Despite the dreary weather on Monday, UNA-GB launched a fantastic week of programming. Staff and interns took a field trip to Harvard Business School where the 2012 Model UN Summer Institute’s first session kicked off, with nearly 50 6th-12th grade students from around Boston and the country coming together for an intensive week-long program focused on global diplomacy and leadership.
Across the quad, in Spangler Hall, UNA-GB staff, Advisory Council members, and Board officers gathered for our annual Advisory Council luncheon. This year we were pleased and honored to welcome Ambassador Robert Pelletreau and his wife Pamela as our special guests.
Pelletreau has impressive and timely expertise in the Middle East, having served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs as well as Ambassador to Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain throughout his 35 year career in the Foreign Service. Upon leaving government, he joined the international law firm of Afridi & Angell , and in 2002, along with his wife, became Co-Director, of Search for Common Ground in the Middle East. Mrs. Pelletreau was an active volunteer of UNA in New York, and since moving to the Cape this year, has become more involved with UNA-GB.
The luncheon opened with an energizing introduction from UNA-GB President Richard Golob, who spoke enthusiastically about the Advisory Council and their role as ambassadors to the Boston community. Council Member Peter Smith echoed Richard’s comments, describing the crucial role of the Advisory Council as not only spokespeople for UNA-GB overall, but also specifically as avid supporters of our Model UN global education programming.
Ambassador Pelletreau spoke next, giving all those gathered at the table a clear, organized and engaging update on the current status of political changes in the Middle East, while also bringing in charming personal anecdotes; he opened with a story about playing squash with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. During his remarks, he shared 4 general observations on political uprisings in the last year or so:
- globalization of communications
- the key role of a slumped global economy
- a shift in demographics due to a huge youth population
- and the rise and influence of Islamist parties.
Pelletreau stated that a combination of these factors was the catalyst for the uprisings, pointing out that in an increasingly globalized world where news access is everywhere and stories can spread like wildfire, it is harder to cut your citizens off from the rest of the world. Ambassador Pelletreau gave his take on what the future may look like in this region, and in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria specifically, saying that while much is unclear, fighting is likely to continue. As a final wrap up to his informed commentary, Pelletreau shared another anecdote, this time about Henry Kissinger’s legendary trip to China in 1971, during which Premier Zhou was asked about the implications of the French Revolution – he replied that it was “too early to say”. All those in attendance laughed at the irony, and with understanding that issues as complicated as those currently faced in the Arab world will indeed take time.
After a brief time of Q&A, Executive Director Lena Granberg updated the Council on UNA-GB programming so far this year, particularly highlighting the successes of our Model UN program, now serving almost 3,000 6th-12th grade students in the greater Boston area. (To catch up on recent UNA-GB events or upcoming programs visit the website). Ann Kirby, who works on educational development at UNA-GB, gave a brief introduction to the Model UN Summer Institute, which teaches 6th-12th graders the values of debate, teamwork, and public speaking while engaging in simulated negotiations on real-world global challenges.
The Advisory Council members then had a chance to sit in on one of the Institute’s sessions to experience the impact of this transformative college-preparatory program firsthand. The students were finishing up an exercise through which they established a working definition of human rights for use in their simulations. This was followed up by an engaging and entertaining public speaking exercise where they had to go around the circle, state their name, the names of those before them, and an activity/like they have. It provided much fodder for discussion about the importance of active listening and ways to remember key facts when speaking.
It was great to see various aspects of UNA-GB come together in one place, and to see our mission come alive through the Summer Institute. Teens from the Greater Boston Area as well as active community members, professionals, and former ambassadors were all laughing and learning together. And no amount of torrential rain could dampen the inspiration felt around both the work of the UN and UNA-GB’s work to empower the next generation of global leaders that afternoon!
Wondering how you can join in? Check out how to get involved on our website!
Our work here at UNA-GB is rooted in the founding principles of the United Nations – universal peace, international security, and respect for human rights, to name a few, and as we enter 2012, we are filled with hope and anticipation in this season of new beginnings. Last year, we kicked off 2011 by sharing the top UN Resolutions of the previous year as a connection to the new year and theme of resolution making, and we thought it was a tradition worth continuing! This is our New Year’s Resolution, or Resolution 2012!
It is our sincere wish that this coming year be filled with stories of health, equality, and opportunities for positive development, and we will continue to do all that we can to inform, inspire and mobilize the greater Boston community around critical global issues.
Check out our list of key 2011 UN resolutions below and post in the comments section what issues you hope to see the UN address in 2012!
Resolution 1999 (adopted July 13, 2011) welcomed the membership of the newly formed South Sudan.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan and became its own country. It was then admitted into the UN as the 193rd member state. In support of South Sudan’s formation, the UN announced its new mission, the UNMISS UN Mission in Southern Sudan that will specifically focus on the development of the new country. The Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.
Resolution 2009 (adopted Sept 16, 2011) created a United Nations Support Mission in Libya.
One of the more violent clashes and uprisings amid the Arab Spring this year was in Libya, and with an unanimous vote to adopt resolution 2009, the Security Council affirmed a leadership role for the United Nations in international efforts to support a nationally led process aimed at building a democratic, independent and united Libya. The Council decided that the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) would be to assist Libyan national efforts to restore public security, promote the rule of law, foster inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, and embark on constitution-making and electoral processes. Learn more here.
UNESCO approved a Resolution allowing the member state bid from Palestine at the end of October, sparking a wide controversy that led to the removal of US support for UNESCO.
On Monday, October 31, the full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) membership voted 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions to accept the Palestinian Authority as a full member of UNESCO. Due to an existing U.S. law dating back to the 1990s, the U.S. is prohibited from funding any UN entity that gives full membership to Palestine. UNESCO’s vote led the U.S. to cut all funding to UNESCO, which amounts to approximately 22% of the total UNESCO budget. Discussions are on-going as to how to navigate the impact of the US’ defunding, and sets the stage for continued debate, as Palestine promises to renew its bid for membership in the General Assembly and Security Council.
Resolution 66/137 (adopted December 19, 2011) affirmed the power and necessity of human rights education (something we at UNA-GB are DEEPLY committed to!).
On a busy day in the General Assembly, with over 60 resolutions being adopted, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training was passed. This declaration was originally adopted by the Human Rights Council by resolution 16/1 earlier this year in March. Reaffirming the call of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, which was held in Vienna, for all States and institutions to include human rights, humanitarian law, democracy and rule of law in the curricula of all learning institutions, the Declaration says that everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Declaration specifies not simply what one should learn about human rights, but also how (“through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners”) and also why (“for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others”).
The adoption of this new Declaration also offers educators and policy makers an occasion to reassess national policies and priorities in the light of international standards. It affirms the belief that human rights education is not only the entitlement of every human being, but also a necessity for responsible global citizenship. Since building a strong network of global citizens is our mission at UNA-GB, we are very excited about this Resolution! One of our flagship programs is our human rights education program for youth, our comprehensive Model UN program, serving more than 3,000 6th-12th graders in the Boston area each year. We look forward to strengthening ties with other human rights educators as this resolution gains momentum.
Resolution 1987 (adopted June 17, 2011) recommended the appointment of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his second term in office.
Adopted by acclamation at a closed meeting, the Council recommended to the General Assembly that Mr. Ban Ki-moon be appointed for a second term of office from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2016. Ban’s election was uncontested and nations had approved of his decision immediately. His appointment was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly.
Ki-moon is the world body’s eighth secretary-general and the first from Asia since U Thant, from what is now Myanmar, who served from 1961 to 1971. Upon his election, Ban indicated that ending violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur and tackling climate change were among his top priorities. There has been progress on both fronts, including a recent vote to create an independent state in southern Sudan and evolving negotiated frameworks to address global warming, though significant challenges remain.
Ban has also found himself and the United Nations at the forefront of many crises that few anticipated in 2006. The past year, especially, has been tumultuous given the massive earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan; the wave of popular unrest in the Arab world; and the continued fallout from the ongoing global economic crisis. As Ki-moon’s 2nd term begins today, one major agenda item is sustaining the effects of the Arab Spring.
And the National Action Plan (NAP) for Women, Peace and Security, complete with an accompanying fact sheet and Executive Order, was introduced by Secretary Hilary Clinton on December 15, 2011, in support of the landmark Resolution 1325.
The NAP is the outcome of a process that began over a decade ago with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which encouraged the UN and its member states to integrate a gender perspective in all aspects of peace and security. In October 2004, a subsequent Security Council Presidential Statement called on the “development of national action plans” to further implement Resolution 1325. Before the US’s NAP, thirty-two other countries had already released their own NAPs.
The document makes the compelling case for why it is in U.S. national interest to integrate a gender-based perspective in foreign policy decisionmaking. In countries where women and girls have equal rights and opportunities, there is a strong correlation with economic prosperity and peace. The NAP also includes a workplan for all relevant U.S. government agencies, as well as the creation of an interagency review mechanism to track progress through 2015. This development is particularly exciting, as we have a strong commitment to gender equity issues and have a robust Women’s Forum program throughout the year. We hope to focus more on these issues in 2012, so stay tuned!
This list is only a sampling of the hundreds of resolutions adopted in 2011. See the full list of Resolutions from the 65th and 66th General Assembly sessions and the Security Council. As both the President of the GA and SG Ban Ki-moon have expressed, 2011 was a year of remarkable advances and improvements, and emphasizes the importance of a global governing body like the UN, which is able to respond to natural disasters, support democracy, and uphold the universal principles of human rights and peace-building.
What Resolution would YOU write in 2012 if you had the chance??
Thank you for all you’ve done to support our work this year and we look forward to all that 2012 has in store! We’ll do our best to keep you informed and engaged as the UN’s 2012 agenda unfolds.
Happy New Year from the UNA-GB team –Lena, Kaitlin, Jennifer, Rebecca, Ann and our awesome interns!