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Equal in Dignity and Rights: The UN, The US, and Anti-Racism

“You in the United Nations are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. I am asking you to help me get justice.” 

-Philonise Floyd

Our nation has been at protest for far beyond the nearly 100 days that have passed since George Floyd's murder; for generations, our neighbors, community members, friends, and loved ones have struggled for justice, support, and their inherent right to life. 
 
Recent violence and heartbreak in Kenosha, Wisconsin is a tragic reminder that our work to advance universal human rights and dignity is far from over.


UNA-NCA's Advocacy Team has produced a new report on the UN, the US, and Anti-Racism, documenting the UN's role in the global fight against racism. This report offers a foundation from which we can thoughtfully deliberate the future we hope to collaboratively forge.


Access the report here

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Report Excerpt: 
"Through its Resolutions, Declarations, and Conventions, the UN has long cultivated a landscape of diverse legal instruments in support of its anti-racism agenda. The movement sparked in Minneapolis presents a critical opportunity for the United Nations to propel its anti-racism crusade forward.

Over twenty senior leaders in the UN, including the head of the World Health Organization and Executive-Director of UNAIDS, resoundingly declared that “now is the time to move from words to deeds.” Their statement calls on the United Nations to lead by example with “an honest assessment” of how it upholds the UN Charter. The current movement of reckoning also presents Member States with a critical opportunity to evaluate their compliance to international law and submit comprehensive reviews to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

Systemic racism must be acknowledged at all levels – international, national, and local. International instruments for reform instituted by the United Nations can in turn serve as critical frameworks and mechanisms through which local stakeholders can advocate for anti-racist legislation. The UN’s arsenal of legal precedent against racism in any form can guide U.S. attempts to reform racist policies and practices, representing a toolkit for a new, equitable future."

 
UNA-NCA Coffee Chat: Women Building Peace



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Join UNA-NCA for the kick-off of our Fall Coffee Chat series on September 22nd from 1:00-2:00pm EST with our Coffee Chat on Women Building Peace.

Senior leaders and local advocates will join us from around the world in an exploration of how women are driving peace and security agendas on the journey to forge lasting peace. 

Register here

Featuring: 

Moderator Kimberly Weichel, CEO of Weichel & Associates
Kim is a passionate advocate for women and a global gender, leadership, cross cultural and development specialist with over 25 years’ experience directing international projects and organizations.  Kim has a diverse background working with UN agencies,  as well as with Canadian and US Government agencies, international educational organizations, NGO’s and consulting firms.  Kim is on the Advisory Council of UNA-NCA, was President of UNA San Francisco, and participates in the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. She has taught several courses on the UN at American University alongside Ambassador Don Bliss.  Kim is a published author of several books, as well as an educator, facilitator and trainer, mentor to young women, and advisor to NGO's.

Victoria Nyanjura, Founder of Women in Action for Women 
Victoria Nyanjura was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army when she was 14 years old. After 8 years in captivity, she returned with two children from her forced marriage to a rebel commander. Since returning, she has emerged as a prominent women’s activist in Uganda’s transitional justice deliberations, receiving numerous international awards (including the 2019 Ginetta Sagan Prize) for her work coordinating efforts of 500+ war-affected women to provide inputs into the Ugandan government’s post-conflict policy and program. Her work has resulted in the Parliament of Uganda unanimously passing a resolution to address the plight of women survivors of northern Uganda’s conflicts, and the adoption of a National Transitional Justice Policy that considers the unique gender justice needs of war-affected women and their children born out of conflict sexual violence. Victoria is the founder of Women in Action for Women, a Ugandan organization that improves the lives of women and youth through vocational skills training, business skills enhancement, and supports community governance structures. Victoria is a founding member of the Leadership Council for the Global Survivor Network, an international group of survivor leaders who desire and pursue safe communities through justice systems that protect the most vulnerable. Victoria holds a Masters in Global Affairs with a concentration in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She currently works as a Global Partnerships Consultant at International Justice Mission.

Ursala Knudsen-Latta, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
Ursala is the Legislative Representative for Peacebuilding at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Ursala lobbies Congress to change U.S. foreign policy from an overly militarized and security-driven approach to one that prevents, mitigates, and transforms violent conflict and builds sustainable peace. Ursala received her B.A. in religions and theology from the University of Manchester (U.K.), where her research focused on religion and conflict in South Asia. She worked with the Anchorage Interfaith Council, and the North American Interfaith Network before graduating with a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University. Prior to joining FCNL, Ursala was the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Saferworld’s Washington, D.C. office, where she advocated for U.S. foreign policy driven by the needs and interests of conflict-affected communities. She has facilitated advocacy strategy development workshops in Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, and Somalia with Saferworld’s country teams and partners. Ursala chaired the U.S. Civil Society Working Group for Women, Peace and Security for two terms and has previously worked at the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Fatema Ahmadi, USIP Afghanistan 
Fatema Ahmadi works at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) as the Peace Process Program Officer for a high-profile initiative with a wide range of beneficiaries from high-level Afghan women, journalists, and researchers, and stakeholders in the peace process in Afghanistan to the youth, communities’ influencers. Fatema leads different projects on peacebuilding including Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding (SNAP), which prepares young people from different backgrounds to initiate non-violent responses toward violent actions. Fatema also manages key partnerships focused on peace journalism and district-level social peace. Fatema's work brings women into the peacebuilding movement at a vital time in Afghanistan's negotiations with the Taliban. Fatema previously spearheaded the development of a national trafficking referral form and co-authored the first national TiP training manual for Afghanistan.  Prior to her work in anti-trafficking, Fatema earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology in Tehran. During that time, she worked with refugee children through the Child Labor Association and later with the UNHCR Afghan Refugee Health Insurance project. 







 
A New Way to Move Ahead from COVID-19

While the immediate crises of health and human services, and the devastating effect of COVID-19, must be at the top of the global agenda, it is time now to think ahead, to contemplate further crises that might unexpectedly befall the world community and what can we do now. To this end we have prepared a draft speech for a Head of State of a UN Member State, in the traditional but now “virtual” General Debate of the UN General Assembly beginning on September 22, 2020.


Your Excellencies,

Today I "zoom" before you on this, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Who could have imagined we would have the electronic wherewithal and need to hold this Assembly virtually? Seventy-five years ago, our Charter was so beautifully written and wide enough to accommodate new Member States and in language sufficiently broad to allow for our Organization to address both known and, even more importantly, then unknown global challenges. From the original 51 Member States in 1945, we are 193, both small and large, rich, and poor, with diverse political structures, economies, ethnicities, and cultural orientations. We have encouraged our Member States and the wider community of business, civil society, and philanthropy to address new topics such as human settlements, technology, gender, and many more.  

We need now to look over the horizon and act together, beyond Covid-19, to another subject of common cause and future threat to all humanity. It is the interaction of human, animal, and environmental health. Let me explain why this new topic merits our attention and offer a simple and doable course of action for this General Assembly.

Let me first give you a sense my country.   Our land borders several countries much larger than ourselves. We are a mix of varied ethnic and racial groups, with different religions and cultural orientations, and many are under 21 years of age. Sadly, education at all levels is short of where we need and want to be, in part because we do not have the teachers and professional educators needed. But we have been improving and we expect to continue to do so.  

We are neither close to the bottom nor top of national economies Our domestic economy is dependent on livestock and tourism, complemented by modest mineral resources, which we export.  We have borrowed from international financial institutions, as well as some private lenders. According to the major financial institutions we have been prudent in managing our economy.

Given an agrarian history and traditions, our people are sensitized to both animal and human health and have come to appreciate that they are inter-dependent. Over time, with changes in weather, land, and water access, we have become even more attuned to such factors affecting our daily lives. 

My government and most importantly our people have recognized the need to better prepare to deal with viruses, bacteria, and parasites.  For us, a future epidemic might well come from a viral transfer from an animal, probably a bat, to an intermediary specie, and then cross over to humans.   As a result, some years ago we invited UN technical agencies, including WHO, FAO, UNEP, to help us understand  the challenges and prepare a strategy to deal with the interface of human, animal, and environmental health, often referred to as One Health. With their assistance  we developed a strategy which includes strengthening intersectoral coordination at national and district levels; enhancing  surveillance and risk analysis systems for prioritized zoonotic diseases; improving  the effectiveness of our communication tools and networks; strengthening coordinated joint field outbreak investigation and response; and investing in human, animal, and wildlife professionals.

We have not been immune from the COVID-19 threat, but we have been able to limit the number of positive COVID-19 cases to double digits, and the number of deaths to a single digit. When WHO first communicated with us and others about the virus, we responded with a major public awareness campaign, quickly instituted surveillance measures at entry points, undertook widescale testing and active contact tracing. This is our situation and story – a positive one.  

To date globally COVID-19 has resulted in over 25 million cases and 840,000 deaths.  The World Economic Forum COVID-19 Action Platform estimates that fighting COVID-19 costs 500 times as much as pandemic prevention measures. Some project that the global economy could lose up to $21.8 trillion in 2020 alone.  Damage done to social cohesion, the poor, and indeed, the effect on each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, will be incalculable.  

We must collectively take the next step to come to grips with the interface between human and animal health and our environment. Building on past Special Sessions which dealt with Pandemic Preparedness and Antimicrobial Resistance my country’s delegation plans to put forward a new agenda item, one which we entitle “One Health: Addressing the Interaction of Human, Animal, and Environmental Health.” We envision an initial, exploratory discussion during this Assembly, and adoption of a resolution calling upon the Secretary-General to convene an expert group to review and derive lessons from prior actions on One Health, and to propose a strategy for adoption by the United Nations and its partner agencies.  The strategy would foresee actions at the level of individual countries and by the global community. With UN agency engagement and endorsement, the Strategy would be presented to a Special Session. We hope other countries will join us in this initiative.
 
Charity in the Age of a Pandemic
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At a time when everyone around the world is grappling with unprecedented changes and challenges in their lives, one of the most fundamental values that continue to make positive changes in our lives is generosity. The inevitable quality of giving continues bringing individuals of all backgrounds regardless of their languages, ethnicities, races, faiths, opinions together across the globe. We have witnessed various shades of generosity as they are implemented as a means of standing together in unity. Whether that’s through educating ourselves on social issues, raising awareness about humanitarian causes, supporting communities through monetary contributions or reaching out to a neighbor next door or across the continents, every act of goodwill has touched people’s lives. In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Together.

In 2012, September 5th was designated the “International Day of Charity” by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.” In this spirit, on September 9th, UNA-NCA and the Rumi Forum would like to invite you to a virtual panel highlighting how individual and/or collective initiatives keep us connected.

Featuring:

  • Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
  • Jerome Tennille, Manager, Social Impact & Volunteerism, Marriott International
  • Kim R. Ford, President & CEO, Martha`s Table

When: Wednesday, September 9, 6:00-7:00pm
Where: Online
Cost: Free, but registration is required

Register Here
 
Panel #3: Protecting and Advancing Data Privacy as We Battle Global Pandemics

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The final panel will be dedicated to the issue of health data privacy.

 

The participants will discuss topics such as: What are the strengths and weaknesses of existing data protection and privacy laws? How can the international community alleviate privacy concerns posed by COVID-19 contact-tracing technology?

 

Panelists:

 
When: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM EDT
Where: Zoom
Cost: Free

Register here 

 
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