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01 May 2021

Gender Equity Advocacy Opportunities: CEDAW, Congress, and More

UNA-NCA is committed to championing gender equity globally and locally. Take action today through any of the opportunities listed below. 

Safe from the Start Act 

Encourage your Member of Congress to support the Safe from the Start Act, introduced in both the House and the Senate. For more information about each bill, review this one-pager. 
Armed conflict, natural disasters and climate change often have the greatestimpact on the poorest countries, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, including women and girls. Global estimates indicate that nearly 70 million people are currently displaced around the world, and we areexperiencing the largest refugee crisis in recorded history. On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted women and girls worldwide, putting those who are displaced at unique risk of harm. Conditions in refugee camps and other displacement settings often exposewomen and girls to greater security risks due to issues such as inadequate lighting, lack of gender-appropriate sanitation facilities, and needing to travel long distances to access firewood, water or other basic commodities. Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian personnel has also become a well-recognized concern, prompting action by the international community. COVID-19 has exacerbated these GBV protection risks, particularly as already stretched humanitarian resources are spent on stemming the health crisis. An estimated 31 million additional cases of GBV could occur in six months ofthe COVID-19 lockdown and another 15 million more for each additional threemonths. Despite the acute impacts that emergencies have on women and girls, they are often excluded from leadership and decision-making roles when it comes to humanitarian response. Without their voices included in the design and implementation of humanitarian programs, the United States and others that generously provide humanitarian relief risk ignoring or exacerbating theneeds of women and girls in our response efforts. 

Safe from the Start is an existing program implemented by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) toprevent gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian emergencies and protectsurvivors or those at risk. This program supports necessary training, toolkits, personnel, and accountability measures to improve the ability of those whowork in emergencies to adequately prevent and respond to GBV from the onset of the crisis. These types of programs are critically needed: nearly 1 in 5 womenreport experiencing sexual violence during a humanitarian emergency and therisks of domestic/intimate partner violence, child marriage, and human trafficking all increase during crises.Despite this, only .12% of allhumanitarian funding goes to address GBV.

This bill will ensure: 
  • Humanitarian response organizations are better equipped to prevent GBV and supportsurvivors through training, guidelines, and the deployment of specialized experts to close gaps that make women and girls vulnerable to violence and abuse; 
  • Efforts are coordinated for greater efficiency and accountability of response andrecovery efforts, and that humanitarian relief activities mitigate GBV risks from the very beginning;
  • Girls and women who experience GBV during crises receive appropriate care and that survivors  and those vulnerable to GBV have access to empowerment opportunities that will help them recover from or prevent GBV; and
  • Local actors, including women's groups and others from the impacted communities, have funding, support, and skills to help provide necessary care and lead efforts within their communities to prevent and respond to GBV. 
Encourage your Member of Congress to support the Safe from the Start Act, introduced in both the House and the Senate, or thank them for their support. You can find their sponsorship status and social media handles below. 


Take advantage of this digital advocacy toolkit from our partners at CARE to craft effective messages on social media to thank your Member of Congress or encourage them to support the Safe from the Start Act. 

DC for CEDAW: Gender Equity Coalition  

Tell the DC Council that it's time to champion gender equity at home. Join our mailing list to recieve updates about forthcoming sign-on letters and legislative meetings here

At a time when achieving gender equality will take an estimated 100 years at our pre-COVID rate of progress, we need local solutions that advance women’s equal rights and opportunities now more than ever. COVID-19 has further threatened the physical safety and stability of women and girls; in DC, increasing rates of domestic violence and high unemployment have forced an unprecedented number of women and children into homelessness.

DC for CEDAW is a campaign to adopt the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into city legislation. Through legislation that requires DC government agencies to report gender analysis data and develop a citywide plan to ensure parity for women and girls in all arenas, we move one step closer to enshrining true equality. 
Mayors from San Francisco and Los Angeles reported that these measures “materially improved the lives of women” in their municipalities and “fostered more transparent and accountable governance.” 

For more information, view our DC for CEDAW one-pager here. To learn more about the Cities for CEDAW national campaign, click here
Tell the DC Council that it's time to champion gender equity at home. Join our mailing list to recieve updates about forthcoming sign-on letters and legislative meetings here


23 April 2021

Announcing UNA-USA’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEA&I) Task Force

Dear UNA-USA Members and Advocates, 

As UNA-USA members, the fight to protect universal human rights, equity, freedom, and justice for all people is deeply enshrined in our identity. Our history of tireless grassroots advocacy to protect the world’s most vulnerable people began more than seven decades ago. UNA-USA members are dedicated stewards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a cornerstone document aimed to secure and advance the fundamental rights of all people, everywhere.

In 2020,  George Floyd’s tragic death and the killing of many other people of color brought our nation to a pause and forced us to face the realities of systemic racism and racial injustice that have persisted for generations. This moment also became a reflection point for UNA-USA to realize that despite our long, productive history of human rights advocacy, we must strengthen our core values to be better advocates for all people. Even amid the pandemic, we found ways to take immediate action.   

We issued a statement directly condemning racism in America. We developed a Racial Justice Resource Guide to help members fulfill their commitments to combat systemic racism. We hosted a virtual townhall that brought together various voices who shared their experiences around racial injustice. We supported legislation calling for the formation of a U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. Furthermore, there were many efforts carried out by UNA-USA chapters and individual members within their communities. 

But these efforts are not enough. As human rights advocates, we need to take our work further.

This year, we are pleased to announce the formation of the UNA-USA Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEA&I) Task Force, which is comprised of UNA-USA staff and UNA-USA National Council members. Our purpose is clear:

The UNA-USA Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEA&I) Strategy seeks to strengthen our diversity and to ensure DEA&I across leadership, programs, community and college chapters, partnerships, and to build a culture of equity and inclusion in all that we do.

UNA-USA Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Statement:

As advocates of the United Nations and stewards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNA-USA affirms its commitment to build a culture to engage and support all members and stakeholders regardless of race, creed, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, religion, marital status, political opinion, national origin, socio-economic status, or any other protected characteristics. Our goal is to ensure an organizational environment where members and stakeholders feel valued and empowered to support the principles and work of the United Nations, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

The DEA&I Task Force will provide thoughtful structure and formality to these commitments so that UNA-USA can consistently advance its role in ensuring a safe, just, equitable life for all people.  In June, we will launch a DEA&I survey to better understand your viewpoint on UNA-USA’s support of DEA&I and obtain input on how we may improve DEA&I within our membership, programs, and outreach. Following the survey, we will organize focus groups to foster in-depth discussions around these topics. 

We will also provide additional support and guidance to UNA-USA chapters to ensure the DEA&I strategy is implemented at the local level. Further, we will provide DEA&I programming aimed to empower UNA-USA members to make change within their communities and become stronger advocates for racial equity at every level. 

Implementing our DEA&I strategy will not happen overnight, but we have developed a roadmap, and we are committed to using our organization’s platform and legacy to actively oppose injustice whenever we see it, whether it’s happening here in the U.S. or somewhere else in the world. Our movement is built on the experiences of UNA-USA members like you, and our mission is guided by your actions. To achieve our goals, meet our commitments, and ensure lasting change, we need you with us. 

On behalf of UNA-USA’s DEA&I Task Force, National Council, national leadership and staff, thank you for making the choice to align yourself with a movement that places universal human rights at the forefront of international priority. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and taking ownership of local action to ignite global change. Thank you for putting your voice behind this work.

The launch of our DEA&I strategy is just the beginning, and we are honored to have you with us as we cover new ground in our continued fight for human rights. 


Rachel Bowen Pittman, Executive Director, UNA-USA

Paula Boland, National Council Chair, UNA-USA

23 April 2021

Successful Virtual MUN Weekend Prepares Delegates to Change the World

By Nicole Herman, Spring 2021 Program Assistant

On April 16th and 17th, 2021, 131 students, 22 educators, and 37 volunteers gathered for the first virtual spring and 17th annual Global Classrooms DC Spring Model UN Conference in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. The COVID-19 pandemic could not prevent the eager delegates from participating from their homes in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Venezuela. 

The conference welcomed students grades 5 through 12 to discuss pressing global issues as delegates representing countries from around the world. Just as they would in person, the delegates debated, worked together, and proposed solutions in the five committees: 
  • Migration & Mobility - International Organization of Migration 
  • Safety & Health at Work - International Labour Organization 
  • The Impacts of Climate and Air Quality on Diverse Communities  - United Nations Environment Programme 
  • The UN at 75 - the Future of UN Peacekeeping - United Nations Security Council
  •  Combat Religious Discrimination - United Nations Human Rights Council. 

The conference was opened by U.S. Secretary of State Blinken (below), who encouraged the delegates and “tomorrow’s leaders” to use
 their conference experience to learn how to reduce conflict, build cooperation, and solve problems. Deputy Assistant Secretary Jane Rhee (right) also offered insight into the history and reminded attendees of the importance of the United Nations and the impacts of its diplomats.DASJaneRheeOpeningRemarks_English_Thumbnail

The State Department representatives were also joined by remarks from Paula Boland, President of UNA-NCA, and keynote speaker Dustin Liu, the 9th U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations. Paula expressed thanks to the UNA-NCA community, partners, and sponsors for their help in raising awareness, promoting the vital work of the UN, and building a strong UN-US partnership through their collaboration with the conference and delegates. She acknowledged the difficult year of 2020 and called for delegates to use their skills to address current and future challenges.

Dustin Liu (left) activated the young audience by describing the significance of being a part of the generation that implements the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on fundamental human rights, and 75 years after the beginning of the United Nations - builds a world that they want to live in. He called upon the delegates to practice, collaborate, and construct through critical thinking and imagination societies that have the capacity to be equal and inclusive. Liu connected the delegates to the realities they face today and pushed them to utilize their skills to step up to the challenge and change the world for the better.

IMG_0707Lastly, the conference opening held remarks from Eden Shaw (left), who was selected as the 2021 GCDC Student Secretary-General. An impressive 6th grader from Cabin John Middle School, Eden motivated the delegates to step up and facilitate change through innovative solutions to issues of gender inequality, inequalities based on race and religion, malnutrition, poverty, forced migration, and climate change. She emphasized that Model UN is not about argumentation, but rather collaboration. Eden ended her remarks by opening up the committee sessions.

With that, the delegates were off to their Zoom rooms, where they kicked off committee session 1. The ILO, IOM, and UNEP committees were welcomed by remarks from UN experts including  Steve Moody, Director, Office of International Labor Affairs; Luca Dall'Oglio, Chief of Mission of the IOM; and Hilary French, Programme Officer at UNEP. During the session, delegates started off by stating their country’s positions in their committees and debated possible solutions to important international issues. By the end of Session 1, delegates began forming country blocs and drafting resolutions. 

In Session 2, which took place on April 17th, the student delegates primarily continued working with others to draft resolutions that outlined their ideas and solutions to solve their committees' respective challenges. Many Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, who are college students and professionals with extensive Model UN experience, shared their positive feedback on students; the Chairs and Vice-Chairs were extremely impressed by the students' preparation and the quality of their performance. Throughout both days of the conference, educators, sponsors, and guests were also welcomed to witness students in action. 

This year’s Open House took place prior to Opening Ceremonies. UNA-NCA President Paula Boland greeted the guests and Senior Global Education Manager Jaiya Lalla shared this year's program highlights and thanked this year's conference sponsors and partners. GCDC would like to express its gratitude to Stephen F. Moseley, Robert Schott of AIRSCHOTT, Billie Ann Day, Roger Griffis, Amb. Don Bliss, and Rajesh Gupta who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program for their generous support!

GCDC also partnered with UN agencies to bring students a tangible learning experience for the Spring 2021 Conference.  For the 2020-2021 school year, GCDC partnered with the International Organization for Migration to sponsor a full curriculum unit and conference topic on the issue of migration and mobility, with a focus on COVID-19. GCDC also partnered with the International Labour Organization to sponsor a unit, and the conference delegates talked about safety and health at work, focusing on changes to work brought on by the pandemic. Last but not least, GCDC worked with the UN Environment Programme to cover the impacts of climate and air quality on diverse communities.

The closing ceremony included a guest appearance from António Guterres (right), the UN Secretary-General. He expressed gratitude 
for the rising generation’s ability to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, gender inequality, and climate change. The ceremony closed with awards announced by each committee’s volunteers.

In its 17th year and despite the pandemic, the GCDC Model UN Conference continued to provide opportunities for young students across the DMV and around the world to fully immerse in global education, discussing some of the world’s most pressing international issues. Delegates from diverse backgrounds had the chance to learn from the top U.S. Diplomat and other leaders in the field of foreign affairs and in turn apply this knowledge to their virtual debates throughout the weekend. Their performance as diplomats was skillful, intellectual, and inspiring.

Thank you to the dedicated committee chairs and vice-chairs, educators, and other volunteers for taking part in this virtual conference that gave the next generation the ability to refine their skills to soon become the leaders we look up to.

To our keynote speakers - thank you for your time and wisdom and a very special thank you to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs for the continued support throughout the years, even through a global pandemic!

Lastly, the UNA-NCA would like to thank Stephen F. Moseley, Robert Schott of AIRSCHOTT, Billie Ann Day, Roger Griffis, Amb. Don Bliss, Rajesh Gupta, and our other Support A Delegate donors. A huge thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – the GCDC Spring 2021 Model UN Conference was an incredible success and would not have been possible without your diligence!

13 April 2021

Global Health Initiative: Investing in African Health Care in The Wake of COVID-19

By Laura Rodriguez, UNA-NCA Communications and Membership Program Assistant

On March 25, 2021, the UNA-NCA African Affairs Committee hosted a virtual panel discussion that covered topics including the importance of economic investment and unique collaborations within African health care. Using the framework of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, the evening’s panelists came together to discuss the challenges that have been exacerbated as a result of COVID-19 across the continent of Africa and presented hope and opportunities in the form of solutions. 

UNA-NCA African Affairs Committee Chair, Lydia Daniels, kicked off the event by expressing the goal of the committee to “engage NGOs in capacity-building efforts in several African countries impacted by the global pandemic.” She connected this back to the goal of the presenters and discussion of the night — to highlight the tools and resources that NGOs and partners can use to initiate solution-building in the region. 

Carolyn Nganga-Good, the Branch Chief at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), introduced the first of the five panelists for the night, Dr. Yolanda Ogbolu, the Chair of the Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice Department and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Nursing (UMSON) and School of Medicine. 

Dr. Ogbolu outlined the gaps in technology between low human development countries in Africa compared to high human development countries like the U.S., and proposed the challenge of looking at development through a global lens with the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, “The developing world carries 90% of the disease burden, yet poorer countries have access to only 10% of the resources that go to health.” Given this, Dr. Ogbolu stressed that, “health is wealth,” since lower-income communities will experience poorer health across the board. Dr. Ogbolu noted that “people and countries are really cracking because they’re focusing under the assumption that money is the most important thing, but power is the real protagonist of the story: power of the few, powerlessness of many, collective power of those fighting for change.” Ending on an optimistic note, Dr. Ogbolu pondered the topic of African progress in the midst of COVID-19, stating that while some countries were not able to give large protections, “some gave cash or free electricity, or advance their digital services much faster than what was anticipated.” She also noted the important establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will potentially allow the region to become more self-reliant and fulfill services such as the distribution of surgical masks and medications. 

Following Dr. Ogbolu, Eric Friedman, J.D., the Global Health Justice Scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health and Project Leader for the Platform for a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), spoke on the importance of rights-based governance for global health in the post-pandemic world. Mr. Friedman touched on the possibilities that could arise in forms of solutions to the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, such as: the establishment of universal healthcare to improve surveillance and detection of infectious diseases; enhanced accountability and participation, which would combat community mistrust of current health systems and authorities in the sector as well as give a voice and equity-based solutions to marginalized populations in the region; the right to health in all sectors; and lastly, avoiding action with “extraterritorial effects that undermine the right to health such as the hoarding of resources like vaccines and medicine.” Mr. Friedman also spoke about the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), a proposed global treaty with a mission of ensuring global and domestic health equity and accountability.

The conversation took a more in-depth look at economic growth with Dr. Hezekiah Adesanya, the former Philadelphia Area Chapter Chairman and Board Member of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA), who honed in on the pharmaceutical industry in Africa as a “strategic regional growth driver.” Dr. Adesanya highlighted the connection between the industry’s ability to meet community medical needs across the region, reduce disease burden, all of which “directly impact GDP, and increase the prosperity and economic well-being of a nation or demographic of people.” He proposed a several-point strategy to accomplish this growth, including innovation and research to discover new entities or improve upon existing ones, as well as improve commercialization and develop a strategy to maintain a good market share both locally and globally. Dr. Adesanya signaled the potential of already growing pharmaceutical markets in places such as Nigeria and other nations within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWA), stating that when properly harnessed, “these existing growth opportunities will spur economic growth in all areas.” He also focused on the importance of members of the African diaspora community in combating misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and access and other information gaps in the region regarding the healthcare sector. 

Dr. Val Okaru-Bisant, the CEO & Founder of Afrocosmo Development Impact, LLC, spoke about the crucial role of female-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, and the resilience under pressure that they have demonstrated amid the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Okaru-Bisant depicted SMEs as the backbone of Africa’s economy, with 80% of the workforce in most African countries working in this sector, and more than 50% of which are women. She also stated that most of the women and individuals within the SME sector make up the informal sector as well, which connects to the “six survival challenges” that AfCFTA member nations face: the formalization of the informal sector, and lack of incentives to do so — such as affordable licensing, registration, and infrastructure costs; technical skills development; the challenge of scaling up, particularly for female and youth-owned SMEs; both financial and non-financial capital; and lastly, education on business and trade policy at the grassroots level. Dr. Okaru-Bisant ended by noting that “optimistically, female-owned SMEs in Africa are very resilient,” regardless of the survival challenges they face. 

The last speaker of the night, Dr. Njide Okonjo-Udochi, President of the Millennium Health Group, PC, explored topics including the role of donor agencies, the state of healthcare on the African continent, and vaccine rollout initiatives across the region. Dr. Udochi pointed out that 3.4% of the COVID-19 infection worldwide came out of the African continent, with an approximate 2.4% case fatality rate. She stated the importance of bilateral and multilateral donor aid from NGOs, local governments, as well as philanthropic and private sector collaboration in the forms of programs, grants, tenders, contracts, open funding opportunities, and other innovative aid initiatives. Dr. Udochi also noted the lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic, through the implementation of early lockdowns and strict government-backed public health initiatives — despite the many challenges that the health care sector faced such as a lack of trained medical personnel, equipment, or testing supplies. She ended her portion of the discussion on the progress of COVID-19 vaccine accessibility or lack thereof, stating that through the Covax initiative, 600 million doses, or 20% of the population has been vaccinated. She stated “government agencies have to focus in order to help many countries improve their logistics as well as storage for the vaccines, not only for now but also for the future.” 

After addressing the need for implementing strategies to support sustainable and efficient health systems, along with the important synergy of African government support, investors, and donor agencies in meeting community needs, the panelists then transitioned into a Q&A session, during which they addressed the value of the African diaspora community abroad in implementing change on the African continent by leveraging their expertise and accessibility to technology. 

Above all, the role of technology and the mentality that “health is wealth,” are crucial in building an effective, collaborative and long-lasting response to the issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Dr. Ogbolu stated, “I am because we are,” stressing that if the COVID-19 crisis is addressed and tackled in Africa, it will impact the whole world. By addressing the power dynamics that dictate the severity of the issues that marginalized populations face across the continent — not just the power of international bodies and organizations such as the UN and the WHO, but also the shifting of power to the people who need it the most. Queshia Bradley, the Program Development Manager for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, closed the event by stating that the “unique landscape we find ourselves in for collaboration and public and private partnerships” provides an opportunity to keep questioning and finding innovative solutions to current-day issues, as well as engaging in capacity-building efforts to strengthen potential in the region — whether it be within the pharmaceutical industry and education sector, or scaling community commerce. 

30 March 2021

What’s Atomic Energy Have to Do With Pandemics? It Will Surprise You!

By Richard Seifman and A. Edward Elmendorf, UNA-NCA Board Members

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded in 1957 at the dawn of global interest in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and as a means to determine and inhibit the extent to which a country is producing nuclear material which can be used for military purposes, including nuclear weapons. What most of us know about IAEA is its expertise in responding to nuclear accidents, as was the case in Japan with the Fukushima reactor, and in conducting conventional nuclear inspections of its 172 Member States. The most intensive attention has concerned its inspection responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015.

But the IAEA has and fulfills many other functions building on its mission as the international authority to “encourage and assist research, development and the practical application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.”

So, what does this have to do with COVID-19, epidemics, and pandemics? Everyone agrees we need to find ways to get ahead of future infectious diseases, any one of which can be devastating for mankind. A multisectoral approach for doing so lies in understanding and responding to the infectious disease interface between human and animal health, called “zoonotic diseases”, or more broadly the human-animal- environmental health linkages, referred to as “One Health.” Last September we disseminated a draft speech for a middle-income country for possible use in the UN General Assembly to propose that the UN Secretary-General convene an expert group to set out a UN One Health strategy.

Initiating practical action in the spirit of One Health under what could become one component of a larger UN strategy for One Health, the IAEA Director-General, Rafael Grossi of Argentina, has proved himself prescient in understanding that multidisciplinary capabilities involving United Nations agencies, academia, and the private sector, are needed. He sees IAEA as having an important role to play and is bringing this nuclear watchdog into the fray. As an article in the March 24, 2021 Foreign Policy Editors put it succinctly, “Rafael Grossi Has a Plan to Stop Future Pandemics:”

“On Grossi’s watch, the Vienna-based IAEA is deploying its extensive network of laboratories around the world, mainly in association with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up a global early warning system for animal-borne viruses, which are sure to follow COVID-19 and possibly become future pandemics.” And, it won’t just detect them if all goes according to plan. Grossi last June launched the so-called ZODIAC program, an acronym for Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action, which can potentially use such technologies as nuclear irradiation (a sterilizing technique used in blood transfusions) to destroy threatening viruses before they spread into another global pandemic.

“I think by this summer, we are going to already deliver equipment and training, especially to focal points in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America,” Grossi told Foreign Policy in an interview from his headquarters in Vienna.

Foreign Policy reported, “Grossi’s new initiative builds on previous IAEA efforts, including Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory — a network to help the IAEA’s 172 member states improve laboratory capacities to detect and control diseases threatening livestock and public health early. The agency is also working with the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health to monitor crops worldwide.”

This IAEA initiative is more than welcome by a global community continuing to experience the health, economic and social affects of COVID-19, and frightened about what might come next without ready answers. A very good start IAEA: We need to follow and support adding “nuclear” to our arsenal against a common enemy — infectious disease.

15 March 2021

UNA Tribute to Ed Luck

By Toby T. Gati, President of TTG Global LLC

Ed and I came to UNA-USA at about the same time.  I was one year ahead of him in completing  the Master’s Program at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and Ed graduated from Columbia and joined UNA-USA the following year.  We were always a team, working together for almost two decades on every program that UNA-USA undertook.   We worked on policy issues of national importance, and developed the  Parallel Studies Programs with the USSR, China and Japan which  brought so much international acclaim to  UNA-USA.  We also wrote articles together for scholarly journals and for newspapers and magazines on American foreign policy and the UN, as well as on the challenges facing the international system.  We both had front row seats to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and worked tirelessly to inform policymakers and academics about the monumental changes that we knew were coming.  When we wrote our articles or policy papers, we would exchange ideas while sitting in Ed’s office and then decide who would write which paragraphs.  When it came time to put our thoughts together into one piece, they almost always meshed perfectly.

While I had the luxury of running policy programs, Ed, as President and CEO, had to run a large, complex organization that required full time management, diplomatic and representational skills, as well as  the ability to fundraise.  Ed succeeded at all these tasks and left UNA in much better shape after ten years than when he became President in 1984.

At work, Ed always treated everyone with respect and valued their opinions.  He cared about people and their everyday concerns, as well as about policy issues.  Those who worked closely with him also knew that he had a wry sense of humor, which I am sure helped him get through some of the tough times he faced both at UNA and at the UN.

On a personal level, he was a fiercely loyal friend and colleague.  He also adored his wife Dana and his daughter and nothing made him happier than to sit and talk about their successes.  He and Dana often held events for the UNA  staff at their beautiful home  and all of us looked forward to these gatherings.

In 1992, I left UNA-USA to work in the Clinton White House on US-Russian relations and US policies towards the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union.  Ed went on to an incredibly successful career at the United Nations, including as the first Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and  UN Assistant Secretary-General. The list of other important positions he held and the themes he wrote on is simply too long to list here.

A lot of people in countries around the world -- probably none of whom knew Ed personally -- benefited from his commitment to R2P and his unceasing efforts to make the UN function better.  At the same time, students who attended  Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs were able to benefit from Professor Luck’s  immense knowledge of international relations and conflict resolution.   

And now Ed is gone.  It is an enormous loss, both personally and professionally.  I have never known anyone who cared more about what he did, and especially about how our country could develop a better foreign policy at  the UN and how the United Nations system could be more effective.

Whatever he did, he did with enthusiasm and commitment. Ed, I will miss you.

11 February 2021

GCDC Educator Professional Development Workshop Provides Tools for Model UN Success

On February 3, 2021, Best Delegate, a global Model United Nations education organization, graciously hosted the Global Classrooms DC Professional Development (PD) workshop virtually. The PD workshop, hosted yearly by GCDC, serves as an opportunity for educators to gain a deeper understanding of Model UN to set their students up for success during simulations. With support from the Rotary Club Foundation of Washington DC, the one hour session welcomed middle and high school teachers from private, public charter, and public schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from schools across the nation in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Minnesota. 

Using Best Delegate's How to Prepare for Virtual Model UN Conferences on Zoom Guide, the session focused on the 10 steps to prepare students for virtual Model UN simulations and the upcoming GCDC Spring 2021 Model UN Conference. Model UN serves as an opportunity for students to be curious about the world around them and learn about UN actions and global issues. In simulations, students are assigned countries to represent and advocate for on different issues – just like in the real United Nations. The activity is also one of the most effective ways to teach students critical skills, including writing, negotiation, researching, and public speaking. As a member of the GCDC Community, the year-round program, educators gain access to a full school year of 8-unit curriculum on UN policies, procedures, and global affairs to prepare the students. 

For the purpose of the workshop, participants were presented with the topic of “Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” in an UN Office for Outer Space Affairs committee. The session began with a breakdown of how to best approach researching the committee topic using the information included in a background guide. In Model UN, this guide serves as an introduction to the issue that delegates are debating. The background guide oftentimes includes key topic areas that students will focus on during committee.

Since students serve as delegates for one country during a Model UN simulation, the session next covered best practices in researching country profiles, as well as brainstorming resolutions for the topic. In breakout rooms, educators were encouraged to come up with their own solutions on the topic presented in the beginning of the session, as well as how they would share information about the research process with their students. During the discussion, one participant noted that it is important for students to have a model for a successful international solution, such as the sustainable development goals, so that they are able to analyze why those particular solutions have been effective.

The Model UN Professional Development session concluded with an overview of how to prepare students for success in a Model UN committee. Using the information outlined about the research process, educators were presented with best practices for opening speeches and creating resolutions. Through the one hour workshop, both new and seasoned Model UN coaches felt confident that they would be able to use the information learned from the session to help their students prepare for success in future Model UN conferences.

Missed the workshop? Watch the full video here.

28 January 2021

UNA-NCA Welcomes the Biden-Harris Administration and US Re-Engagement on the Global Stage

The UNA-NCA Board of Directors and staff congratulate and extend a warm welcome to President Biden and Vice President Harris for their active and prompt engagement to serve the needs of all Americans through domestic and foreign policy initiative supported by outstanding appointments to the Cabinet and senior policy teams.  

Those of us in the UNA-USA family are committed to engaging our members and communities towards the renewal of close working relations with our congressional representatives for positive and cooperative support of the United Nations. At this time of crisis with COVID-19 raging across the U.S.-greatly impacting our economy and families' wellbeing, we see how important it is for the U.S. to be playing a leadership role along with other countries through multilateral means. Our opportunity to find cooperative economic ties for intertwined global and national economic growth, to join in the Covax collaborative for vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution to countries, both rich and poor, and to find new approaches to lower the temperature of major threats to peace and security, are essential for our own well-being across America. 

The immediate actions by the Biden-Harris Administration in just its first week have demonstrated a stark difference to their predecessor’s stance on multilateral affairs.  From rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, to continue active membership and support of the World Health Organization, and launching an active and immediate effort to give asylum to and process qualified immigrants from all countries including people of Islamic faith, among many more actions, demonstrate to our citizens and those around the world that the US is committed to reengage as a leader and partner on the global stage. 

This week has been instrumental in forming the Biden-Harris Administration’s foreign policy and national security teams.  On Tuesday, Anthony Blinken was confirmed as Secretary of State, bringing a lifetime of excellence in foreign affairs, and yesterday was the confirmation hearing for the US Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Linda Thomas-Greenfield who also brings extensive diplomatic experience in Africa and other parts of the world.  Also former US Ambassador to the UN and former National Security Advisor to President Obama, Susan Rice, has joined the new Administration as head of the Domestic Policy Council. In addition, former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, will lead the US Agency for International Development, and serve on the White House's National Security Council. 

These appointments reflect the recognition by the new Administration that our domestic and foreign policy issues are intertwined, demonstrating the need for highly qualified public officials who think constructively about US common needs along with the interests for peoples’ well-being everywhere.

The UNA-NCA agenda for 2021 for full support and positive engagement of the US in the international community, including its fair share of financial support, is fully aligned with the new Administration’s priorities. Our programs will emphasize the development and growth of our youth and young professionals in understanding foreign affairs and the UN and building skills to become agents of change.  UNA-NCA has and will continue to accomplish this through its Global Classrooms DC, Graduate Fellows, and Young Professionals programs, all of which have been adapted to effective virtual platforms. These programs continue their partnership collaborations with several UN agencies, State Department, NGOs as well as area schools and universities.

Our advocacy programing is helping engage and train new advocates to join in concert with our officers, board members, and advisory council members to be effective "ambassadors" to our Congressional delegations and to our community at large about the critical needs for UN support and partnership with the US. Increased contributions are made on relevant topics through the Coffee Chat Series as well as briefing memos and blog contributions. 

Our ongoing programs in Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, Human Rights, and International Law reflect the interlinked themes of the 2030 Agenda embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This monumental agenda was in large part possible due to the leadership of the Obama Administration, and we will continue to carry on that legacy with the involvement and commitment of the new Biden-Harris Administration. 

UNA-NCA will, through a year-long research project on all 17 SDGs, map the status and challenges for our DMV jurisdiction. This project will help us understand and interrelate the common local and global goal needs and relationships. We will also continue to stress in our advocacy outreach to Congress and to our state and local officials the opportunity and benefits of the integrated multisector approach needed to make immediate improvements in our citizens’ lives locally and to realize the actions and investments needed for sustainable changes.

In welcoming the new Biden-Harris Administration we want to continue to reach out to our members, leaders, young professionals, and students to say that your interests and devotion to a sound and constructive US-UN engagement are the guiding principles behind our programs and initiatives which are increasingly aimed at engaging our colleagues across gender, race, ethnicity, origins, and generations. Our programming will remain virtual as long as needed to ensure the good health and safety of everyone. Please continue to communicate and participate with us regularly. 

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