Daily Archives: October 29, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Attend UN Day Luncheon 2013!

It’s officially fall (and pretty chilly in Boston)…which means it’s once again time to celebrate United Nations Day with UNA-GB! The office honored UN Day last week on October 24th by raising the UN flag above Boston City Hall, did anyone spot it?

UN Day, which has been celebrated every year since 1948, recognizes the creation of the United Nations and its founding principles of peace, cooperation, and collective action. This year, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed these founding ideals in his address: “we continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united. On United Nations Day, let us pledge to live up to our founding ideals and work together for peace, development, and human rights.”

In a more formal celebration of UN Day, UNA-GB is hosting its annual UN Day Luncheon on Tuesday, November 5th (next week!) from 12:30 to 2 pm at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Why should you honor us with your attendance? Here are a few reasons we can think of!

1) Ambassador Nicholas Burns will be there.

Ambassador Burns

Not only will he be there – he’ll be delivering the keynote speech on “America’s Global Challenges 2014.” Ambassador Burns served in the US Foreign Service for twenty-seven years, during which time he was appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador to Greece, and State Department Spokesman.

He worked on the National Security Council staff as Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs and was Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Soviet Affairs for President George H.W.Bush. He is currently Professor of the Practice of International Relations  at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia, as well as Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project. Burns is also the Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc.

You may have read some of his work in The Boston Globe, where he writes a bi-weekly column on foreign affairs.

2) Special guests, Georg Kell and Jonas Haertle will also be there.

                                                    

Mr. Kell and Mr. Haertle are this year’s Global Corporate Citizenship Honor Roll guests! The honor roll recognizes Massachusetts-based companies who have signed on to key business principles through the UN Global Compact.

Georg Kell is the Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative with 8,000 corporate participants in 145 countries. A key architect of the Global Compact, he has led the initiative since its founding in 2000, establishing the most widely recognized multi-stakeholder network and action platform to advance responsible business practices. Mr. Kell joined the United Nations in 1987, and has been at the leading edge of the organization’s private-sector engagement ever since.

Jonas Haertle is Head of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) secretariat of the  United Nations Global Compact Office. The mission of the PRME initiative is to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally. In his role as coordinator for Global Compact Local Networks he works with the country networks in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Haertle holds a master’s degree in European Studies of Hamburg University. As a Fulbright scholar, he also attained a MSc degree in Global Affairs from Rutgers University.

3) There will be opportunities to network with professionals, consuls, and other individuals who are dedicated to promoting the founding principles of the United Nations!

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Members of the UNA-GB, professionals of all ages, Consuls from a variety of Consulates in Boston, and most importantly, YOU will have the opportunity to discuss anything from national issues/achievements to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, to the chilly Boston weather! This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded people who support the work of the United Nations.

4) It’s a good excuse to get out of the office (or school or the house) and enjoy some delicious food!

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Could there be a better incentive? The Boston Park Plaza Hotel will serve some delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts! It is a chance to spend a few hours out of the office/school, enjoy great company, and have a tasty meal at a swanky hotel…what more could you ask for?

5) You will be supporting UNA-GB’s programs, which aim to educate today’s  youth and tomorrow’s leaders!

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Funds raised from ticket sales and sponsorships at the UN Day Luncheon directly support UNA-GB’s community events and classroom-based programs, which serve more than 5,000 participants annually in greater Boston.

Convinced? Then what are you waiting for?! Sign up to attend UN Day Luncheon 2013 today!

Written by: Eliza Berg, Programs Intern

“Not My Life” Film Screening

Last night I attended a UNICEF screening of “Not My Life;” a documentary sharing the stories of boys and girls around the world who are victims of the 2nd most profitable criminal industry in the world – human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, subjecting and coercing men, women and children into commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Click here for the trailer of “Not My Life.”

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It is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved today, half of which are children. Victims are often forced into prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, forced marriage, sweatshop work, begging, armed service and migrant farming. Traffickers, who can literally be anyone, can prey on a wide-range of victims; no gender, age, race or economic class is safe. Modern-day slavery it is occurring all over the globe, even in the US and yes, even under our noses in Boston.

“Not My Life” showed boys forced to fish all day in dirty African waters, child soldiers in Sudan, child prostitutes in Cambodia and abusive pimps in India. It would be remiss to assume that this behavior only occurs in faraway countries. For example, the film showed a bright, young American girl forced into prostitution and a young African girl forced into slave labor in Washington D.C. UNICEF says that “human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the US,” and anyone of any race, education or socioeconomic standing is at risk.

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The women of the panel, Susan Bissell of UNICEF and Lina Nealon of Demand Abolition, stressed that the most important way to end human trafficking in our lifetime is through prevention (as opposed to rehabilitation). We need to have better laws/policies, promote anti-slavery societal norms, fight debt-poverty and violence within the family. Ms. Bissel and Ms. Nealon stated Massachusetts has the most comprehensive anti-trafficking laws; however, these laws are clearly not enough.

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So, you may be asking, what can one do to help stop human trafficking? Here are some ideas. First, put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone and use it if you see something suspicious! The number is 1-888-373-7888. 

In addition, think about supporting a group (such as the ones below) who fight human trafficking or find some other that speaks to you! Tweet us @UNAGB for any suggestions you may have about how you can help prevent and stop human trafficking!

International Impact of the Debt Ceiling

One of the most publicized issues this summer has been the arguments on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling. The political stalemates have been so much on the forefront of the public agenda that other dire issues, such as the famine in the Horn of Africa have been somewhat overshadowed. However, the two issues are linked more than one might initially think.

As most are aware at the end of the day on August 2nd, Congress finally came to an agreement on the debt ceiling debate which avoided the detrimental U.S. default. What is known about the agreement is that it cuts almost $1 trillion, however, what hasn’t been made immediately visible is the precise details of such cuts. We do know that important programs for the poor – throughout the globe – are at serious risk. It is also important to be aware of the appropriations bill that was passed by the House for the State Department and Foreign Assistance. Within this bill were cuts to the UN’s regular budget and UN peacekeeping. The simple truth is that if the bill is passed by Congress and signed into law, the UN will return to its previous state of cycles of debtCuts to the UN’s budget detrimentally impede the organization’s ability to aid in foreign catastrophes such as the current humanitarian crisis in the Eastern Horn of Africa – with Somalia suffering the most from the drought-induced famine.

In his op-ed, U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia writes: ” “from terrorism to the threat of pandemics, the United States faces challenges that are beyond the power and financial means for any single nation, no matter how powerful, to address alone. Our contributions to the UN enhance our national security and our foreign policy priorities, save dollars while growing jobs and our economy and strengthen our leadership in the international community.”  And as Massachusetts’ own US Senator, and ardent foreign relations advocate, John Kerry so eloquently put it, “We can either pay now to help brave people build a better, democratic future for themselves or we will certainly pay later with increased threats to our own national security…This is not time for America to pull back from the world. This is a time to step forward.”

The UN and the U.S. are currently making substantial efforts to help the about 11 million people directly affected by the famine. Efforts include:

  •  UNICEF is working to help over 250,000 children from Somalia who are suffering from acute malnutrition. They have already provided 8,300 bags of nutritional supplies to 2,800 children. The goal is to reach 70,000 children within the next six months and to provide them with nutrition and water.
  • As of late, World Food Programme is reaching 1.5 million people in Somalia and is scaling up to reach an additional 2.2. million in the previously inaccessible south of the country. Airlifts to Mogadishu began earlier in the month to bring special nutritious foods to malnourished children.
  • UNHCR – through its partners – has delivered emergency assistance packages to benefit 15,000 internally displaced persons in Somali camps. The organization plans to distribute 7.500 additional packages in the upcoming weeks.

The U.S. is currently the largest donor to the UN and to the relief in the Horn of Africa – what will happen if important funds are cut from such initiatives? It’s important that we stay engaged and involved in the coming months in order to demonstrate to our representatives in Capitol Hill just how important our international commitments are.

That is why we hope you will join UNA-GB and our fellow chapters around the country in engaging in dialogue with our elected officials this fall.  We will be in touch with ways to take action and specific asks that will be good to make, especially when your representatives are on fall recess. Email us at info@unagb.org if you’d like to be involved more in depth on these advocacy efforts.

Also, if you want to learn more about the crisis in the Horn of Africa and what we can do to make a difference, on September 12th UNA-GB is co-sponsoring the DocYard’s screening of Rain in a Dry Land, a film which provides an eye-opening look at what it means to be a refugee in today’s “global village.” Purchasing tickets to view the film, which chronicles the lives of two Somali Bantu families, is a great way to get educated more on what refugees face in the transition process.  There will also be information shared about how you can help end the famine crisis in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

-Alexandra

Realizing MLK’s Dream This Summer

This summer, UNA-GB had the exciting opportunity to partner with John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars Program. The goal of the project is to employ Boston youth in various non-profits throughout the city for the summer, allowing them to gain professional office experience. UNA-GB was lucky enough to be one of the selected non-profits, and we employed a rising junior from Boston Latin Academy, Bianca Diaz, to be our Summer Scholar.

Along with working in a professional office throughout the summer, the Scholars attended workshops every Friday at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Each week, the workshop had a different theme, ranging from what to do with your summer earnings to physical fitness, from personal branding to social responsibility.  I was fortunate enough represent UNA-GB as a mentor for a small group of MLK Scholars during the Friday workshops. In our group discussion, the Scholars talked about how to improve the education system in the city of Boston, how to manage their student loans after they graduate from college, and how they feel about their neighborhoods.

At every workshop, the Scholars heard from a distinguished member of the Boston Community, who represented the theme of that week’s workshop. One of the speakers was Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who shared her journey from growing up in the urban environment of Chicago where her mother lived paycheck to paycheck to make sure she attended the best school in the city to entering the Boston political arena. The Scholars were extraordinarily impressed with her candor and her passion for the city of Boston, and her desire to see each one of the Scholars and all of Boston’s youth succeed.

At the end of the 7 week session, the Scholars participated in a celebration of their achievements, and their gifts. Many of scholars put on performances of their own forms of personal expression, through rap, dance, song, and poetry. One particularly inspiring young woman, who interned at Write Boston, shared her story about growing up in Afghanistan and how, due to the violence and turmoil, her family had to flee to the Russian Federation, and eventually immigrated to Boston. She challenged the group of over 600 Scholars to join advocacy efforts to build a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

Overall, the MLK Summer Scholar experience enabled the Scholars to gain invaluable insights into the professional world, while serving the community.  I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to share in the Scholars journey, and UNA-GB and I feel privileged to have been a part of the program.  We look forward to working with more students in the future!

Check out a video about the program below and learn more on their website. 

-Rebecca Corcoran, Model UN Coordinator

Nations Within A Nation

Check out this week’s Get Educated, One Topic At A Time! This week learn about the history of the Bosnian War. Check out our past blog posts from this blog series, including: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World”, “The Rural Challenge”, “Help Starts Young” and “A Voice For Women”.

 Yugoslavia, once an economically thriving socialist state under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, faced a steady decline from the early 1980s until it finally split into several different nations in the early 1990s.

Three of these nations, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, quickly found themselves embroiled in a bloody and brutal ethnic conflict.  Bosnia and Herzegovina is an ethnically and religiously diverse place which consisted, at the time, of about 44% Bosniak Muslims, 31% Eastern Orthodox Serbs, and 17% Roman Catholic Croats.  When Bosnia and Herzegovina tried to declare its official independence from Yugoslavia and establish itself as a single nation, the Presidents of Croatia and Serbia, Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević, respectively, were outraged, wishing to divide the land up between themselves based on dubious at best ethnic majority lines.

The Serbs and Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared their own independences, creating three ethnic states within the same borders:  The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, and Republika Srpska.  Tuđman and Milošević funneled weapons, troops, and money into the pockets of their newly established ethnic allies, giving them a substantial advantage over the militarily weak Bosniaks.  The Croat and Serb militants made it their business to cleanse Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Bosniaks, often wiping out entire cities full of civilians and detaining thousands more in prison camps.  The atrocities committed against women were particularly brutal, as they were forced to watch their husbands and sons be murdered, then they were sent to what the Serb soldiers themselves called “rape-camps”.

The United Nations Security Council worked tirelessly to put an end to this humanitarian disaster, but despite the constantly increasing efforts of NATO and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to maintain the no-fly zone and defend the UN Protected Areas were civilian refugees could stay, the war only escalated until 1995.  The results were tens of thousands dead and displaced, entire cities burned to the ground, and a formerly united country torn into pieces.  It was not until the Washington-brokered Dayton agreement of 1995 that fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina finally came to an end.

The simulation that our delegates will be participating in puts them right in the middle of this conflict, representing the 1993 UN Security Council.  As the fighting and ethnic cleansing approaches its peak, our delegates will have to join together in an attempt to end this war as it happens, with new events and crises being introduced as they go.  Will they manage to pacify the fighters before the Bosniaks are wiped out, or will the war grow to an even more disastrous level?  Their actions will determine the outcome of the war and shape the future of the region.

While the war itself ended in 1995, those that orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of the Bosniaks are still on trial today in the International Court of Justice, and you can continue to follow their stories.

-Chris

Young Professionals Honor AIDS Anniversary

At the UN AIDS Summit earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on global nations to stop the spread of AIDS by 2020:  “That is our goal-zero new infections, zero stigma and zero aids-related deaths,” he said at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York held June 8-10 in connection with the 30 year anniversary of AIDS.  While new goals were being set by global leaders, UNA-GB’s Young Professionals group gathered this past week at Tommy Doyle’s, a local bar in Cambridge, to discuss the AIDS challenges of today, present achievements and future goals, as well as ways they can get involved locally.

Discussion was varied and informal among the group of 26 individuals, who ranged from local and international students to working professionals. Students from Uganda shared their experience of witnessing their family members dying from the disease before the country started its fight on the government level.  They said they want to encourage other nations to learn from their mistakes and promote actions to reduce HIV infections and death total from AIDS.  The group expressed its concerns about the fact that the world’s funding for AIDS will be reduced by 2020. Members of the group highlighted the importance of funding for AIDS service organizations and drug treatment for HIV and AIDS.

There was also some discussion about the limited successes achieved over the past 30 years in the battle with AIDS: HIV treatment has been discovered, but it only reduced the death numbers, with the virus spreading so rapidly, rather than eradicating it completely. The infections rate has been reduced for more than 25 percent in South Africa, but still 7ooo people are being infected each day, according to the UN.  This global epidemic has an impact locally for the United States too – each year about 56,000 people becoming infected with HIV only in the U.S., according to the U.S. government statistics.  Recently HIV/AIDS became a surging epidemic in Washington, D.C., with about 3 percent of the city’s population infected with HIV or AIDS. This is the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation.

Members of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the discussion, and offered perspective on ways to take local action.  The AIDS Action Committee, in collaboration with other organizations, was able to reduce HIV infections rates in Massachusetts by more than 59 percent over the last 10 years. The organization focuses on prevention and spread of the virus, and provides education about free resources available to people who have HIV and AIDS.  Tory Stephens, Development Officer of AIDS Action Committee, shared that the highest death rate is for African-American women in the southern region of the country because there is no funding provided for prevention, education and treatment. It is for this reason that AIDS Actions treats AIDS as a social injustice and poverty issue because people who die from AIDS don’t have access to health care. The organization wants to encourage more young people to be involved in their work and extended an invitation for those at the Young Professionals event to participate in one of their future events, Artcetera, which will be a fundraising benefit for AIDS Action Committee and will help to provide medication to people who cannot afford it.  This comes on the heels of their annual AIDS Walk in Boston, which was a great success earlier this month.  To learn more about the organization’s mission and get involved, click here.

UNA-GB’s Young Professionals group meets every other month for their On Tap series at local area bars to discuss current international issues and social events. If you want to learn about the Young Professionals group and join them for the future events and discussions, click here and sign up to get email event notices here.  Stay tuned for details coming about next month’s Taste Of event, focused on El Salvador!

-Muzhgan

Behold Massachusetts: Consuls Day 2011 has arrived!

Consuls Ball banner

While we know here in the office how important today is, it’s now a statewide recognized fact – Governor Deval Patrick declared today, April 29th to be the official “Consuls Day!” As Boston celebrates with global leaders to honor the Consular Corps, Carol Fulp and local leaders tonight at the 2011 Consuls Ball, the governor issued the following proclamation to make today a day to acknowledge the Consuls and their global leadership:

Whereas: The Consular Corps of Boston serves as a vital connection between Massachusetts and over 50 countries of the world; and

Whereas: The members of the Consular Corps of Boston serve the citizens of Massachusetts and of their nations, and work to facilitate business and educational exchanges, as well as foster technology transfer, economic development, and international understanding; and

Whereas: The Consular Corps is a reflection of the diverse backgrounds of the citizens of Massachusetts, and the rich diversity of the many cultures of the world;

Therefore, I, Deval Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim Friday, April 29, 2011 to be

Consuls Day

in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

(Governor Deval Patrick’s Consuls Day 2011 Proclamation)

Come celebrate Consuls Day with us 7 pm tonight at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.  For more information, visit http://www.unagb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41&Itemid=28!

-NaEun

UN Day Ceremony: A Beautiful Success!

Though yesterday was a warm, gorgeous day, a large turnout took time out of the sun to join us for our annual UN Day Ceremony at the State House. As sweet harmonies of Women of the World flowed through the air, the room surrounding the Grand Staircase quickly filled with people and buzzed with friendly networking and conversation. The ceremony began with a wonderful welcome and introduction from Alma Morrison, the clerk of our Board of Directors, and Lena Granberg, our Executive Director. Then, our lovely student ambassadors, Ricky Hanzich of Harvard University and Natalie Prolman of Northeastern University read the governor’s UN Day Proclamation and a message from our Secretary-General (read it here!).

This year, we gathered to celebrate 65 years of the United Nations’ service to the international community. We had the honor of having the Permanent Judge of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as the keynote speaker. Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, also known as Judge T, shared his experiences as a judge in prosecuting war criminals responsible for the genocide and other crimes against humanity that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. He expressed compelling thoughts on justice and reconciliation for these war criminals and their victims sparking fascinating discussion and Q&A.

The ceremony closed with an amazing musical performance by Berklee’s Women of the World. This ensemble of women from Japan, India, US, Greece and Brazil combined their incredible voices and music to perform two touching African songs which left the entire room in awe and united with hope for world peace.

It was truly a beautiful day to conclude our 2010 UN Day Celebrations! Check out the pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=92231&id=1438526316&fbid=1656940670230!

Thank you to our partner organizations and all our attendees! We hope to see you again at our future events!

-Geroline