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27 September 2017

Looking for a Solution to the North Korean Nuclear Threat


On September 20th in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building, the UNA-NCA and its International Law Committee held a lively and very topical panel discussion on the threat posed by North Korean nuclear weapons and weapon delivery vehicles, North Korea's international behavior and objectives, UN sanctions, suggestions for U.S. policy, and possible future outcomes.

The speakers were Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. (retired), a U.S. diplomat who has participated at a senior level in every major arms control and non-proliferation negotiation in which the United States took part from 1970 to 1997, and Missy Ryan, National Security Reporter, The Washington Post, who happens to be Ambassador Graham’s daughter. After an introduction by Bob Kraft, Co- Chair of the International Law Committee, the panel discussion was ably moderated by Renee Dopplick, NCA Board member and the new Co-Chair of the Committee.

Speaking from the perspective of a longstanding observer of North Korea(DPRK) and participant in US nuclear non-proliferation policymaking, Ambassador Graham recounted the decades of past efforts to address North Korea’s nuclear program and worried that this may be a challenge without a solution. Having performed at least six nuclear tests, fired a intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan, and threatened the US territory of Guam, North Korea has escalated tensions to unprecedented levels. Since September 20th, as Kim Jong Un and President Trump have exchanged insults and threats, drawing global media coverage, North Korea has announced plans to explode a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, stated that the US has declared war on the DPRK, and threatened to shoot down US aircraft in international air space. What is different about the situation today, according to Ambassador Graham, is that North Korea is very close to, and may even actually have, the capability to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland.
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20 September 2017

Progress on United Nations Reform

The Trump Administration’s proposed withdrawal from international obligations such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement and its proposed budget cuts to the United Nations, foreign assistance and diplomacy (largely rejected by Congress) would not seem to bode well for continuing US leadership at the United Nations. But with challenges come opportunities. One such opportunity comes with a convergence of UN reform agendas being advanced by the new Secretary General, the President and the US Congress. Any viable institution must constantly reinvent itself  to adapt to fast-changing geopolitics, demographics and technology. The UN is no exception. The world today is far different from that of 1945. Calls for reform are a compelling confirmation of the essential role the UN must play in our increasingly interconnected global community.

Because a more efficient and effective United Nations will be a stronger force for peace, UNA-NCA supports important reform initiatives. History teaches that US leadership is critical in achieving these reforms. And despite the occasionally discordant and harsh rhetoric coming from the Administration, progress is being made. Of course, meeting our funding obligations and generously supporting the UN’s humanitarian and human rights initiatives strengthens US leadership and leverage. See Status of FY2018 Appropriations.
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20 September 2017

UNA-NCA President Statement on 2018 Budget


By UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley

September 19th, the 2017 UN General Assembly opens for a month of careful analysis and debate to improve the world, in the face of a world fraught with dramatic and dangerous challenges from the threat of nuclear war or miscalculations, the acts of genocide in Myanmar, the wars ongoing in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, a still burgeoning refugee crisis, attendant famine threats from war and climate change, and more threats to democratic processes by military dictatorships, such as Venezuela. There are more growing terrorist threats than ever, now internal to many countries, including in London, Barcelona, and elsewhere this past month. The importance of the mission and roles of the United Nations is more evident than ever. Yet only six months ago, the new Trump Administration presented its first budget for 2018 proposing to slash the US support to the UN on average by more than 30%, including 50% cuts to humanitarian and refugee assistance, 25% cuts to peacekeeping, and the reduction to zero of the funds for many of the UN's program agency for development, women rights, food supply, children's health, disease prevention, and many more. Five months ago, President Trump also pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Change accords, which only two years ago was hailed by nearly all world leaders and billions of world citizens for being the greatest modern international agreement for the well being of the world's future. With these agreements, 17 additional countries agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals for all countries to achieve together from 2015 to 2030.
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14 September 2017

UNA-NCA Policy Review Paper on Peacekeeping Reform

UNA-NCA UN REFORM PROPOSAL

Reform of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Would Serve Important US National Security Interests 

In her first opportunity to chair the Security Council last April, Ambassador Nikki Haley made UN Peacekeeping operations a top priority on the Council’s agenda.  Her objective was to consider “how the UN’s most powerful tool to promote international peace and security” can be made more “effective” and “efficient.” She set forth four reform priorities: Support for political solutions, host country cooperation, realistic and achievable mandates, and an exit strategy. 

The UN Secretary General shares a commitment to UN Reform.  Secretary General António Guterres has stressed “accountability and transparency,” better integration and coordination among UN entities, upgrading the governing structures and Member State oversight, and delegating operational authority to the field. Ambassador Haley has pledged full support for the Secretary General’s “bold strategy” to “advance organizational reforms.”

On the issue of sexual exploitation and human rights violations by peacekeepers, the Secretary General has called for a September 18th Circle of Leadership requesting heads of state or governments to sign a Compact agreeing to certify that citizens who serve the UN “have not committed, or alleged to have committed, criminal offenses, including of a sexual nature, and/or violations of human rights law or international humanitarian law.” The Compact further provides for credible international investigations of both military and civilian personnel charged with such violations.
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29 August 2017

Global Classrooms DC is Ready for Back to School

It’s back to school season, and Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) has been busy prepping for the new school year.

Based on valuable feedback from our stakeholders and program beneficiaries, GCDC just released its newly redesigned curriculum with more activities and mini-Model UN simulations. Educators will now have more flexibility and support, as well as students getting more opportunities to develop crucial skills, such as public speaking, writing, research, and collaboration.

GCDC’s curriculum also benefits from our new collaboration with the Culturfied Foundation, a Washington, DC not for profit organization dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding by promoting the richness, variety, and originality of every culture through the platform of arts, education, and special events. As they put it, “Culturfied Foundation is proud to collaborate with UNA-NCA to include a cultural component to the Model UN curriculum… to help Model UN participants understand that cultural exchanges through literature, music, business, sports, and art can be powerful tools to help create peace and partnerships between countries.”
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29 August 2017

UNA-NCA Says Goodbye to Writer and Human Rights Activist Page Wilson

UNA-NCA Says Goodbye to Writer and Human Rights Activist Page Wilson

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We are deeply saddened to learn of Page Wilson's passing at age 99. Since her involvement with UNA-NCA in the 1990s, we shared many wonderful memories and experienced firsthand her deep commitment to human rights, women’s equity, children, and the environment. These were just some of the many ways that Page engaged with UNA-NCA’s education and advocacy activities. 

We especially recall the love for her mentee Perdita Huston. After Perdita’s death in 2001 to ovarian cancer, Page joined an effort to raise funds for an annual $10,000 cash award. These awards were given to outstanding advocates for women's rights from developing countries, whose lives reflected Perdita’s values. Page also lead UNA-NCA's Sustainable Development Committee. Under her leadership, she organized an important event at American University with climate change lead scientist, Dr. James Hansen. 

Page served several years on UNA-NCA's Board of Directors and later in its Advisory Council, and was a generous supporter. UNA-NCA recognized her dedication and commitment by granting her the Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award. 

We will miss Page’s easy wit and loving attention to the people and issues that were so important to her. There will be a memorial to celebrate her life later in the fall. Contributions in Page's honor can be made to United Nations Association of the National Capital Area or for a scholarship in her name to the Clarke Law School.




24 August 2017

UNA-NCA Welcomes New Global Education Staff

UNA-NCA wishes the best to Global Education Director Megan Penn, and welcomes Nicole Bohannan as Global Education Managing Director

After 2 years and a half, our Global Education Director Megan Penn, will be moving on to pursue an intense certificate program at the New York Code and Design Academy (DC campus). Megan's last day in the office will be August 24.

During her time at UNA-NCA, Megan has significantly strengthened our signature education program Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) which, during her leadership, expanded and diversified bringing new audiences, partners and improved program offerings. We are very grateful for her contributions.

"I have continued to be enthusiastic and impressed by the youth that come through GCDC, and their ability to respectfully discuss important and complex issues. It makes me excited for the future! …  It is wonderful to have been part of a community that is interested and willing to advance global education, international understanding and inclusion, and encourage youth leadership.” - Megan Penn   

We are pleased to announce that Nicole Bohannon will be joining the UNA-NCA staff as its Global Education Managing Director effective August 25. Nicole brings extensive Model UN and advocacy experience. She previously served as GCDC Program Manager, where she worked to organize the program's Model UN Conferences, to develop new and engaging curriculum for the year-round program, and to make Global Classroom DC more sustainable and dynamic. Nicole also served as the GCDC Program Coordinator.

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We wish Megan much luck in her studies and welcome Nicole in her new role!



23 August 2017

Global Classrooms DC Back to School Campaign

It’s that time of the year: back to school! Global Classrooms DC (GCDC), the flagship education program of the UN Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), is launching its annual back-to-school campaign. Donations help support public and public charter students in the Washington,DC-area, mainly those attending Title 1 schools, to participate and attend GCDC Model UN conferences. Through original global education curriculum and Model UN mini-simulations, GCDC helps prepare globally aware citizens, educating students in grades 5-12 on international issues and the work of the UN, while strengthening key skills including public speaking, negotiation, and writing.

From now through September, help support a local student or group participate in GCDC during the 2017-2018 school year. Your support will help allow us to continue offering FREE and reduced cost program services to GCDC's public and public charter school students in the Washington, DC-area.

Find out more about the campaign and donate here!



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