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Join UNA-NCA’s Peace and Security Committee!
Interested in peace and security? Join UNA-NCA’s Peace and Security Committee, which promotes the core principles of the UN concerning the peace and security of the global community. Through a series of events and mixers the committee aims to learn more about UN peace initiatives and examine U.S. policies toward the UN's peace and security programs.

For more details please contact co-chairs Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret) at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and Richard Ponzio at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Please note, committees are open to UNA-NCA members only. Join today if you’re not already a member and be sure to select the National Capital Area as your chapter.
 
2017 Summer Session with Latin American Youth Center Highlights Important Leadership Skills
Global Classrooms DC had the opportunity to work with the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a local organization that serves over 4,000 youth and families in DC and Maryland’s Prince George’s Counties at four sites and dozens of service points through partner schools and organizations.

Throughout July, GCDC worked with the Center’s Latino Youth Leadership Council, a summer program focused on learning leadership skills that the high school participants can take with them, whether in university or life beyond school.

Over the course of three sessions in as many weeks, GCDC focused on learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and the impact of the United Nations, public speaking skills, and writing effective policy recommendations.

For the first lesson, the high schoolers showed an interest in the United Nations and how the international organization functions. One of the girls mentioned that she had always pictured the UN as a big building with only very important people sitting around a table making decisions. Instead, they learned about examples of how kids their age, inspired by the SDGs, were making changes in their communities around the world, not just in Latin America. With this context, the participants had an in-depth and thought-provoking conversation about peace and violence, and how to accomplish Goal #16 on Peace and Justice.

The second session gave the kids an opportunity to practice good public speaking skills. After warming up by pretending to sell random objects around the room, the high schoolers broke down what made effective speeches and could keep their audience engaged. They even used these skills by reading a speech from Malala Yousafzai in small group work. While some students had difficulty in grasping concepts and with the pronunciation of certain words in English, the youth became more confident practicing their English and actually applying the skills the entire group had been talking about.

The favorite part of the lesson was when students were read a statement, decided whether to agree, disagree or remain neutral about it, and debate their position with everyone else. The high schoolers were excellent at creating arguments and trying to convince their opposite groups. The students’ skills were put to the test and they were able to speak passionately on issues that they have strong opinions about.

Finally, the last session had the students write a letter to their Congressperson, describing the issue they care about the most about and what solutions they think could work. The students picked topics related to quality education, immigration reform, peace and justice, and gender equality. Even they had to write in English, the kids persevered and turned out beautifully written, personal letters that combined their own stories and their passion to change their community. The students were engaged and were proud to share their letters with the entire group.

All in all, the collaboration with the Latin American Youth Center proved to be a success, both in the Global Classrooms DC team having the opportunity to work in the DC community, and in the high school participants learning new skills.
 
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                   Written by Nicole Bohannon, Global Classrooms DC
                                                  Photo Credit: LAYC


 
UNA-NCA President's Statement: UN Ambassador Haley Sets Forth Important Priorities as the US Assumes Security Council Presidency

In her address to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nicki Haley, set forth three priorities that she will advance when the US assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council in April.

First, she stated that human rights should be essential to the Security Council's peace and security mission. She contended that the abuse of human rights is often the cause of conflict, that it should be addressed up front by the Security Council, and that the United States should be a strong advocate of human rights as "the moral conscience of the world." We agree. Hopefully when Ambassador Haley visits the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June, she will learn that US leadership at the HRC is essential in shaping the agenda and addressing human rights abuses around the world.

Second, Ambassador Haley called for a comprehensive review of UN Peacekeeping missions. Hopefully she will draw upon the many studies that have been done and recognize the value to US national security of UN peacekeepers protecting civilians and keeping the peace in conflict areas, often in failed and failing states that are breeding grounds for terrorism, where the US would not want to send boots on the ground. It is timely and appropriate to evaluate the specific mandate, need for, and performance of each peacekeeping mission, and to ensure that peacekeepers are well trained and accountable. UN peacekeeping can and should be a very cost-effective tool in the US defense arsenal that the Administration seeks to strengthen.

Finally, Ambassador Haley reaffirmed her commitment and that of the Secretary General to seek reforms at the UN that will make it more effective in realizing the vision of the San Francisco Charter. We agree that US constructive leadership, working closely with like-minded allies and the new Secretary General, is essential to an effective United Nations.

- Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired) 
 
UNA-NCA Facilitates Peacebuilding Conversation with Cypriot Youth
On July 10, 2017, UNA-NCA partnered with Cyprus Friendship Program to engage 26 Cypriot teenagers in a discussion about the UN and peacebuilding at the United Nations Foundation. Half of the youth were from the North, and half were from the South. The conversation centered around youth engagement in the United Nations. UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley spoke to the teens about the United Nations Association as well as the United Nations Association of Cyprus, urging the students to get involved in their local chapter as a means for change. Mr. Moseley also engaged the groups in a short conversation about the Global Goals, asking them which goals they felt most connected to.

The group participated in an activity to learn more about how perceptions and stereotypes contribute to certain attitudes toward countries and international issues. This was followed by a wonderful discussion with Robert Skinner, Director of the United Nations Information Center. Mr. Skinner talked extensively about the most recent attempt at peace negotiations in Cyprus, and the history and future of the UN in Cyprus.

The students came back to the Global Goals later in the program with an in depth discussion on Goal 4, Quality Education. The group discussed how the goal applied to Cyprus and how a focus on the goal could contribute to peace in Cyprus. The teens were very passionate about education and wanting to invest in the history of Cyprus by educating students about the common Cypriot history everyone in the room shared.

All of the students were extremely enthusiastic and passionate about being actors of change in their country. Overall the group highlighted that they didn’t want the international community to give up on Cyprus.

Thank you to the Cyprus Friendship Program, Robb Skinner of the UN Information Center, and the United Nations Foundation for working with us on this amazing and enriching event.
 
UNA-NCA President's Statement: US Leadership at the United Nations Has Never Been More Important

The first member of President Trump's foreign policy team to be confirmed by the Senate was UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. In her confirmation hearing, then Governor Haley testified: "I don't think we need to pull money out of the UN....we don't believe in slash and burn... We need to look at each and every mission, see what we are doing and how to make it more effective... As I've said, you can never win with slash and burn techniques." Since then Ambassador Haley has been the most effective foreign policy spokesperson in the Trump Administration, vigorously taking on Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, North Korean missile and nuclear mischief, and Syrian crimes against humanity. She has articulated a US foreign policy most consistent with bipartisan US foreign policy since World War II, thereby showing how US leadership at the United Nations is an essential tool in the US national security arsenal.

The unfortunate unfolding of the Trump Administration's proposed deep budget cuts in the funding of the State Department, the United Nations, and Foreign Assistance and its apparent intent to withdraw from UN agencies with which it disagrees represents a stark departure from the post-World War II global order designed, created, and advanced by both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Yes, for a time, the US sought to withhold funding from the UN, but funding was quickly restored after 9/11 when we woke up and realized that we were no longer an oasis, immune from the forces of evil and good in the global community. We recognized that the challenges we face in the 21st century are inherently global and need a global response-- terrorism, pandemics, an interconnected global economy, fair trade, climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation, among others.

While 193 nations may disagree on issues from time to time, for the most part the United Nations has been a strong voice in support of US values and policies from confronting nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, addressing war crimes and the use of chemical weapons in Syria, providing humanitarian assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters, advocating for human rights, working for peace and security in conflict areas and creating sustainable and democratic institutions in failed and failing states. Like any complex organization, including the US Congress and the federal bureaucracy, the United Nations faces bureaucratic challenges and conflicting visions. History teaches that the UN is at its best when there is strong US leadership. When the only former UN ambassador to serve as US president, George H. W. Bush, sought UN support to confront Iraqi's invasion of Kuwait, the UN provided critical support for the Gulf war. As the only nation to send an Ambassador to New York for UN management and reform, the US has been successful in advocating for much needed reforms in the UN budget and personnel management, especially when we work behind the scene in quiet diplomacy with like-minded nations. Much more needs to be done. And we are fortunate that the UN has a Secretary General, who is greatly respected and fully committed to UN reform.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres' recent initiative to strengthen the accountability and effectiveness of UN Peacekeepers demonstrates not only his commitment to address abuses and neglect in need of reform but, perhaps more importantly, it serves a critical US national security objective and fundamental tenet of President Trump's foreign policy. The president has made clear that fighting global terrorism is a top priority, but he also has made clear the the United States cannot be the policeman of the world intervening in conflict situations around the globe and engaging in nation building. Yet, failing states are breeding grounds for terrorist cells. Strengthening UN Peacekeeping, with strong US and NATO support, would provide a cost-effective response to the proliferation of conflicts in areas where the US has no intention of deploying boots on the ground. The president understands that the American public would not support redeploying American troops to places like Somalia and Lebanon. We have done that before with disastrous consequences.

President Trump has proposed substantial increases in the defense budget, and so perhaps it is time for the Defense Department to assume the responsibility for funding UN Peacekeepers. With the US Security Council veto and with the US meeting its substantial peacekeeping funding commitments, the US must approve all peacekeeping missions and can exercise oversight over their implementation. This would be a cost effective tool in advancing the new administration's national security objectives.

In a broader sense, the new Secretary General's commitment to UN reform and the new President's foreign policy reforms offer the potential of a marriage of convenience.

We at UNA-NCA have to make the case. There are many examples of how US leadership at the UN serves the Administration's foreign policy objectives. US active engagement at the UN Human Rights Council has lessened the obsessive focus on Israel and raised important issues about human rights in North Korea, Syria, Sri Lanka, and China. This is effective US diplomatic leadership at work shaping the UN agenda. Member states that may resent US lecturing on human rights will listen when the United Nations speaks for the global community. Many in Congress understand this, and with strong advocacy, Congress will maintain the funding levels for diplomacy, the United Nations and bilateral and multilateral foreign assistance. US leadership at the UN has never been more important. We encourage our members and supporters to take action now!

-Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Retired)
President, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

Please see document  prepared by the Better World Campaign and UNA-USA explaining the potential impacts of the Administration's proposed cuts on UN peacekeeping, humanitarian, and global health programs.
 
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