2020: A Year in Review
As we quickly approach the end of this challenging year, I’d like to take a moment to thank all our members for their continued support.
For so many, this year has been a period of adjustment and transition, including UNA-USA. We canceled all our in-person programming and shifted our events online, grappling with this new normal like all of you.
However, despite the challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you continued to send a clear message: Americans support the lifesaving work of the UN. Take a look back at what UNA-USA accomplished during this unprecedented year.
We launched the Global Engagement Online Series (GEOS)
After our 2020 Global Engagement Summit was canceled at the beginning of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted our programming online and created the Global Engagement Online Series, or GEOS, to keep our members inspired, informed, and connected to the UN. Throughout the year, we hosted 19 programs, covering a range of topics including the UN’s 75th anniversary, UN agencies’ global response to the pandemic, social justice and indigenous rights. We also welcomed distinguished speakers, like the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, the World Health Organization’s Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake, and so many others, including local activists and changemakers. You can watch all our programs from this year on YouTube, and stay tuned for more sessions in the new year!
We reached out to our elected officials—virtually.
Since we couldn’t convene in person for our Global Leadership Summit, typically held every June in Washington, D.C., we held our first virtual Week of Action to connect you with your elected officials. UNA-USA members participated in our national call-in day to urge Members of Congress to support full U.S. funding for the UN and completed 86 phone calls to offices on Capitol Hill, reaching leaders from 20 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Our call-in day was so impactful, we did it again in the fall, bringing our call count up to 151.
You don’t have to wait for our call-in days to reach out to your elected officials. We’ve prepared scripts to make the process easier for you. Simply follow the instructions and connect with your Members of Congress.
We held over 80 UN75 consultations across the country.
To help mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the largest global conversation on the future we want. Hosting more than 80 consultations and engaging 1,850 participants, UNA-USA gathered Americans’ voices from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico in order to understand what Americans think about the current and future state of the world. Read our final report.
We continued to engage young people with the work of the UN.
Earlier this year—prior to the emergence of COVID-19 in the U.S.—Jay’Len Boone, UNA-USA’s eighth Youth Observer to the UN, connected with young people at the Global Leadership Dinner, and various other engagements. Jay’Len also launched his Youth in Action series in which he sat down with young changemakers to interview them about the intersection of their work and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Watch all episodes of the Youth in Action series.
In August, we welcomed Dustin Liu as UNA-USA’s ninth Youth Observer to the UN. Dustin kicked off his term with a listening tour, hosting more than 100 meetings with young people across the country to learn about the issues most important to them. In September, Dustin also launched the Changemaker Compass podcast where he interviews young changemakers from across the U.S. Catch up on his conversations.
We spoke up against racial injustice.
Protecting human rights around the world was a key purpose in the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago. Yet today, here in the U.S., the human rights of Black Americans are under threat. Our country’s flawed systems, built on oppression and deeply rooted in racism, are exposed.
UNA-USA members are committed to ending racial injustice, oppression, and institutionalized racism in America. Just this month, members provided feedback to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about their experiences with racism and thoughts regarding institutional responses to human rights violations that will ultimately be compiled into a report. Additionally, earlier this summer, UNA-USA members urged their representatives to support H.Con.Res.100, a resolution introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), calling for the formation of a U.S. Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission—an essential step toward ending racial injustice in America. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently introduced a concurrent resolution—S.Con.Res.50—in the Senate. Send a message to ask your Senators to support this resolution.
We spoke to UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie about the alarming surge of gender-based violence.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been a surge in gender-based violence, including here in the United States. In October, I was honored to moderate a discussion with Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Angelina Jolie, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA06), and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Dr. Natalia Kanem to address this crisis. Watch our discussion.
We advocated for the UN and its agencies.
Despite all the events and programs that were cancelled this year, one thing wasn’t cancelled: our voice. Here’s the impact you made in 2020:
Thanks again for being an integral part of our movement to support the UN—our movement is stronger with you. Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season. See you in 2021!