Daily Archives: May 3, 2013

A night of glamour at the 2013 Consuls Ball

KAT_8875Last Friday, UNA-GB hosted the 2013 Consuls Ball, which celebrates the Consular Corps of Boston, at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. During the ball, Governor Deval Patrick’s proclamation was read declaring April 26, 2013, as Consular Corps Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. About 30 Consuls from countries such as Korea, France, Turkey, Ireland, to name a few, were in attendance.

KAT_8855This year’s Consuls Ball celebrated Korean culture. Consul General of Korea Kangho Park gave some remarks. A short-clip with a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also played. There were also performances by Ms. Youngsook Song and Dr. Chuljin Lee. Ms. Song played a traditional Korean instrument known as the Gayageum and Dr. Lee performed a traditional Buddhist dance.

The evening also consisted of a silent and live auction that included packages to amazing destinations like the island of Azores, Cape Cod, the Bermudas, among many others.

KAT_8813UNA-GB also presented its annual Leadership Award. This year’s recipient was Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University. Aoun has strengthened Northeastern’s leadership position in experiential and cooperative education, created global programs with urban perspective, and fostered a research enterprise with eight federally recognized centers and institutes.

KAT_8640The Consuls Ball helps support UNA-GB’s Model UN program. Model UN teaches middle and high school students to think critically about complex global issues.

More pictures to be posted on our Facebook page soon!

We hope you can join us in 2014 for our next Consuls Ball!

Networking night with UNA-GB members and Professor Ian Johnstone

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On March 20th, UNA-GB hosted a members (and friends) event at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale in downtown Boston. This event aimed to welcome new members to the organization through networking and foster a discussion about “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria”, led by Professor Ian Johnstone, a UNA-GB Advisory Council Member.

Ian Johnstone is a Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has just been appointed Academic Dean of the Fletcher School, a position he will assume in July 2013. Prior to joining Fletcher in the year 2000, he worked for the United Nations, including five years in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He continues to serve as a regular consultant to the United Nations, including to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs.

The discussion attempted to encapsulate the standing of coercive intervention within the framework of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) following the application of this philosophy in Libya and the opposite in respect to it in Syria from the United Nations. Professor Johnstone noted that in 2011, the UN Security Council was confronted with the dilemma of whether to authorize an intervention in Libya to prevent a possible humanitarian catastrophe. At that time Libya was confronting civilian casualties as a consequence of fights between the government and rebel forces and the international community was concerned that this problem would only escalate to a large scale of victims. 

The discussion question that Professor Johnstone proposed after his introduction on the background about the Libya and Syria cases within the R2P context was: why has the UN and international community’s response to the conflict been so different and what does this tell us about the practice of the R2P doctrine within the UN? Should the UN reassess the R2P philosophy for future cases? How does the Security Council play a role within the R2P decisions?

If you are interested in networking and discussing this and other international issues, make sure to come to our future members events! 

 

 

Motion to Reflect: 2012 Model UN Summer Institute Session 1 Recap

As temperatures rose in New England last week, 44 middle and high school students convened in the air conditioned classrooms of the Harvard Business School for a week of intensive global diplomacy training at the UNA-GB’s Model United Nations Summer Institute.  These budding global leaders chose to trade in traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding in order to debate, negotiate, and create resolutions to the world’s most pressing issues, honing the skills they will need as global citizens and leaders in the 21st century.

The students kicked off the week with ice breakers and activities geared towards understanding the UN and learning about the complexities of human rights law.  These activities taught the students effective debate skills, such as listening to each other and learning to respect and draw attention from the other delegates during the simulations. Throughout the week, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum and simulations focused on terrorism and Human Rights. They had the unique opportunity to learn about the UN’s parliamentary procedure, formal debate vocabulary and how to complete high-level research through actual simulated debate and role play.

For the full simulation on Friday, the students teamed up in pairs to represent a UN member state in the General Assembly, allowing them the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of UN delegates and present their country’s position on conflict diamonds.  This involved significant group work and alliance building among countries in order to come up with possible solutions. These solutions were translated into UN resolutions that were then debated and voted on by all countries. 

In order to create a resolution, the students had to recognize and understand the complexity of each global issue and they had to take into account the various economic and political implications a resolution would have on different countries. They also had to reach a compromise amid widely conflicting country interests, from Zimbabwe to the UK to China.

The dedication, seriousness and excitement exhibited by the students throughout the week was impressive and inspiring to all staff and adults in attendance.  It was a real treat to see how realistic and impressive the debates were, and how the youth, no matter their age, were cooperative, motivated and committed to crafting feasible resolutions to modern day global challenges of terrorism and conflict diamonds.

We want to thank all of these future global leaders for giving up a week of their summer vacation to tackle the world’s pressing global challenges and to learn critical 21st century skills, all while having fun and building valuable friendships.  We hope to see some familiar faces next summer and at the Model UN programs during the year!

Stay tuned for student testimonies and additional feedback from the second session, to be held from July 9-July 13, serving 45 more young global advocates!

– Julia Kuperminc and Catherine Schrage

Get Your Green On!

After a long cold winter here in Boston and with a much-needed boost of warm weather marking the promise of summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to consider how we can positively impact our surroundings!  This Sunday June 5th is World Environment Day, coordinated by the United Nations’ Environment Programme, and is a great opportunity to get involved in a variety of different activities to help our planet.

World Environment Day started in 1972 and has grown to be an important environmental action supported by the United Nations for people in the world to reunite on this day for the environment. This year the Global Host of World Environment Day 2011 in India, focusing on forest development called “Forests: Nature at Your Service” and its continued support as a nation of global sustainable living.

Whether you’re in India or around the world, there is plenty going on. From the Biofestival 2011 concert in Costa Rica to the biodiversity press conference in Canada to a music concert in Belgium, to beach-cleaning and tree-planting in Bahrain, there are so many ways to get involved all around the world.  All of these activities link back to the efforts of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal #7, which focuses on educating countries about the benefits of sustainable development and use of resources in protecting the environment.  As we work to educate as many people as possible about protecting our environment on the microlevel, the UN is working on the macrolevel with governments to be environmentally sustainable.  Just yesterday, UN officials discussed having political representatives get involved in working towards a globally “green economy” during a debate on the General Assembly floor.  They discussed both the importance and the challenges involved in making government officials aware of the importance of the environment and sustainability.  Included in discussions was the point that while developed countries have the technology to make a difference, they still need political and social support in order to have an impact.

Some high-profile celebrities are looking to increase the political and social support: UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors’ Gisele Bundchen and Don Cheadle are competing in the WED Challenge to get as many people to support  World Environment Day, and environmental sustainability as possible. For each person that votes for either of them, a tree will be planted to support this year’s focus on forest development and support.

Do you want to get involved locally? You can choose to walk instead of driving or go as far as organizing clean-up activities in your communities. Hold a forest or river clean-up with your local community. Educate your community about how endangered species rely on having a healthy environment to live in or create a habitat for an endangered species by planting trees, praire grasses or a butterfly gardenAny ideas you may have, you can register online register online and officially become a part of the activities supported for World Environment Day.  If nothing else, you should spend the day enjoying the nature around you – for fellow Bostonians, it’s a great excuse to see the swan boats in the Boston Common, walk along the Charles River, or sit among the shade in the Arnold Arboretum.

Make sure your involvement doesn’t just end after this weekend too!  Another way to stay involved on a more long-term level is to join local organizations that have environmental missions.  Some options in the Boston area include the  Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), Green Corps (Program) and Boston Youth Environmental Network. Celebrate the great beauty of your environment this weekend, and take action, whether globally or locally in any way you can to make sure that environment is maintained for years -and generations! – to come.  It’s up to each of us to ensure a plentiful and rich future for our planet.

-Cara

Take a stand against gender-based violence on White Ribbon Day!

UPDATE:  See coverage on White Ribbon Day in the Boston Globe here.

“From this day forward, I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women.” Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Pledge

The energy was lively this morning at the Massachusetts State House where local men, women and youth arrived to celebrate and pledge their support for ending violence against women in the fourth annualMA White Ribbon Day.

MA White Ribbon Day, a statewide campaign sponsored by Jane Doe Inc.,  is connected with the international White Ribbon Campaign. The mission of these campaigns is to encourage men everywhere to show their support by encouraging others in their organizations, families and workplaces to wear a white ribbon, place a poster up at their workplaces, spread the word about the campaigns and its aims, organize local events to speak out against violence towards women, and challenge attitudes and behaviors which condone or tolerate violence. Since launching the campaign in Massachusetts in 2008, Jane Doe Inc. has recruited over 400 White Ribbon Day Ambassadors and tens of thousands of men and boys have signed the pledge.

Today’s event was guided by a group of inspirational powerhouse speakers including: JDI Executive Director Mary R. Lauby, Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray, Governor Deval Patrick, Congressman Bill Delahunt, MAPS Paulo Pinto, Michael Weekes, Student Support Specialist Andy Polanco, Start Strong Peer Leader Anderson Teneus, Dr. Phil, and Craig Norberg-Bohm. Each individual brought their own message but all stressed the theme of the importance of men’s responsibility as role models and voices for change and women’s responsibility to tell men and boys in their lives about the campaign and ask them to become an ambassador.

Today Craig Norberg-Bohm, Coordinator of the Men’s Initiative for JDI, stated, “This campaign is not only about preventing individual acts of violence but also fostering a broader framework that promotes healthy relationships and promotes positive masculinity”.

It is important to note that the WRC campaign is not about individual acts of violence but rather a broader framework that confronts unhealthy behaviors and promotes positive masculinity. It’s about creating and fostering a deep mutual accountability among men to one another and to women, to uphold their commitments as fathers, partners, friends, colleagues, brothers and sons of women and girls, to broaden definitions of masculinity that includes men and boys who support, nurture and foster authentic and respectful relationships.

It’s also important to reminder the global impact of violence against women.  As former Representative Delahunt so eloquently put it, this is a problem not just here in Massachusetts, but in the far reaches of the globe – in Afghanistan, in China, in Brazil.  We must continue to protect all women – the launch of the newly formed UN Women is a great step in particular, and we hope that men are actively involved in that organization and its mission.  The same goes for passing I-VAWA – the International Violence Against Women Act.

The morning’s celebration closed with dozens of voices bridging gaps of age, gender, race and class to pledge their support and dedication to ending violence. It was a moving and unifying conclusion to an empowering event. Following the close of the program attendees bundled up to witness the revealing of the White Ribbon Day banner that will hang in the front of the State House for the next week to remind us all of the importance of this movement.

Remember White Ribbon Day extends far beyond the ceremony today. Now is the time for you to take action and do your part! Join us and take the pledge today and add your name to the growing number of men and women in Massachusetts who have joined the campaign!

-Katie

Celebrate the first World Interfaith Harmony Week!!

This week begins the first-ever annual observation of the UN supported Interfaith Harmony Week. The week is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Islamic Call Society and A Common Word. The UN General Assembly unanimously approved the resolution for the establishment of a World Interfaith Harmony Week in October last year, and now this is the first year that the week is being recognized, and this year’s topic is “Transforming Communities.”

The goal of the interfaith week is to recognize “the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people,” according to the UN resolution, which is posted on the World Interfaith Harmony Week website.

The week has its roots in the Amman Message which was written by HM King Abdullah II of Jordan that advocated building a consensus among the Islamic community on what “Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam.” Following the positive response that came from the Amman Message, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad wrote the “A Common Word Between Us and You” to declare common ground between Islam and Christianity to begin dialogue and cooperation between major leaders and scholars of the Muslims and Christian community. The Interfaith Harmony Week aims to recognize the strides made by the dialogue that was created by the two documents, but also include people of all faiths into the discussion.

Local Events around Boston:

Thursday, February 3rd, 7:00 PM. The Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College will be hosting the 8th Annual Interfaith Prayer in North Andover. Click here for more details.

Monday, February 7th, 5:15 PM. Harvard University kicks off its Interfaith Awareness Week with a panel discussion, “Global Perspectives on Interfaith Responses to Violence” at the Center for the Study of World Religions, on 42 Francis Avenue in Cambridge.  Harvard will be hosting events all week, click here for more details.

Wednesday, February 9th,  11:00 AM-12:00 PM. An interfaith service will be held at the Marsh Chapel on the Boston University campus.  Find directions here.

You can view other events  happening internationally here.

What will you do this week to participate in the dialogue?  And how will you keep the conversation going throughout the entire year?

-Alex.

Students make a difference through Model UN Issues!

Students in the after school Model United Nations Club at Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School in Worcester, MA were tackling the ever present global issue of malnutrition.  It soon occured to them at the issue of malnutrition was not only prevalent in the developing world, but also right in their own backyard. They wanted to do something to help the undernourished in Worcester County. The found a local-community level solution to a global problem.

So, the Sullivan Middle School Model UNers partnered with the Sullivan Middle School student council to sponsor a food drive throughout their school. All of the donations went to the Worcester County Food Bank, the primary hunger relief agency in Central Massachusetts.

The Sullivan Middle School Model UN students did an amazing job of translating a major global issue that was presented to them as a issue pertaining to international affairs into a local issue and took action to solve malnutrition on a grassroots level.

-Rebecca