October 26, 2022

By Olivia Hille, UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program Assistant

On Wednesday, October 26th, Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, hosted UNA-NCA and Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, to discuss global solutions, global goals of peace, and Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SGD #16).

Swiss Ambassador at UN Day EventIn his remarks, Ambassador Pitteloud discussed the importance of the United Nations to Switzerland. Ambassador Pitteloud emphasized the importance of “International Geneva” as “Geneva has become one of the world’s leading multilateral hubs with roughly 40 international organizations, 750 NGOs, and permanent representations of 180 member states”. The significance of Switzerland's UN membership is not simply due to its past position of neutrality but is also due to its position as the only nation to be elected by its citizens to become a member. Because of Switzerland’s dedication to the UN sustainable development goals, “International Geneva has been recognized as an essential actor in implementing them.”  Ambassador Pitteloud announced that Switzerland will join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member in January 2023. As he explained, Switzerland joined the Security Council to “work with the other 14 members to promote sustainable peace, protect the civilian population, strengthen the council’s efficiency, and address climate security risks.”  After reiterating the importance of the SDGs, Ambassador Pitteloud ended his welcoming speech by highlighting the strong relationship between Switzerland and the US. 

Paula at Swiss EmbassyUNA-NCA Board Chair, Jill Christianson, and President, Paula Boland, spoke about the strong relationship between peace and security as well as the UN's overwhelming commitment to global sustainable development. Christianson announced this year's UN theme as "Nourishing Peace," and how important it is to look forward to where the UN needs to go in the future. As part of UNA-NCA's theme of Nourishing Peace, she reaffirmed the association's mission to renew hope and conviction that humanity can achieve. Following the Board Chair’s remarks, Boland touched on the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Russia's conflict in Ukraine, emphasizing how the United Nations Charter is at the core of international law. In addition to highlighting UN member state unity, Paula spoke about humanity’s unity to set the tone for the evening. 

Ambassador Jenkins at UN Day EventThe keynote speaker at this event was Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, who serves as the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Amb. Jenkins previously served in the Obama Administration as Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. As well as coordinated U.S. efforts on threat reduction globally and U.S. government programs in chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological security. Amb. Jenkins was the State Department lead for all four of the Nuclear Security Summits held from 2010 to 2016. From 2014 to 2017, Ambassador Jenkins led diplomatic efforts to promote the Global Health Security Agenda. From its inception in 2017 until April 2021, Ambassador Jenkins was the Founder, Executive Director, and Board Chair of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, a leading advocacy organization supporting women of color in the security and peace-building sector.  In June 2020, she also founded Organizations in Solidarity, which supports a common vision of a world where all people are treated equally, fairly, and with respect.

During her speech, Ambassador Jenkins highlighted the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, stating that one of them is "ensuring affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all." According to Ambassador Jenkins, SDG's are not just national goals, but global goals, and in recent negotiations regarding the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Russia blocked consensus. Ambassador Jenkins pointed out that the NPT was not a failure. To the U.S., “this represented a success, showing how much NPT Parties have in common, even in the most challenging of times.” According to Ambassador Jenkins, the U.S. is increasingly interested in enhancing UN peacekeeping operations. President Putin's dangerous rhetoric and Russia's illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine were both condemned by Ambassador Jenkins. It is The United States, as Ambassador Jenkins cited, that is “the largest contributor to removing landmines and explosive weapons of war, working with authorities and partners to clear the land and help communities heal.” In a world where many women and children are silenced, Amb. Jenkins detailed passionately that “We must all work to ensure disparate voices are heard, that opinions and experiences of different populations are included and that voices ignored in the past are heard – and heeded – in the future, particularly the voices of women and girls.” Finishing her speech, Amb. Jenkins thanks UNA-NCA for helping educate people in multilateral organizations and supporting a more safe and secure world. 

UN Day Panel 1The first round of panelists welcomed Ambassador Jenkins; Ambassador Pitteloud; Senior Partnership Adviser for the UN Development Program at the Washington, DC Representation Office, Paolo Galli; and Serving as the panelist moderator, Senior Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution, Tony Pipa.  A detailed discussion was held about Sustainable Development Goal 16, the importance of regulating Rule of Law, and the protection of the less powerful by international actors. The panelists agreed that the UN works to protect endangered individuals on the global level, but it also deserves to be criticized in order to be improved. Security disciplines are diverse, which is part of the reason for this criticism. The fact that Ambassador Jenkins was the only woman of color on stage led to an interesting discussion in which it was agreed that there needs to be more proactive measures to include and enrich a diverse population in global security and peace initiatives.

UN day Panel 2The second panelist included Shayna Vayser, the SDG Policy Advisor for UNA-NCA; Natalia Ambrosio an SDG Fellow in International Public Affairs at Bayer AG; Connie K. N. Chang, the Board Chair and Treasurer at the Lever Fund; as well as Ben Blevins the Chief Financial Officer at the Highland Support Project. The panel focused on the Global Goals at Home, a UNA-NCA initiative. Ambrosio spoke about the importance of transparency in this field for organizations and corporations to be able to be checked and held accountable. Specifically, Chang discussed the importance of access to data, especially its visualization, which plays off the transparency of its collection. Afterwards, the group discussed how philanthropy and governance play a role in incorporating sustainable practices and ensuring accountability. An example used was self-sustaining farming systems that feed themselves, but also hold sustainable practices. It was concluded that the most important factors are the landscape of what is available, who is trying to solve the problem, and how the visualization of data is crucial. 

As a final note, Marcellus Roll, Head of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the Embassy of Switzerland, thanked the panelists and UNA-NCA.

To learn more about UNA-NCA membership and other volunteer opportunities, click here.

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