Advocacy Update

February 12, 2013


UN Funding is in Jeopardy — Schedule In-District Advocacy Meetings Feb. 15-28

Across-the-board spending cuts could take effect March 27, and funding for the United Nations is in danger. Chapters can make their voices heard by scheduling face-to-face meetings in district with their members of Congress or their staffs to discuss the importance of full funding to the United Nations. Remember, a meeting with staff is just as important. In-district meetings are the most effective form of citizen advocacy, and we are here to help you make it happen!

In preparation for your meeting, please see our tips on effective advocacy.


Submit an Op-Ed to Your Local Newspaper Supporting a Strong U.S.-UN Relationship

Tomorrow President Barack Obama is set to deliver his first State of the Union address in his second term. As he outlines his plan to help unite and move the country forward, recent bipartisan polling released by the Better World Campaign makes one thing clear — American voters overwhelmingly support strong U.S.-UN engagement.

We encourage you to submit this sample op-ed (or one like it in your own words, if you prefer) to your local newspaper, and help spread the word on why America needs to continue to work hand-in-hand with international partners like the UN to solve our biggest challenges.

If you have questions, need assistance submitting the op-ed, or if the op-ed runs in your local paper, be sure to let us know by emailing membership@unausa.org.


Human UNA-USA Attends Human Rights Meeting in Geneva with UN Advocates

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) hosted the “Civil Society in Action for Human Rights Program” in Geneva, Switzerland. The workshop included nearly 20 representatives from 10 UNAs, including civil society members from Australia, Belgium, Finland, Ghana, Nepal, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United States, and Zimbabwe. UNA-USA’s Human Rights Fellow, Ryan Kaminski, participated in the event on behalf of the organization.



The weeklong program included diverse skill-building exercises, a comprehensive introduction to the UN human rights system, and action-oriented advocacy training to empower each UNA to better advance universal human rights in their home countries. This included discussion about the UN Human Rights Council, treaty bodies, and special procedures, and the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Participants also attended the Universal Periodic Review—a UN Human Rights Council mechanism which assesses the human rights records of all UN member states—of Lichtenstein. Delegations also met with multiple officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The workshop culminated in an exercise where participants developed a human rights advocacy program tailored to their specific UNA. Proposals ranged from ratifying major international rights accords to training journalists on essential human rights mechanisms to programs to combat domestic violence. UNA-USA proposed the need for the establishment of a new UN special rapporteur to address the issue of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) persons around the world. There will be a follow-up session of the workshop in September, also in Geneva, which will focus on enhancing human rights capacity among UNAs..


What’s Happening at the UN

  • UN Secretary-General Shares Focus for 2013
  • UN Secretary-General Talks International Priorities at World Economic Forum Session
  • WHO Warns of Worsening Crisis in Syria
  • Agencies Focus on Ending Female Genital Mutilation on Day of Zero Tolerance

UN Secretary-General Shares Focus for 2013
The UN Secretary-General addressed both the General Assembly and the press on his priorities for 2013. Going into the New Year, political priorities include the conflicts in Syria and Mali, the Sahel region, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Middle East peace process. Mr. Ban also noted that sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda are priorities for this year, as are UN reforms such as staff mobility, Umoja, and the Capital Master Plan. “This is no time for business as usual…We will have to throw off another brake on our common progress: the tyranny of the status quo,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Talks International Priorities at World Economic Forum Session

The Secretary-General spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, focusing his remarks on a call for action from the international community to solve the crises in Syria and Mali. Regarding both crises he said: “Let not our inaction today lead to harsh judgment tomorrow.” While in Davos, Mr. Ban also met with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, on the crisis in Syria, as well as the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, and the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina.

WHO Warns of Worsening Crisis in Syria

The World Health Organization announced that the health situation in Syria has only gotten worse over the last six months, with 55 per cent of the public hospitals damaged and more than one-third of all hospitals out of service. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs considers the humanitarian crisis to be deepening. The agency says it could see significantly more than the current four million people in need of urgent assistance and more than two million internally displaced in Syria in the short term.

Agencies Focus on Ending Female Genital Mutilation on Day of Zero Tolerance

United Nations agencies called for an end to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C. Since 2008, when the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C was established, nearly 10,000 communities in 15 countries - about 8 million people - have renounced the practice. Despite the progress, UNICEF and UNFPA called on countries to accelerate their efforts toward ending FGM/C.

The UNA-USA Advocacy Update is structured around the UNA-USA Advocacy Agenda, which focuses UNA’s work on four core issue areas: securing U.S.-UN funding; advancing human rights through the UN; encouraging U.S. ratification of international treaties; and supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Also included in the Update is a recent “round-up” of the month’s most important UN news.  If you would like additional information on any of the items included contact the Membership Team at membership@unausa.org.

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