Daily Archives: June 20, 2013

Happy World Refugee Day!

The Guardian, An Afghan Refugee Girl in Pakistan                                                     World Refugee Day is a day to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly decided that from the next year on, the 20th of June would be celebrated annually as ‘World Refugee Day’ – a day dedicated to raising awareness on the situation of refugees throughout the world. The focused theme this year is the impact of war on families – with the campaign tagline ‘One family torn apart by war is too many.’ Today, keeping with the spirit, UNA-GB is celebrating this important occasion and we hope this blog post will help our readers become more aware on the matter.

So let’s start at the very root of the subject. What exactly do we mean when we use the term ‘refugee?’ According to the legal definition, a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. In other words – a refugee is somebody exiled from his or her country for having opinions and beliefs that don’t agree with the authority’s opinions and beliefs. For those of us living stably, it is hard to even contemplate just how radically our lives would change if, without notice, we were forced to leave our homes and possessions behind in order to relocate to an area where we don’t know anyone. Unfortunately, this is the reality of millions of people across the world today.

Where Afghan refugees go to

In early 2012, there were 15.4 million refugees around the world – a staggering statistic. Geographically, the highest number of refugees last year was observed in Pakistan – 4.8 million, with most originating from Afghanistan – a total of 2.7 million refugees. The pie chart to the left reveals how an overwhelming proportion of Afghani refugees eventually land in either Pakistan or Iran. Worldwide, it is estimated that 80 percent of refugees are women and children. According to 2012 data, 48 percent were women, and 46 percent of refugees throughout the world were under the age of 18.

As alarmingly high as they may be, the numbers described above do not tell the complete story of all the people that were forced out of their countries. Due to technical complications in definition, not all nationals exiled from their nations qualify as refugees. The 15.4 million people were only the ones that officially qualified under the ranks of being

Inside Climate News.org              Environmentally displaced people may also be refugees and require aid as they are forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters or the effects of climate change

a refugee. In total, about 45.2 million were forcibly displaced by the end of 2012. This figure includes the 15.4 million refugees as well as 28.8 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and 937,000 asylum seekers. IDPs are people who have been force to leave their homes as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. Unlike refugees, they have not crossed international borders.

The other category of displaced nationals – asylum seekers – represent the people who are looking to be recognized as a refugee, but have not yet received formal refugee status. These IDPs and asylum seekers do not qualify legally as refugees, so are also not able to receive the same legal protections or rights. Clearly, there are many technical complications while dealing with refugee statistics and we must be careful of such implications while reading data. Furthermore, because not every displaced person is qualified under the ranks of being a refugee, thousands of people do not receive the help being provided to refugees and end up waiting for official paperwork for long periods of time. In the meantime, they are stranded without a home or belongings.

Ersden.org                                                                                              The average refugee spends 12 years in camps

According to 2011 data, the countries with the most number of IDPs were Colombia (3.8 million), Sudan (2.4 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (1.7 million), Somalia (1.4 million) and Iraq (1.3 million). A total of 895,000 individual applications for asylum or refugee status were submitted to governments and UNHCR offices (more on the UNHCR coming up) offices in 166 countries in 2011. Unfortunately, only roughly 11 percent of these requests were fulfilled. What happens to the rest of these people who were not granted refugee status?

Still, 2011 saw a significant number of people seeking asylum or refugee status from countries experiencing recent/ongoing conflict or security concerns. Research has shown that the developing countries of the world host around 80 percent of the world’s refugees.

While delving deep into the technicalities and statistics can be disheartening, we must recognize that there are multiple organizations throughout the world that continue to work towards providing necessary help-to displaced people – the most notable one being the UNHCR – The UN Refuge Agency. At the request of national governments or the UN itself, UNHCR assists people in voluntary repatriation (the process of returning a person back to one’s place of origin), local integration, or resettlement to a third country. It’s headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. The UNHCR has been recognized multiple times for its work with refugees throughout the world, and has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 1954 and again in 1981.

Along with its work in assisting refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs in attaining their needs, UNHCR also works actively in research and statistical analysis. It produces detailed and highly sophisticated research data every year in order to bring more light into the matter of issues pertaining to displaced people. A thorough and comprehensive statistical account of the status of refugees today categorized according to the geography of world by following this link here. The UNHCR also continues its work in raising public awareness on the matter. Several new programs have recently been introduced to support and to heighten awareness of the issues faced by refugees around the world. Two of these programs are products of the benchmarks set out by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

So now that you are more informed about the displaced people of the world and their current status – one question still remains. What can you do to celebrate World Refugee Day? Here are a couple of suggestions from the UNA-GB team:

  • Spread The Word!

The idea behind dedicating a day of the year to this particular issue is primary raising awareness. So do some research, form potential ideas and discuss! Over a cup of coffee, by the water cooler at work or through a Facebook status – just spread the word!

Try to experience and share the experience what it is like to be a refugee, in game form. Play “Against All Odds”, a computer game created by UNHCR and experience what it is like to flee your home, cross into a new country and start a new life.

  • Read articles, watch videos and inform yourself.

Again, the primary idea behind World Refugee Day is informing oneself as well as others on the matter. There are multiple organizations (of course, including UNHCR) that produce informative videos and release them online. Here is one of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie discussing the 2011 World Refugee Day. The first step toward change is knowledge, after all – so go ahead and educate yourself!

Also, sign up to receive email alerts containing news, events and ways to get involved through UNHCR.

  • Donate!

For an immediate impact towards the cause, the best way to go is to make a donation. There are plenty of organizations that can assist in making donations to refugee camps all over the world. The official UNHCR website is currently hosting an urgent appeal donation cause for people displaced due to the Syria Crisis.

  • Get to Know Some Refugees if You Can!

There are over 4.8 million displaced nationals throughout the world, there is a good chance you might just find a few around you. Pay them a visit, donate some items that you may not be in need of and have a quick chat – hear their stories first hand. This World Refugee day, step out of your comfort zone and meet some these brave individuals.

Happy World Refugee Day!

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Pyongyang Will Persevere?

By Lesley Ta, Malden High Junior and UN Reporter for the 2013 Invitational Model UN Conference

International communication and foreign diplomacy have become increasingly imperative tools in the modern era. With seemingly endless limits to accelerated information, the world has become a place where set boundaries are surpassed with increasing regularity. There has been growing concern over the leadership capabilities of the current generation. With technology’s expanding force, many traditional methods have been abandoned; alas, the current generation is the first to ride out the newly intimate world with an edge.

Will our children seamlessly succeed into our governments?

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Students learn valuable skills, such as public speaking, conflict resolution, and compromise at MUN conferences

United Nations (UN) simulations are gaining ground throughout the world. Thousands of middle school aged and high school aged students are participants in these conferences. They often set a solid foundation for public speaking and a passion for international relations.Will they continue to fight our wars, to initiate the same mistakes? Will they learn to become informed, enlightened individuals?

In each conference, pairs represent a single country; they are responsible for accurately representing the country’s response to an authentic developing issue. The role – playing required of students can often be contemplative of oneself; it is common to observe delegates becoming passionate regarding their duties as ambassadors.

The United Nations Security Council, both genuine and simulation, is considered the most prominent congregation of the United Nations.

Absolute members of the Security Council total 15 countries; five of which are permanent: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Current totating member countries are: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Australia, Guatemala, Luxemburg, Morocco, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, and Togo.

The General Assembly (GA) is the only division of the UN with representation from all member countries. The GA elects the rotating seats of the Security Council (SC) and may constitute recommendations of action to the council. The GA is not privileged to decide on the SC responsibilities of peace and security.

The United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) hosts the Invitational Model United Nations Conference (IMUNC) at Northeastern University (NU) annually. Sponsored by National Grid and Global Classrooms, this convention is available to both public and charter schools in Boston and it’s surrounding cities: Cambridge, Chelsea, Lynn, Revere, Malden, Somerville, Everett, and Worcester.

Middle school and high schools students were exempt from participation fees due to the financial support provided by UNA-GB’s generous donors. The 2013 IMUNC was postponed from March 8th to April 1st due to an intense snow storm.

At nine am on April 1st, participants were greeted with the well wishes from the directors of NU’s International Relations Council and UNA-GB’s Curriculum and Instruction Manager, Rebecca Corcoran.

IMUN Secretary-General Evan Brunning expressed inspirational roots; Brunning began participating in Model United Nations as a college student.

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Students step into their roles as delegates

IMUN Head Delegate Katherine Teebagey opened the floor to questions and generally received inquiries from middle school students. The younger crowd’s questions focused on the law career opportunities that the IMUNC could open.

The High School Security Council was assigned to settle on North Korea’s nuclear threats. All countries selected for this committee mirrored the existing countries in the official United Nations Security Council.

Present countries were: the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Australia, China, Guatemala, Pakistan and South Korea.

Boston Latin Academy’s delegates portrayed the Russian Federation, Pakistan and South Korea. The John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science from Roxbury sent delegates to represent Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The positions of Australia, China, and Guatemala were secured by delegates from Malden High School.

North Korea was not in attendance to this event, however would have been depicted by Lynn Classical High School. Another Course to College, Academy of the Pacific Rim, and Lynn English High School were also not present. All absentee schools had country assignments for the Security Council debate.

The first session of the Committee occurred between 9:30am and 12:00pm. Chair Teebagey opened the formal debate with a volunteer speakers’ list. Discussion and consideration of issues were scattered and disorientated. Countries were either brief or reserved in their declarations.

Toward the end of the leading committee session, Chair Teebagey declared for a more ordered speakers’ list. All present dIMG_2993elegations had to speak.

Chair Teebagey intended on ensuring the assessments of each country in attendance; her procedure proved to be instrumental for the situation at hand. After each territory had spoken at least twice, Chair Teebagey and the council members were satisfied at the clarification the proceeding gave.

With each standpoint given, perspectives were gearing in preparation for the second and final committee session.

Commencing at 12:45pm, countries were absolutely consumed and attached to means of humanitarian aid to the peoples of North Korea (NK).

Chair Darnell Louis and Vice-Chair Richard Yu of University of Massachusetts Boston moderated the committee for the duration of the second session.

The United Kingdom (UK) announced a focal point on humanitarian efforts, and was willing to give monetary reliefs; they mentioned a possible directory for self-defense in case of North Korean contentions.

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Australia expressed fierce opposition to aid contributions; however they asserted sincere concerns for the people in need. In response to the Russian Federation’s wish of “diplomatic relations”, Korea’s and Guatemala’s “economic sanctions”, Australia adamantly pointed out their personal failed treaties with NK.

Pakistan suggested befriending NK in order to “force them to act in a reasonable way.”
China was accused of “not signing economic sanctions”, however repelled such statements. Australia fired at the Chinese delegation, believing that “China’s aid [to NK] was obligated.” China confirmed that it was the “bulk of the humanitarian aid” that NK was receiving; China responded to aid apprehension by stating that the assistance was for the “uplifting of the N. Korean state.”

The Russian Federation (RF) urged for caution when the discussion shifted to military action. Guatemala and Pakistan were anxious over the possible pretense of war, and concurred with the RF. Testifying indignantly, Australia stated that “it was not the sanctions that had made NK go bad, it was the N. Korean decision to not [follow them].”

The Republic of Korea eloquently added that there must be “unity and safety within the U.N. if NK goes to war.” They spoke earnestly on how unnecessary the NK threats were. The UK reiterated the concurrence of “safety and diplomacy first,” and a precedent for last resort military actions taken against NK with prepared reserves.

The Security Council passed for a moderated caucus discussing the details of a draft resolution. The moderated caucus immediately concentrated on the types of humanitarian aid applicable, and on what manner it should be delivered.
RF eliminated the option of monetary aid, however wished to concentrate on food, shelter, children and education.

The RF also believed that random inspections may be an option to ensure the distribution of aid to the general population. China strongly disagreed with this suggestion. The UK called attention to the N. Korean mentality, and the difficulties of providing aid within such a mindset. UK also clarified its military reserves as a “defense mechanism” rather than an anticipation of an “attack.”

China indicated the contradictory actions of imposing sanctions while giving aid. Guatemala chided China’s “refusal of a resolution.”

The Security Council passed for a five minute unmoderated caucus to in order to entice all veto -powered countries to agree on all terms of the proposed resolutions.

Amina Egal, representing the United Kingdom, stated that the country was “taking the North Korean threat seriously” and that a “state of war” was a possibility.

A troubled UK was desperate in convincing China to assent with military actions.
Australia’s Wyler Giordani and Jean Gedoan were exasperated with China’s disregard for the draft resolutions.

In response to China’s insensibility to military action, Giordani stated “ .. when a country is uncooperative and/or refusing to compromise, that is when the debate is over.”

Gedeon added that there was an interminable cycle of arguments occurring between China and the other delegations. Zeyu Zheng and Jiohnnie Diaz of Pakistan aspired to pass a long term solution; they believed that a short term solution would be a militaristic based one.

Zheng commented that the heated debate between the UK and China developed because each had advantages in passing/vetoing a resolution.

Guatemala’s delegate, Cara Mulligan, disclosed that “North Korea carries a huge problem,” but does not “pose as a threat.” Mulligan made it clear that Guatemala is anxious over the unpredictability of North Korea’s actions and the possible effects Guatemala will face as a result.

Mulligan represented Guatemala solo for the second committee.

Elahd Hain and Michael John of the Republic of Korea also shared Australia’s dismay. “China’s not listening,” they briefly commented, “we want a whole set of plans and China [only] wants a part [of them].”

China refused to comment during the unmoderated caucus.

Resolution 1.1: “Should diplomacy fail, economic sanctions will be implemented.” An amendment was added to ensure that “military intervention was ok as long as there was North Korean military aggression.”

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Voting

An amendment was made to 1.1 as a result of the negotiations during the unmoderated caucus. Military action was to be the last, final resort to North Korean military aggression. This draft resolution passed with three abstaining, two “no” votes, and “four” yes votes.

Resolution 1.2: “Focusing on the people in North Korea as a government, [there will be a] discontinuation of monetary funds…but will have access to food, water, clothing, and education.”

Sponsored by the RF and South Korea, this resolution passed with a no vote from Australia, an abstain from Guatemala, a Pakistani pass, turned yes vote joining with China, RF, UK, and Republic of Korea.

Resolution 1.3 was vetoed by the United Kingdom, although had yielded a no vote from the Republic of Korea and yes votes from the rest of the delegation.

The High School Security Council had passed their resolutions around an hour before the conference ended. An emergency conflict was thrown at the Council, however did not receive much dedicated attention. The first conflict was civilian unrest in Mali of the Congo, however a situation with infighting within the North Korean government proved to be more appealing to solve.

The delegates of the United Kingdom, from The John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, were proclaimed the best public speakers.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, from the Boston Latin Academy, received the award for best position paper.

As of the conclusion of the 2013 IMUNC at Northeastern University, Malden High School’s China received the Security Council “best delegation” award.

International Women’s Day 2013

Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB celebrated IWD (March 8th) early this year with a reception, film screening, and panel discussion on March 4th! UNA-GB members and other members of the Boston community gathered to view Not My Life, a documentary on human trafficking directed, written and produced by Academy Award nominee Robert Bilheimer. This film gives an in-depth and disturbing glance into the lives of women and children all around the world who are forced and coerced into sexual and manual slavery. The producers of the film worked with individuals in over 20 countries on five continents to describe the truly global reach of this highly profitable industry. While the film depicts horrific practices that are difficult to witness, it also presents stories of resilience, hope, and compassion. Many of the young women who participated in the film are now working with their advocates to prevent others from suffering similar experiences.

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Following the screening, we heard from our panel of experts on specific issues related to human trafficking. Siddharth Kara, a fellow on human trafficking with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, described the powerful driving forces behind this industry. Mr. Kara has traveled to 25 countries to research sex trafficking with his work culminating in a series of books on this topic. Devin Rebello represented Demand Abolition, a Hunt Alternatives Fund program which focuses on the demand which fuels the international sex trade. Ms. Rebello emphasized that a targeted focus on the elimination of demand for sex trafficking is needed in order to successfully combat this issue. She explained that demand-reduction practices can be implemented in the areas of criminal justice, legislative reform, prevention education, and public awareness. Our third panelist and Women’s Forum member, Mireille (Mickey) Aramati, spoke about health issues related to sex trafficking. Ms. Aramati is an Associate Professor of Global Health at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and she noted that a discussion of women’s health issues is lacking in the dialogue surrounding sex trafficking. Human trafficking is often overlooked as a public health issue, resulting in poor access to resources for women and girls who are trafficked.

After the presentation, many of the attendees expressed deep concern about this topic and asked what can be done to combat sex trafficking. Our panelists and the participants depicted in the film are some of the leading activists who are working tirelessly to end these practices worldwide. If you would like to find out more about what you can do and the resources that are available to explore this issue further, take a look at the following links!

National Human Trafficking Hotline:

1.888.373.7888

 Amirah:

“Dedicated to providing whole person  aftercare for survivors of commercial exploitation.”

 www.amirahboston.org, email: info@amirahboston.org, Amirah, Inc., PO Box 760867, Melrose, MA  02176

 Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking:

http://www.unodc.org/blueheart/index.html

 Demand Abolition:

“Demand Abolition is committed to eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry in the US—and, by extension, the world—by combating the demand for purchased sex.”

617.995.1900

http://www.demandabolition.org/

International Justice Mission:

“International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”

703.465.5495

http://www.ijm.org/

Massachusetts Inter-agency Human Trafficking Task Force:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/about-the-attorney-generals-office/community-programs/anti-human-trafficking/human-trafficking-task-force/

Not for Sale:

http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

Roxbury Youthworks GIFT Program:

617.427.8095

http://www.roxburyyouthworks.org/pages/giftprogram.html

UNA-GB gives special thanks to all of those who participated in making IWD 2013 a successful awareness-raising event! Thank you to our co-sponsors and to Diva for donating food!

What Future Do You Want?: Rio+20 Kicks-Off in Brazil

Today thousands of participants, including world leaders, CEOs, and global citizens alike are convening in Rio de Janeiro for Rio +20, also known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the conference in Brazil and is an opportunity for us to reflect on the strides we have made in supporting our environment as well as what lies ahead in the future of sustainable development. In 1992, Earth Summit in Rio concluded with an adoption of Agenda 21, a framework for rethinking economic development; this year the UN hopes to take it further by bringing together institutions to agree on measures that promote development and help to alleviate poverty in the most sustainable ways.

The emphasis of the conference, which takes place from June 20 through 22, is “the future we want”; not only are we urging corporations, NGOs, and the everyday citizen to be more conscious of our environment today but we also need to look forward to future generations. “The Future We Want” taps into two main focuses of the Conference on Sustainable Development: green economies and international coordination. Rio+20 is also focusing on 7 key global environmental issues: jobs, energy, cities, food, oceans, water, disasters.

Essentially, how can we act together to establish a greener path for development, today, tomorrow, and in the long-run? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon released a statement on YouTube last week expressing the future he wants? The Secretary-General’s statement promotes us to ask ourselves, “What is the future we want?”, and more importantly “How does Rio+20 factor into that?”

In a recent Guardian article, a UN official stated, “We want there to be more ambition so that it actually leads to sustainable development. At the moment, there is a risk that instead of the future we want, we will go back to the past we had.” Rio+20 serves as a forum for leaders from diverse backgrounds and sectors to come together and discuss ways in which we can move forward rather than backward.

Texts and documents have already been drafted through which corporations and groups pledge to make efforts to protect the environment. Yesterday 190 delegates drafted an agreement for approval on Friday, Rio+20’s last day, which addressed fossil fuel use, ocean protection, and support for renewable energy. The draft text is fittingly titled “The Future We Want” and delegates hope for it to act as a road map for businesses and policy makers in all areas.

Today the conference opens up with statements from Ban Ki-moon as well as Secretary-General of the conference both establishing their hopes for Rio+20 over the next few days and beyond.  High level round table discussions will take place in addition to countless side events throughout Rio de Janeiro. For forum and event schedules check out the take a look at the conference page.

Although Rio is nearly 5,000 miles from Boston, you don’t have to feel far away from the action.  Rio+20’s website has constant updates, and the Guardian’s Jo Confino and Adam Vaughan are detailing their experiences through daily diaries and live blogs. Rio+20’s webpage has an entire section dedicated to how you can be engaged and Rio+Social continues to be an easy way to be vocal.  Rio+Social, a social media conference and live stream which took place on June 19 let global citizens voice their opinions and express what they hope Rio+20 will accomplish. Although the live stream has passed, social media fans can still be involved by tweeting about sustainability using hash tags such as #rioplussocial or #rioplusfood, or going to Rio+Social on Twitter and Facebook. Liking and following UNA-GB on both Twitter and Facebook is also a great way to stay looped in!

Stay tuned for our post-conference reflection and analysis.  Additionally, we are continuing to answer the question about what is the future we want and are working towards here at UNA-GB, beyond Rio+20, and we hope you continue to join us.  While there’s a lot of ways to get involved, one exciting area we are growing here in Boston is our engagement around sustainable and responsible efforts of Boston and Massachusetts corporations.  Earlier this month, we teamed up with John Hancock Financial as they received their LEED Platinum certification for environmentally conscious design and joined some of their staff on a beach clean-up for World Environment Day. Additionally, at our annual United Nations Day Luncheon in October, we acknowledge several companies and universities that are signed onto the United Nations Global CompactPrinciples for Responsible Investment, and and the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) with our corporate honor roll. Not only do we gladly shine a light on the valuable efforts these institutions are making but we also hope to inspire other local companies to follow suit.  Stay tuned on ways to engage more in these efforts!

-Jessica P

6,994,726,950 and counting: Jane Roberts on “Women, Population, and the MDGs.”

Since the human race began, women have delivered for society.  It is time now for the world to deliver for women.” -The Lancet

With the world’s population set to hit 7 billion by the end of this month (6,994,726,950   was the most recent population count at the time of this posting – check out the current world’s population counter here) our Women’s Forum event “Women, Population, and the MDGs” , was a conversation that is more timely than ever!  The luncheon roundtable event featuring Jane Roberts was held on October 6th to a packed room of 60 attendees during a weekday noon.

Jane Roberts captivating the audience.

Jane Roberts is a grassroots advocate who exemplifies the power of taking a single action and making a huge difference. She is the co-founder, with Lois Abraham, of the 34 Million Friends of the UNFPA project. Her contributions in the fields of population, development, the environment, and the human rights of women and girls have led to her recognition in 2003 by Ms. Magazine as one of their Women of the Year. In 2004, Women’s eNews selected her as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Along with Lois Abraham, Ms. Roberts was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the 1000 Peace Women Project under the patronage of UNESCO in 2005. In the same year, she published her first book 34 Million Friends of the Women of the World.

Ms. Roberts has traveled widely, and given public talks around the country in addition to extensive TV and radio interviews. In 2008, Ms. Roberts was named a Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures. She received the Global Citizenship Award from the United Nations Association of Southern California in 2009. In the same year, Jane Roberts and her 34 Million Friends of the UNFPA project were featured in the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Jane finished her speech with her radical grassroots proposal,

Jane Roberts (center) with UNA-GB, JSI, and Pathfinder International staff.

When the world takes care of women, women take care of the world,”

leaving just enough time for our engaged audience to ask a few questions, focused on how to change the culture on the ground, how to engage men in the conversation, and what we can do to get engaged.

One direct way to get involved is to become one of Jane Robert’s 34 Million Friends of the women of the world. Visit her site, and do your part today!

The call to action also included ways you can support UNA-GB’s work, including our current 66 for 66 campaign that is geared towards educating the next generation of global leaders to tackle the pervasive problem of gender inequality.  Find out more here: http://www.crowdrise.com/unday2011/fundraiser/unitednationsassocia1
On October 24, 100 Boston area middle and high school youth will convene at the State House, stepping into the shoes of ambassadors from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, South Korea and Mali to debate solutions to the question: Why do global inequalities for women in education and employment persist and what can be done about it?
Help us provide this opportunity FREE OF COST to all the youth and donate now here: http://www.crowdrise.com/unday2011/fundraiser/unitednationsassocia1

Many Thanks as well to our two fabulous co-sponsors, JSI and Pathfinder International!

John Snow, Inc., and its nonprofit affiliate JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., are public health research and consulting firms dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world. JSI builds local capacity to address critical health problems, collaborating with local partners to assist countries, governments, communities, families, and individuals to develop their skills and identify solutions that meet their public health needs. JSI has implemented projects in 104 countries, and currently operates from eight U.S. and 81 international offices, with more than 500 U.S.-based staff, and 1,500 host country national field-based staff.  Learn more here!  

Pathfinder International’s mission is to ensure that people everywhere have the right and opportunity to live a healthy sexual and reproductive life. In more than 25 countries, Pathfinder provides women, men, and adolescents with a range of quality health services—from contraception and maternal care to HIV prevention and AIDS care and treatment. Pathfinder strives to strengthen access to family planning, ensure availability of safe abortion services, advocate for sound reproductive health policies, and, through all of our work, improve the rights and lives of the people we serve.  Learn more here!

-Jen J

Assist the Old, Develop the New & Plan for the Future: Week of 8/15 News Roundup

This week started and  ended with events aiding those in need throughout the world leading right to today’s World Humanitarian Day 2011.Some great achievements were made throughout the week.

 The week started with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights (OCHA)‘s efforts in Pakistan after monsoon floods effected the living situation of thousands of people. This organization also helped in the return this week of thousands of refugees to Southern Sudan after its strive for resources followings its independence. However, support is still needed in the world as those in regions within Darfur are still in need. Other parts of the continent still suffering from the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Many UN associated organizations came together this week during a meeting to organize an approach to help in any way they can.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a point about the progress of the UN mentioning that there are a lot of situations and crisis in need of the UN’s assistance and resources. As 2015 gets closer and closer, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explains the importance of working now for the future. He mentions that besides looking towards the Millennium Goals for 2015, the UN must also recognize goals for after 2015.  With focus on future generations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Citizen Ambassador’s Contest continues as it looks for future global leaders to pitch their ideas for the progress of the UN’s future. The future brings new ideas and changes, as well as preserving the past which includes this week’s decision to help specifically endangered species. The UN’s focus this week, as always, remains to help now for the future.

We look forward to what the UN’s progress next week will bring to the world!

-Cara

From Main Street to Capitol Hill: 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

Last week I joined UNA-USA members and staff from more than 60 chapters across the country to raise awareness about the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing American national security and foreign policy goals during UNA-USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC.  The Annual Meeting agenda focused on how we can continue to strengthen support for the work of the UN at the grassroots level.

UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden at the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting.

The week’s meetings were particularly exciting, because it was the first Annual Meeting since UNA-USA officially joined the United Nations Foundation family.  A number of new faces were on hand, including former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of UN Foundation, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation.

Conversations emphasizing “focus” and “change” dominated the Annual Meeting.  Many of the speakers drove home the need to focus on the work of the UN and how we can better advocate for a strong US role in promoting global cooperation.  Our support for the UN is imperative to peace.  As Ambassador Rice so eloquently put it, “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off—so much stronger, so much safer and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it.”  In her keynote address at the conference, Ambassador Rice also highlighted the immense change going on in the world, seen most clearly in the Middle East.  She encouraged everyone to “break out of old habits and find new answers to 21st-century challenges.”

The partnership between UNA-USA and UN Foundation seems well-positioned to find new ways to leverage the strengths of each organization, creating a powerful synergy and focus of missions.  UNA’s grassroots outreach, combined with UNF’s grasstops mobilizing and campaigning, creates a real opportunity for progress. While it’s true that change never comes without growing pains, UNA members and leaders expressed excitement about gaining access to strong UNF campaigns like GirlUp and Nothing But Nets, and the elevated co-branding opportunities that exist between the two organizations.

In addition to meeting the UNF key players, those in attendance heard from UNA-USA’s new Executive Director, Patrick Madden.  Madden set forth a strong vision for the future of UNA’s work and partnerships.  He also challenged us to grow our local membership, engage young professionals in our programming, and expand our advocacy efforts.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the chance to take up Madden’s call to action to advocate for the UN, and foreign affairs as a whole.  On Tuesday, all of us UNA members went to the Hill to meet with our respective congressional members My Massachusetts counterpart, Alma Morrison, and I deftly navigated all 3 House buildings and 2 of the 3 Senate buildings to meet with staffers from the offices of Reps. McGovern, Capuano, and Lynch, and Sens. Brown and Kerry.  We shared our concerns and wishes regarding US engagement on global issues and made sure our elected officials knew these issues are important to us and our fellow UNA-GB members, their constituents.  It was clear that with drastic budget cuts looming, now more than ever our elected officials needed to hear about our values and priorities directly from us.

I came away from the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting inspired to take action more concretely and to continue to mobilize the greater Boston community on the issues that matter to the UN.  As the oft-repeated mantra goes, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”   It is imperative for us to act now.  I look forward to more fully engaging with UNA-USA, UNF, and the UN, as we work together towards stronger and more successful action and messaging!  I sincerely hope you join us!

-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

It Takes One

Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. Starting in 2001, this event starts this day each year in the United States and reaches the rest of the globe. It recognizes the efforts that

refugees make around the world to survive after losing their homes and is used to educate and raise money for the cause’s future. World Refuge Day is supported throughout the world through the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary and now the event’s 10th anniversary.  The need for continued education and advocacy around refugee populations and service is reflected in a recent report that 80% of refugees are in developing countries, making up 4/5 of the refugee population around the world.

Join the efforts of UNHCR and become a part of the action today. Make a difference, follow the theme of this day, “Do One Thing”. UNHCR chief António Guterres and Hollywood actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined forces in a visit to an Italian island, Lampedusa in support of the event. They met with refugees escaping to the island from their countries in Africa and urged European countries to keep their borders open for refugees especially those escaping from the issues in Libya. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie also traveled to Turkey to visit refugees from Syria that were in the area of the border between the countries.

There are individual events throughout the US to support this cause–from Washington DC to New York, all the way to the West Coast! (for us Massachusetts residents, there is an event in West Springfield this evening) Not in any of these areas? You can create your own way to educate others of the cause. Invite some friends over to watch a movie related to the issue, listen to firsthand experiences from a refugee guest speaker or even cook some international food in support of the cause.

Ready to reach further than educating your friends? Be creative and make a fundraiser,  a donation or make a donation that also sends an ecard to someone you love to help educate the world about this important cause.  Anything and everything is welcome!

-Cara

START Now! Demand a World Without Nuclear Weapons!


Its not too late: you can still make an appeal to the United States Senate to vote on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before the adjournment of the 111th Congress on January 4th.   The New START Treaty is a treaty between the United States and Russia that will reduce the nuclear weapons of each country by about a third, which is the lowest level in more than fifty years.  The bill will help remove more than ninety percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The START Treaty has a long history; it was signed in July 1991 and entered into force in December 1994.  Since it expired in December 2009, and there have not been any verifiable nuclear arms control agreements in effect between the United States and Russia. If you think back to last October when we screened Countdown to Zero at our Global Voices Film Festival, you will remember the scientists, world leaders, and security experts discussing alarming realities of the present situation.

The ramifications of the blockage of the Treaty are substantial.  Without ratification, there will be no U.S. inspectors on the ground and the ability to verify Russia’s nuclear activities will cease. An additional issue facing the U.S. is that Russia has warned the Senate against amending the Treaty.  If the Treaty is not ratified, both countries will be sent back to the negotiating table.  Despite the tensions regarding the bill, Democrats have expressed their confidence in the passage of the treaty.

In the spirit of International Human Solidarity Day, make your appeal today!  The Treaty is rumored to go up for vote as early as tomorrow (Tuesday) so call now.

For those in the Boston area, contact your Massachusetts Senators now:

The Honorable Scott P. Brown
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2101

The Honorable John F. Kerry
United States Senate
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2102

 

-Alex.

Think global, celebrate local! UN Day 2010 is around the corner!

The UNA-GB will be hosting several events in Boston this year around United Nations Day, which commemorates the day the UN Charter came into effect – help us celebrate 65 years of service to the global community!  We’ll kick off our events with a brief flag-raising ceremony in front of City Hall at Government Center on Friday, October 22nd at 11:45 AM.  The UN Flag will be flying through Monday so if you are in the area, stop by and check it out!

The UN Day Luncheon will be held on Tuesday October 26th at the Boston Harbor Hotel, and there will be a UN Day Ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, October 28th.  Check out more details below.

Corresponding with our events, our Student Ambassadors will be holding events on their campuses throughout the Boston Area at Harvard, Tufts, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, UMass Lowell, and Brandeis.  Find out more about each school’s Ambassadors and events on the UNA-GB Student Ambassadors Wiki Page!

Tuesday, October 26TH, 2010

United Nations Day Luncheon

Ambassador Anne Anderson

Join us on Tuesday, October 26th at the Boston Harbor Hotel! We are very excited to welcome Ambassador Anne Anderson, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  She has a very distinguished career in the diplomatic service and was the first female ambassador to the European Union. We are looking forward to Ambassador Anderson’s remark, which focus on “Our Collective Challenge: Restoring the Authority of the United Nations.”

This event brings together internationally focused business, government, and academic professionals in the Greater Boston, and recognizes the historic connection between Boston and Ireland.  By coming to the luncheon, you are helping to sustain and expand the UNA-GB’s educational programs and forums on critical global issues. Reserve your seat here!

Thursday, October 28TH, 2010

United Nations Day Ceremony at the State House

Judge Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov

The State House Ceremony will feature a keynote address from Professor Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, Permanent Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Judge Tuzmukhamedov was nominated to the post by the Russian Government and appointed to the position by the UN Secretary General in August 2009.  The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was created in November 1994 and prosecutes the crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. This is an excellent opportunity to hear from a high-ranking member of the Tribunal about his experiences and reflections on international criminal justice.  RSVP now!

The ceremony will also display the UN Day Proclamations of Massachusetts cities and towns, along with musical entertainment provided by Berklee’s Women of the World.

The ensemble consists of women from around the world, who together create rich tapestries of culture and sound as they perform both original and traditional songs.

We hope you can make it out this year to celebrate 65 years of global cooperation and advocacy with us!!

Cheers!

Alex