UNA-NCA Members Learn to Advocate for Strong US-UN Partnership
Chris Whatley, Executive Director, UNA-USAOn Wednesday April 13, UNA-NCA held an advocacy training session for its members in Arlington, VA, offering an opportunity for them to learn more about advocacy, the congressional process, and UN issues in order to prepare to participate in future congressional visits on behalf of UNA-NCA.
The event featured a discussion of advocacy techniques and strategy led by VP of Advocacy Melissa Kaplan and Board Member Jeff Hoffmann, followed by an overview of the current state of UN issues by UNA-USA Executive Director Chris Whatley. There was also a Q&A session and advocacy role-play during which attendees learned more about the process of conducting a congressional advocacy meeting.
The advocacy training was a success, with a robust turnout and lively discussion. UNA-NCA thanks those members who participated and looks forward to seeing you in future hill meetings! We hope to hold another advocacy training session in the next few months for those who were unable to attend this time. We will keep everyone posted as plans for this are finalized.
For those interested in learning more about advocacy, UNA-USA is hosting a leadership summit for members and Chapter leaders from across the country will convene in Washington, DC for inspiring grassroots training and topical conversation with members of Congress to support U.S. engagement with the UN. Attend the conference to add your voice to the conversation!
When: Sunday, June 12, 2016 - Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Where: National Education Association, 1201 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
More information and registration is available here.
Also check out a Congressional Briefing Book from the Better World Campaign which highlights the important work of the United Nations and serves as a resource for advocacy efforts for a strong partnership between the US and the UN, in peacekeeping, non-proliferation, and countering violent extremism.
14 April 2016
Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference: Next Generation of Leaders Find Their Voice
On April 8, 2016 over 600 students, educators, volunteers, and guests attended Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
Students grades 5 – 12 discussed some of the most pressing global challenges, representing United Nations (UN) Member States in committees including the Security Council, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year’s topics focused on the current situation in Syria, World Heritage Site conservation, fair trade and sustainable supply chains, climate change, and nuclear non-proliferation.
The opening ceremonies began with remarks from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s (UNA-NCA) President Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), followed by inspiring remarks from Andy Rabens, the Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Mr. Rabens encouraged the delegates to find their voice, and speak up, while sharing his own experiences participating in Model UN as a student. Debate was opened by Global Classrooms DC Student Secretary General Tima Mikdashi (read her letter to delegates here).
Students dispersed into committee sessions, while educators and guests were invited to attend the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland, highlighted Global Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Obtaining a quality education is the foundation for improving people’s lives and sustainable development. While major progress has been made towards increasing access to education and basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, greater efforts are needed for achieving universal education goals. For over a decade, our GCDC program has been working with some of DC’s most underserved students to improve their public speaking, teach conflict management skills, and expand their understanding of global issues while providing access to the resources of our nation’s capital. Ms. Boland also thanked sponsors and close partners including the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for their support to UNA-NCA and GCDC over the years. (Read remarks regarding April 8 from Mark Schlachter, Director for Public Affairs, Planning, and Coordination for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs).
The afternoon was filled by a Professional Development Workshop for teachers, where Director of the United Nations Information Center Robert Skinner discussed some of the resources available to teachers.
Closing ceremonies consisted of congratulatory remarks from UNA-NCA Director of Global Education, Megan Penn and words from Marti Estell, Division Chief of Recruitment Outreach, and Coordinator for the Diplomat in Resident Program at the U.S. Department of State, on how she began at the U.S. Department of State and the opportunities available to students. Ms. Mikdashi, GCDC Secretary General, closed the conference with position paper and committee awards for Honorable Mention, Outstanding Delegation, and Best Delegation.
Numerous students, educators, guests, and volunteers shared how valuable it is to have an opportunity for students to voice their opinions, and prepare them for a global community.
Thank you to all our speakers and a very special thank you for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization for continued support and hosting the event throughout the years. UNA-NCA also thanks the UN Federal Credit Union, and GCDC Spring Model UN Conference sponsors. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – this conference could not run without your support.
Full coverage of the Opening Ceremonies is available for viewing on YouTube or watch the video above.
Follow Global Classrooms DC on Twitter @GCDC_ModelUN for more coverage of the Model UN Conference on April 8 #GCDCMUN #IamModelUN
13 April 2016
Statement from UNA-NCA President on the Passing of Mostafa Kamal Tolba
THE UNITED NATIONS' UNSUNG HEROES
One of the great values of the United Nations is that it brings together the world’s best scientists and professional experts on neutral ground to address complex global challenges that can only be resolved through international collaboration. This quiet, scientific based diplomacy is rarely noted in the media, but it happens every day, and from time to time, with outstanding success.
Thus, we note the passing on March 28th at age 93 of the eminent Egyptian scientist, Mostafa Kamal Tolba, who led the delegation to the landmark 1972 Stockholm Conference which established the United Nations Environment Programme. Dr. Tolba served as Executive Director of the UNEP based in Nairobi for 17 years. He helped create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which successfully facilitated the global framework agreed to at Paris Conference last December.
Dr. Tolba will be remembered mostly, however, for his leadership in the fight against ozone depletion which culminated in the Vienna Convention (1985) and the Montreal Protocol (1987) and subsequent amendments. Generally heralded as the most successful environmental treaty ever, the Montreal Protocol halted the depletion of the ozone by dramatically reducing the amount of chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer and increasing the incidence of skin cancers. Through quiet skillful scientific diplomacy, recognizing the diverse capabilities of each country, Tolba brought every State, large and small, to the table, and 197 nations subscribed to the Convention.
Where leading experts put politics aside and work diligently to achieve common objectives and shared values, “miracles” can happen—and they do every day among the unsung heroes of the United Nations.
Ambassador Donald T. Bliss President, UNA-NCA
05 April 2016
Press Advisory: Premier Model UN Conference at State Department
The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area will host its Global Classrooms DC 12th Annual Spring Model UN Conference on Friday, April 8th at the U.S. Department of State and Pan American Health Organization.
Read our Press Advisory for more information about this annual conference!
05 April 2016
Highlights from the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations
On Wednesday March 30, 2016, the Alliance for Peacebuilding Women and Peacebuilding Affinity Group, National Capital Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women and UNA-NCA hosted a panel on the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that took place in March 2016 at the United Nations in New York.
A panel of CSW60 attendees shared highlights from the UN session and from the many concurrent NGO programs. Topics like women empowerment and education, gender parity in the work place and the involvement of governments, states and individuals in the implementation of the Global Goals were discussed.
The moderator and first panelist, Kim Weichel, Consultant for UN Women, UNA-NCA Advisory Council member, and Chair of the Women in Peacebuilding Affinity Group, opened the discussion with a brief overview of her experience at CSW. Ms. Weichel shared how the sessions were tied to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. She emphasized that although Gender Equality is specifically represented by Goal 5, all Goals affect women and no progress will be made on them if gender equality is not present. During the CSW sessions, important dates including March 8th (International Women’s Day) were brought up to discuss progress on women’s empowerment and to create a concrete outcome document to better women in terms of health, economic activity, interfaith initiatives, countering violent extremism movements, and participation in civil society space. The sessions also encouraged launching response initiatives to gender–based violence, training workshops and income-based jobs for women.
Mahnaz Afkhami, President of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), shared the background behind the transformation from the MDGs to the new Global Goals. She argued that while all Goals are important, the most relevant to Gender Equality fall between Goals 1 and 6. The implementation and planning of these Goals were facilitated by technology and communication. Nevertheless, governments and states need to show a little more concern by creating strategies, partnerships, collaborations and providing finances to work towards all the goals. At CSW, Ms. Afkhami focused on discriminatory laws within the family and the role of women in the household. WLP also discussed family laws for Muslim majority countries and the variations between civic law and Sharia law. The CSW sessions were also aimed at creating awareness for egalitarian laws and the implementation of human rights around the world. Arts were incorporated into CSW as young poets spoke on human rights along with film and other forms of art & media.
Karen Mulhauser, UNA-USA Chair, UNA-NCA Past President, and founder of Consulting Women spoke on the importance of gender equality, good governance, and peaceful and inclusive societies. “People need to be educated on the importance of the UN because we can’t solve the world’s problems by ourselves,” she argued. Ms. Mulhauser gave a brief overview of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a UN treaty signed by President Carter in 1980 that the Senate has not ratified or implemented. The Cities for CEDAW Initiative aims to implement CEDAW legislation in various US cities at the local level. This would involve a gender audit followed by action to address areas of gender disparity. True gender parity would generate $12 trillion worldwide. Ms. Mulhauser also stressed the importance of involving men in gender parity discussions, as, in her words, we are not going to reach gender equality until the men are on board. All the NGOs present at CSW learned how to better approach their governments and local authorities to support gender equality.
UNA-NCA is grateful to the panelists for sharing their experiences from the CSW sessions, and to the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the US National Committee for UN Women for their partnership in this discussion.
Statement from UNA-NCA President on Recent Terror Attacks
From the President of UNA-NCA
The tragedies in Lahore and Brussels are beyond our ability to comprehend. UNA-NCA sends our condolences to the families of the victims and to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and Belgium.
The increasing number of terrorist attacks around the globe should rededicate us at UNA-NCA to our mission of promoting global cooperation in addressing the challenges of the 21st century. Clearly there is an immediate and urgent need for increased cooperation in sharing intelligence and using technology including social media to combat the "appeal" of terrorist organizations primarily to young men who feel alienated and without hope in the states where they reside.
Equally as important is the work we are doing to increase public understanding of the United Nations' Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Governments at all levels, civil society, and the private sector must work together to address the root causes of alienation and lack of hope and opportunity - extreme poverty, ethnic and religious conflict, income inequality, educational opportunity, and access to good jobs, among others. As you know, this continues to be a major undertaking of UNA-NCA. We need to relate our work on the Global Goals to our efforts to strengthen the United Nations' capacity to meet its central mission of maintaining peace and security. Through such efforts, we can, over time, reduce the threat of failed and failing states as breeding grounds for terrorism and increase the opportunity and hope of all alienated populations, wherever they may reside. While we must be vigilant in addressing the symptoms, we cannot ignore the root causes as well.
Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)
23 March 2016
Legacy Circle Spotlight on George A. Garland
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. This spring, we will be introducing Legacy Circle members to other UNA-NCA supporters. This week, meet Dr. George Arthur Garland:
Dr. George A. Garland, president of the Southern New York State Division of UNA-USA, actually began his affiliation in 2000 with UNA-USA as full-time Executive Director of UNA-NCA.
During his four-year tenure, membership climbed significantly as NCA became one of UNA's largest chapters. The young professionals group grew and began engaging in leadership opportunities, with its voice heard on the Board by Elizabeth Latham and Paula Boland who expanded YP's outreach at the local and national levels.
Recalling his UNA-NCA service in Washington, George said, “One of my most satisfying experiences was working with my predecessor, Evelyn Falkowski, a valiant volunteer. One of her many efforts to help underwrite the Chapter’s wide-ranging programming was to buy a DC condo and contribute the rents to UNA-NCA. Eventually I assisted her in selling it. She donated the $300,000 profit to the Chapter--doubling our endowment. During your Annual Membership Meeting, NCA bestows a service award named in her honor.”
George made deep, lasting friendships during his NCA tenure. He worked closely with OC Oroku, his volunteer office manger and the Chapter’s first website creator. George recalls the many hours OC and he worked with Board Chair Andrew Rice and leaders Anne Hale Johnson, Edison Dick, and Ed Elmendorf producing the Chapter’s first fundraising auction, moving the office from a small basement room to a Connecticut Avenue townhouse, even overseeing student volunteers from several countries. NCA volunteers initiated Global Classrooms and Model UN projects in DC public schools.
In 2004, Dr. Garland became UNA-USA’s full-time Executive Director for National Membership, and in 2008 he joined the Southern New York State Division as a volunteer. Prior to his affiliation with UNA-USA, he completed a 34-year career as Policy Analyst with US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC.
Learn more about the Legacy Circle, or contact
, Co-Chairs of the UNA-NCA Legacy Circle.
21 March 2016
Statement from UNA-NCA President on UN Reform
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF UNA-NCA
Whether it is providing humanitarian assistance to a record number of refugees, facilitating a global agreement on climate change, coordinating the attack on the Ebola pandemic, destroying chemical weapons in Syria, or maintaining peace and security in failing states which are breeding grounds for terrorism, the United Nations is in the news every day.
As the United Nations commands increasing attention for its efforts to address the truly global challenges of the 21st century, inevitably its weakness and vulnerabilities are also revealed. That is the job of the media. And so we read stories of the abuse of UN Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, a corruption scandal involving the past president of the General Assembly, a seemingly unaccountable and fragmented bureaucracy, and the failure of the Security Council, subject to the P-5 veto, to achieve peaceful solutions to intransigent conflicts, atrocities and aggression.
In an organization as complex and diverse as the United Nations, flaws and failures are inevitable. It is how we address them that counts. I have often said that we at UNA-NCA are not cheerleaders. We work hard for a stronger, more effective and efficient United Nations. In this regard we have a three pillar strategy.
First, there are many proposals for reform from eminent world leaders, which we applaud, and the UN is adopting some of them.
Second, we strongly advocate for constructive US leadership at the UN, which continues to make a huge difference in advancing human rights, improving peacekeeping operations, promoting merit-based recruiting and promotion, streamlining the bureaucracy, fighting nuclear proliferation, and facilitating sustainable development, among other initiatives. Engagement through the UN must be fundamental to US foreign policy.
Finally, we must ensure that the next Secretary General, to be selected this year, has the qualities and experience to strengthen the United Nations, to address its flaws and vulnerabilities, to advance human rights, work effectively with the Security Council to maintain peace and security, and facilitate global cooperation by governments, civil society and the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this regard, we invite members of UNA-NCA to submit questions to be asked of the candidates for Secretary General. Questions can be submitted online, to Twitter or Instagram with #UNSGCandidates or emailed to
prior to the March 27th deadline.
Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.) President, UNA-NCA