Daily Archives: June 12, 2013

Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth, and Families Conference

WHEELO~1Education, health, and human rights are three prevalent international issues on their own, but they are also tightly interwoven into each other. How often do we get to see them as such? “We go to a conference on education; And we go to a conference on health care; And we may even go to a conference that focuses only on human rights, but not often do we have the chance to bring them together,” says Jackie Jenkins-Scott the President of Wheelock College. And she is right! Alone, these causes are expansive, so focusing too much on one may warrant the neglect of another, but the overlap should not be forgotten. Wheelock College is not only remembering this, they are celebrating it. Next week, the institution is holding a four day conference that will delve into global issues in education, health, and human rights. It is called Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth and Families.

From Wednesday, June 19th until Saturday, June 22nd, international activists can come dissect, discuss, and collaborate on the issues of social justice, power, protection, prevention, aid, and programs available for children and families around the world. Keynotes will be speaking throughout the conference, and they are an impressive set of minds. The event will kick off with Cherie Blair, Founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and will continue with other notables such as Kevin Carroll – Author, Speaker, Agent for Social Change, Founder Katalyst LLC, Ögmundur Jónasson – Minister of the Interior of Iceland, Kerry Kennedy – President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Simona-Mirela Miculescu – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The six keynotes are not the only reasons to join the conference. In addition to the stimulating conversations and inspiring words of amazing individuals, there will be a Cultural Festival with international music, food, and dance, screenings of international films exploring critical global issues, concurrent sessions on education, health, and human rights, expert panelists, spotlight sessions highlighting exemplary programs in education, health, and human rights, and an Awards Celebration evening at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

The conference is a chance for 42 countries to come together so voices can be heard, and a cross-cultural think tank can be explored. Definitely something all activists will want to check out!


For more information and registration, click here! #GlobalCauses

Also, email allison.smith@unagb.org to get a great discount code!

Haiti 2 Years Later: Measured Progress & Hope

Today marks the two year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. On that day, hundreds of thousands of Haitians lost their lives and were injured while millions became homeless when the 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  Two years later, they are still struggling to rebuild their country and get back to normal, everyday life.

The international community, including the UN, has been integral in the recovery, relief and rebuilding process that still continues today.  Over the last week, many journalists and commentators have looked at the current situation on the ground in Haiti. Our national office, UNA-USA, has added to this dialogue via our online magazine, The InterDependent, which you can read here to learn more.

While Haiti has made great strides in the past two years, an emphasis needs to be put on moving Haitians from camps to permanent residences. According to the International Organization for Migration (IMO) report released in July 2011, nearly 500,000 people are still living in 800 camp sites in earthquake-affected areas of Haiti after two years.

A system has been created by the Haitian government as well as aid groups to offer a $500 voucher to camp occupants that can find permanent residences with access to water and marked safe to live in by the government. The voucher is valued at the average year’s rent in Haiti and will allow tenants to get back on their feet once again. The only stipulation that applies is that camp occupants must destroy their old tent as stated by the IMO.

In an effort to fully recover, Haiti is moving towards its transition phase to concentrate on reconstruction, debris removal, and the creation of jobs. Rebeca Grynspan, the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) believes that,

“It has been a major challenge since that we know that Haiti still needs a combination of humanitarian support… but slowly the emphasis and allocation of resources is shifting towards recovery and reconstruction.”

With that being said, UNDP is responsible for creating 300,000 temporary jobs thus allowing 60,000 Haitian families the opportunity to rebuild their livelihoods. “This is the largest job creation programme we have in the world… 90 percent of the labour force employed in the execution of UNDP projects is Haitian,” Grynspan said.

The recovery phase will take many years, but numerous results have already been observed on the ground over the past 12 months: 50 percent of the debris removed, more than 300,000 jobs created, 60 percent of TB patients cured, 400 hectares of land reforested and 2,000 metres of gabion walls erected, according to the UNDP.

See the video below detailing more of the progress made by Haitians supported by UNDP.

While there is so much more work to be done, progress is being made and will continue to be made, with national Haitian institutions, the UN, other international NGOs, and the United States working collectively to develop a plan for a more vibrant Haitian economy. Check out Huffington Post’s top ten successes of Haiti in the past two years to see the continuous efforts that need to be made and share with us the programs/successes/visions you have for the future of Haiti.

-Alyson R.

“A Bad Bill for Everyone”

“At a time when the U.S. and United Nations are working together to address the world’s most pressing challenges — from humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa and Haiti, to political crises and violence in Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Afghanistan — it’s more important than ever that America maintain its longstanding commitment to global leadership and engagement.” This quote comes from The Better World Campaign’s  “Let US Lead”  petition. The petition is a  place where individuals can go to show their support for the United Nations and their feelings on a new bill (H.R. 2829), recently introduced in Congress, that threatens to cut U.S. funding of the UN.

The bill, introduced by the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and 57 co-sponsors, is being called a “Bad bill for everyone,” by the Economist, while CNN has referred to it as a “temper tantrum,”. To put it simply, the bill threatens to make substantial cuts to UN funding as well as all funding to agencies such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The piece of legislation, or “United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act,” puts much of the good that the UN does throughout the world – such as feeding children impacted by famine and disease, and taking care of refugees – in serious jeopardy. Likewise, the bill would devastate US leadership within the UN, damage critical US national interests, alienate US allies, and put heavier costs on US taxpayers. If passed this new legislation wouldn’t just be harmful to US interests, but it would cause serious detriment within the UN. Such damage would mostly be due to the fact that since its founding the UN’s biggest contributor has been the US. Currently, the US funds 22% of the UN’s regular budget and more than 27% of its peacekeeping budget. Of the UN’s $22.3 billion budget, the US paid $6.4 billion. Because of the US’s continued high involvement and investment into the UN, its withdrawal of support would severely inhibit the organization’s ability to follow through on its commitments.

So why was this bill even introduced if it has the ability to be so harmful to the UN? First, Ros-Lentinen has been a critic of the UN for a long time. She believes the UN has been continuously plagued by scandal, mismanagement and inaction. Thus, her legislation, if passed, would withhold US funds to the UN if the organization does not change its funding systems so that dues are paid on a voluntary basis rather than an assessed one as it stands now. Specifically, as proposed by the bill the UN would have two years to phase in funding reform before the US withholds funds. After those two years the US would begin by withholding half of its contributions to the UN regular budget if less than 80% of the UN’s budget is not funded voluntarily at that time.

The second issue that Ros-Lehtinen has with the UN is its potential to support a Palestinian statehood proposal. She explained to her colleagues that the purpose of her bill is to also avoid a Palestinian self-declared state which she believes would “short-circuit the negotiating process, and would severely undermine opportunities for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” As a result her bill includes funding cuts to UNRWA, the agency that administers Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied territories and neighboring Arab countries. UNRWA’s budget for the fiscal year 2011 is currently set at $230 million. In this portion of the bill there is currently no condition attached to the cuts, Ros-Lehtinen simply wants to cut off funding to UNRWA.

As the Economist reported, the reality of the situation is that threats of funding cuts will most likely not be a deciding factor as to whether or not Palestinian statehood will be recognized. Rather, a Palestinian statehood proposal will be voted on in the UN’s General Assembly where, as it stands now, the 2/3rds vote in favor of recognition is likely to be met. However, Ghana, India, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Eritrea, France and the Dominican Republic are likely to not change their votes because of the US’s threat to cut off funding to UNICEF – a huge supporter of their states.

In an interview with The Cable on Wednesday, September 7th Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) said that Ros-Lehtinen’s bill was “ill-advised” and “probably dead on arrival.” Berman said he can never see this bill becoming an actual law.

“I think there are some radical proposals here,” Berman said. “I understand the frustration with a number of the U.N.’s actions and I share her frustration and anger at many of them. But the U.N. does tremendous amounts of good work. If you wipe out the funding base of the U.N., as her proposal does, you get the bad stuff but you will eviscerate the good things they are doing.”

Likewise, the White House has openly spoken negatively about the bill, saying that President Obama and his administration opposes the legislation, and although it is believed within the administration that the UN does need reform, this is not the correct way to go about it. Instead the White House suggests that the U.S. work with the UN to continue to make it stronger and more flexible.

Now more than ever is a grassroots movement supporting the good work of the UN important!    Visit Let US Lead today and tell Congress to oppose H.R. 2829 by signing the petition.  Encourage your friends and family to do the same.  You can also schedule an in-person meeting with your member of Congress during the Columbus Day recess (Oct. 13-30). To receive more information on these issues, contact Roger Nokes at UNA-USA for talking points and meeting materials. This is a great way to really ensure that your voice is being heard during this crucial time for the both the UN and America.

If you want to get more involved on advocacy in the Boston area,  UNA-GB invites you to join us at our Annual Meeting (September 28) where our programs and priorities for the year will be discussed in depth. It is a fantastic opportunity to get connected on these issues and network with other like minded global citizens in the area – register here today!

Generations Away: Week of 8/8 News Roundup

The week started with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9th with the theme “Indigenous designs: Celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future”.

The focus this year was on preserving the future considering the struggle in obtaining resources for survival of indigenous people around the world. The focus on preserving and being educated on history of the past for our future on different levels continued throughout the week in a variety of different UN supported events.

At a conference this week at a UN forum in the Republic of Korea UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged youth in the conference and around the globe to take into consideration the different obstacles that the world faces and realize that the youth today will be the global leaders in the near future. The theme of the conference as it continues is “Sustainable Development: Advancing Human Progress in Harmony with Nature” and focuses on the development in today’s generation for the future.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy ended his post this week and stressed the need for the people of the future to continue to stay engaged in the world’s development as well as there is specifically a constant need for the work of peacekeeping. He mentioned how the need may not seem vivid at all times, but there are always situations that arise where peacekeeping support is needed in nations throughout the world. On the same day, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss spoke during both a visit to Argentina and a seminar in Chile ‘The United Nations in Global Governance’ about the importance of the UN’s role in adjusting to improve its global governance in the 21st century as it branches all of the nations it supports together, starting with organizations including the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC).

Efforts were made this week by young global students as students in Japan spoke with UN Security-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit following the natural disaster earlier this year. They discussed the future of Japan and their dedication as students to help the country during its recovery and the UN Secretary-General initiated plans for an international high-level meeting next month to discuss the issue. Along with education, comes the important support of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of Academic Impact which focuses on the research and development of learning so that world challenges have the potential to be solved in our future and communities can come together similar to international communities reaching out in conferences.

Along with highlighting how education can help solve global obstacles and the efforts to help the recovery of Japan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned the importance this week of international support for Somalia who is still currently struggling with the development of its nation and government along with the challenges of the famine that continues to affect its country and others in the Horn of Africa. This continues to be an incredible global tragedy for the continent of Africa, and offers an urgent opportunity for organizations supported by the United Nations and the entire international community to support.

Involvement in global impact starts young! Players of the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona met with youth in Dallas, Texas this week to encourage participation in the sport of soccer and to send the message to the children that passion is the key to success. Both UNICEF, who has been a major contributor to the providing resources to the crisis in the Horn of Africa recently, and FC Barcelona have worked together in the past and continue to do so in encouraging youth participation in sports and the education behind the skills learned from being active on an educational, environmental and social level so that future generations that are struggling today can develop in the future.

Are you looking to get involved and have an impact on helping the world? Do you have an idea you think the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should hear? You’re in luck! A Citizen Ambassador’s contest in time for World Humanitarian Day 2011 coming up later this month just started this week giving those that participate the potential to have the opportunity to share your idea with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself. Check it out, here!


Two Sides To Invest

Check out our newest blog post for our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series! Learn about Foreign Direct Investment and its effects on Latin America and its economy. Don’t forget to check out the first two posts of this series as well, “Creating A Road To Democracy” and “A Historical Moment For Genocide”. Check back next Monday for another post!

This fall at the UNAGB Regional Model UN Conference, the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will be debating foreign direct investment into the region. Today, Latin America accounts for 10% of the global FDI stock.

Investment spending by foreign multinational corporations in the region was worth USD$ 85 billion in 2010. Foreign direct investment not only creates capital through Greenfield investments, but also technological and other positive spillovers that have been vital in accelerating the economic growth of booming economies of Brazil, Mexico and others in the region. However, it is most important to analyze and discuss whether the economic growth has led to an increase in the quality of living of all people in the region.

Historically, foreign corporations have economically exploited the region since the colonial era. Spanish and Portuguese settlers forced indigenous people to mine silver and cultivate sugar so that the natural resources of the region could be shipped back to Europe. To some critics, colonialism in Latin America did not end with the revolutions that brought independence to the region—it has merely changed in form, from military power to economic power, into neocolonialism. The American corporation United Fruit Company, now known as Chiquita, owned entire regions of Guatemala, gaining even more power than the local government. With its military force back by the U.S., domination of banana plantations, and control over railways and other infrastructure, the United Fruit Company was named “the octopus” by the local people and ultimately caused the many problems with underdevelopment, crime and violence that the impoverished country still has to deal with today.

With the NAFTA agreements to create maquiladoras in 1993, over a million Mexicans started working at thousands of industrial factories along the U.S.-Mexico border, manufacturing products from apparel to auto parts for American, Japanese, and European corporations such as General Motors and Samsung. Lax regulations on these factories have caused harmful effects on Mexico’s environment. Employees are paid minimally for working up to ten hours a day. Increasing competition with other newly industrializing countries in recent years has caused many maquiladoras to shut down, causing unemployment for hundred thousands of workers. Foreign direct investment brings both positive and negative effects to the region.

Foreign direct investment has increased the competitiveness of the Latin American economy, fostering an increasing number of regional corporations that are starting to go global. “Multilatinas” like Petrobras and more are climbing up on the Fortune Global 500 list. ECLAC will be presenting its annual Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean, a report of the region’s economic performance country by country, at its headquarters in Santiago, Chile this Wednesday, July 13.


One Year Later: The 35 seconds that changed everything

Today marks the One Year Anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  The quake leveled the capital city of Port-au-Prince and claimed over 250,000 lives, and left an estimated 1.5 million people homeless, in just 35 seconds. In the year since the quake, the road to recovery has been slow.  It is estimated that only five percent of the rubble in the capital city of Port-au-Prince has been cleared.  In October 2010, the outbreak of cholera resulted in over 2,500 more deaths. People continue to live in makeshift housing made out of tarps or tents provided by aid organizations.

As we honor the memories of those who lost their lives in the catastrophe, we  also need to acknowledge and support the work that is ongoing.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, is one of the most significant UN presence in Haiti. There are over 9,000 military and 3,000 police in Haiti, from dozens of countries throughout the international community.

Local Events in the Boston Community:
Haitian Diaspora organizations, advocacy organizations, and NGOs throughout the Boston area are holding events throughout the week.

•    Remembering Haiti: One Year after the Earthquake

Join Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Haitian Community for an Evening of Remembrance and Reflection.

Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Time: 5:00-8:00 pm

Location: The Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA

Learn more and download an event flyer here.

•    Remember, Reflect, Respond: Haiti One Year Later

Staff and volunteers with Partners in Health invite you to join them to remember those who lost their lives in the Haitian earthquake and honor those unsung heroes who have worked tirelessly to rebuild Haiti.

Date: Friday, January 14, 2011
Time: 6:00-7:30 pm
Location: John Hancock Hall, Back Bay Events Center
 180 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
Learn more and RSVP here.

•    A round-up of events can be found online at the Boston Haitian Reporter.  Additional information and updates on the election returns, ongoing challenges, and progress made in Haiti can be found here on Karen Ansara’s blog, one of our partners at the Boston Foundation.

Be sure to check that these events are still taking place during this snow weather! If you are unable to get out, there are still things that you can do from home!

CARE is sponsoring the Upload Hope campaign where you can upload a 35 second video message of hope and support for Haiti.  You can find more information here.

In New York, the Secretary-General will conduct a solemn wreath-laying ceremony beginning at 4:45 pm.  The ceremonies can be followed via videolink through UN webcast.

There are many ways to help in Haiti.  Learn more here. Also, stay tuned to the UN Dispatch throughout this week to read their series of posts on progress in Haiti.  Read today’s post here.

Continue the conversation and work on how to support and strengthen Haiti in 2011!