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07 June 2019

2019 Board of Directors Election Slate

Members: Vote Today!
Officers (Two-year term)
President: Stephen F. Moseley
VP Communications: Sultana Ali
VP Development: Tim Barner
VP Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiens
VP Membership & Vol Engagement: Kristen Hecht
VP Programs: Tom Bradley
VP for Strategy & Operations: Lauren B. Terrell
VP Young Professional: Laura Blyler

Directors-At-Large (Three-year term)
Lori Kaplan
Student Representative (One-year term)
Oona Nelson

President: Stephen F. Moseley


Stephen F. Moseley is the current President of the UNA-NCA Board of Directors, elected for the first Term in 2017. Previously he served as President Elect for one year, and prior thereto he served as Chair of the UNA-NCA Advisory Council, and member of UNA-NCA’s Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. He has also served as  Board Member at Large, and as a member of UNA-NCA’s Committees for Advocacy and Development, and as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Task Force. Mr. Moseley is a Board member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, an Emeritus Board Member of the Society for International Development, Washington Chapter, where he served twice as President. Mr. Moseley served as President and CEO of the Academy for Educational Development from 1987 to 2010.

Mr. Moseley has been a member of the Board of InterAction; a member of the International Governing Board of the Society for International Development; served as Chairman of the Board of the Basic Education Coalition; and served on the UNESCO Working Committee in Paris for Education for All from 2002 to 2010. Mr. Moseley holds an Honorary Doctorate and a BA degree from the University of Hartford. 


I believe our vision together must be to support the UNA-NCA’s three key objectives: 1) to increase public understanding and support of the United Nations; 2) to encourage constructive US leadership to strengthen the UN; and 3) to prepare present and future leaders to work for a better world, both globally and locally. To further this mission we reach out to new audiences in every generation to include more citizens groups, NGO’s, universities, faith-based organizations, foundations and businesses. We must address the needs for peacebuilding and violence prevention, human rights, equity for all people without discrimination; promote the full range of social, economic and environmental development goals for 2016 to 2030; promote the Paris accords  climate change agreement, even without the support of the current US President; promote public understanding about the UN’s work in many other critical areas, including international peacekeeping, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, rule of law, and humanitarian support of refugees , migrants and displaced people. 

Vice President of Communications: Sultana Ali


An accredited public relations professional with 15+ years experience, Sultana F. Ali is communications manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, a global nonprofit, where she produces Pew’s podcast “After the Fact,” facilitates media training, and provides strategic communications support. Sultana was previously the PR Director for Liquidity Services and provided client support— including strategic communications and media relations—for Ketchum and a boutique agency in Florida. A longtime UNA-USA volunteer and youth mentor, Sultana was the first elected YP representative to its national board of directors and helped form its
young professionals group. She’s a former Orlando chapter president and chaired UNA-NCA’s Human Rights Committee. Sultana has a Master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington University and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. She is former president of PRSA-NCC, the largest chapter of U.S. PR professionals, and adjunct faculty at Georgetown University.


While many topics attract members, they all require strong communications. As VP of communications, I would plan to audit tools and tactics, review best practices, and shape an innovative communications strategy. I’d also work with programs and chapter leadership to advance strategic goals, ensure message alignment, and deepen stakeholder engagement.

Vice President Development: Tim Barner 


Tim Barner retired in 2017 after 15 years as a development professional with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest. He traveled from Maine to Georgia to interpret FCNL’s program to supporters.  Tim moved to DC in 1992 to direct the World Federalist Assn and became an active member of UNA-USA and its Council of Organizations.  Tim and his wife Kathy Guthrie have lived in their rapidly changing Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1994.


I enjoy the challenge of fundraising teamwork with fellow Board members as we secure a firm base for current and future UNA-NCA programs.

Support for the United Nations and its dedicated global staff has been an important part of my life, from UN studies at Princeton and Pitt to work with the peace and security committee of UNA-NCA.  I feel privileged to continue serving on the UNA-NCA board.  

Vice President of Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiens


Scott Steins worked for the Secretary of State's Office for the Director of Foreign Assistance, where he was the Deputy Program Director for FACTS (Foreign Assistance Coordination and Tracking System).  FACTS tracks budget and performance for all AID to other countries, be it from USAID, DoD, DoS, OGAC, DoA, DoE, Peace Corps, and others. He has a strong interest and background in international affairs, and has volunteered with the United Nations Association for nearly a decade.

Having been the second longest staff member managing this project, now grown into many service modules, he manages the e300 funding, the SA&A, hosting, and developer hiring, and most recently they are negotiating with their host for a Continuity of Operations (COOP) site.  His history with the Government is long . . . nearly 28 years.  He entered directly out of graduate school in England to work as a health care administrator negotiating contracts between DoD and the Cambridge Health Authority.  Then he moved back to the US to work for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in health policy, a true introduction to accounting data systems.

Then he went to the Congressional Commission on Servicemembers and Veterans Transition, to the Hill for House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and then to the White House on Health Reform. His last fifteen years have been as a diplomat with USAID and Department of State.  He has enhanced his original education in health administration and legal policy --  with a masters in IT project management - passing his PMP, and having earned a masters in Government IT from DoD’s National Defense University, home of the War College. Personally, he likes all things associated with water: boating, fishing, swimming, beaches, cruises.  He also raises Afghan Hounds and shows them, as well as renovate investment property, and restore vintage sports cars (e.g. 996 C2, 308 GTSi and DMC-12).


Having served as Treasurer for several institutions including the Department of Veterans Affairs Credit Union, The Shriners, and in the past for UNA-NCA – I welcome the opportunity to further the improvements and maintain the integrity in non-profit accounting and cost control. The challenges which face UNA-NCA are multi-faceted: development and donations, synergizing with partners in our community, efficient expense management, and effective program performance tracking. All these may sound boring to those who deliver the wonderful programs of UNA-NCA, but I see them as the financial lifeblood supplying sustained energy into our shared program successes. I look forward to working with all of you: fellow board members, UNA-NCA leadership and staff, our like-minded community partners, as well as our intelligent engaged members.

Vice President of Membership: Kristen Hecht


Kristen Hecht joined UNA-USA in 2009 through its Council of Organizations, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that share the common goals of making the American public more knowledgeable about global issues and strengthening the U.S.– UN relationship. Since then, she has been an active member of the National Capital Area chapter (UNA-NCA) by participating in its DC for CEDAW Committee, working in the UNA-NCA office as its Director of Membership and Programs, serving as a delegate to the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, and participating in multiple speaking engagements on behalf of the organization.

Kristen has a background in nonprofit and membership management, with experience in the areas of organizational governance, program management, event planning, and communications. She currently works as program director for the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, an organization that champions the educational and professional development of women. Prior to her position at the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, Kristen worked at several different membership organizations of varying sizes (UNA-NCA with 3,000 members, volunteers, and supporters; Quota International with 6,000 members; and the American Physical Therapy Association with over 100,000 members), where she managed membership recruitment and retention efforts, governing bodies, program committees, and volunteers.


My vision for UNA-NCA is a membership that is diverse, informed, and engaged. One of UNA-NCA’s unique assets is its multi-generational membership and programs, with over half of its members identifying as a student or young professional under the age of 40. There are opportunities to engage at all ages and career levels: Global Classrooms for students grades 5-12; the Graduate Fellows and Young Professionals Programs for college students and young professionals; Career Dinners for those wanting to gain advice on starting or transitioning their career; and program committees on issue-related topics for individuals at all levels. As Vice President of Membership and Volunteer Engagement, I will actively work to ensure UNA-NCA recruits members from all backgrounds, that all members are welcomed and aware of the many program activities that UNA-NCA offers, and that members are engaged in the mission of the organization.

Vice President of Programs: Thomas Bradley 


Thomas Bradley served on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors and Executive Committee 2009-2017. He has been chair of the Virginia Area of the organization (2009-2013), vice president for development (2013-2017), vice chair of the Legacy Circle (2017 to present), and an assistant
director of the Graduate Fellows Program (2018 to present). He has been involved in UNA-NCA’s Global Classrooms DC program most years 2006 to present. He served 30 years on active duty in the US Air Force, with leadership experience in fighter aircraft operations, operation planning, academic instruction, international affairs, and foreign liaison. He has been executive director and CEO of a non-profit educational association and has been a contractor-consultant to the US Department of Defense. He earned a master’s degree in peace operations in 2018 from the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, and earned earlier degrees from Auburn University and the University of Tennessee.


Our programs achieve UNA-NCA’s vision, mission, and goals by partnering with the board, committee chairs, staff, and volunteers to: harmonize event programming with the strategic plan; produce, evaluate, and enhance high-quality programs; use communications best practices to increase awareness of programs; identify new opportunities; and develop strategic partnerships.

Vice President of Governance: Lauren B. Terrell


Lauren B. Terrell serves as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) board affairs and compliance advisor. In her role, she provides guidance and coordination on best practices in nonprofit board governance. She also leads the organization’s compliance program and various fundraising events, including online giving.

Terrell began her career with IFES as an executive assistant, providing organizational support to the executive office and taking on a wide range of responsibilities including, event management and logistical and fundraising support to the chief executive officer, chief operating officer and executive vice president.

Terrell holds a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics, with a concentration in political theory and law, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from George Mason University. She is a member of BoardSource and serves as a board member with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and with her homeowner’s association.


A great deal of work has already been done by UNA-NCA and the current Vice President of Strategy and Operations in developing and implementing a strategic plan. My goal is to continue to build upon the work already underway. Given the changing external environment, I think it is also critical that we re-assess and re-realign identified priorities (as needed) and consider new priorities that address the new realities of that environment.

Vice President of Young Professionals: Laura Byler


Laura Blyler became involved with UNA-NCA in 2011 as a volunteer at the annual Global Classrooms Model UN Conference. After a few years of supporting GCDC, Laura joined the Young Professionals Board of Directors in 2014 as Director of Development. She currently serves as the Vice President for Young Professionals and is seeking a second term in 2019.

Laura has been working in the nonprofit sector for ten years focusing on fellowship program management, event planning, communications, and strategic planning. She was most recently the Fellowships Alumni Manager at the Social Science Research Council, where she developed and implemented engagement strategies to build a network of SSRC's 18,000 fellowship recipients. Prior to that, she was a Program Manager at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she oversaw the network of AAUW's fellowships and grants program. She also coordinated AAUW's global initiatives, developing programs for members and supporting AAUW's representatives to the United Nations. In addition to her volunteer work with UNA-NCA, Laura volunteers with The Spitfire Club, a local girls’ literacy empowerment program. Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from American University.


I am honored to be nominated for a second term to serve as Vice President for Young Professionals. If elected to a second term, I plan to work with my colleagues on the Board of Directors to strengthen our membership and fundraising strategies to recruit and retain talented young professionals in UNA-NCA.

Director at Large: Lori Kaplan


From 1979 to 2018 Lori worked at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a multi-service youth and family center for immigrant and refugee youth who reside in the DC metropolitan area.  She served as CEO for 30 years.  She has been involved in many local, regional and national issues that impact the lives of refugees and immigrants in the area of immigration, health, employment and has served as a policy advocate to regional mayors and county executives.  While at the LAYC she was the founder of three public charter schools designed to offer opportunity and re-engagement support to young people between the ages of 16-24 who have dropped out of traditional public school settings.  During that time, with a team of experts, she was also one of the founders of a bilingual Pre-K through 5th bilingual Montessori Spanish immersion charter school.  


For 40 years Lori worked in the national capital area with young people from all over the world. She worked with refugees forced out of their countries due to war, political oppression, poverty and famine. She worked with immigrants who have come to our region searching for better social, educational and economic opportunities.  Many of the immigrant families are refugees fleeing political oppression but due to country specific US foreign policy decisions they are not recognized as refugees. This has recently worsened due to current US Central American policy. To address current and future global issues it is of critical importance that students understand their world well beyond their neighborhoods and communities. The UNA-NCA plays a critical education and advocacy role introducing students to global issues including women’s issues, migration and the environment.  Lori is committed to working with the UN-NCA to continue and expand its critically important work in the region.

Director at Large: Jill Christianson


Jill Christianson builds strong international connections by forging relationships, practice and policy to ensure quality public education worldwide.  At the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, Jill’s guides the international relations work.  Gender justice is prominent in her intersectional and multinational approach, such as in advocacy with women educators at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In a multi-year project to curb School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Kenya and other African nations, she partners with the UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) and Education International.  This project has led to instrumental changes in the attitudes and practices of women and men educators.  Jill has participated in UN meetings on migration, education, and children.  She holds degrees in Intercultural Communication and in Multicultural Education.  As a strong ally of the United Nations Association and the UNA-NCA, Jill’s leadership is evidenced through several conferences and events.
Within the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, we have a responsibility to promote sound United States engagement in the United Nations agencies and the full payment of UN dues.  I will advance the organization’s strong, positive message about US participation in the United Nations.

Director at Large: Bailey Dinman


Bailey is a senior in the Honors College at the University of Maryland pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Government and Politics with a concentration in International Relations. Bailey is double minoring in International Development and Conflict Management, and Public Leadership. She has completed multiple student fellowships on campus, and studied abroad in Paris last spring. 

In 2016, Bailey served as the UNA-USA Membership Intern at the UN Foundation, beginning her involvement in the organization. Following her experience, Bailey worked to revamp the UNA chapter at the University of Maryland, serving as chapter President. Since June of 2018, Bailey has served as the Student Representative on UNA-NCA's Board of Directors and looks forward to continuing her involvement with
the organization. 

Bailey is currently interning with the United Nations Information Center. She has held
previous internships at Amnesty International and Freedom House.


As a member at large on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors, I hope to build upon my experience serving as the Student Representative by maintaining a strong relationship with fellow board members, and an active presence within the chapter at large. Further, I hope to continue to build relationships with local student leaders, and offer continued support to the incoming Student Representative. I hope to contribute my unique opinions as a young professional and a young woman during board meetings and discussions, and ensure that there is younger perspective to governance conversations. 

Director at Large: Rajesh Gupta


Rajesh is a veteran in the IT industry, having served as President of DMI’s IoT & Analytics Division (formerly Lochbridge acquired by DMI in May 2017), Global Head & Industry GM of Automotive Sector at CSC and Head & GM of Client Services at Infosys. He has driven exponential client growth by leveraging underlying advanced technologies, such as data science, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, cryptography and IoT in the context of clients’ environment. He also served as the Deputy Director of Defence R&D for the Indian Ministry of Defence. Over the years, Rajesh has gained valuable experience as a global business leader in business transformation, P&L management, strategy, business development, and corporate social responsibility. He has been instrumental in pivoting the companies towards a strategic foundation and building a strong partner eco-system. He has, and continues to be, a driving force in strategic, relationship, entrepreneurial, content and operational leadership.

He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and a post-graduate in Management from Birla Institute of Management Technology. He holds a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from the National Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree in Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi.


UNA-NCA is a not-for-profit organization that has been at the forefront to improve the collective wisdom at United Nations by working with the decision makers in the UN as well as the US for important humankind issues like nuclear non-proliferation, global health, conflict resolution, dignity in living for all across the globe, etc. There is a lot which can be accomplished in all these areas by selfless contributions to benefit society and humankind. With my experiences in both government and corporate world and a strong focus on technologies, I believe that we can help bring the much desired change in today’s world through continuous innovation and incubation of new ideas. I will dedicate my efforts to work with the UNA-NCA team and the partner eco-system for the sustainable development and to advocate and reach for the young professionals to help accomplish the noble mission of the organization.

Director at Large: Brian Heilman


Brian C. Heilman is an advisor to non-profit organizations, foundations and families in the Washington region for investment policy and allocation.  He is an advocate for the principles on which the UN was founded: the Sustainable Development Goals, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.

Brian is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and member since 1998 of the CFA Society of Washington, where he previously served on the External Relations Committee.  He holds an MBA in Business Administration from the Anderson School at UCLA and BA, Biology, also from the University of California.

Brian is a member of the Society for International Development, and a co-author of research regarding  the causative agent of South American Trypanosomiasis, T. Cruzi. His son and daughter attended District of Columbia schools, and he has attended Model United Nations sessions in Washington. Brian has lived on three continents, and resided in Tokyo, Japan, for four years.   


Global change demands coordinated and swift action to achieve a sustainable future.  My vision is to achieve new alliances to advance the UN and capital community toward realization of a world where opportunity exists for all earth’s inhabitants, built on peace, security, and justice, the bedrock of the United Nations.

Director at Large: Ambassador (ret.) Keith Harper


Ambassador (ret.) Keith M. Harper is a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. From 2014 to 2017, he served as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Harper currently also serves as a
Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. And the American Bar Association has appointed him as Special Advisor to the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative.

Throughout his legal career, Harper has represented Indian tribes and individual Indians. He served as Class Counsel representing a class of 500,000 individual Indians in the landmark trust funds lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar, which settled for $3.4 billion in 2009. Harper served as a Chair for Native American policy in the 2008 Obama For America presidential campaign and then on President Obama’s transition team. He was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 2010. He has taught Federal Indian Law as an adjunct professor at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and American University Washington College of Law. Harper began service as an At-Large member of the Democratic National Committee in October 2017.

Harper was selected as one of the 500 best lawyers in America (LawDragon500) and one of the fifty most influential minority lawyers (National Law Journal). He graduated from University of
California, Berkeley and received his J.D. from New York University School of Law. After graduation, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.


The United Nations is the extant manifestation of a simple proposition that an international community united in purpose and objective is essential for greater stability, security and prosperity for all.  I would join UNA-NCA to advocate for the multilateral system and its objectives while at the same time addressing some of the United Nation’s imperfections.  In addition, it is necessary in a world where human rights and rule of law are under assault at home and abroad, that we unite in support of these key principles.

Director at Large: Iqbal Unus


Dr. Iqbal J. Unus is a trustee,  since 1989, of Amana Mutual Funds Trust, the leading mutual fund operating with Islamic principles. He has focused his  professional career on the evolving Muslim presence in  America, gaining distinctive insight into its growth. He has recently retired from International  Institute of Islamic Thought, is a fellow at Alwaleed Center  for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, chairs the Board of newly established The Islamic Seminary of America, and has served one term on UNA-NCA Board. He has served as secretary general of Islamic Society of North America, where now he is Board member. He has published several articles in Islamic Horizons magazine, a chapter in The Muslims' Place in the American Public Square, and two children’s books. He has also abridged Apostasy in Islam: An Historical and Scriptural Analysis, edited Muslim American Life: Reflections and Perspectives, and written two short books, Moses on Leadership and They Desire to Serve.


It is imperative that the citizens of the United States constructively engage with the United Nations and its system of cooperation and collaboration across national boundaries. Such engagement fosters a truer understanding of global citizenship, and subsequently develops within them a genuine concern for all peoples of the world. By educating individuals about their power to bring about change through the UN system, we will be better prepared for the challenges and open to the possibilities that emerge within our global community. Ever-increasing globalization demands a response. To that end, we must facilitate education in global citizenship. I seek to further the work of UNA-NCA by extending it to communities of citizens and immigrants not reached effectively.

Director at Large: Melissa Wolfe


Melissa Wolfe chairs UNA-NCA’s Governance Committee. She lends expertise and counsel on governance best practices to UNA-NCA and most notably led the process to develop UNA-NCA’s current strategic plan and 2019 business plan.  Melissa is United Way Worldwide’s Director of Governance.  As part of the Executive Office team, she is responsible for governance strategies for the global network and she manages the work of United Way’s Worldwide and U.S.A. National Boards.  She also provides technical assistance to United Way’s members and international partners in 41 countries and territories.  Melissa is a National Association of Corporate Directors Governance Fellow and was recognized as one of 24 America’s Leaders of Change by the National Urban Fellows. She is also a past recipient of UNA-NCA’s Evelyn Falkowski Service Award for advancing the mission of the United Nations and for strengthening UNA-NCA as an organization.


The United Nations charter remains as relevant today as it did in 1945.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development invites all of us from around the world to be a part of truly global solutions. As a member of the UNA-NCA board, I am honored and privileged to contribute to this work and I look forward to advancing our organization’s mission in the next few years.  

Student Representative: Oona Nelson


Oona Nelson is a junior International Business Major concentrating in emerging nations and Spanish with a minor in political science at Howard University. In Spring 2019, she interned at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Human Resources where she worked in Student Programs, planning and coordinating events for the Unpaid Interns. Previously, she collaborated with Miss Black Ambassador D.C. 2018, Candace Johnson, on an event co-sponsored by her campaign and the United States Department of State, to increase the awareness and involvement of young African-Americans in careers in international affairs.

Oona joined the United Nations Association as a freshman in 2017, when it was first chartered on Howard University’s campus. From then to now, she has been actively involved with planning and facilitating events. Now, she acts as the President of her Chapter for the 2019-2020 school year.


As Student Representative to the Board of Directors of the National Capital Area, Oona intends to grow the collaboration between chapters and increase membership retention to campus and advocacy events. She also intends to increase the amount of diversity and inclusion within the Chapters to promote innovation in ideas and representation for all. While promoting the 17 sustainable goals, through advocacy work, fundraising and event planning.

14 May 2019

Local to Global Engagement through Model UN: 15th Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference

On Friday April 26, 2019, around 400 students, 70 educators, 50 volunteers, and 40 guests gathered at the U.S. Department of State and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the 15th Annual Spring19Conf-1UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model United Nations Conference, the culiminating event for GCDC. 

The conference welcomed 5th to 12th grade students from 27 schools and groups from not only the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area but also as far as Lebanon. Throughout the intense one-day conference, student delegates debated possible solutions to important international issues from the perspectives of their countries. They acted as diplomats advocating for their country's position on five topics across five different committees:

  • Ending Modern Slavery (International Organization for Migration)
  • Creating Youth Employment Opportunities (International Labour Conference, which is part of the International Labour Organization)
  • Promoting Women in Peace and Security (UN Development Program)
  • Developing Better Responses to Natural Disasters (UN Environmental Programme)
  • Crisis of Democratic Republic of Congo (UN Security Council)

The conference was opened by Paula Boland, the Executive Director of UNA-NCA, and Stephen F. Moseley, the President of UNA-NCA. Both expressed appreciation to the International Organization Affair Bureau at the State Department for the long standing partnership collaboration and inclredible support. Public Affairs Director, Mark Schlachter, remarked that this program continues to be the single largest student event the Department holds each year.

The Keynote Speaker for 15th Annual GCDC Spring Model UN Conference was Vivian Lowery Derryck (right), the founder and the president Emerita of the Bridges Institute. Spring19Conf-2Ms. Derryck has focused on promoting sustainable development in education, political participation, conflict resolution, leadership development, and women's leadership in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. She shared her incredible journey from her time in Africa and her passion for empowering women and girls through education. She encouraged the students at the conference to align their skills with their passion, and continue to engage in global issues and the work of the United Nations.

Lastly, Fatemeh Naghavinia, the 2019 Global Classrooms DC Secretary-General, emphasized on importance of raising youths' voice to change the world and officially opened the conference.

As soon as the ceremonies concluded, students head to their different committee rooms and began their morning sessions. Meanwhile, educators and guests gathered in the Delegates Lounge for the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland greeted the guests and and shared this year's program highlights and thanked this year's conference sponsors and partners. Special thanks Spring19Conf-7to UN Federal Credit Union, O'Melveny & Meyers Law Firm, AIRSCHOTT, the National Education Association, the Griffis Family, and all those who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program for their generous support!

In addition, GCDC partnered with a number of international organizations as sponsors of conference topics. For the 2018-2019 school year, GCDC partnered with the International Organization for Migration to sponsor a full curriculum unit and conference topic to the issue of migration and modern slavery. GCDC also partnered with the International Labour Organization to sponsor a unit, and the conference delegates talked about youth employment issues. Last but not least, GCDC worked with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) to cover the topic of promoting women in peace and security. 

After the Open House, educators and guests had the opportunity to visit different committee rooms and witness the students in action.

In the afternoon, the student delegates primarily continued working with others to draft resolutions which outlined their ideas and solutions to solve their committees' respective challenges. Many Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, who are college students and professionals with extensive Model UN experience, shared their positive feedback on students; the Chairs and Vice-Chairs were extremely impressed by the students' preparation and the quality of their performance.

Spring19Conf-8At the same time period in the afternoon, the educators had the opportunity to attend the Professional Development Workshop. Educators interacted with other teachers from different schools through innovative global education activities and shared their teaching experience regarding international and global education.

During the closing ceremonies UNA-NCA Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon and Student Secretary-General Fatemeh Naghavinia announced the committee and position paper awards to recognize outstanding work done by participating students.

In its 15th year, the GCDC Model UN Conference continued to provide opportunities for primary and secondary school students to fully immerse in global education. Spring19Conf-6They are able to discuss some of the world's most pressing international issues with other student from diverse backgrounds, while learning from inspiring leaders and professionals in the field of foreign affairs. From this experience, students are able to effectively cultivate various skills, such as public speaking, negotiation, and writing.

Thank you again to all our speakers and a very special thank you to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and the Pan American Health Organization for the continued support throughout the years.

UNA-NCA also thanks the UN Federal Credit Union, O'Melveny & Meyers Law Firm, AIRSCHOTT, the National Education Association, the Griffis Family, and our Supoort a Delegate supporters. Thank you to Sabina Grenaderova for photographing the event. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – the GCDC Spring 2019 Model UN Conference would not have been possible without your support!


30 April 2019

2019 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards Criteria

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s (UNA-NCA) annual Human Rights Awards Reception commemorates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by presenting the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award, the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, the F. Allen Tex” Harris Diplomacy Award, and the Community Human Rights Award to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to human rights. We invite you to submit your nominations for the 2019 UNA-NCA Human RightsAwards.  Nominations can be submitted here.

UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award

Louis B. Sohn (1914 – 2006) was a longtime scholar of international law,an advocate of international institutions, author, and activist. He participated in the United Nations’ founding at the 1945 San Francisco conference; campaigned for the acceptance of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a legally binding document, rather than a statement of principles; and championed the UN General Assembly’s 1968 adoption of the two UN Human Rights Covenants. In 1997, UNA-NCA established the Louis B. Sohn Award to honor individuals whose human rights work has exemplified that of Dr. Sohn.

The Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1)    Advocated respect for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights treaties andinstruments;
2)     Championed the effective role of the UN as well as regional organizations in the promotion and protection of humanrights;
3)   Advocated respect for human rights as a priority in US foreign and domestic policies;and
4)    Elevated the role of non-governmental organizations in promoting and protecting humanrights.

The UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award

Perdita Huston (1936-2001) was an American journalist and longtime women’s rights activist.  She was Director ofPublic Affairs for TIME Magazine in French-speaking countries; served as Peace Corps Director in Mali and Bulgaria; worked for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF); and consulted with UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA and UNICEF. She also authored several books about women’s empowerment, covering topics such as motherhood and the status of women in developing countries. From 2001-2010, UNA-NCA issued grants in Huston’s name to support the work of women around the world who were commitment to advancing equality for women and girls. In 2011, UNA-NCA inaugurated the Perdita Huston Award at its Human Rights Awards Reception to publicly recognize persons who continue Perdita’s legacy in promoting gender equality.
The Perdita Huston Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1)     Advocated to eliminate discrimination against women and girls around the world; and
2)    Made significant contributions for greater gender equality through increasing economic opportunity and development, promoting human rights, and supporting peace and security for women and girls.

The UNA-NCA F. Allen "Tex" Harris Diplomacy Award

F. Allen (‘Tex’) Harris enjoyed a 35-year U.S. Foreign Service career in varied and often dangerous posts.His work during the height of the 'dirty war' in Argentina during the 1970s, where he exposed the fate of 15,000 citizens clandestinely killed by the military junta, earned him the U.S. Department of State’s “Distinguished Honor Award.” He also helped push the transition from apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s. When Harris joined the Foreign Service in 1965, events within foreign countries were generally perceived to be off- limitstoAmericaninterestsandrepresentations.Inlargepartduetohiswork, humanrightsadvocacyisnowa majorpolicyconsiderationinAmericandiplomacy.In2013,UNA-NCAestablishedtheF.Allen“Tex”Harris Diplomacy Award to recognize an American diplomat for promoting human rights throughdiplomacy.

The Tex Harris Diplomacy Award is presented to current or former American diplomats who have:

1)    Advocated respect in American diplomacy for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties and instruments;
2)     Made significant achievements in human rights through the use of diplomacy; and
3)    Demonstrated leadership in the diplomatic community on human rightsissues.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award

The Community Human Rights Award is bestowed on individuals or organizations that have provided outstanding service in promoting and protecting human rights within the UNA-NCA chapter region. Recipients may be U.S. government officials, leaders of non-government organizations, public service organizations, academics, scholars or other practitioners and providers.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award is presented to persons or organizations who have:

1)    Provided leadership to advance the cause of human rights through a local group or organization in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and/or Northern Virginia areaand;
2)     Demonstrated personal and professional contributions to advance the cause of human rights in the public, private, and/or non-profitsector.

Nominations can be submitted here.  The deadline for nominations is April 30th, and selection begins in May.

24 April 2019

UNA-NCA Young Professional Career Dinner Series: A Focus on Choosing an Enjoyable Career Path

Written by Laura Blyler, Vice President of Young Professionals

On Saturday, April 6, 2019, young professionals and students gathered at the United Nations Foundation to participate in the semi-annual UNA-NCA Young Professional Career Dinner series.

This signature event is held every spring and fall and is an opportunity for young professionals to discuss global career paths and network with experienced professionals in their fields of interest. The Spring 2019 event kicked off with a networking reception, where around 80 participants and speakers had the chance to meet, swap business cards, and enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the terrace of the United Nations Foundation. Stephen Moseley, President of UNA-NCA, and Paula Boland, Executive Director of UNA-NCA, welcomed guests to the evening’s event, before turning over the stage to our keynote speaker, Ambassador (ret) Keith Harper, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council and Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, LLC.

Ambassador Harper, also the recipient of the 2017 UNA-NCA F. Allen “Tex” Harris Human Rights Diplomacy Award, addressed the crowd with timely and thoughtful remarks about his career path and the importance of U.S. leadership at the United Nations. Harper weaved stories of his own career journey with advice for a career path centered around issues that make an impact in the world.

Harper’s own career has been driven by two great interests, international relations and federal Indian law. He told attendees to choose the path you find most enjoyable drawing on a choice he made after law school to take a job at the Native American Rights Fund rather than at a big law firm, because he believed the path he wanted to be on was to litigate on behalf of Indian tribes. That choice led him to bring a case against the federal government for mismanagement of Indian trust funds which settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion. Harper went on to work as an advisor on President Barack Obama’s first campaign in 2007, a role which led to a position in the Obama administration and eventually to his appointment as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

To provide guidance and share lessons learned from his own career journey, Harper imparted four thoughts on career choices for young professionals:

1. Luck. You have to be prepared to accept the lucky opportunities when they arise.

2. Put yourself out there. People who are experts in their field are willing to help young people succeed. It is highly probable that they will want to engage with you if you just ask them!

3. Choose the path that you find most enjoyable.

4. Focus not on what you want to be, but rather focus on what you want to do. If you care about an issue, there are many different ways to impact that issue. There will always be new and innovative ways to work on issues that you care about.

Ambassador Harper left the audience with a final tidbit of advice centered on choosing a path that you find most enjoyable, “as you go through that journey to find out where specifically you want to make your contributions, you let your heart guide you. You follow that which you think is the kind of impact you want to make, and I guarantee you, you will find a way to achieve your objectives.”

Following Ambassador Harper’s speech, the participants broke out into small groups to attend their respective dinner topics. This year the event featured six different topics including Careers in the United Nations, International Development, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, International Law, Refugees and Migration, and Careers in Women, Peace, and Security. During the dinner, participants had the chance to discuss changing career fields, working in an uncertain political climate and engaging in the workforce as a young professional.

Every year the UNA-NCA Young Professionals’ team is excited to connect mid-career and expert professionals with passionate young professionals to deepen the participant’s knowledge of the field from an insider’s point of view. The next career dinner will take place in the fall of this year and we look forward to seeing you there!

Join UNA-NCA today if you want to get involved with the Young Professionals program to help plan events like this!

23 April 2019

United Nations Association Hosts the Fifteenth Model UN Conference at State Department

Global Classrooms DC, the flagship education program of the UN Association of the National Capital Area, will host its 15thAnnual Spring Model UN Conference on Friday, April 26th at the U.S. Department of State. The conference is the largest partner event held at the Department of State, bringing together around 600 students, educators, volunteers, and guests. Throughout the rest of the year, Global Classrooms DC works with teachers and students in order to increase youth engagement in international affairs by means of improving public speaking, conflict management skills, critical thinking, and understanding of global issues.

This year’s conference welcomes our featured keynote speaker, Vivian Derryck. Vivian Derryck is the founder of the Bridges Institute, an Africa- focused organization that helps to strengthen African governance and leadership by forging trade and social development links between Africa and the rest of the world. Previously she served as Senior Vice President and Director of Public-Private Partnerships at the former AED, a U.S.-based non-profit which worked on education, health, and economic development in more than 125 countries. Vivian also served as the Assistant Administrator for Africa of the U.S. Agency for International Development as the senior government official directing foreign assistance to Africa. She has held a number of positions in both government and the non-profit private sector. Vivian has dedicated her life to sustainable development in education, political participation, conflict resolution, leadership development, and women’s leadership in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Our students have taken full advantage of the opportunities provided by the conference, which not only expand skills like public speaking, negotiation, research, writing, and teamwork; but also lay the foundation for their growth as engaged global citizens. This year, the students will be discussing a variety of global issues and working together to come up with solutions. Representing countries from all over the globe, students will have the opportunity to focus on issues highlighted by organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These topics include ending modern slavery, creating youth employment opportunities, promoting women in peace and security, developing better responses to natural disasters, and the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Attendees at this year’s conference will include students from DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Lebanon, in addition to diplomatic officials, local government, foundations, and business representatives. 

For more information, please contact Global Education Managing Director, Nicole Bohannon, at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

27 March 2019

The Future of UN Mediation, Peacebuilding, Sanctions, and Special Envoys Major Highlights and Recommendations

Overview: An initiative of Stimson, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and the United States Institute of Peace, the roundtable brought together former and current U.S. government and UN officials, scholars, policy analysts, activists, and practitioners to discuss the UN’s experience, over the past decade, with mediation, peacebuilding, sanctions, and special envoys.

The dialogue highlighted the first-hand experience of two American former UN Under- Secretaries-General for Political Affairs – Lynn Pascoe and Jeff Feltman – who led the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), now the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). Victoria Holt (Stimson Distinguished and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs) moderated the dialogue. They spoke about their insights from major country and regional engagements, lessons from their diplomatic roles, and considerations for the United States going forward. Broadly, DPPA offers a unique set of tools (e.g., mediation, conflict analysis, sanctions), international reach (e.g., broad agenda, leadership of Special Political Missions, and field-based Peace and Development Advisors), and experience to international peacemaking and peacebuilding. However, that role is lesser known in Washington, D.C. and other major capitals.

The discussion also touched on the level of insecurity and international leadership today. At a time when the World Bank estimates that roughly two billion people are affected by fragility, conflict, and violence, UN tools are stressed. Crises in Syria, Yemen, and Libya demonstrate what can happen when there is a lack of unity among major powers in the UN Security Council to resolve a particular crisis situation and the humanitarian consequences. Overall, the event explored five main topics: UN-led mediation, peacebuilding, sanctions, Special Envoys, and reform, giving special attention to the relevance of U.S. foreign policy interests and values in connection with these issues.

UN Mediation

International mediation is a crowded playing field, where a well-supported United Nations can make a difference.

•    The UN has fewer resources than one might imagine for a global organization. In recent years, efforts have been made to strengthen political missions, with deployment of a record number of Special Political Missions, as well as Peace and Development Advisors.

•    While the UN consults broadly with governments and others with interests or leverage in specific peace and security matters, the U.S.’ global role ensures that the UN must consider American views and often rely on its capacity to help manage and resolve nearly all violent conflicts.

•    In the area of mediation, the UN can provide a range of different roles of support or leadership (as leadership options in any particular conflict are normally ad hoc in nature).

•    To be even more effective on mediation, the UN needs to expand its political presence worldwide, and here it will be important to place these capabilities on the UN’s Regular Budget (rather than rely on non-core, voluntary resources).


Conflict prevention is preferred, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy to do.

•    While it is widely recognized that it is better to prevent conflict, that doesn’t mean that success is easy to see. For example, UN efforts in Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, and the Republic of Moldova demonstrate mediation and peacebuilding success stories, where diplomatic efforts saved considerable sums of money.

•    The UN is good at mediation, but the demand exceeds the capacity – and the diplomatic pool and support needs to be strengthened. While most countries recognize that other conflict management tools (e.g., “boots on the ground”) are expensive, that doesn’t mean resources naturally flow to mediation before a crisis.

•    The U.S. generally privileges bilateral approaches to international mediation, and today more so. Participants noted that the U.S. will likely turn again toward multilateral approaches (based on a criteria, among other issues, of effectiveness and cost-saving).


If you want to achieve progress on mediation, work skillfully behind the scenes with UN Member States.

•    Progress with UN mediation often stems from working with Member States “below the radar.”

•    Guinea and Sierra Leone are mediation and peacebuilding success stories (and fortunately, the UNSC did not micromanage the Secretariat’s mediation activities).

•    It is difficult to work towards positive change when there are P5 countries (e.g., Russia) undermining your actions.

Does the UN maintain sufficient capacities and political support to conduct effective mediation?

•    In 2005, the UN established a Mediation Support Unit within the then Department of Political Affairs. In partnership with UNDP, DPA has deployed more than three dozen Peace and Development Advisers in the field, provides operational support and guidance to the Secretary-General’s new High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, and over the past decade deployed more than 50 different kinds of Special Political Missions around the world. Even with these capacities, the UN is asked increasingly to play a mediation “support” and “facilitation” role to other lead actors (e.g., regional and sub-regional organizations).

•    Changing dynamics have made conflicts harder to mediate, as have diverging views across members states on and off the Security Council. Brussels and the EU view the world in different ways than the U.S., and this fissure among heretofore allies hampers directly efforts to call upon the UN to mediate a crisis (let alone to provide it adequate political support to ensure success). Where can we point to international mediation success stories in this “period of disruption”?

•    Today, the UN is doing a lot of mediation capacity-building with other actors (e.g., vis-à- vis the OSCE in eastern Ukraine), but there is a modest risk that the UN is being asked to mainly play a facilitation/support role and deprioritize its own engagement.

•    The UN has successful brokered local ceasefires, but its strength as a mediator comes, in part, from engaging non-governmental partners effectively. For example, in Libya, the UN Special Envoy, Ghassan Salamé, “subcontracted out” a town hall process to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD). HD was able to travel around the country and conduct town halls without the security footprint of the UN and without provoking the locals into talking about what they wanted from the UN (when the point was to get them to talk about what they wanted from their own government). Salamé could then get ideas from across the country and incorporate them into his plan.

UN Peacebuilding

Support for early warning and action (i.e., conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy) are critical peacebuilding activities of the UN, though they continue to face challenges.

•    Except for its field-based Special Political Missions and regional offices, the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) does not have a full-time political presence overseas. While called on to anticipate and prevent crises, the DPPA does not have the reach of the US government and its embassies worldwide. DPPA’s early warning and action activities, among other core functions, would benefit from more eyes and ears on the ground (in country or, at the very least, at the sub-regional level).

•    To gain greater field understanding, DPA (and now DPPA) have worked over the past decade and more to become more operational and to develop more ground-based

tools. The Peace and Development Advisors, mentioned above, are shared with UNDP

and provide eyes and ears on the ground in political sensitive areas. DPA/DPPA has expanded its cooperation and liaison relationships with regional and sub-regional organizations. DPPA might also consider expanding its network of regional offices to have senior-level DPPA representation based full-time in a region or country to build-up both the credibility and institutional knowledge essential to conflict prevention and response to crisis situations (i.e., similar to the role performed by national embassies today.)

•    Better access to local political leaders is critical to success, and DPPA could learn from past examples – such as the UN, AU, and ECOWAS learned from its under-appreciated early warning and action efforts in Burkina Faso.

•    For example, the Security Council can undertake horizon scanning of potential conflicts (assessing early warning indicators), but countries often resist their own review or that of their allies (i.e., by the DPPA, or other parts of the UN system). Even with monthly briefings on Syria in the Security Council beginning in 2011, for example, the Security Council faced internal divisions that prevented taking joint action.


Information, intelligence, and analysis support structures for the UN progressed after the end of the Cold War.

•    UN cooperation with Member States can provide rich and timely analysis and information on various situations, and in the 1990s, following different approaches, there seemed to be a higher-level of analysis and information exchange between the UN and major capitals, (with such capabilities) including the United States, as there is today.

•    For collaboration of this kind to occur today, we might want to push for analytical knowledge that everyone (all Member States) can draw upon. Unfortunately, each time that the UN Secretariat has tried to be proactive in information gathering — Security Council horizon-scanning, periodic “situational awareness” briefings, internal policy meetings and discussions — member state representatives of countries, regions or issues in question raise objections, frequently to the Secretary-General himself. Without adequate UN analytical abilities and situational awareness, non-governmental organizations, such as the International Crisis Group, can sometimes provide Member States with better briefings than the UN.


When a crisis erupts, sooner or later the question turns to “what does the U.S. think”?

•    In most cases, UN officials in New York want to know Washington’s perspective, first and foremost, on a particular conflict (“the U.S. looms large in Turtle Bay,” remarked one participant).

•    In general, U.S. Government officials do not seek out the UN’s take on specific crisis as immediately as UN officials express concern for how Americans think. At the same time, the UN doesn’t fully realize the potential of America to contribute to the resolution of a conflict. The U.S. is the only UN Member State that can often times act, act fast, and make a real difference.


The UN Peacebuilding Architecture and preventive action continue to show promise while facing obstacles.

•    Though not large, the UN Peacebuilding Fund (which on average amounts to a few hundred million dollars at any one time and remains dependent on a small group of donors) is a great if limited mechanism for funding projects, such as building a police station as an element in efforts aimed at calming a conflict zone. In short, the Peacebuilding Fund seeks to link its activities (at least ostensibly) to broader peace and security strategic goals. In theory, it is also designed to facilitate “risk-taking” when no other bilateral and multilateral donors are able or willing to invest in a conflict-affected country.

•    With the exception of the strong leadership exercised by the Swiss in Burundi [I believe Switzerland still leads the configuration], Member State-led Peacebuilding configurations with the PBC have generally been a disappointment, not energizing tangible support for peacebuilding activities in the country of focus and often coming across as patronizing to the host country and UN field-based staff.

•    The U.S. often struggled to understand what the Peacebuilding Commission was trying to achieve in concrete terms. Was it all about supporting non-state actors and long-term enterprise?

•    Everyone loves the idea of prevention and bringing people together in support of Sustainable Development Goal #16 (promoting peaceful societies). In practice, what this means is that Member States support development, inclusivity, prosperity, and other elements of a healthy, peaceful society. This long-term prevention focus is non- controversial, even if there are often shortfalls in resources. But there are times when prevention requires urgent political intervention with those in a country or region who have the influence to provoke conflicts. Amidst accusations of “interference,” the consensus favoring long-term prevention breaks down when immediate conflict prevention efforts are needed.

•    The World Bank-United Nations’ recent Pathways for Peace report offers some innovative and common-sense recommendations for preventive action. However, officials in the Office of the Secretary-General were initially reluctant to embrace these proposed measures because Member States had not first “signed-on” nor did the UN possess a “legislative mandate” to pursue this new direction.

UN Sanctions

Sanctions remain an important, but less understood, part of the work of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

•    The UN sanctions committees are supported by independent groups and panels of experts, who are supported by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and report directly to the Security Council.

•    Information from experts’ reports, however, is not easily shared with UN Secretariat officials or member states not serving on the Security Council. That approach limited the use of the experts’ analysis and recommendations.

•    Consideration of better integrating Council expert reports and findings into longer-term conflict prevention, peacebuilding and meditation measures could be more effective.

•    The United States brought great attention to non-proliferation sanctions regimes, especially those focuses on Iran and DPRK.

•    Sanctions in Africa often were co-concurrent with UN-led peacekeeping missions, and had more direct relevance for the political strategies in those countries (e.g., DRC, Somalia, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Darfur, etc.) Those regimes seemed to get less high- level attention.

•    Especially with the increase in sanctions regimes against nuclear proliferation and terrorist financing, the Council needs to make sure that the U.S. and other UN Member States follow through on their pledges and commitments.


UN Special Envoys


A major problem facing Special Envoys is the “Programmatic Structure” of a field-oriented Special Political Mission

•    To be successful, a Special Envoy needs to attract funding for at least a five-year period. But, as shared by one respected Special Envoy from a recent UN field mission, it is impossible to achieve the equivalent of two generations worth of change in only five years.

•    Given the growth in Special Political Missions over the past decade, by 2017, 40% of the then Department of Political Affairs’ budget came from voluntary contributions (including a small USD $600,000 contribution from the U.S.).

•    However great a host country’s needs might be, Special Envoys should avoid taking on unrealistic and overly ambitious developmental projects in tight time-frames (e.g., rebuilding a host country’s education system).


Special Envoys, including the heads of UN peace operations, bring value to the US Government through their periodic visits to Washington.

•    In addition to their briefings in the Security Council, UN Special Envoys can provide American policy-makers uniquely grounded, field-based perspectives on a fragile and conflict-affected country/region. The U.S. can, in turn, often provide critical new/additional information on security issues.

UN Reform

Participants explored both new (and old) approaches to early warning monitoring.

•    One idea floated was to conduct intensive reviews on a region — on a monthly basis

by Member State representatives themselves, as a parallel effort to the UN’s existing internal Regional Quarterly Reviews. Member States could use timely analysis provided by DPPA to ask each representative, for example “what do we see about country X?” For instance, despite the likely pushback, it might have made sense to hold this type of

regional review prior to Kenya’s latest, somewhat unstable elections.


The Security Council, with analysis and advice provided by the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, needs to regularly reiterate to countries the case for coming before it, including the need to avert a larger crisis.

•    DPPA and the Security Council need new tools, including more effective ways of communicating, to gain Member States support for early action to prevent a crisis from accelerating. We need a strategy for better understanding states that are potentially vulnerable to political violence and terrorist activities, drawing on the best information and analysis available from within the UN system, Members States, and from capable non-governmental actors.

•    Colombia provides a useful example, as the UN was not the key player. Rather, by providing best practices (when asked) and targeted monitoring and reintegration assistance, the UN was recognized for contributing to confidence-building in niche areas, within the context of Colombia’s broader peacebuilding and disarmament efforts.


The worst part of the United Nations is its management.

•    America’s hyper-focus on ensuring that the United Nations does not cost too much money (and “doing more with less”) has come at the expense of investing in better management practices across the UN system.

•    Change management is difficult to implement within the UN because its leaders are too intransigent. Expressing hope for real change, participants noted the management reform proposed by Secretary-General Guterres and currently being implemented. Real change will come from someone willing to do “the dirty work”.

•    Given its ability to exert pressure and leadership elsewhere, the U.S. could expend capital on this reform without leading the UN Department of Management (e.g., at the expense of leading another, arguably more important, department such as DPPA, where the

Under-Secretary-General wields more authority to take action).

•    Where the UN is more field oriented, it can add real value. For the United Nations to remain relevant, it must be able to go beyond a capital city and really engage people within a fragile and conflict-affected country setting. Too often, missions lack resources to take this approach.

Concluding/General Points

The U.S.-UN relationship is vital to advancing U.S. values and interests, and it requires careful nurturing and respect for having Americans in senior UN posts.

•    In serving as an interpreter of US policy for senior UN leadership, American diplomats acting as the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs post, and other critical roles across the UN system, are is in America’s best interest (e.g., being well-positioned to advise the Secretary-General in saying “This is how that they might look at this issue in Washington” or “This is how you might convince the U.S.”).

•    Sometimes it is difficult for senior American policy-makers to notice that there are myriad competing interests among UN Member States on any given policy issue. Policy- makers in Washington should think strategically about how we can employ the UN and other international organizations better to advance American values and policy goals.

•    U.S. policy-makers should be planning for where the US should be in the next 25 years in a multilateral world (admittedly, something Washington doesn’t like to do).

•    With three Ambassadors focused almost exclusively on the Security Council, with only one each focused on management and budgets issues and the Economic and Social Council, respectively, the current and previous U.S. Administrations continue to give too much weight to the Security Council.

•    Another participant lamented that the United Nations doesn’t really exist in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) world; rather, the DoD cares about NATO.

•    While America diplomats participate in big debates that attempt to measure successes and failures of the United Nations, they, on the whole, still do not possess adequate knowledge about the UN, such as its actual costs, overall impact, and true worth in terms of advancing vital U.S. values and interests.




Bob Berg, Alliance for Peacebuilding and The Stimson Center Paula Boland, UN Association of the National Capital Area Esther Brimmer, NAFSA: Association of International Educators Todd Buchwald, Woodrow Wilson Center

Kristin Cordell, U.S. Agency for International Development Jim Della-Giacoma, All In for Development

Juan Diaz-Prinz, U.S. Institute of Peace


William Durch, The Stimson Center


Edward Elmendorf, UN Association of the National Capital Area Brian Finlay, The Stimson Center

Corinne Graff, U.S. Institute of Peace Keith Harper, Partner Kilpatrick Townsend

Elizabeth Hume, Alliance for Peacebuilding


Mark Lagon, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Ellen Laipson, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University Hardin Lang, Refugees International

Sarah Mendelson, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University Stephen Moseley, UN Association of the National Capital Area Cristina Petcu, The Stimson Center

Richard Ponzio, The Stimson Center and UN Association of the National Capital Area Uzra Zeya, Alliance for Peacebuilding

Eric Rosand, Prevention Project: Organizing Against Violent Extremism Linda Thomas Greenfield, Albright Stonebridge Group

Madeline Vellturo, The Stimson Center Howie Wachtel, National Security Council

Paul Williams, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University Jonathan Winer, Middle East Institute

Adam Wolf, Alliance for Peacebuilding

20 March 2019

Highlights from the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women

By Kimberly Weichel, Chair, UNA-NCA Advisory Council

I’ve just returned from participating in the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN, an extraordinary gathering of Gender Ministers as well as NGO leaders and policy makers from virtually every country. CSW is dedicated to promoting gender equality and the advancement of women, and each year shapes the global agenda for gender equality. Established by ECOSOC, the Commission is the UN’s principal policy-making body for women that monitors, reviews and appraises progress made at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels.

The Commission meets annually for 10 working days in March, typically the second and third weeks, which coincides with International Women’s Day and Women’s history month. Representatives of Member States gather at the UN to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. Simultaneously, thousands of NGO leaders (this year around 8,000) meet in sessions throughout the 10 days to explore challenges, case studies, best practices, and solutions to many of the key issues facing women. This year’s theme focused on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure, all of which greatly impact women.

This was my ninth year at CSW, and I’m always inspired by the courage and commitment of so many women who work in challenging situations with few funds against enormous odds, yet their spirits remain strong. We shared, discussed, laughed and sometimes cried together as we explored a wide range of issues that continue to face us.  Some of my highlights:

  • Secretary General Antonio Guterres led an interactive town hall describing the strides made on gender equality at the UN, championing women in peacebuilding delegations, and sharing specific programs to reduce the global pandemic of sex and labor trafficking.

  • A riveting panel by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers on their work to combat infanticide and forced abortions of baby girls and abuse of elderly widows in China. 

  • Women from the DRC talked about the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse there, and shared programs to provide education for men and jobs and support for women.

  • Voices from South Sudan, Peru, Nepal, and North Korea shared moving stories of children stolen for sex trafficking and steps they are taking to combat it.

  • A program on ways of combating the global problem of child marriage highlighted a successful program in Bangladesh using public service commercials to leverage social pressure.

  • A panel of clergy members discussed the church’s role in dealing with domestic and sexual violence, including when church leaders are the actual perpetrators.

  • Two North Korean women shared their harrowing journeys to escape the hardships in their country via China and eventually arriving in the US after many challenges.

  • A screening and panel from the Women, War and Peace films, led by Abigail Disney, highlighting an all-female cast of directors who presented four stories about women who risked their lives for peace in Northern Ireland, Gaza, Bangladesh and Egypt, changing history in the process. These films will be broadcast on PBS March 25/26 at 9pm.

CSW concludes with a set of agreed conclusions that contain concrete recommendations for Governments, intergovernmental bodies, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level. The final report of the Commission is submitted to ECOSOC for adoption.

The good news is that around the world, women’s voices are rising to end silence and oppression, run for public office, lead community efforts, and take action. I felt inspired by all the courageous women I met at CSW who work tirelessly to make a difference, daunted by the work ahead of us, and hopeful that women’s voices and leadership continue to expand.

14 March 2019

With Renewed Vigor: Highlights from the 2019 Global Engagement Summit

By Andrew B. Doll, Managing Director of Programs and Membership

IMG_1207-2The United Nations Association of the USA is the country’s leading grassroots advocacy movement in the United States with over 20,000 members spread across over 200 chapters.  Their members are committed to global engagement and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in their local communities. This year’s Summit marked a record participation and commitment to building a strong US-UN partnership.

This year, under the banner of “Shared Partnerships – Shared Responsibilities”, previously known as “Members Day,” the Global Engagement Summit brought together over 1500 dedicated UN Advocates and over 100 universities in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to help strengthen our mission and resolve through high level keynote remarks and panel discussions on topics such as humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, the UN and partners on the ground, and the affect of local leadership on the SDGs.

As one of the largest chapters of UNA-USA, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) made a strong showing with over 50 IMG_2945leaders from across the generations, including Past-Presidents, staff, program assistants,  graduate fellows, and committee leaders.  Originally, from Japan and currently studying Education at the George Washington University, UNA-NCA Program Assistant, Aika Okishige, called the experience, “One of the most memorable experiences I have had in my life.”

Convening in the General Assembly Hall, in the seats of diplomats and world leaders, can be a surreal experience.  “Although I knew in advance that I would be attending the 2019 Global Engagement Summit,” said UNA-NCA Program Assistant Thomas Oggier, “I did not really process that fact until I was standing in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. The realization of the fact that I was in the focal point of the world’s leading multilateral institution, was truly an awe inspiring moment.”

The summit began with one of the most anticipated and inspiring moments as UN Secretary-General António Guterres walked onto the floor of the General Assembly Hall to meet, shake hands, and take photos with participants before his keynote address.  A highly respected, yet casual and approachable leader, the Secretary-General welcomed participants with a call for bolder climate action.  Today, I am asking for your help in sounding the alarm and highlighting the solutions,” asking all to make the topic trend via #ClimateAction.

Climate Action and change were recurring themes during the summit, not only during the plenaries, but also throughout the breakout sessions.  These sessions provided “an extraordinary opportunity because it connects you with inspiring speakers from all over the world,” said Program Assistant Marietta deJulio-Burns, who attended the Action Track session “Shared Action for Human rights: The UN and Partners on the Ground” featuring H.E. Mr. Milenko E. Skoknic Tapia, Permanent Representative of Chile to the UN, and Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project.  Such diversity of panelists truly provided an enriching experience by covering a wide range of issues within a limited time. Other panel topics IMG_1154included “Cities and the Sustainable Development Goals” moderated by former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award recipient, Gillian Sorensen; as well as “Conflict Resolution and Humanitarian Response: Yemen,” and “Planet Earth: Partnering for Urgent Climate Action.”  Click on the session titles to watch the livestream of the Summit, or click hereto view other sessions.

Special sessions took place at lunchtime, including a workshop about the UN Universal Periodic Review Process and opportunities to engage members in domestic consultations this fall; and a session at the U.S. Mission to the UN to learn about careers in the Foreign Service. The Summit was followed by a happy hour jointly hosted by the Young Professionals from the Southern New York Division and UNA-NCA.

The Global Engagement Summit was an opportunity for UNA members – regardless of chapter – to recharge our batteries and be reminded of the importance of our work. But, it can’t end there.  With renewed vigor, the take away from the Summit must be to engage with our peers, our communities, and our leaders to advocate for sustainable policies and actions.  Learn what you can do with the Global Engagement Summit Action Guide.

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