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27 April 2018

United Nations Association Hosts Premier 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 14thAnnual Spring Model UN Conference on Friday, April 27th at the U.S. Department of State and Pan American Health Organization. The conference is the largest partner event held at the Department of State, bringing together over 700 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, and understanding of global issues.

This year’s featured speaker is U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, Munira Khalif. Her experience as a first-generation Somali-American citizen has heavily influenced her strong advocacy for universal access to education and women’s and girl’s rights. Through her commitment to the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, leadership of youth non-profit, Lighting the Way,and advocacy efforts to guarantee girls education in developing countries, Munira seeks to highlight the transformative power of education on an international scale. 

Our students appreciate the opportunities provided by the conference, which not only expand the parameters of their academic life, but also lay the foundation for their growth as global citizens. This year, the students will be discussing a variety of topics and working together to come up with solutions. Students will represent countries from every corner of the globe, and focus on sports diplomacy and gender equality, renewable energy, crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region, malnutrition, and child soldiers. 

Attendees at this year’s conference will include students and teachers across the DMV region, in addition to diplomatic officials, local government, foundations, and business representatives. Some of which include the UN Federal Credit Union, Culturfied Foundation, O’Melveny & Myers, and more. 

For more information and to confirm participation, 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 .

11 April 2018

Report on the Highlights of the 62nd CSW

By Sydney Spencer, Program Assistant, UNA-NCA

8,000 nongovernmental organizations from all over the world attended this year's 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the highest attendance in the commission's history.

On April 4th, UNA-NCA in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding, hosted the event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women.”

The event was moderated by Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW and UNA-NCA Board Member and featured the panelists Jordan Hibbs, Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy; Helena Minchew, Program Officer at the International Women's Health Coalition; and Kimberly Weichel, UNA-NCA Advisory Council Chair.

These women provided attendees with invaluable insight into the 2018 CSW including its positive takeaways, member state commitments, and areas in need of improvement.

Overview of the 62nd CSW

For those who don't know, the CSW is the key intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and female empowerment. Since 1956, the CSW has held an annual two week conference for UN Member States, civil society organizations, and UN entities to discuss pertinent issues facing women.  

This year's topic focused on rural women and the unique and unjust burdens they experience including unequal land rights, early marriage, and violence. These issues were not only discussed in an assembly of Member States, but also in the form of subtopic-specific sessions occurring at multiple times throughout each day of the conference. Concluding the CSW, a set of Agreed Conclusions is established with the purpose of unifying the global direction for gender equality and female empowerment.

The 62nd CSW Agreed Conclusions

Panelist Helena Minchew gave a thorough and candid overview of the Agreed Conclusions set at this year's CSW. She highlighted some of the document's important victories such as protecting women human rights supporters. The document also included clauses calling for the protection of women of all diversities and a recognition that women's lack of agency over their own lives is an infringement on personal well-being. Lastly, Ms. Minchew discussed another monumental clause acknowledging that forced child marriage is a barrier to female education.

Pertinent Topics Omitted from the Agreed Conclusions

While this year's Agreed Conclusions contained many ground breaking topics, it left many issues untouched. The document had no mention of abortion even though unsafe abortion is a large factor in maternal mortality, especially in rural areas. The conclusions also left out any language regarding intimate partner violence, another detrimental phenomenon impacting women all over the world. Of equal concern is that LGBTI issues were left untouched in the Agreed Conclusions and also in the CSW subtopic sessions. All of the panelists made it clear that there is significant progress to be made for future CSW conferences.

 A Lack of Presence from Key Stakeholders

All of the panel members expressed frustration with respect to the lack of rural women physically represented at the 62nd CSW, an issue that was mainly attributed to visa complications. Unfortunately, many of the rural women - especially from the global south - were denied entrance into the U.S.

Antonio Guterres's Priorities for the UN

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was commended for his acknowledgment of areas for gender equality improvement within the UN. To address these areas, Mr. Guterres set three priorities for the UN's internal body. The first of these goals included reaching gender parity within the UN. Although the top governing roles within the UN have reached parity, there is still a need for improvement amongst the middle and lower UN roles.

The second priority addresses a crucial flaw within the UN - sexual abuse of UN peacekeepers. Mr. Gueterres has called for the elimination of this behavior from UN peacekeepers and has implemented standardized mandatory training for all peacekeepers.

Finally, Mr. Guterres called for an end to sexual harassment within the UN. He has reinforced this priority by establishing training for UN staff and creating multiple victim advocacy groups for staff. While there still remains many crucial issues to be addressed at next year's CSW, Antonio Guterres reaffirmed the world that as an entity, UN is committed to gender equality.

To learn more about the 62nd CSW, you can view the broadcast from our event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women" here

02 April 2018

2018 World Autism Awareness Day

10 years ago, the UN General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) at the beginnong of 2008. This year, WAAD falls on the day after Easter.

We are hoping you might be willing to participate in a couple small efforts to help raise attention of the observance and the need to help improve understanding of what autism is (and isn’t), help improve the quality of life of those with autism, and to help tackle the stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences at home and abroad.

Ideas to celebrate and support WAAD:

  • Wear blue on 2 April in recognition of WAAD -- or wear your favorite autism awareness shirt
  • Don’t have one?  There are many places online for you to order one including the Autism Speaks online storeAmazon, and WorkPlacePro
  • Change your porch light to a blue lightbulb leading up to (and on) the day. Blue lightbulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Amazon, and many other stores
  • Share with your networks information on World Autism Awareness Day
  • Entering in the Autism Speaks Walk in DC at the Washington National Mall on Saturday, October 6th, 2018 and or at Towson University on Sunday, October 14th, 2018

If you have other ideas, we welcome them!

28 March 2018

Observing and Championing Together Our Common U.S. Values and UN Goals

By Stephen  F. Moseley, President, UN Association- National Capital Area

This is a trying week for our UNA-NCA members to reflect on the many global challenges we face. The values that historically reinforce the founding principles of the UN – mirroring in many ways, the enduring values of the U.S. founding principles – seem increasingly challenged by the current U.S. administration’s policies and key leaders. As our new leaders for National Security and the State Department come into office next month, we hope they will seek to uphold these common  American and UN shared global values. Many UN members have counted on the U.S., without significant partisan differences, to champion these values, which include peacebuilding; equitable and fair treatment of women and girls; non-discrimination by race or class; youth engagement; economic opportunity for all, good governance and justice; celebration of human rights; access to health and education including for those students with disabilities; and humanitarian support of refugees and displaced persons. Today, we face the dual challenge of needing to ensure that these values are still being provided to our own citizens and residents,  in addition to our national responsibility to maintain these values for international stability around the world by continuing to fully fund the US share for successful operations of the UN.

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21 March 2018

A Member's Perspective of the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations

By Jordan Hibbs - UNA USA Member - National Capital Area

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find out that I was selected as a delegate to the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), to represent the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). This week, thousands of representatives from government, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector from all over the world are preparing to make their way to New York City to take part in this year’s meeting of the United Nations’ CSW. Established by the UN in June 1946, the CSW is the principal global inter-governmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The 62nd CSW priority theme on “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender quality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” will focus a renewed attention on the urgency of eradicating poverty and improving the livelihoods, well-being, and resilience of rural women and girls.
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19 March 2018

2018 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards Nominations

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 in the field of human rights.

We invite you to submit your nominations for the 2018 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards. This is an opportunity for you to honor those you know who are working to further human rights, and we are excited to see who this year’s recipients will be.

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 and instruments;
2) Championed the effective role of the UN as well as regional organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights;
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 human rights.

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 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 rights issues.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award is presented to persons 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 area and;
2) Demonstrated personal and professional contributions to advance the cause of human rights in the public, private, and/or non-profit sector. 

The deadline for nominations is April 27th, and selection begins in May. Please be sure to submit your nomination forms here.

Coverage and information on recipients from last year's nominations can be found here along with a full list of award criteria.

16 March 2018

Coverage of the UN, International Elections Observation and Global Support for Democratic Elections

UNA-NCA and its Human Rights Committee in partnership with the American Foreign Service Association had the pleasure of hosting a distinguished panel of experts on Wednesday, February 28th to discuss the role of the UN in international election observations and global support for democratic elections.

The panel was moderated by Doug Wake, former First Deputy Director of the OSCE/ODIHR, and featured Dr. Beata Martin-Rozumiowicz, Director for Europe and Eurasia, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); Hassan Kelleh Sesay, Electoral Assistance Division - Department of Political Affairs, United Nations Headquarters; and Cristóbal Fernández, Section Chief - Electoral Technical Cooperation, Organization of American States.  Together, the panelists discussed how their different organizations aimed to ensure free and fair elections on the global level sharing their experiences from Europe, Africa, and the Americas.  Click below to watch the video of the event.

14 March 2018

UN holds largest ever Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-62)

By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

This week and next (March 12 to 23) more than 3,500 women and men are meeting in and all around the UN Headquarters in New York City to address the theme Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls. This annual event for the past 61 years brings together CSW representatives from all the member countries of the UN, and has participants from local grass roots civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and includes most of the UN agencies. One unfortunate and sad note is the fact that hundreds of people who had applied on time for their visas, and already had prepared their presentations for panels did not get their visas from the US embassies to come to the US.   These are unrelated to the larger political issues surrounding visas from some countries, and may be a reflection of the staffing and management status of our embassies.
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