Advocacy Update

August 13, 2013

House and Senate Appropriations Committees Far Apart on UN Budgets

A flurry of budget activity that could affect the United Nations occurred on Capitol Hill just prior to Congress’ August recess. Here is a quick recap of where things stand heading into the fall:

  • The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that would severely underfund the UN, including cutting entire funding for a host of voluntary agencies such as the UN Development Programme, UN Women, and UNICEF. The bill allocated the lowest dollar amount to the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account since 1989. For more information, read the following statement from Better World Campaign Executive Director Peter Yeo.
  •  The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill providing robust funding to voluntary agencies, and bringing the U.S. close to fully paying its UN regular budget and peacekeeping dues, including funding the new peacekeeping mission in Mali. For more information, read the following statement from Better World Campaign Executive Director Peter Yeo.
Both bills will be considered when Congress returns from recess as part of a larger discussion to fund the U.S. government past the current fiscal year. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Funds UN without Conditions

The House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a strong message in support of a robust U.S.-UN relationship in passing the FY 2014 Foreign Relations Authorization Act funding the U.S. Department of State. The bill contains much higher levels for the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets than its Appropriations Committee counterpart, and provides the State Department greater flexibility in paying assessed dues without withholding requirements. Better World Campaign Executive Director Peter Yeo issued this statement following the passage of the bill.

Samantha Power Becomes U.S. Ambassador to the UN after Senate Confirmation

Samantha Power recently became the 28th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations after being confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on August 1. Please see the following statement from United Nations Foundation President & CEO Kathy Calvin for more on what Power’s ambassadorship means for the U.S.-UN relationship.

Do You Know the Next U.S. Youth Observer at the UN?

Do you or someone you know have a passion for international affairs and want to bring the voice of U.S. youth to the United Nations? If so, apply today to be the next U.S. Youth Observer at the United Nations General Assembly! UNA-USA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, is now accepting applications from individuals, ages 18-25, interested in serving as the 2013-2014 U.S. Youth Observer.

The U.S. Youth Observer will have a number of exciting opportunities to engage with the international community, including: attend side events during the opening week of the 68th UN General Assembly; attend the 2013 Social Good Summit; travel to speak to UNA-USA Chapters around the country; blog, tweet, and post photos of their experience; advise UNA-USA on potential future youth roles at the UN.

To apply now, visit www.unausa.org/usyouth. All applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. ET, Tuesday, August 20.

Secretary of State Makes the Case for UN Disabilities Treaty

The U.S. Department of State recently released a new video, featuring Secretary of State John Kerry, calling for U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). According to Kerry, U.S. ratification of the treaty will help spread the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) globally; many principles of the ADA are reflected in CRPD. The CRPD has been ratified by more than the 130 countries and has more than 150 signatories, and is considered the key international framework considering the rights of the disabled. According to a statement from the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs, “Ratification will reinforce America’s global leadership, putting us in the strongest position to advance disability rights worldwide.” The U.S. Senate failed to ratify CRPD by a vote of 61-38 in December 2012.

Thank A Peacekeeper Today!

In partnership with the Better World Campaign, UNA-USA presents an opportunity to rally entire communities behind the work of the United Nations, while supporting the vital work of UN Peacekeepers. At your request, we will distribute “Thank a Peacekeeper Cards” to your Chapter.

The three Chapters that return the most UN Peacekeeper thank you notes to UNA-USA will be invited to New York City to present the notes to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. For more information, please visit our website.

 What’s Happening at the UN

  • UN Hosts 12th Annual International Youth Assembly
  • World Bank Approves Hydroelectric Project for Great Lakes Region
  • U.S. Mission Joins the UN in Workshop Addressing Sexual Violence Targeting Men and Boys
  •  Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Launches “Free & Equal”

UN Hosts 12th International Youth Assembly

Hundreds of young people from across the world gathered at UN Headquarters for the 12th International Youth Assembly to seek ways to strengthen youth leadership, accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and look at the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In his video message to the participants, the UN Secretary-General emphasized the role of youth, urging participants to demand accountability, exercise influence as consumers and commentators, and provide momentum through ideas and energy. The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, cited an urgent need to build bridges between diverse cultures, adding that youth are crucial to achieve this goal. The Youth Assembly hosted several discussion forums on youth leadership, employment and global development, youth partnerships and technology, among other topics. Participants included the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth as well as leaders from youth organizations around the world.

World Bank Approves Hydroelectric Project for Great Lakes Region

The World Bank approved $340 million for a hydroelectric project that aims to benefit 62 million people in Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania – part of a Great Lakes regional initiative inaugurated by the Bank’s President and the UN Secretary-General during their first joint visit to the region in May. The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project will boost reliable power supply to the electricity grids of the three countries, reduce electricity costs and promote renewable power, and also aim to spur job-led economic development and pave the way for more dynamic regional cooperation, peace, and stability among the countries of the Nile Equatorial Lakes sub-region.

U.S. Mission Joins the UN in Workshop Addressing Sexual Violence Targeting Men and Boys

The UN, in conjunction with the U.S. Mission to the UN, held a workshop that brought together representatives of UN agencies, civil society organizations, legal experts, medical practitioners, researchers, and survivors from around the world to discuss what could be done to address the issue of men and boys who are victims of sexual violence in conflict. According to the Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura, shame, stigma, devastating health repercussions, criminalization, decreased livelihood opportunities, and a lack of services are just some of the challenges in tackling conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys. The meeting’s outcome will be presented in a report that outlines the most pressing needs in the area of sexual violence in conflict against men and boys and how various stakeholders can best address them.

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Launches “Free & Equal”
The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) recently launched its first global public education campaign to raise awareness and respect for LGBT equality. ‘Free & Equal,’ a year-long effort by OHCHR and partners launched in Cape Town, South Africa, focuses on the need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia. Calling it an “unprecedented” initiative, the UN Secretary-General commended the campaign’s core messages: human rights are universal and we can change attitudes for the better. Unveiling the new campaign and speaking alongside Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Justice Edwin Cameron of the South African Constitutional Court, High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed that such discrimination – sometimes leading to physical assault, sexual violence and targeted killings – is a violation of basic human rights. A number of celebrities have pledged their support for the Free & Equal campaign by spreading campaign messages and materials via social media, including pop star Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

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