mention but a few: decreasing space for civil society action in many countries, the disdain for human rights of the Trump Administration AND those other governments which emulate its positions around the world, and the actions of so-called spoiler states at the UN which may have more or less satisfactory HR positions at home but align themselves in the UN with China, Russia and others who hide behind the argument of sovereignty to limit UN HR actions.   

What can we as citizens do by ourselves and through our communities NOW to help overcome the weaknesses of measures of implementation? Three things:

One: Push the USG and the UN to establish an independent investigation of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Independent UN HR experts have already publicly called for an international investigation. I believe the US has an interest in a UN inquiry because that would take the issue out of US-Saudi bilateral relations.

Two: Show that UN HR actions are consistent with American values and Congressional policies.  Write and speak publicly!

Three: Advocate with our local and national political leaders for US support for UN HR activities, including re-engagement with the UN Human Rights Council and UN HR system. Join the UN Association and participate in its advocacy and human rights activities. Bring your local faith groups together to act on the UN and HR.


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