New Year, New Opportunities: Engage with UNA-NCA

Looking for ways in the New Year to build connections, engage on topics you care about, and develop as a professional? Please join UNA-NCA’s VC of Membership and Volunteer Engagement Kristen Hecht on Tuesday, February 9 from 12-12:30 pm ET for a 30-minute webinar on current and upcoming opportunities to engage on UN topics at the local and national levels. Following the webinar, you’re invited to join us for an optional ~15 minute meet & greet, where you’ll hear personal stories from UNA-NCA members and connect with others on the call. This webinar is open to members and nonmembers alike who are interested in learning more about UNA-NCA and ways to (re)engage in the chapter.

This event will feature a special panel of individuals sharing their Member Journeys!

Kristen Hecht, UNA-NCA Vice Chair of Membership and Volunteer Engagement, Board of Directors
Destiny Clements, Program Associate, American Academy of Diplomacy
Lydia Daniels, International Consultant
Radia Mbengue, Research Consultant, Femme Africa Solidarité
Ian Sloan, Paralegal and Project Manager, Jackson & Associates Law Firm, LLC

When: Tuesday, February 9, 12:00 - 12:45 pm ET
Where: Online
Cost: Free, but registration is required

Register Here!
GCDC Educator Professional Development Workshop Provides Tools for Model UN Success

On February 3, 2021, Best Delegate, a global Model United Nations education organization, graciously hosted the Global Classrooms DC Professional Development (PD) workshop virtually. The PD workshop, hosted yearly by GCDC, serves as an opportunity for educators to gain a deeper understanding of Model UN to set their students up for success during simulations. With support from the Rotary Club Foundation of Washington DC, the one hour session welcomed middle and high school teachers from private, public charter, and public schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from schools across the nation in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Minnesota. 

Using Best Delegate's How to Prepare for Virtual Model UN Conferences on Zoom Guide, the session focused on the 10 steps to prepare students for virtual Model UN simulations and the upcoming GCDC Spring 2021 Model UN Conference. Model UN serves as an opportunity for students to be curious about the world around them and learn about UN actions and global issues. In simulations, students are assigned countries to represent and advocate for on different issues – just like in the real United Nations. The activity is also one of the most effective ways to teach students critical skills, including writing, negotiation, researching, and public speaking. As a member of the GCDC Community, the year-round program, educators gain access to a full school year of 8-unit curriculum on UN policies, procedures, and global affairs to prepare the students. 

For the purpose of the workshop, participants were presented with the topic of “Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” in an UN Office for Outer Space Affairs committee. The session began with a breakdown of how to best approach researching the committee topic using the information included in a background guide. In Model UN, this guide serves as an introduction to the issue that delegates are debating. The background guide oftentimes includes key topic areas that students will focus on during committee.

Since students serve as delegates for one country during a Model UN simulation, the session next covered best practices in researching country profiles, as well as brainstorming resolutions for the topic. In breakout rooms, educators were encouraged to come up with their own solutions on the topic presented in the beginning of the session, as well as how they would share information about the research process with their students. During the discussion, one participant noted that it is important for students to have a model for a successful international solution, such as the sustainable development goals, so that they are able to analyze why those particular solutions have been effective.

The Model UN Professional Development session concluded with an overview of how to prepare students for success in a Model UN committee. Using the information outlined about the research process, educators were presented with best practices for opening speeches and creating resolutions. Through the one hour workshop, both new and seasoned Model UN coaches felt confident that they would be able to use the information learned from the session to help their students prepare for success in future Model UN conferences.

Missed the workshop? Watch the full video here.

UNA-NCA Welcomes the Biden-Harris Administration and US Re-Engagement on the Global Stage

The UNA-NCA Board of Directors and staff congratulate and extend a warm welcome to President Biden and Vice President Harris for their active and prompt engagement to serve the needs of all Americans through domestic and foreign policy initiative supported by outstanding appointments to the Cabinet and senior policy teams.  

Those of us in the UNA-USA family are committed to engaging our members and communities towards the renewal of close working relations with our congressional representatives for positive and cooperative support of the United Nations. At this time of crisis with COVID-19 raging across the U.S.-greatly impacting our economy and families' wellbeing, we see how important it is for the U.S. to be playing a leadership role along with other countries through multilateral means. Our opportunity to find cooperative economic ties for intertwined global and national economic growth, to join in the Covax collaborative for vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution to countries, both rich and poor, and to find new approaches to lower the temperature of major threats to peace and security, are essential for our own well-being across America. 

The immediate actions by the Biden-Harris Administration in just its first week have demonstrated a stark difference to their predecessor’s stance on multilateral affairs.  From rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, to continue active membership and support of the World Health Organization, and launching an active and immediate effort to give asylum to and process qualified immigrants from all countries including people of Islamic faith, among many more actions, demonstrate to our citizens and those around the world that the US is committed to reengage as a leader and partner on the global stage. 

This week has been instrumental in forming the Biden-Harris Administration’s foreign policy and national security teams.  On Tuesday, Anthony Blinken was confirmed as Secretary of State, bringing a lifetime of excellence in foreign affairs, and yesterday was the confirmation hearing for the US Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Linda Thomas-Greenfield who also brings extensive diplomatic experience in Africa and other parts of the world.  Also former US Ambassador to the UN and former National Security Advisor to President Obama, Susan Rice, has joined the new Administration as head of the Domestic Policy Council. In addition, former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, will lead the US Agency for International Development, and serve on the White House's National Security Council. 

These appointments reflect the recognition by the new Administration that our domestic and foreign policy issues are intertwined, demonstrating the need for highly qualified public officials who think constructively about US common needs along with the interests for peoples’ well-being everywhere.

The UNA-NCA agenda for 2021 for full support and positive engagement of the US in the international community, including its fair share of financial support, is fully aligned with the new Administration’s priorities. Our programs will emphasize the development and growth of our youth and young professionals in understanding foreign affairs and the UN and building skills to become agents of change.  UNA-NCA has and will continue to accomplish this through its Global Classrooms DC, Graduate Fellows, and Young Professionals programs, all of which have been adapted to effective virtual platforms. These programs continue their partnership collaborations with several UN agencies, State Department, NGOs as well as area schools and universities.

Our advocacy programing is helping engage and train new advocates to join in concert with our officers, board members, and advisory council members to be effective "ambassadors" to our Congressional delegations and to our community at large about the critical needs for UN support and partnership with the US. Increased contributions are made on relevant topics through the Coffee Chat Series as well as briefing memos and blog contributions. 

Our ongoing programs in Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, Human Rights, and International Law reflect the interlinked themes of the 2030 Agenda embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This monumental agenda was in large part possible due to the leadership of the Obama Administration, and we will continue to carry on that legacy with the involvement and commitment of the new Biden-Harris Administration. 

UNA-NCA will, through a year-long research project on all 17 SDGs, map the status and challenges for our DMV jurisdiction. This project will help us understand and interrelate the common local and global goal needs and relationships. We will also continue to stress in our advocacy outreach to Congress and to our state and local officials the opportunity and benefits of the integrated multisector approach needed to make immediate improvements in our citizens’ lives locally and to realize the actions and investments needed for sustainable changes.

In welcoming the new Biden-Harris Administration we want to continue to reach out to our members, leaders, young professionals, and students to say that your interests and devotion to a sound and constructive US-UN engagement are the guiding principles behind our programs and initiatives which are increasingly aimed at engaging our colleagues across gender, race, ethnicity, origins, and generations. Our programming will remain virtual as long as needed to ensure the good health and safety of everyone. Please continue to communicate and participate with us regularly. 

Gender Equity Advocacy Opportunities: CEDAW, Congress, and More

UNA-NCA is committed to championing gender equity globally and locally. Take action today through any of the opportunities listed below. 

Safe from the Start Act 

Encourage your Member of Congress to support the Safe from the Start Act, introduced in both the House and the Senate. For more information about each bill, review this one-pager. 
Armed conflict, natural disasters and climate change often have the greatestimpact on the poorest countries, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, including women and girls. Global estimates indicate that nearly 70 million people are currently displaced around the world, and we areexperiencing the largest refugee crisis in recorded history. On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted women and girls worldwide, putting those who are displaced at unique risk of harm. Conditions in refugee camps and other displacement settings often exposewomen and girls to greater security risks due to issues such as inadequate lighting, lack of gender-appropriate sanitation facilities, and needing to travel long distances to access firewood, water or other basic commodities. Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian personnel has also become a well-recognized concern, prompting action by the international community. COVID-19 has exacerbated these GBV protection risks, particularly as already stretched humanitarian resources are spent on stemming the health crisis. An estimated 31 million additional cases of GBV could occur in six months ofthe COVID-19 lockdown and another 15 million more for each additional threemonths. Despite the acute impacts that emergencies have on women and girls, they are often excluded from leadership and decision-making roles when it comes to humanitarian response. Without their voices included in the design and implementation of humanitarian programs, the United States and others that generously provide humanitarian relief risk ignoring or exacerbating theneeds of women and girls in our response efforts. 

Safe from the Start is an existing program implemented by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) toprevent gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian emergencies and protectsurvivors or those at risk. This program supports necessary training, toolkits, personnel, and accountability measures to improve the ability of those whowork in emergencies to adequately prevent and respond to GBV from the onset of the crisis. These types of programs are critically needed: nearly 1 in 5 womenreport experiencing sexual violence during a humanitarian emergency and therisks of domestic/intimate partner violence, child marriage, and human trafficking all increase during crises.Despite this, only .12% of allhumanitarian funding goes to address GBV.

This bill will ensure: 
  • Humanitarian response organizations are better equipped to prevent GBV and supportsurvivors through training, guidelines, and the deployment of specialized experts to close gaps that make women and girls vulnerable to violence and abuse; 
  • Efforts are coordinated for greater efficiency and accountability of response andrecovery efforts, and that humanitarian relief activities mitigate GBV risks from the very beginning;
  • Girls and women who experience GBV during crises receive appropriate care and that survivors  and those vulnerable to GBV have access to empowerment opportunities that will help them recover from or prevent GBV; and
  • Local actors, including women's groups and others from the impacted communities, have funding, support, and skills to help provide necessary care and lead efforts within their communities to prevent and respond to GBV. 
Encourage your Member of Congress to support the Safe from the Start Act, introduced in both the House and the Senate, or thank them for their support. You can find their sponsorship status and social media handles below. 


Take advantage of this digital advocacy toolkit from our partners at CARE to craft effective messages on social media to thank your Member of Congress or encourage them to support the Safe from the Start Act. 

DC for CEDAW: Gender Equity Coalition  

Tell the DC Council that it's time to champion gender equity at home. Join our mailing list to recieve updates about forthcoming sign-on letters and legislative meetings here

At a time when achieving gender equality will take an estimated 100 years at our pre-COVID rate of progress, we need local solutions that advance women’s equal rights and opportunities now more than ever. COVID-19 has further threatened the physical safety and stability of women and girls; in DC, increasing rates of domestic violence and high unemployment have forced an unprecedented number of women and children into homelessness.

DC for CEDAW is a campaign to adopt the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into city legislation. Through legislation that requires DC government agencies to report gender analysis data and develop a citywide plan to ensure parity for women and girls in all arenas, we move one step closer to enshrining true equality. 
Mayors from San Francisco and Los Angeles reported that these measures “materially improved the lives of women” in their municipalities and “fostered more transparent and accountable governance.” 

For more information, view our DC for CEDAW one-pager here. To learn more about the Cities for CEDAW national campaign, click here
Tell the DC Council that it's time to champion gender equity at home. Join our mailing list to recieve updates about forthcoming sign-on letters and legislative meetings here

Advocacy Workshop + Congressional Meetings


Join UNA-NCA and refugee resettlement firm Lutheran Social Services (LSS) on Thursday, April 15th for a dynamic Advocacy Workshop. 

From 1:00-2:30pm ET, experienced advocates and storytellers will offer a hands-on guide to preparing for a virtual Congressional meeting, maximizing your impact as an advocate, and driving successful policy change at the federal or municipal level. 

This workshop is crafted for anyone interested in advancing human rights and sustainable development through partnerships with policymakers, whether or not you have any experience participating in Congressional advocacy. 

Participants will receive a brand new Advocacy Action Guide with strategies for effective advocacy as well as a briefing on the latest updates in the landscape of refugee and migrant rights. The workshop will also include simulated meetings, where participants can practice putting these tips and tricks to use in a dynamic, friendly environment. 

This is an ideal opportunity: 
  • If you have never participated in a virtual Congressional meeting and would like to join in asking legislators to support human rights and other critical pieces of legislation. 
  • If you are interested in connecting with fellow Advocates. 
  • If you are eager to deepen your understanding of the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals, and immigration policy
  • If you are seeking to build confidence and technique as an advocate. 

Register here

Ready to take it one step further? Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) will be hosting Congressional meetings following our workshop. Find more details and information on how to register below. 


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