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04 October 2016

UNA-NCA Hosts Event on Advancing Human Rights in China

On September 27, 2016, UNA-NCA and Freedom House held the event -- Advancing Human Rights: The United Nations and China.


UNA-NCA President Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret) gave welcoming and concluding remarks.

Dr. Yang Jian Li, President of Initiative for China, Dr. Xiao R. Li, and Dr. Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Right Watch participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Mark P. Lagon, Professor from Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Main topics discussed by panelists included: How does China position itself in the UN? What kind of UN mechanism can help advance human rights in China? What multilateral effort within the UN can call attention to the human rights situation in China?

Dr. Mark P. Lagon began his moderation by saying that he hoped this panel discussion could provide some of the useful tools of the UN to raise up the voice of civil society activists and defenders of human rights. During the panel discussion, most panelists stressed that in the past 40 years, China’s posture of its human rights issues has been primarily defensive but this trend may change given the fact that China has been more involved in global issues in recent years.

Dr. Xiao R. Li shared several stories that demonstrated the severe deterioration of human rights in China. Dr. Yang Jian Li pointed out that generally speaking, the people of China have very positive views and high expectation of the UN and its leading role in global affairs but most Chinese people don’t know much about the UN human rights mechanism, through which they can be helped.

Dr. Sophie Richardson took a different perspective and mentioned that UN agencies with their country offices in China are incredibly restricted of what they are allowing to do in China regarding human rights issues. The best way to advance human rights in China which was agreed by most panelists, is to educate Chinese people about the UN human rights mechanism and advocate the need for collective democracy to stand up for human rights in China.

We are very grateful to all the panelists for sharing their insights and experience, and to Freedom House for its partnership.

To watch the event video, click here.

See all the photos for the event here.

Photos are courtesy of Daniel Gong, Initiative for China.

28 September 2016

Your Recap on the 71st UNGA

The following is an update on the September 13-27 events of the 71st United Nations General Assembly 
   On September 13th, the new President of the GA Peter Thomson took the oath of office and opened the 71st GA. The oath is part of a new resolution of the GA to make the president more transparent and trustworthy, such as requiring financial disclosures and swearing to a conduct code of ethics. Thomson emphasized the 71st GA will have a priority of ensuring progress has begun towards the SDG's. The Fijian diplomat has appointed a team solely dedicated to the implementation of the SDG's.
   The rest of the week was composed of summits and meetings, before debate opened on the 20th. At a ceremony in New York on September 16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted a 1.3 million signature-strong petition that expressed solidarity with millions of refugees. This event was the culmination of a week of global broadcasts by UNHCR's celebrity supporters on Facebook Live encouraging people in every region to sign the #WithRefugees petition, which will remain active until all its goals are achieved.
   World leaders came together at the United Nations on September 19 for the first ever Summit for Refugees and Migrants. Here they adopted the New York Declaration. Part of the declaration was to start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly, and regular migration in 2018. The declaration also meant a new effort to find new homes for all refugees identified by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as needing resettlement; and expand the opportunities for refugees to relocate to other countries through, for example, labour mobility or education schemes. The declaration strengthened the global governance of migration by bringing the International Organization for Migration (IOM) into the UN system. As called for in the Declaration, the Secretary-General also launched a new campaign called "Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All" to respond to rising xenophobia and turning fear into hope. Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, addressed the body, stating that, in addition to increasing funding for refugees, the Group has dramatically increased its data collection on migrants and has found, for example, that early intervention can have great impact, since half the number of existing refugees had been in their current situation for less than four years.
   The UN Private Sector Forum also took place on September 19. Secretary Ban Ki-moon emphasized the connection to the Refugee Summit, calling "on the private sector to combat xenophobia and discrimination in the workplace and communities, urging businesses to provide equal job opportunities for refugees and migrants, and invest in education initiatives for displaced youth."
   The United Nations envoy on youth unveiled the inaugural class of 17 youth leaders on September 19. These new youth leaders were then incorporated into several high level meetings throughout the general assembly. What will their role be moving forward?
Once debate began on September 20, each of the world's leaders highlighted their own specific goals or issues. The European Union and member countries spotlighted aid for refugees and conflict mediation. The Prime Minister of New Zealand stressed urgency of Security Council reform, pointing out that the crisis in Syria has shown the shortcomings of the work of the Security Council to provide a swift unified response. Denmark urged for greater UN transparency and trust.
   Central American leaders at the UN Assembly spotlighted the region's efforts to address transport and migration issues. Specifically, the President of Panama pointed out the completion this year of a project to expand the Panama Canal. The President of Brazil declared that the biodiverse country will be joining the Paris Climate Agreement.
   Southern African leaders stressed the importance of regional efforts, such as within the African continent through the African Union (AU), to realize a better and sustainable future for all. The President of Malawi underscored the promotion of youth development and called upon world leaders to follow the example of AU adoption of Demographic Dividend as its theme for 2017. Warning that corruption undermines achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, Nigeria called on all countries to sign up to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Burundi rejected the UN report on the country's human rights situation as 'purposefully and politically exaggerated, and will produce its own comprehensive survey on the issue in response. Kenya implored the UN Security Council to align the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to the threat levels in that neighbouring country, and to provide adequate, predictable funding and other support for the Mission. They cited 65,000 refugees from Somalia, and pointed out that aid has diminished in the last year. Somali said that, with the help of AMISOM, Al-Shabaab now controls less than 10 percent of territory in the country.
   Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for global cooperation in attaining the SDG's and United Nations reform. They said the 2030 Agenda, to be successful, must include stable and predictable funding mechanisms and innovative approaches in financing for development. They also called for expansion of the 15-member Security Council to make it more democratic and for granting the Secretary General and Secretariat independence to uphold the purpose and principles of the UN Charter. The President of Yemen thanked the UN and said that with international support a "new Yemen" will emerge from the war.
   Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that some Western countries' supremacy and exclusiveness undermined equitable international cooperation, calling on world leaders to support Russian initiatives in counter-terrorism and disarmament.
   In his final address to the United Nations General Assembly as United States President, Barack Obama stated the UN has progressed greatly, but noted there needs to be a course correction. To do this, Obama stated there were four key corrections the UN needed to achieve: Make the global economy work better for all people; follow through on efforts to combat climate change; reject any forms of fundamentalism and racism; and sustain the commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights and responsibilities of nations.
   China stated that while economic globalization has been a driving force for growth, it has also taken a toll on certain industries and requires measures to address such problems while "keeping the bigger picture in mind." Globalization is in line with interests of all countries. He cautioned against protectionism and voiced support for the open trade regime of the World Trade Organization (WTO), among other things.
   On September 26, International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Ban Ki-moon spoke in length on continued efforts of proliferation, specifically noting that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea repeatedly defies these efforts.
   The United Nations Global Pulse Initiative announced a partnership with Twitter that will provide the UN with access to the platform's data tools to support efforts.

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.

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