GCDC ModelUN Training Conference

Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) is the flagship program of UNA-NCA. GCDC works with students grades 6-12* in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and abroad to improve their public speaking, develop conflict management skills, and expand their understanding of global issues. Our successful approach to global education includes mentoring, professional development, curriculum, and events.

Students will discuss Human Rights of Refugees representing countries in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Students will be in double delegations (2 students representing 1 country) unless otherwise requested. The conference background guide and other preparation materials are available online under Unit 2 through the GCDC Schoology page. Students must have a basic understanding of the rules of procedure prior to November 16, though the conference will be designed to accommodate those who have never done Model UN before.

Groups may attend the Model UN Training Conference, Professional Development Workshop, or both. Groups must be registered with the GCDC Community, our year-round programming in order to attend. For more information on GCDC, please visit: http://bit.ly/GCDC_MUN 
When: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Where: Pan American Health Organization, 525 23rd St. NW, Washington, DC 20037
Cost: Fee details found here 

Register here

Stand Up For U.S. Support of UNESCO

United States full engagement in UNESCO is essential for world progress in Science, Education, and Cultural Heritage.  Unfortunately, this past week President Trump, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson announced that the US will withdraw from its membership in UNESCO on December 31st, 2018.

Ambassador Haley stated their criticism of UNESCO's historic preservation designation and purported labeling of the City of Hebron and its historic religious monuments as being "Palestinian", and therefore an insult to Israel.  Yet "Palestine" was listed in parentheses at the end of the designation, simply as the place of the Site, not intending to indicate the monument was Palestinian. The sites in fact are fully recognized by UNESCO as being monuments of great significance throughout history to Jews, Christians and Muslim alike

The very nature of this concern to recognize the interests and common heritage of monuments is the reason for one of the key UNESCO missions, the preservation of Historic Cultural monuments throughout the world.  UNESCO works to foster and preserve progress through international cooperation for education, science, culture and communication among and for all of its 197 member nations. Even the US receives significant tourism income from visitors to the US sites designated as historic by UNESCO.

The full engagement of the US is central to the well-being of UNESCO’s mission and work to bring about cooperation and mutual understanding among all nations on these most central issues. UNESCO is the one UN agency that brings the leaders of education and science of all nations together to improve the excellence of education at all levels. It has been at the forefront of the dramatic progress in bringing a majority of children into school with opportunities for higher level education and science. One of UNESCO’s valuable science activities is the provision of a global warning system for threats from tsunamis and other natural weather phenomena. Such human development and progress is dependent on such engagement and underpin the world's ability to reduce poverty and inequity, to foster respect among diverse cultural, ethnic and religious groups, which lead to good governance, peace, health and gender equity.

Likewise, UNESCO's responsibility and mission to designate and protect Cultural Heritage sites is paramount today in view of the destruction by ISIS, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, which are destroying monuments with offense to all religions and cultures.

When there are differences of opinion or misunderstanding among member states' perspectives surrounding the plans by UNESCO, those differences must be addressed through civilized dialogue, which are the very touchstones of UNESCO's purpose, mission and process.  The decision by the US Administration, and now also Israel, to leave this unique forum only serves to undermine the opportunity for U.S. leadership on these important issues to help seal opportunity for human peace and security. Historically, the US along with Israel, supports the mission of UNESCO: "the historical devotion for all people to enjoy the full freedom of expression for the basis of democracy, development and human dignity." Standing on the sidelines will only distance the US from all 195 other members of UNESCO.  This stance will be more costly to the US standing in global affairs than the savings of its dues owed to UNESCO. 

In 2013, the 200 member chapters of the World Federation of UN Associations representing over 90 countries endorsed a resolution presented by UNA-NCA for the US to return to a full dues paying member in UNESCO.

It had withdrawn in 2011 because Palestine had been welcomed as a member by an overwhelming number of the country members.  Unfortunately, that resolution was not acted upon by the past Administration, nor by the US Congress. The Trump Administration’s decision to now fully withdraw from UNESCO membership will be seen by the rest of the world, and by a majority of US citizens, as a retreat from thoughtful participation in the values of global education, science, the environment, and cultural preservation.  

We urge all of our members to speak out and advocate to our Administration, and our leaders in Congress from all states and communities to reverse this decision and rejoin all nations to be devoted together for our common needs for UNESCO's support and mission.  

In June 2015, the UNA-NCA's Board of Directors adopted a resolution to support UNESCO which was presented and discussed at UNA-NCA's annual membership meeting. See resolution here
Gender Justice Project Conference: Moving Beyond Resistance

Nine Months Post-Inauguration: Moving Beyond Resistance. Creating an Action Plan for Gender Justice in the New Political Reality.

It has been nine months since the Inauguration. A new movement has been born, based largely on resistance. Resistance is powerful, and it has slowed down the progress of the Republican agenda. Yet resistance alone cannot take us where we want to go. For this movement to grow and flourish, we need a positive agenda, an action plan to move forward with progressive goals and ideas. 

The purpose of this conference is to call together activists, policy makers, lawyers, and law students to envision the next stage of the new movement for global gender justice.

Conference themes and topics will include:

  • Intersectionality and representative leadership. Centering women of color, lesbian and transgender women, religious minorities, immigrants, women living in poverty, and women living with disabilities in the conversation.
  • GET* Lightning Rounds. Examine the most pressing challenges of the new Administration, including the assault on immigrants, Muslims, working women, health care, and the LGBTQ community. (*Gender Equity Talks)
  • GET Huddles. Join with our speakers and like-minded people to explore opportunities for progressive change through law, policy, and activism.
  • Speed Networking. Learn about opportunities for activism and advocacy from local and national organizations.
  • Action Spotlights. Tools of progressive change, including story-telling and media strategies, political participation and running for office, and innovative legal services.

When: Friday, October 20, 2017
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM 

Where: UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
4340 Connecticut Avenue NW
5th Floor Moot Court Room
Washington, District of Columbia  20008

Contact: Professor Laurie Morin -  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Conference registration 

Registration to speak at Speed Networking

Conference Agenda 

Sponsored by the Gender Justice Project
The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Diplomatic Perspectives
Event presented on: Monday, September 25, 2017

Report by: Kathie Bolognese, supported by Jordan Hibbs, Alexander Sanson Gomez, and Mario Murcia, Members, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

On September 25, 2017, Diplomats from Latin America and Asia, and activists supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), found common perspectives and multiple forms of engagement in SDG implementation across a wide range of countries, both nationally and locally, in the public, NGO and private sectors, at a UN Association public forum on the Agenda 2030 Global Goals.

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) along with its Sustainable Development Committee in collaboration with the Georgetown International Relations Club hosted The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Diplomatic Perspectives.  The event took place at the Healey Family Student Center at Georgetown University and was livestreamed via Nexus Media. The program’s distinguished speakers featured diplomatic perspectives on the progress made and challenges faced by the countries of Afghanistan, Barbados, Costa Rica, Finland and Sweden in working to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Member states of the UN continue to use the SDGs, which include a universal set of goals, targets and indicators, to frame their policies over the next 13 years.

Professor Anthony Clark Arend, Senior Associate Dean from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, opened the program by reminding the audience members about the purpose of the UN Charter which was designed to prevent future wars and promote social progress. He also noted that the Charter’s preamble has been further re-invigorated by the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and more recently with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.

Following Professor Arend’s opening, Andrew Doll, UNA-NCA Programs and Membership Manager, and Thomas Liu, member of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee emphasized the occasion of the second anniversary of the SDGs, and the importance of the role of the UNA-NCA and its committees in being a driving on-the-ground-force in support of the Global Goals, by helping local residents and citizens better identify ways that these successes could be brought back to their communities.

Anthony Pipa, Senior Fellow for Global Economy and Development from The Brookings Institution, and former U.S. Special Coordinator for the Post-2015 Development Agenda for the U.S. Department of State, delivered a keynote speech: The SDGs in 2017: Where Are We Now?  Mr. Pipa observed that society has moved past the optimistic spirit of the previous U.S. administration, and the apex of global cooperation on development issues reflected in the adoption of the SDGs and the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Although the current U.S. administration has signaled its intention to withdraw from the Climate Agreement and place greater emphasis on national interests, Mr. Pipa said that it is clear from the UN General Assembly, from the Davos World Economic Forum Meetings, and through the Global Impact Investing Network's Annual 2017 Impact Investor Survey of several hundred financiers, that advancing the Sustainable Development Agenda is becoming an increasingly important theme, both domestically within the US and around the world. Indeed, it is  a major thematic framework for all stakeholders.

With 13 years left to achieve an ambitious agenda Mr. Pipa noted some troubling signs, and stressed that “exponential, not incremental, progress is needed.” For example, he pointed out that at current rates, extreme poverty will only decrease from 9% worldwide to 6% by 2030, and that this will not end extreme poverty - the moral center of the SDGs and key to its vision to “Leave No One Behind.”  There is also very limited embrace of the universality of the SDGs. Integration, he observed, is still more rhetoric than reality; most stakeholders are still siloed when they think of solutions.  Furthermore, the U.S. federal government is absent, though Mr.Pipa observed that other governmental entities in the US are increasingly engaged in the SDGs.  It’s a long game, however, with future elections and potential engagement opportunities ahead.

Panel 1 - Progress and Monitoring Achievement of the SDGs

The first panel discussion, on Progress and Monitoring Achievement of the SDGs, was moderated by Professor Mark Giordano, Director at the Georgetown Walsh School of Foreign Service, featuring Ambassador Selwin Charles Hart of Barbados and Ambassador Roman Macaya Hayes of Costa Rica.  Ambassador Hart continued the conversation initiated by Mr.Pipa, reporting that despite its small size, Barbados played a significant leadership role in advancing the 2030 Agenda and sustainability, in general, even when it was not popular to do so. He further shared his concern that the multilateral rules-based system which has worked well for the past 70 years, and provided clear roles for finance, trade and security issues, is now under threat. The need to ensure fairness and security in the conduct of global affairs, which is necessary for implementation of SDGs, was emphasized. In addition, the Ambassador noted that no one country can solve the problems before us, emphasizing that “global problems need global solutions.”  He emphasized the important role the U.S. played in achieving the Paris Climate Agreement and that U.S. leadership is key to making a difference in the world.

Ambassador Roman Macaya Hayes of Costa Rica centered his remarks on where Costa Rica is at today, how it has achieved its current status and what it ultimately still needs to accomplish in order to successfully achieve the targets set forth in the SDGs. Political turbulence in his country in the 1940’s led to the formation of an agreement by which the governing administration, opposition party and the Catholic Church provided social guarantees: a labor code, free education and a strong health care system. These institutions continue, and evolve, to this very day. Costa Rica was the first county to abolish its military and to fund health and education instead. Today, its primary exports are services and medical devices. Ambassador Macaya also highlighted the innovative approach of paying the private sector landowners for environmental services as an incentive to enter the conservation effort. These payments for environmental services made Costa Rica the first tropical nation to reverse deforestation, increasing forest coverage from 21% to 51% between 1986 and 2012. Ambassador Macaya also pointed to the highly renewable matrix for electricity generation. The county has generated 98-99% of its electricity  by alternative energy this year. Costa Rica plans to convene future stakeholder meetings and pursue an “all of country approach” to achieve its commitments to the SDGs

The successful use of soft power by small countries was another topic addressed by panelists.   Ambassador Hart noted that diplomacy is the only option for small countries who do not have strong military or economic options, and pointed out that small countries are the glue of the multilateral system. Ambassador Macaya stressed that size helps in modeling country performance for others. When a country can show something is possible or a new record is set, then others will be more likely to work on trying to achieve or break it.

When asked by Professor Giordano to reflect on lessons learned, Ambassador Hart noted that the priorities of Barbados are now clear: political leadership, embedding implementation and follow up in existing budgetary processes, and using social partnerships to advance local policy objectives. Ambassador Macaya similarly stressed the need for society buy-in and developing policies based on citizen aspiration in Costa Rica. Also, the need to be principled, credible and consistent in diplomacy.

Panel 2 - Continuing Challenges: Moving Toward Attainment of the SDGs

The second panel discussed Continuing Challenges: Moving Towards Attainment of the SDGs, and included diplomatic representatives from Finland, Afghanistan and Sweden. The panel conversation was moderated by Mr. A. Edward Elmendorf, Co-Chair of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Goals Task Force. 

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi from Finland reported on the country’s two-level approach to SDG implementation.  For the first approach, the government moved quickly to issue its plan for implementation in February 2017, which contained two focus areas: carbon neutrality and wise use of resources.  It identifies policy principles and forward thinking measures related to long-term action and transformation, policy coherence and global partnerships, as well as ownership and participation. The second line of approach is a unique way to involve all stakeholders through the National Commission on Sustainable Development to make sure all policy work has integrated the 2030 Agenda. The result was a vision: “The Finland we want by 2050 – Society’s commitment to sustainable development.” Its objectives may not be totally identical with the 17 Global Goals but are related to them, with an expert panel on the SDGs keeping a critical eye on implementation. Ambassador Kauppi said that gender equality is a key factor in the country’s achievements. The current prime minster maintains it as a top priority and contributes to UN campaigns such as “HeforShe.”  The ambassador also mentioned the joint Nordic contribution to promoting sustainable development, as well as work done in the EU.

Abdul Nafay Sana, Political Counselor from the Embassy of Afghanistan, spoke about the reconciliation and reconstruction process begun in 2001, at which point internal conflict had left the country unable to complete the majority of the MDGs. The country is  still in a phase of alignment with the SDGs.   Though it has made some progress by forming a high-level committee for the SDGs in 2017 (whose secretariat is housed in the Ministry of the Economy) and will start implementation in January 2018, Afghanistan continues to face daunting security and cultural challenges, alongside weak political institutions, compared to other countries.

One of the key challenges under the process of “nationalizing” and aligning the SDGs is the reliance on international assistance for virtually 90% of the country’s budget. There are also several problems associated with data collection and processing. Mr. Sana, however, highlighted some recent progress, including many newly educated Afghan citizens returning to lead institutions, and significant hope for a peace deal soon. As forty percent of the country’s students are now girls, education is considered a top priority and food programs are used to incentivize parents to send their children to school. As well, twenty-eight percent of the country’s Members of Parliament (MPs) are female, more than in the United States Congress.

Emma Nilsson, Counselor for Development in Trade and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden, stressed Sweden’s firm belief in a strong multi-lateral system with a positive agenda for change.  All Swedish government ministries oversee SDG implementation in their own areas and two ministers are responsible for coordination. The country has several focus areas: first, it aims to be one of the first fossil free developed nations with net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.  Second, it has a feminist government with a feminist foreign policy, both of which work through a lens of gender equality focused on resources, representation and the rights of women and girls.  Third, the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has also launched the Global Deal for decent work and inclusive growth that addresses challenges in the global labor market through enhanced social dialogue. Another priority is SDG14 which promotes sustainable oceans.  In addition, Sweden is the sixth largest donor of development aid and very engaged with UN reform efforts. Ms. Nilsson shared that, to date, the country has delivered on 49 of the indicators and 20% of its goals for the 2030 Agenda.

When asked by the moderator, Mr. Elmendorf, to talk about how their countries currently address the issue of immigrants and refugees in connection with the SDGs, Ambassador Kauppi noted that Finland is working to address this through its non-discrimination policies. Furthermore, Finland has a platform in place which actively works to ensure full inclusion of all of its people.  Mr. Sana indicated that the present Afghan constitution lists every ethnic group as a citizen, including all minorities; this contributes to elimination of possible polarization, sidelining or exclusion of any particular group of people.  For Sweden, inclusion is an issue in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. An opportunity and a challenge for Sweden will be to  integrate newly arrived immigrants.

In closing, Mr. Elmendorf and Mr. Patrick Realiza, Chair of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee, synthesized some themes and highlights from the rich presentations and conversations. It was apparent that all countries face challenges as they move from adoption of the SDGs at a very global level to the practical challenges of prioritizing targets and indicators from an enormous agenda. Yet, the dialogue at the event made clear that progress is being made, at widely different paces from country to country and also within countries. The range of stakeholders engaged in the SDGs is now much wider than it was at the comparable stage of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The presentations at the forum from both developed and developing countries show that the universality of Agenda 2030 and its movement away from the North-South framework of the MDGs is one of its strengths. The forum also showed the importance and value of moving the SDGs to local levels, especially in larger countries. Mr. Realiza encouraged all attendees present at the forum to help take on the shared work of successfully accomplishing the implementation of the SDGs in their respective local communities and beyond. Following the event, informal dialogue continued among attendees in the conference room and beyond.

An SDG Newsletter oriented to the USA is available and a valuable resource: SDG USA This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

UNA-NCA in the Spotlight!

UNA-NCA has recently been awarded with the following grants in recognition and support of its work:

  • The UN Federal Credit Unit awarded $1,000 for wining its Summer Membership Challenge encouraging members to take advantage of the unique benefits only available from a credit union that serves the UN community. Join UNFCU if you have not already!
  • UNA-USA awarded $750 as part of the Stand Up for Human Rights Campaign. Special appreciation to our Human Rights Committee leadership for working on the event proposal.  Learn more about the campaign here!   
  • The Rotary Foundation of Washington DC awarded UNA-NCA a $4,300 grant to enhance the professional development opportunities offered by its signature program Global Classrooms DC.


  • UNA-NCA’s DC for CEDAW Committee is partnering with the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Legislation Clinic to conduct research about the gender audit process and D.C. government operations and to implement an advocacy plan with supporting local organizations. Learn more about the Cities for CEDAW initiative
  • UNA-NCA is partnering with the Better World Campaign/UNA-USA to develop and pilot brand new curriculum for the UNA-USA Model UN app on the refugee crises in Syria and Yemen to be launched later this month. Stay tuned!   
  • UNA-NCA is partnering with the Culturfied Foundation, a Washington, DC not for profit organization dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding by promoting the richness, variety, and originality of every culture through arts, education, and special events. Our work together will add a cultural component to the Global Classrooms DC Model UN curriculum and build cultural competence.
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