Blog Archives

Fall 2013: Meet the Interns!

Rose Llanos-Almeida UNAGB InternRose Llanos-Almeida

I am a second year graduate student studying international affairs at Boston University. My area of focus is theory and policy and I am very much interested in Latin America, specifically Brazil. I was originally born in Florida but my parents are from Peru and El Salvador. My heritage has played such a significant part in my professional interests that I decided to major  in Portuguese and Spanish for my undergraduate studies. During my free time, I love to go salsa, forro, and samba dancing and spend time with my husband, friends and family. I also love traveling; visiting Brazil has been one of the highlights of my travels. One place I would love to travel to is Greece; I spent the summer studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and visited many other places in Europe yet did not have enough time to squeeze in Greece. Ultimately, my dream job would be to work in international development focusing on improving the lives of children, their families and communities.

Marc Orlandella UNAGB InternMarc Orlandella
I am a senior at Boston University majoring in International Relations and Business Administration.
I am from Saugus, MA. In my free time I serve as a mentor at BU, helping new students adjust to campus life. I offer my help and advice when new students need some assistance. My favorite place I’ve traveled to is probably Madrid. I studied abroad there over the spring semester and it was an awesome experience! It’s a beautiful city. While I was there I had the chance to learn a lot about the culture and increase my Spanish speaking skills. If I could go anywhere in the world I would choose Italy, especially Sicily. My whole family comes from Southern Italy and my grandfather is from Sicily. I would love to visit and spend time there! My dream job is being involved in the education field. I love working with students and mentoring, so I think I want to work for a school/university. It would be especially great if I had the chance to combine international relations with an education position. Or more realistically, I would be an actor and star in my own sitcom on TV. I would want to use a time machine to travel into the future, like maybe a thousand years ahead. I’m curious to see how the world will be and how it will look. I think it would be pretty great to see all the new technology that will exist.
Kyeu Eun UNAGB Intern
Kyeu Eun (Cathy)
I am from Seoul, South Korea. In my free time, I like to walk around outside, listen to music, and look at different design blogs. My favorite place that I have been is Vancouver because of the beautiful environment and diverse groups of people. I would love to travel to Greece someday because I would like to look at ancient architecture and artifacts in person. Also, Greek food is absolutely amazing! If I had a time machine, I would like to observe 10 years from now, which would be 2023, because I would like to see my parents’ health conditions and warn them now to be become healthy.

Eliza Berg

Eliza Berg UNAGB Intern

This is me above the Thames in London, where I studied Conflict Resolution in the summer of 2012

I am currently a senior at Boston University studying International Relations and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and I am very excited to continue my internship at UNA-GB! Originally from a small town in New Hampshire, I have slowly become accustomed to the busy city life in Boston and I love all of the diverse opportunities for research, networking, performance, and art (to name a few) here! One of my favorite things to do in Boston is take walks along the esplanade next to the Charles River, and to eat delicious food at restaurants and cafes with a variety of cuisines. I’ve made it my goal to go to one restaurant per month that features food from a different area of the world (which should be easy with YP’s awesome “Taste Of” events!) One of the places that I have always wanted to visit is Morocco, and I am finally getting the opportunity to go to Rabat in January to do some independent research! I would also love to visit other North African and Middle Eastern countries, and I love learning the Arabic language.  For these reasons (and because of my research interests) I hope to one day work for a non-profit or government agency that promotes women’s rights in the MENA and other developing countries.

Jennifer Beiwise UNAGB intern

This is me outside of Belfast City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Jennifer Bleiwise

I am a senior at Northeastern University studying International Affairs with minors in Political Science and History. I’m from a small town in central New Jersey. I love traveling abroad, and I have studied abroad multiple times and have done internships abroad as well. I have studied in England, Austria, the Czech Republic, and France, and did two different internships in Northern Ireland. I really enjoyed studying in Austria and the Czech Republic because I have both Austrian and Czech heritage. Every city I have been to is beautiful and charming in its own way, but if I had to go back to one, I would buy a one way ticket to Belfast, Northern Ireland. My dream job would probably be to be a country singer!

Lesley Ta UNAGB Intern
Lesley Ta
Hi, my name is Lesley Ta and I’m currently a senior at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts. I was born and raised in Boston. I will be a first generation college student; I hope to have a career concerning international relations or political science. I have a gravitational pull toward water sports – I love rowing, kayaking, sailing, and paddle boarding. Although I’m not the most athletic person out there, I enjoy being able to physically and mentally challenge myself. In the following spring, I will be traveling to Beijing and Shanghai through my school. I’m so excited to be here at the UNA-GB, having participated in the same Model UN conferences that I now assist with.
Alyssa Russell UNAGB Intern

This is me in front of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Alyssa Russell

I am a senior at Boston University studying International Relations and Public Relations. I am originally from Falmouth, MA, which is on Cape Cod. I have always loved anything and everything to do with the ocean. In my free time, I love to read, walk or hike outside, write, and explore wherever I happen to be living! Last year, I studied abroad in Paris, France, doing an internship program. I learned so much and got to travel all over Europe; it’s hard to choose, but I think that my favorite place was Edinburgh, Scotland. I loved the medieval feel of the city, the natural beauty both in and around the city, and the people- and I even got to see a fire festival while I was there! If I had a time machine, I would want to go to the lost Inca city at Machu Picchu. I have two dream jobs: one would be to be a highly-in-demand travel blogger, paid to travel all over the world and write about it, and the other would be to work for an international nonprofit, maybe doing conservation or development work.

Montana FredrickMontana Fredrick UNAGB Intern

I am a sophomore at Northeastern University studying International Affairs and am from Chicago, IL. This semester my free time has been devoted to movie hopping–seeing three movies for the price of one–and creating homemade conditioners. I have been to the movies about three times this semester and seen five movies, my goal is to see all of the films that have been given the Oscar nod. I would definitely go to Morocco. I am fluent in French but miss being around french speakers, although Morocco isn’t the first place people go to practice their french I have recently become fascinated with their presence in North Africa. My dream job is to be an international super star like Celine Dion! If I could, I would go into the future to see myself at age 30. I’m curious to know what I will be doing for a living, what friends I will have and if I have kept any, what my younger siblings would be doing, where I will be living, and what the world would be like.

101 Years of Progress: International Women’s Day 2012

Today, Thursday, March 8, the world celebrates the 101st anniversary of the International Women’s Day, honoring the lives of all women and girls. Here at UNA-GB, we kicked off the celebrations a little early with our annual film screening and panel discussion on Monday, March 5th.  We had more than 100 members of the community come together for War Redefined, the final film in the Women, War & Peace series. The film was followed by an enthusiastic and informative conversation among our wonderful panelists: The series executive producer Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri. Take a look here for some pictures of our event.

War Redefined challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace constitute a man’s sphere. The film features insightful conversations with Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic, the founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi, globalization expert Moisés Naím, and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University.

Today, many more wars are fought within countries with failing states compared to wars fought across borders. The proliferation of the use of small arms in the aftermath of the Cold War has transformed the landscape of war. War is no longer fought among the uniformed military forces of two or more countries. In this post-Cold War era, civilians have become the primary victims of war, with women being the foremost targets, and suffering unprecedented casualty rates.

One of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against women during and in the aftermath of wars is sexual violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence have become major strategies used in modern wars. War Redefined portrays how millions of women and children have been victimized in civil wars ranging from Bosnia to Rwanda. This has brought into sharp relief the concept of human security as contrasted with national security. Even though women and children constitute the overwhelming number of the victims of war, people tasked with peacemaking have traditionally been men.

Recognizing this paradox, United Nations Security Council in the year 2000 passed Resolution 1325 which called for peace agreements to take into account the special needs of women and girls, to support women’s peace initiatives, and implement international humanitarian and human rights law concerning rights of women and girls. The resolution further urged all parties to take action to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, and to respect their special needs in humanitarian and refugee emergencies.

Accordingly, War Redefined portrays how the United States military has begun to task women soldiers to work closely with Afghani women to address their needs such as health care and food security. Humanity is slowly but surely recognizing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s observation that “Women are the real architects of society.” Women can only achieve security, happiness and true liberation when they themselves take the initiative, and raise their voices against inequality and violence. Only then will the world come to celebrate the Women’s Day in its full glory.

The conversation held on Monday between the panelists and the audience was rousing, provactive and inspiring – I look forward to seeing how the Boston community continues to engage with gender justice and equity issues!

HAPPY 101st INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!  Click here for our blog post detailing additional events around Boston – there are still some to come!

-Smriti K.

Introducing International Women’s Day 2012

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s when it was originally celebrated as International Working Women’s Day. It is recognized on March 8th every year and honors women’s economic, political, and social achievements.

Gender equality is a huge focus for the UN community, with Millennium Development Goal #3 specifically designed to empower women and girls, and dozens of the agencies and entities focused on gender-based initiatives.  In fact, this year honors the official one year anniversary of the creation of UN Women, a more powerful UN entity designed to help spread gender equality and women’s rights empowerment.

International Women’s Day is near and dear to UNA-GB, as we have celebrated it with an annual film screening and panel for the past few years.  This screening is the biggest event of our Women’s Forum, which was created in 2006 to raise awareness about women’s issues in developing countries and engage men and women in Boston on solutions.  You can learn more about this year’s screening below, and make sure to check out last year’s blog post on our screening event.

We hope you can join us at some (or all!) of the events listed below.  We will continue to update the blog as we learn of more events, so check back!  It’s important that we continue to work together towards eliminating discrimination and improving the lives of women all across the world.

International Women’s Day Film Screening and Panel

War Redefined with Series Producer Abigail E. Disney

When: Monday, March 5; 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Where:
MCLE Auditorium, 10 Winter Pl, Boston

Don’t miss UNA-GB’s annual International Women’s Day Celebration, featuring a film screening of War Redefined, the last of the Women, War & Peace series, produced by series executive producer Abigail E. Disney.  A panel discussion on the role of women in peace building and war will follow the film, featuring Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri.  This is an incredibly timely topic, with 3 women peace-builders winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Obama Administration’s December announcement of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and Secretary Clinton’s recent comments on the lack of women at high-level security talks.

War Redefined reframes our understanding of modern warfare through probing conversations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International; globalization expert Moisés Naím; and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University, among others.

RSVP at http://iwd2012warredefined.eventbrite.com/

Along with hosting our annual International Women’s Day film screening and celebration, UNA-GB is also co-sponsoring some incredible International Women’s Day Events in Boston:

Ending Violence Against Women: Pathways to Power, Resilience and Leadership
International Women’s Day Breakfast

When: Thursday, March 8; 7:30-9:30 AM
Where: 
Simmons College, Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, Boston

Join UNA-GB and dozens of organizations around Boston in celebrating the city’s 15th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast. Panel will include Purnima Mane, CEO and President of Pathfinder International, Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley, Audrey Porter of My Life My Choice and Ann Fleck Henderson from Simmons College.
RSVP at http://iwd2012.eventbrite.com/

Women for Women International’s Boston “Join Us at the Bridge” Event

When: March 8, 10am-12pm
Where:
Massachusetts Avenue Bridge Boston

Stand up with women around the world, honoring the strength of women working for equality, justice, and peace.

RSVP at http://joinmeonthebridge.org/events/massachusetts-ave-bridge

 Feeding Boston, Changing the World:  International Women’s Day 2012

When:  Saturday, March 10, 2012, 6-9pm
Where: 
Ballroom, Curry Student Center, Northeastern University
What
:  Panel discussion followed by a dinner celebration
Free and open to the public.  Spaces limited.  RSVP here.  

This International Women’s Day, Boston’s Oxfam Action Corps invites you to honor women who work the land, feed their families, and plow the way forward to more sustainable agricultural economies here and abroad.

 

Additional International Women’s Day Events around Boston:

End Impunity for Sexual Violence against Women and Girls

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 5:00PM-7:30PM

Where: Old South Meeting House

In recognition of Int’l Women’s Day, this conference will take a critical look at international impunity for sexual violence and issue a resounding call to end it.

Latina Women’s Conference
Extraordinary Women fighting for Migration Justice

Where: MA State House
When:
Friday, March 9th, 2012 9:30- am- 3:00pm

Hosted by: Women in Solidarity Committee, whose network of Women in Solidarity is growing. 300 Latina women participated in 2011. Latina women advocated last year to opposed secure community program and create a community forum to reflect on violence and immigration issues.  Their goal is to create space for Latinas por el Cambio and expanded their reach to other places.  They founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers.
http://reddemujeres12.eventbrite.com/

Celebrate International Women’s Day Event at Gallery Kayafas

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7pm – 8:30pm

Where: Gallery Kayafas, 37 Thayer St. @450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118

Learn about AI’s work defending women’s rights featuring Zainab Abdullah, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan who has recently returned from researching honor killings in Pakistan. She will be joined by Beena Sarwar, a leading Pakistani journalist and democracy, human rights, and peace advocate. Hosted by the Back Bay Amnesty Group. RSVP to Alexandra Prim by 3/5/12. Space is limited. Learn more.

Celebrate International Women’s Day at the Eritrean Community Center

Where: 590 Shawmut Ave, Boston
When:
Saturday, March 10th, 8-10pm

The Eritrean Community Center of Greater Boston works to promote social and cultural interactions among Eritrean-Americans as well as area residents and friends for mutual understanding and awareness, integration, economic self-sufficiency, Eritrean heritage, and youth leadership.

Click here

2012 International Women’s Day:

Rally & March

When: March 10, 12 PM

Where: Meet at the Boston Common at the Gazebo

Meet to kick of the rally and then we’ll take it to the streets with guest speakers at Court Street, State Street MBTA, and State House. All individuals and groups are encouraged to bring a banner or signs, instruments, and other creative forms of expression and march together in struggle for living wage jobs, universal healthcare and childcare for all.

Benefit Show

Where: Midway Café 3496 Washington St, Jamaica Plain 02130

When: March 10, 7 PM

Benefiting The Prison Birth Project & Girls Rock Campaign Boston  $5 at the door, 21+ event

To register email InternationalWomensDayBoston@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/events/245509598867806/

Harvard Kennedy School’s International Women’s Day Celebration 

When: March 8, 2012

Where: HKS campus, various locations

8:30 – 10:00am, Breakfast for faculty, students and staff

Allison Dining Room, Taubman building, 5th floor

The Women and Public Policy Program is hosting a breakfast with HKS Academic Dean, Iris Bohnet, women faculty from across Harvard, students, staff and other members of our community. All are welcome!

11:40am – 1:00pm, WAPPP Seminar: Women’s Health and Health System Reform: The Route to Transformational Development?

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

Health system reform in the United States and globally holds the promise of improving the health and well-being of women and a major opportunity for development, particularlyin the developing world. Dr. Johnson will explore the intersection of health system reform and the opportunities for transformational development through improvements in women’s health status, workforce development, and advancing women’s rights.

6:00 – 8:00pm, Film Screening: Iron Jawed Angels

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

“Iron Jawed Angels” tells the remarkable and little-known story of a group of passionate and dynamic young women who put their lives on the line to fight for American women’s right to vote.

http://hvrd.me/AuzJ1b

To learn more about even more events happening in your area, check out the International Women’s Day websiteLet us know if you find any other events in the Boston area to celebrate International Women’s Day, so that we can update this blog to help people stay connected and aware of how to get involved locally!

-Alyson R.

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 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

“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!

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

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