Although Washington may seem like a world away to many, it is surprisingly easy to voice your concerns to elected officials. We would like to draw attention to this week’s Congressional Recess and invite you to participate with us in UNA-USA’s National Advocacy Week 2011. This week is an excellent time to visit the local offices of your members of Congress to discuss the priorities outlined in the 2011 UNA-USA Advocacy Agenda.
The reality is that we are entering a difficult period in our country’s relationship with the UN. We must raise our voices to let our elected officials know how important the work of the UN is to us, and how the US’ support matters. At an address to the World Affairs Council of Oregon last week, Ambassador Susan Rice stated that “Main Street America needs the United Nations, and so do you and I, especially in these tough economic times. America can’t police every conflict, end every crisis, and shelter every refugee. The UN provides a real return on our tax dollars by bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places.” Ambassador Rice is not alone in her thoughts. An October 2010 survey found that 72 percent of Americans support paying our UN peacekeeping dues in full and on time, but the Continuing Resolution just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives does just the opposite – it cuts funding for the UN regular budget by $80 million and slashes UN Peacekeeping by $228 million from the FY2011 budget.
Your voice is needed now more than ever.
As you prepare to voice your concerns please utilize UNA-USA’s advocacy tips for writing letters, scheduling visits and other useful suggestions concerning where and how to begin. Remember each meeting, simple letter, phone call, fax or e-mail from a constituent represents your voice as a concerned voter that would have otherwise gone unheard.
By joining your fellow UNA-USA activists around the country during National Advocacy Week, you can make a tangible impression on your elected representatives of the strong public support that exists for working through the United Nations. As the violent clashes in the Arab world this past week show, a global body working for peace, human rights, and conflict resolution is needed now more than ever!
Working with a mission to inform, inspire and mobilize Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations, advocacy is one of the works focused on at UNA-USA. It is important for us to engage our citizen rights to encourage our elected officials and our government to be active participants in global diplomacy and peace-building. The 2011 Advocacy Agenda for the United Nations Association focuses on four core issue areas:
- Securing US-UN funding;
- Advancing human rights through the UN;
- Encouraging US ratification of international treaties;
- Supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
UNA-USA with Better World Campaign are working to coordinate activities in these four areas to maximize the overall advocacy impact in the future, and it is our goal as the Boston chapter to share ways YOU can engage in these campaigns!
UN funding: UNA-USA is working with Better World Campaign to strengthen the U.S. – UN relationship. There recently have been signs that members of the Congress may propose ways to reduce or commitment to the UN. H.R.557, The United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, would shift the funding mechanism for the regular budget of the UN from an assessed to a voluntary basis. The bill has more than 100 co-sponsors and is expected to be brought up for a vote in committee and on the House floor. It is our responsibility that the members of the Congress are encouraged to vote against this bill.
Human Rights: Human rights work is one of the key focus areas of the UN. Under the Obama administration in May 2009, the U.S. was elected to a three-year term on the Council with a full-time US ambassador appointed to the council. With the upcoming mandated review in March 2011, which will examine the Council’s performance over its first five years, members of Congress should be encouraged to play a constructive role in advising the Obama administration about ways in which the Council can be improved.
International Treaties: Prospects are decidedly mixed for United States ratification of several longstanding international treaties in the 112th Congress. The new senate contains many incoming senators who have little knowledge of the treaties that await ratification by the United States but will quickly become aware of the controversial issues surrounding them. The new configuration means that Senate approval treaties will only occur by reaching across party lines. During the 111th Congress, there were important developments in support of treaty ratification, such as Senate approval of New START. It will be critical to build momentum toward Senate votes on pending treaties in the context of the Obama’s administration’s ongoing commitment to seek US ratification of such treaties.
Millenium Development Goals: Although the September 2010 world summit at United Nations Headquarters reassured governments’ support for meeting the MDGs by 2015, the U.S. commitments may be challenged due to a stringent budget and the global financial crisis. However, extensive recent polling sponsored by the UN Foundation shows that solid majority of the American public supports the MDGs and the role for the U.S. in meeting them. UNA-USA chapters just concluded many successful local UN Day 2010 events which focused on the importance of the MDGs and UN Foundation programs hope to inspire activism in support of the MDGs in local communities and to recruit new UNA-USA members.
You can read the complete Advocacy Agenda here. Stay updated as we all work together to strengthen the U.S.-UN relationship, and our global diplomacy as a whole. Real change happens when we choose to act. We look forward to working together with you this year!