Blog Archives

“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!

The Global Fund: A Decade Later and Still Providing Hope

A decade ago on January 28, 2002, The Global Fund was created in order to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The Global Fund is an international financing organization that was designated to raise and distribute money to combat these life-threatening diseases in developing countries.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, the Global Fund has provided 6.6 million people with life-saving antiretrovirals for AIDS, has prevented 4.1 million deaths from tuberculosis, and has decreased deaths of malaria by 25% in developing countries in the past ten years.

The President of the United Nations Foundation, Timothy E, Wirth, released a statement last week praising the Global Fund for all of their hard work and success over the last decade, saying:

‘The UN Foundation has been proud to partner with Product (RED) to raise more than $57 million for the Global Fund, and with the United Methodist Church in its Imagine No Malaria campaign, as well as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran World Relief in their Lutheran Malaria Initiative, which could result in up to $41 million for the Global Fund.”

Wirth went on to say that by reconfirming our commitment to help those in need, we must support their efforts to treat people battling AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the most affected areas of the world.

“Investing in the Global Fund is in the best interest of us all. It will help improve the lives of millions of people and help ensure global stability and progress” said Wirth.

While the Global Fund has helped millions of people over the last ten years, the Global Fund board has canceled the next round of funding and needs donors to step up because any set back in their progress could be detrimental to millions of lives.

Already, supporters from around the world have vowed to assist the Global Fund during their new grant period. According to the New York Times, on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates donated $750 million on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Even Japan, after a devastating year with the tsunami and earthquake, donated $800 million to the fund in efforts to challenge others donors to take a stand for a good cause.

Get motivated to do what you can to make an impact on these absolutely preventable diseases by watching the video below and share with us some of the ideas you have in our comments section.

-Alyson R.

A Year of New Horizons: Review of 66th UN General Assembly Opening

It’s been a busy couple of weeks as the United Nations welcomed the opening of its 66th General Assembly. The General Assembly opened its 66th session formally this week at its Headquarters in New York. Former permanent representative of Qatar to the UN, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, was elected as General Assembly president in June and gave the opening speech.

In his opening speech Al-Nasser stressed that the General Assembly is an opportunity for the international community to “define our place in this decisive moment in history,” and to “prove that we have the courage, wisdom and tenacity to seek creative and visionary solutions.” He also said that he was “deeply committed” to working with each member state to “build bridges for a united global partnership.”

On Wednesday Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff became the first woman to ever open a round of UN General Assembly speeches. In her speech President Rousseff touched on a wide range of topics including social inclusion and human rights guarantees. She also spoke about the need to reform the UN Security Council and supporting sustainable development – with a reminder that in June 2012 Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the next world conference on climate change.

On Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability held its fourth meeting in New York. The Panel was established in 2010 to examine how the globe can reduce poverty and increase sustainability development while protecting our planet.

On Wednesday President Obama spoke at the UN Security Council saying that although he believes there can be peace between Israel and Palestine, there is no shortcut to that peace. He also commented on the US’ opposition to the Palestinian’s bid. “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN,” President Obama declared. “If it were that easy it would have been accomplished by now.” Rather, President Obama suggested that the international community should keep pushing Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four impassable issues that have presented problems since 1979.

Despite President Obama’s speech, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, submitted an application for Palestine to become a United Nations Member State today. Mr. Abbas submitted the application to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York this morning.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal from an Iranian prison on Wednesday. Bauer and Fattal had been hiking near the Iranian-Iraqi border and a month later were convicted and jailed for spying allegations more than two years ago.

On Thursday, UNICEF welcomed a new agreement between the Republic of the Congo and Benin to protect children from child trafficking which has been a large problem in the region in recent years.

“With the signing of the agreement, a framework is now in place to assist the two countries to prevent, identify and assist child trafficking victims as well as to prosecute offenders,” Marianne Flach, UNICEF Country Representative in the Republic of the Congo said.

It is hard for UNICEF to come up with an exact number of children trafficked, but in 2007 the organization roughly estimated the number to be 1,800. Experts today say that the figure is actually much higher.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all remaining States today to “seize the moment” and sign and ratify the global treaty banning nuclear tests – with the goal of bringing it into force by 2012. Of the total 195 states, 182 have so far signed the treaty and 155 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force, ratification is required from the “Annex 2 States.” Of these States, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the U.S. have yet to ratify it.

“My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” Ban Ki-moon said. “We must make the most of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities,” he added.

As demonstrated throughout this week, the UN is an extremely important organization to global security and equity across the board. As a result it is important for us to continue supporting the organization in any way we can. Don’t forget to visit Let US Lead and tell Congress to oppose bill H.R. 2829 which threatens to cut U.S. funding to the UN. Want to go a step beyond signing a petition? Schedule an appointment to meet with your local representative over the Columbus Day recess!

Here at UNA-GB we are celebrating the opening of the 66th General Assembly as well with our 66 for 66 Campaign! Help us raise $3,300 to fund 66 students in honor of this anniversary of the UN. Only $50 provides food and materials for one child to change their perspective, engage in international issues, and build skills that will be relevant in college and their future career path. Help us nurture the next generation of global leaders! Donate today!

-Alexandra

Invest in Healthy Ecosystems

With the global population set to reach 7 billion people later this year food and resource security is becoming increasingly more important. This week a new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and its partners announced that investing in healthy ecosystems could improve food security, enhance resilience to climate change, as well as provide economic benefits for poor communities.

The report, which was written by over 50 contributors, uses case studies of China, Guatemala, Jordan as well as others to present the issues as well as recommend changes. The three specific areas of change in order to improve food security and reduce stresses on water supplies are detailed as: environmental protection, water resources management and food production. The report also explains that one of the most difficult challenges in improving current levels of food production is the availability of water because it is needed for livestock, crop irrigation, fisheries and other agricultural uses. Likewise, the report also makes recommendations for drylands, wetlands, crop systems, fisheries and livestock systems.


“Maintaining healthy, resilient ecosystems to ensure water availability for agriculture and other ecosystem services is thus essential for long-term food security,” a press release on the report produced by UNEP and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) stated.

Investing in our healthy ecosystems could make huge differences in the everyday and long-term lives of communities around the globe. You can also get involved in a variety of ways, both small and big, through WhyHunger.com – a organization building a movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions. Likewise you can read more about the global food crisis and what the UN is doing to help here.

Here at UNA-GB we will be holding a Women’s Forum Luncheon Roundtable on October 6th, which will focus on Women, Population, and the Millennium Development Goals.  Jane Roberts, a grassroots advocate who is the co-founder of the 34 Million Friends of the UNFPA project will share how supporting gender equality makes a positive impact on all of the MDGs and population issues as a whole. Her contributions in the fields of population, development, the environment, and the human rights of women and girls have led to many recognitions, including a feature chapter in Nicholas Kristof’s NY Times bestseller Half the SkyRSVP now to get involved and join the conversation!

– Alexandra

Around the World by Book

Summer is in full swing, with the long hot days, outdoor excursions, and the potential of relaxation beyond the weekends.   During the summer months, people often ask for reading recommendations for their vacation time whether it be on the beach, in the woods, or on the road.  We thought it would be fun to compile a list of suggested books with an international/global theme from those in our UNA-GB networks, including staff, interns, and our Board and Advisory Council members.  Check out our list below and also feel free to share what novels/memoirs/non-fiction books have captivated you lately!:

During a daytime when it is humid and sunny outside, I enjoy staying indoors and reading my favorite books.  One such book is  “A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice” by Malalai Joya. I had read this book while traveling, and it enlightened my tedious commute. There have been many books written by scholars and other experts about Afghanistan, but someone who is a native Afghan and has lived most of her life there, wrote this book. The book is not only about the country, it is also about a strong and inspiring female activist who is forced to live apart from her family and children and changes her home everyday because she has chosen to speak out against the violence and corruption. She has been describes as the “bravest woman in Afghanistan” by BBC.  I think everyone who is interested in world affairs and world issues should read this book.
-Muzhgan Rasul, UNA-GB Program Intern

When will be The End of Poverty? Dr. Jeffrey Sachs gives a new meaning to his PhD, taking up the role of the doctor to impoverished regions and coining the term “clinical economics”, to “cure” the world of extreme poverty. With only four more years left until the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, this book is undoubtedly influential to the decisions and policies that will one day eliminate poverty. Dr. Sachs provides a detailed diagnosis of the issues faced by the world’s poorest and weaves in, along the way, vivid anecdotes from his first-hand experience in the rural regions of China, Kenya, Bolivia and other less economically developed countries. Combining all of his research, Dr. Sachs presents a prescription for poverty that calls for international cooperation and action in various domains from infrastructural reforms to increased official development assistance from developed countries. Has Dr. Sachs found the panacea for poverty? Probably not, but The End of Poverty remains a significant contribution to the study of development economics and must be read by anyone who believes in a future without hunger and disease and in a better world for all.  -Wing Miriam Wong, Education Intern

I recently read Arab Voices: What they are Saying to us and why it Matters by James Zogby.  Mr. Zogby is the head of the Arab American Institute, and the book covers everything from the way that Arab Americans feel here at home to extensive surveys on the opinions of Arabs and other Middle Easterners about the US and its policies.  It is a must read for anyone who has an interest in the modern Middle East and the United States’ relationship with the people there or any American who wants to have a fuller understanding of his or her country and the people who make up its rich and diverse society. -Christopher Asmar, Education Intern

“Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World” by David L. Bosco. This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the United Nations and/or international affairs. While many books on the subject are stuffy and academic, Bosco’s account of the formation and history of the Security Council is as accessible as it is interesting. Bosco was formerly a senior editor at Foreign Policy, an international lawyer, and deputy director of a joint UN/NATO refugee repatriation project in Sarajevo. He’s currently assistant professor of International Politics at American University. Also, check out his blog.
-Nick Blake, Education Intern

I would recommend “Paris: 1919” by the great Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan. It regards the negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris with all of the backdoor dealings following the First World War. MacMillan uses a critical analysis to persuasively argue against many of the accepted beliefs about the Paris peace process. It is a fascinating read and is presented in a very accessible manner, highly recommended for the amateur historian. The book has received a great deal of renown since it has been published and provides a vital backdrop to modern day world politics.
-James Fargher, Education Intern

Dani Rodrik’s The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy is a well argued brief that democracy is necessary to temper the the idealistic notion that globalized markets are self regulating. He dives into fascinating case studies of the world economy and how the most successful and highly developed economies protected their domestic interests from the forces of globalization while simultaneously investing in health care and education which allowed domestic labor markets to take advantage of opportunities as they arose.
– Jennifer Irizarry, UNA-GB Education Coordinator

The Blue Sweater is the inspiring personal memoir of Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of the Acumen Fund and a dynamic leader committed to combating global poverty in innovative new ways.  The book’s title comes from one of Novogratz’ first experiences with globalization -a decade after she had donated a unique handmade sweater she wore as a child to Goodwill, she came across the exact same sweater on a young boy in Rwanda.  Her story spans the difficulties of development, aid and poverty reduction, beginning from her firsthand experiences on the ground in Africa and follows her as she goes through business school, enters the workforce, and learns the power of philanthropy and finances.  Ultimately her focus becomes a forward form of philanthropic investing called “patient capital”, which is creating the potential to make people self-sufficient and change millions of lives.  As the website aptly describes, this book is “more than just an auto-biography or a how-to guide to tackling poverty; [it] challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.”  Just the challenge worth accepting over the summer!
-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

Additional suggested readings include: Gandhi: The True Man Behind Modern India by Jad Adams.
-Valerie Epps, UNA-GB Board Member.

The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Croke for an intriguing read. And, it has a local Boston angle to the story too.
-Kari Heistad, Board Member.

I enjoyed the Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and The Power of Gold by Peter L. Bernstein.
-Will Febbo, Board Member.

The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, an incisive insight into the rampant poverty in the world’s midst of plenty.
-Ajmal Qureshi, Board Member.

Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo, 1491 by Charles C. Mann and The Great Bridge by David McCullogh.
-Clark Abt, Advisory Council Member.

Again, please share your suggestions with us as well so we can continue to educate one another on the many global challenges we have and are facing.

-Muzhgan

Why I’m Attending-part 1

Consuls Ball banner
With less than 3 weeks until our major spring gala, the Consuls Ball, we wanted to debut a blog series sharing why YOU should consider attending the Ball, straight from the mouths of past attendees who are returning to celebrate again with us this year.  Our first testimony comes from Linnea Löf, who attended the Ball last year and actually serves on our event committee this year!

“My husband and I attended our first Consuls Ball last year (2010) because we believe in the importance of global educational programs like the Model UN and we want to show our support.  We had such a fabulous time that we definitely plan on attending again!  The event was gorgeous — an elegant location, exquisite food, open bar, great music, lively dancing and international attendees — we felt like we traveled the world in one glorious evening! The Colombian Consul shared our table so we had the opportunity to hear the kind of support she provides to people and organizations from her country here in Boston.

Linnea Löf (2nd from R) and guests enjoy the 2010 Consuls Ball

One of the live auction items was a stay at a 5 star resort in Sicily which we bid on and won!   We are excited to share this unique evening with friends this year because we know it will be an international gala not to miss!

-Linnea Löf

Join Linnea and 350+ other Boston business and diplomatic leaders on April 29 for THE global gala of the season in New England.  Get your tickets now!

-UNA-GB staff

Consuls Ball 2011: Boston’s must attend global gala!

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UNA-GB’s Annual Consuls Ball is almost here, and you don’t want to miss out!  Celebrate Boston’s global leaders of today and tomorrow with us!

This highly anticipated event is Boston’s premier international gala of the year, bringing together well over 350 prominent members of the diplomatic, business, political, and academic communities across the Greater Boston area, set to be held this year on April 29 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. This is a very special opportunity for attendees to mingle and network with distinguished guests while supporting the Model UN Program, which empowers thousands of Massachusetts youth in urban areas to learn about critical global issues and to see the world from new perspectives. To celebrate this elegant, vibrant event, guests are encouraged to dress in black tie or national dress, network and converse with leaders in the Boston community, experience exceptional international cuisine, and dance the night away!  Watch the slideshow above and check out our Consuls Ball 2010 Facebook album to see past years’ activities and attendees!

The Ball honors Boston’s global leaders of today, including the Consular Corps of Boston, who represent over 50 Member States of the UN (one-quarter of all UN Member States), and who serve their nationals locally and facilitate economic development and international understanding between their countries and the US.  The night offers an opportunity to recognize and honor their service to the greater Boston area and is unique among Boston events in celebrating the many cross-cultural, business, and personal ties that enhance the city’s international character.

This year, Carol Fulp, SVP of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for John Hancock Financial, will receive UNA-GB’s 2011 Leadership Award in honor of her outstanding contribution to the local and international community. Nominated by President Barack Obama in September 2010, Fulp is serving as a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. We are thrilled to honor such an excellent example of a local leader making a global impact!

The Consuls Ball also benefits the global leaders of tomorrow – the money raised at the Ball goes directly to UNA-GB’s global education program, which serves over 70 Boston-area schools and reaches over 2,200 students annually, more than 1,000 of whom are from urban schools.   Model UN prepares students for academic and workplace success by teaching core 21st century skills, including negotiation, problem solving, public speaking, and analysis.  They learn to critically analyze an issue from a new perspective, offer tangible solutions, work with others to reach an agreement, and ultimately become leaders who inspire others. Model UN allows young people to gain perspective through participation, and therefore become informed, responsible and active global citizens.  UNA-GB’s program also helps bridge the achievement gap by expanding access to the life changing skills learned in Model UN to all students regardless of socioeconomic background, because we believe that all young people have the will and capacity to understand and address the complex issues facing the world today, and just need access to the right resources.

If that’s not enough, the Ball will have many special features throughout the evening, including:

All in all, the Consuls Ball is a unique, glamorous, and memorable celebration that is not to be missed!

Help us celebrate the rich diversity and international spirit in and around Boston, while also empowering the global leaders of tomorrow!

Come join us for an extraordinary evening on April 29, 2011 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston!!

Purchase your tickets now!

DETAILS:

Friday, April 29, 2011
7:00 PM Reception and Silent Auction
8:00 PM Internationally Themed Dinner and Program
Dancing and live music all night
Fairmont Copley Plaza
Black Tie Optional; National Dress Encouraged

We would like to extend a special thank you to our current 2011 Consuls Ball sponsors for their generous support and participation:

State Street Corporation
Shreve, Crump & Low
GGA Software Services, LLC
HULT International Business School
John Hancock Financial
Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc

If you are interested in joining us as a sponsor for the 2011 Consuls Ball, you can learn more here and contact us at 617-482-4587 for more information.

9th Annual Global Film Festival kicks off this weekend!

You’re invited!  If you’ve been looking for powerful, international documentaries depicting some of the very critical issues of the world, now is the time to buy your tickets for the films screening on September 24-25, and October 1-2, 2010.

On the first weekend (September 24 and 25), Friday night we’ll have two films: Sutura, a film about how women in Senegal are organizing to end the silence around rape and sexual violence in their communities; and Democracy in Dakar, a groundbreaking documentary bridging the gap between hip-hop activism, video journalism and documentary film focusing on politics in Dakar Senegal. This film explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process following rappers, DJs, journalists, professors and people on the street at the time before during and after the controversial 2007 presidential election in Senegal.

Saturday evening’s film is Little Town of Bethlehem, which follows the story of three men of three different faiths, their lives in Israel and Palestine, and each man’s choice of non-violent action amidst a culture of overwhelming violence. The film examines the struggle to promote equality through non-violent engagement in the midst of incredible violence that has dehumanized all sides.

On the second weekend (October 1 and 2), Friday night’s film is Countdown to Zero which will sweep us into a scorching, hypnotic journey around the world to reveal the palpable possibility of nuclear disaster and frame an issue on which human survival itself hangs. 

On Saturday, we are fortunate to have a Sneak Peek of Cape Wind about the divisive controversy over the Cape Wind project, which will be replicated hundreds of times over as industrial-scale renewable energy projects are proposed for America’s deserts, ridge lines, and waterways.

After each film, filmmakers and/or experts will join us for a panel discussion, giving you a chance to discuss your viewpoints.

All films will screen at 7pm at the Harvard Kennedy School.  See our website at www.bostonfilms.org for film descriptions, schedule, venue, and ticket information.

Seating is limited, so purchasing your tickets as soon as possible is highly recommended.

Cheers,

Stephanie Sanchez
Film Festival Coordinator