Sunday, August 23, 2015

Enjoy a Burger, Support UNA-OKC, Celebrate Literacy

Support your OKC Chapter of
the United Nations Association

Eat at S&B Burger Joint on September 8th;
10% of Sales will be Donated to UNA-OKC;

Only at one Location: 5929 N. May Ave.

We're partnering with S&B Burger Joint to support the good work of the United Nations Association in Oklahoma City and beyond.

S&B will donate 10% of their sales for the entire day of Tuesday, September 8th, to UNA-OKC. It's part of their "Pay It Forward" program. You don't need to sign up in advance. You don't need to have a flyer or mention a code. Just show up, and enjoy some great food at S&B -- only at their location at 5929 N. May Avenue.

September 8th is International Literacy Day, as designated by UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. In observance of this day, we want to do something special for our community.

So, as an "extra credit" assignment, we're asking our members and friends to do this: Bring a book with you to S&B on Tuesday, September 8th, 5929 N. May Avenue. We will collect the books, and we will donate them to a local homeless shelter in the OKC area. It doesn't have to be a new book. Gently used is OK. We want to promote a vibrant, literate community for everyone -- including the poorest segments of our community who have the least advantages.

Why literacy? We agree with UNESCO: "Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives."

"Literacy is a key driver for sustainable development.
Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning
of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and
values, required for creating sustainable societies."
-- The UNESCO website for International Literacy Day
To highlight the importance of literacy to global and community development, this year's International Literacy Day is dedicated to raising awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

We're proud to support American membership in UNESCO. For 70 years UNESCO has worked to ensure that literacy remains a priority on national and international agendas. Through its formal and non-formal literacy programs worldwide, the Organization works to realize the vision of a literate world for all.

Why does it matter?

The cost of illiteracy to the global economy is estimated at USD $1.19 trillion. The effects of illiteracy are very similar in both developing and developed nations. This means that the impact of illiteracy – limited opportunities for employment or income generation, higher chances of poor health, propensity towards crime or dependence on social welfare or charity (if available) – can be found wherever illiteracy is found.

Educating girls and women, in particular, has unmatched transformative power. It is estimated that if all women completed primary education, there would be 66% fewer maternal deaths.


Join us at S&B Burger Joint, 5929 N. May Avenue, on Tuesday, September 8th. Bring a friend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The World Supports the United Nations' Non-Proliferation Agreement with Iran

The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution establishing a
monitoring system for Iran’s nuclear program.
UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz

(The World Reacts, Part II)

American Public Opinion Supports the Deal;
Oklahomans Support the Agreement in Bi-Partisan Fashion;
Here is a Summary of Statements from World Leaders.

"Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."
-- Article iii of the Preamble and General Provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
signed July 14, 2015, by representatives of:
The Russian Federation
The United Kingdom
The United States
European Union (High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and
The Islamic Republic of Iran

By now, everyone knows that representatives of the P5 members of the United Nations Security Council, together with Germany and the European Union, have signed a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The new agreement reinforces previous agreements signed by Iran, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond:
“After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have
reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits
and inspections on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Under the agreement, Iran will grant the International
Atomic Energy Agency access to verify adherence to the
restrictions placed on its nuclear program, giving the
international community confidence that the program is,
and will remain, exclusively peaceful.
“Having reached this important agreement, our focus will
now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure
that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach."
In the moments after the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there was a flurry of news releases and statements from politicians of all stripes who wanted to make their voices heard. Opponents of the deal were lined up outside the doors of the cable TV news rooms, waiting to be interviewed.

Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced the agreement, saying Israel would not be bound by its terms. In Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner opposed the deal, saying, "The president has abandoned his own goals." Donald Trump wasted no time in calling the agreement "an absolutely horrible deal."

Meanwhile, our own Senator James Inhofe released a statement announcing his (not surprising) opposition to the deal. He predicted, “The president’s agreement with Iran will... put the Middle East on the brink of a nuclear arms race."

Observing the way opponents of the deal seized the airwaves to state their viewpoints, Professor Juan Cole used his online soapbox to ask, "Why doesn’t US Media interview Real Allies on American Policy?"

Dr. Cole got us to thinking. We concluded that we should find out what the rest of the world is saying about the non-proliferation deal with Iran. Why not compile a listing of the statements from American friends and allies around the world?

It didn't take us long to realize that a listing like this had already been produced on Wikipedia.

Here are some of the most relevant comments that we found:

"There was a significant worldwide response following the announcement of the agreement. Most countries and international organizations welcomed the agreement...."
--Wikipedia entry on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

The EU's Federica Mogherini
From countries that are parties to the JCPOA

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that "the most important achievement of the comprehensive agreement is that the international nuclear non-proliferation system is safeguarded. It can be said that China had played a unique and constructive role and thus is highly praised and affirmed by all parties. In the next step, there are still many matters to be attended to concerning the implementation of the agreement. China will continuously make new contribution to this end with a responsible attitude."

European Union
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who acted as coordinator for the powers, said it could "open the way to a new chapter in international relations and show that diplomacy, coordination, cooperation can overcome decades of tensions and confrontations" and that it is "a sign of hope for the entire world."

In a Bastille Day speech, French President Francois Hollande praised the deal.... French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde the pact was a "robust agreement" that would last at least a decade, and said that he might visit Iran soon. Both Hollande and Fabius pledged that France would be "extremely vigilant" in the implementation of the agreement.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the agreement was "an important success" of international diplomacy....

Russian Federation
President Vladimir Putin said in a statement: "We are certain that the world heaved a sigh of relief today." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated the accord "will favorably affect the general situation in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf."

United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron applauded the agreement, saying that it would help "make our world a safer place" and that Iran now had a "real opportunity" to benefit economically.

Arab states of the Persian Gulf 

Kuwait -
Sabah bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, congratulated all the nations involved in the negotiations and hoped the deal would lead to stability in the region.

Qatar -
The government welcomed the agreement as a "significant step" toward enhancing regional peace and stability.

Saudi Arabia -
In an official statement Saudi Arabia said that the kingdom has always believed in the importance of reaching a deal regarding Iran's nuclear program that ensures preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and at the same time includes a specific, strict and permanent mechanism for inspecting all sites - including military ones - along with a mechanism for rapidly and effectively re-imposing sanctions in case Iran violates the deal.

The United Arab Emirates expressed hope that the deal would contribute to regional security and stability.

A billboard in Oklahoma City
(Photo from the City Sentinel)
Elsewhere in the Muslim world 

Afghanistan -
Afghan president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, welcomed the agreement as a step toward "consolidation and strengthening of peace and stability in the region."

Egypt -
The Egyptian foreign ministry said the deal will prevent an arms race in the Middle East. The statement expressed hopes that the Middle East can be free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

Iraq -
The Iraqi government applauded the agreement.

Pakistan -
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs "welcomed" the agreement, saying that "reciprocal confidence-building measures ... auger well for peace and security in our region." Former President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed the deal as "a triumph of diplomacy and negotiations over coercion and hostility."

Australia's Julie Bishop
Other countries  

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop endorsed the agreement, saying: "What it has done is [bring] Iran into the international regime of inspections of nuclear programs, and that is a good thing. I think we have to give this comprehensive plan a chance."

Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson stated: "We appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 to reach an agreement. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words. To this end, Canada will continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Iran's compliance with its commitments."

President Juan Manuel Santos applauded the agreement as "another triumph of diplomacy over confrontation" and praised President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for their "courage" in securing the deal.

President Juan Manuel Santos
In a statement, Foreign Minister Børge Brende said: "This historic agreement will benefit the international community, the Middle East and Iran. It will also pave the way for closer political and economic contact with Iran."

The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement, saying that it's an important measure to promote both regional and global security. They also called on the international community to maintain the positive momentum for long-term peace created by the agreement.

Holy See:
The Vatican applauded the deal, saying in a statement: "The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See."

From international organizations

United Nations
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying: "I warmly welcome the historic agreement in Vienna today and congratulate the P5+1 and Iran for reaching this agreement. This is testament to the value of dialogue. ... The United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement."

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the agreement a "historic breakthrough" and stated: "It is critical for Iran to implement the provisions of today's agreement and to fulfill all its international obligations and advance security in the region and beyond."

What About American Public Opinion?

The Washington Post reports:
"Public polls show majorities or pluralities of Americans support the broad strokes of the deal, ranging from 46 to 61 percent. The finding of support for a deal is strikingly robust, with supporters outnumbering opponents across a wide range of question wordings and polling firms."

"...A detailed February survey by the non-partisan Program on Public Consultation found that after reviewing an extensive issue briefing with arguments for and against a deal, more than 6 in 10 Democrats and Republicans supported making a compromise deal rather than increasing sanctions aimed at forcing the nation to give up its entire nuclear program."

The more people know about the agreement, the more they like it. This was confirmed by follow-up surveys in Oklahoma, Virginia and Maryland.

In Oklahoma, more than 7 in 10 registered voters who participated in a "citizens cabinet" exercise favored a binding non-proliferation agreement rather than continued sanctions.

For more information on the survey results, see the PDF report on the Voice of the People website.

When we first wrote about this topic in April (See "The World Reacts, Part 1"), we found that public opinion on the negotiations with Iran was considerably more ambiguous. Now, it appears that public opinion may be swinging in favor of the deal as people learn more about the issues.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mandela at the United Nations

In 1993, Nelson Mandela spoke to the UN
About the Long Struggle to End Apartheid

Here are some excerpts from his remarks:

"We have, together, walked a very long road. We have travelled together to reach a common destination.

"The common destination towards which we have been advancing defines the very reason for the existence of this world Organisation.

"The goal we have sought to reach is the consummation of the yearning of all humankind for human dignity and human fulfilment.

"For that reason, we have been outraged and enraged that there could be imposed on any people the criminal system of apartheid.

"Each and every one of us have felt our humanity denied by the mere existence of this system. Each and every one of us have felt brandished as sub-human by the fact that some could treat of others as though they were no more than disposable garbage.

"In the end, there was nobody of conscience who could stand by and do nothing in the search for an end to the apartheid crime against humanity.

"We are here today to convey to you, who are the representatives of the peoples of the world, the profound gratitude of the people of South Africa for your engagement, over the decades, in the common struggle to end the system of apartheid.

"We are deeply moved by the fact that almost from its birth, this Organisation has kept on its agenda the vital question of the liquidation of the system of apartheid and white minority rule in our country.

"Throughout the many years of struggle, we, as South Africans, have been greatly inspired and strengthened as you took action both severally and collectively, to escalate your offensive against apartheid rule....

"In particular, we are most grateful for the measures that the United Nations... took to isolate apartheid South Africa."

Read his entire speech at:

Taking Root:
The Vision of Wangari Maathai

We're presenting this film as part of our observance of Nelson Mandela Day. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

Admission is free.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey to protect the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy.

We hope you will join us!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrate Nelson Mandela Day with Us

Join Us for a Free Showing of "Taking Root"
on Saturday, July 18th, at the Oklahoma Contemporary

Every year on July 18th — the day Nelson Mandela was born -- the UN observes "Nelson Mandela International Day" in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the global culture of peace and freedom.

Queen's Roger Taylor, Leona Lewis, Annie Lennox, and
Brian May join Nelson Mandela and others before the
concert in London's Hyde Park to celebrate his 90th
birthday in 2008. Credit: Getty Images via the Daily Mail
For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker, and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

In Oklahoma City, we will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela by screening "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai." It's a movie that tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy.

New Day Digital says: "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey...."

We're presenting this film as part of our OKC observance of Nelson Mandela Day. This event is FREE and open to the public. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

How the Day Came About

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July as "Nelson Mandela International Day" -- the only international day recognized by the United Nations that is named for an individual person.

In establishing Nelson Mandela Day, the General Assembly was intentional in recognizing Mr. Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality, and the rights of children and the poor.

In many ways, the life of Nelson Mandela is an example of the highest values of the United Nations.

The General Assembly Resolution explicitly acknowledged "...Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world."

The theme of this year's Mandela Day is Education & Literacy. In a world where knowledge truly is power, education and literacy are the basic building blocks that unlock the gates of opportunity and success.

See our Facebook event page ...

We hope you will add this event to your calendar and join us for our second Annual Mandela Day Film Screening!

See you on Mandela Day ... Bring a Friend!








About "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai"

From New Day Digital

Countering the devastating cultural effects of colonialism, Wangari Maathai began teaching communities about self-knowledge as a path to change and community action. The women of her Green Belt Movement worked successively against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests, and violent political oppression. They became a national political force that helped to bring down Kenya's 24-year dictatorship.

Through TV footage and chilling first person accounts, Taking Root documents the dramatic confrontations of the 1980s and '90s, as the women of the Green Belt Movement confront human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Cinema verite footage of the tree nurseries and the women and children who tend them brings to life the confidence and joy of people working to improve their own lives on their terms.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey to protect the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy.

We're presenting this film as part of our observance of Nelson Mandela Day. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

Admission is free.

We hope to see you on Saturday!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When Oklahoma Vied to be the Home of the United Nations

The chairman of the delegation from Brazil signs the UN Charter at the
Veterans' War Memorial Building in San Francisco on June 26, 1945.

In 1945, as a permanent global organization for collective security was rising, forward-thinking Oklahomans hoped to make our state the center of the new world.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. We're helping to celebrate this anniversary by remembering the history of the nascent UN from its earliest days in World War Two.

Seventy years ago today -- June 28, 2015 -- the United States Senate ratified the United Nations Charter by a vote of 89 to 2. This followed years of discussions by the wartime allies about the need for a permanent organization to enforce a lasting peace in the world.

Oklahoma Governor Robert S. Kerr
in 1945. In his State of the State
Address, he said: "Now that we are
beginning to turn our eyes to the
winning of the peace.... Civilization
will have to be rebuilt on a more
enduring basis."
As early as 1942, representatives of 26 nations met in Washington, DC, to sign the Declaration of the United Nations endorsing the Atlantic Charter. The United Nations pledged to use their full resources against the Axis powers.

(The flags of those 26 nations are represented on the cover of our annual report, "In Larger Freedom" (pdf)).

Throughout the years of the second world war, discussions continued about forming a permanent organization for collective security. In 1943, world leaders met in Quebec to pursue this subject. Talks continued in Dumbarton Oaks (1944) and San Francisco (Apri - June, 1945).

By the time the Charter was ready to be signed in 1945, there was intense interest in the location of the future UN headquarters. Many observers realized that the location of the UN General Assembly and Secretariat would have great importance as a "world capital" city -- not just a headquarters building.

The McAlester Democrat newspaper told its readers:

"This new or future city of such world-wide importance will be a continuous world's
fair, and the magnitude and importance which it will display and have over world affairs
is hardly possible for the mind to conceive at this time."

Source materials for this article are from
Charlene Mires, "Capital of the World:
The Race to Host the United Nations,"
New York University Press, 2013
Oklahoma Representative Ben P. Choate -- a state representative from Pittsburg County -- was fascinated by the idea of locating the UN Headquarters in Oklahoma.

Rep. Choate's personal history was rooted in Tuskahoma, where the historic capital of the Choctaw Nation stands. In 1945, he launched an energetic campaign to locate the UN Headquarters in Tuskahoma.

After consulting with Will Durant, the Choctaw chief, Rep. Choate wrote persuasive letters to Governor Kerr, to Oklahoma's representatives in Congress, and to President Harry Truman.

As described in "Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations," Rep. Choate:

"...Extolled the merits of Oklahoma climate and geography, and he imagined that air transportation would make Tuskahoma as accessible as any other place on the planet."

Additionally, he called attention to the symbolic message that would be communicated by locating the UN in a place known for the history of its indigenous people.

The UN Headquarters Building
in New York City. The UN
hosted the first World Conference
on Indigenous Peoples here
in September, 2014.
Rep. Choate wrote in October, 1945:

"Since the prime motive of the [United Nations] was for the protection and help to the minority nations or races, no more fitting and timely gesture could be made than by placing the World Capital here at a place formerly used as the seat of a Government of a minority Nation here in our country."

Charlene Mires, author of "Capital of the World," noted:

"Choate's promotion of Tuskahoma reflected the growing global consciousness of the common concerns of colonized people -- whether Native Americans in Oklahoma or peoples in Asia and Africa -- seeking freedom from European empires. For many, the United Nations represented hope for a more equitable future."

For an instant in time, Rep. Choate's proposal caught the imagination of forward-thinking Oklahomans.

Methodist Central Hall in
London (Westminster) hosted
the first meeting of the United
Nations General Assembly
in January, 1946.
Governor Robert S. Kerr's economic development agency of that era was the Oklahoma Planning and Resources Board, and it embraced Rep. Choate's proposal as an opportunity to promote an economic revival in southeast Oklahoma. The agency boosted the campaign by drawing maps for the United Nations and by developing a promotional brochure to send to London (where the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held).

The chamber of commerce in McAlester also supported the Tuskahoma campaign.

As it turned out, the idea of placing the UN Headquarters in Tuskahoma never achieved the success that was hoped for. (A similar campaign for Claremore also failed). New York City ultimately became the hub for UN operations around the world, supported by UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.

Even so, this brief episode in our state's history helps to illustrate the keen interest that Oklahomans had -- and continue to have -- in the mission and purpose of the United Nations.

The old Choctaw Capitol building
in Tuskahoma, where Rep. Choate
wanted the United Nations head-
quarters to be located.
Over the years, many great Oklahomans have served America in the United Nations -- including Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Secretary of State Hannah D. Atkins, and University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz.

The people of Oklahoma have a continuing appreciation for the goals and values of the United Nations. We are among the 87 percent of Americans who agree that it is important for the United States to maintain an active role within the United Nations.

The members of the UN Association in Oklahoma are proud to support these noble sentiments.

Are you a member yet?

The UN works! Peace is being restored to conflict zones. Child mortality rates are falling. The UN is making important contributions to our understanding of climate change and sustainable development. The UN is at the heart of the global movement to promote a world-wide culture of peace. 

Join us today.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jessica Martinez-Brooks

Announcing the Newest Winner of
Our UNA-OKC Public Service Award

We are proud to announce the winner of our 2015 Public Service Award -- Jessica Martinez-Brooks. Ms. Martinez-Brooks is the Director of Community Outreach and Education for Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). She was nominated by Mr. Akash Patel, the founder and director of World Experiences - Connecting Across Cultures.

The popular "College for Kids"
summer program is offered
through OCCC's Community
Outreach and Education department.
Under the leadership of Ms. Martinez-Brooks, OCCC provides English as a Second Language and GED classes to more than 3,000 students annually in 23 different off-site locations. Through her department, OCCC delivers free citizenship classes for the community. Additionally, OCCC's popular "College for Kids" summer program -- with an emphasis on science, creative arts, math, computer applications, humanities, and social sciences -- is offered through OCCC's Community Outreach and Education department.

Priya Desai, president of the OKC chapter of the United Nations Association, said about Ms. Martinez-Brooks: "This award is given in recognition of her contributions to excellence in public service as well as her enduring commitment to public education."

"As we have learned by participating in the UN's 'My World' survey, people around the world rate education as one of their top priorities.

"Of the 7.5 million people who have voted in the global survey so far," Ms. Desai said, "More than 4.9 million have chosen 'a good education' as the single topic that matters most to their lives. This is true in the United States as well as in most countries in the world."

Through this year's award, we want to pay our respect to Ms. Martinez-Brooks as an individual and to honor all public service workers who help to support public education as a profession. We also hope to call greater attention to the need for quality education in our communities and around the world.

In a speech to a global education conference last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon commented on the prevailing sentiment of the global community:

"We need to listen to this call. Education is a powerful weapon to fight security threats, including the rise of violent extremism.

"The terrorists know this. That is why they keep attacking schools, like in Garissa, Kenya and
Peshawar, Pakistan. They target girls with books, like Malala Yousafzai and her friends as well as the girls in Chibok, Nigeria. We never forget their struggle....

"It is unjust that 57 million school age children are out of school. We cannot call this world
prosperous if it is too poor to educate its children.

"At any age, people can learn."
--Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General
More than 3,000 adult learners attend classes each year
through OCCC's Adult Education and English as a
Second Language programs.
"I urge action to focus on girls and women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and children living in conflict-affected areas, rural areas and urban slums. I also call for school curricula and activities that promote gender equality.

"Education must do more than produce individuals who can read, write and count. It must nurture global citizens who can rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

"At any age, people can learn."

In nominating Jessica Martinez-Brooks for the 2015 UNA-OKC Public Service Award, Akash Patel described the nominee's successful tenure at OCCC. He also described her activities as a volunteer in the community:

"In 2001, Mrs. Martinez-Brooks sponsored a campus organization designed to promote education for Hispanic students. She also began volunteering with the Latino Community Development Agency and was recognized as Volunteer of the Year in 2006.

"She continues her community service outside the confines of the college by serving on the board of directors for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and many other organizations. She also served as president of the Oklahoma Hispanic Professional Association, board vice-president and fundraising chair of the YWCA of Oklahoma City, chair of the Oklahoma City Mariachi Festival and volunteer at La Puerta de Oro and served on the scholarship committee of the League of United Latin American Citizens."

To Mr. Patel, this spirit of volunteerism helps to illustrate the UN's goals of "social progress and
better standards of life in larger freedom." (From the Preamble to the United Nations Charter).

The board of directors of the OKC chapter of the United Nations Association emphatically agrees with Mr. Patel. We are happy to recognize Jessica Martinez-Brooks as our 2015 UNA-OKC Public Service Award winner.

About Jessica Martinez-Brooks

Jessica Martinez-Brooks lives in
Oklahoma City with her husband,
Michael Brooks-Jimenez, and
their children, Joaquin and Lucy.
Jessica Martinez-Brooks currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach and Education at Oklahoma City Community College with a goal of improving and increasing access to post-secondary education for at-risk, low-income, urban, and minority populations.

Martinez-Brooks received her B.A. in journalism and a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She was recognized for her work in racial and social justice by the FBI in 2014, was named Volunteer of the Year by the Latino Community Development Agency in 2006 and named to the "Forty Under 40" and "Achievers Under 40" lists by OKC Business and The Journal Record. In 2014, she received the Robert P. Todd Leadership Award for her work at OCCC and was named to the OCCC Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.

She currently serves on a number of boards and organizations in the metro area including: the
Southwest Center for Human Relation Studies at OU, Regional Food Bank, Teach for America, Historic Capitol Hill, AAUW (American Association of University Women) South Oklahoma City Branch, South Oklahoma City Rotary and Leadership Oklahoma City. She is married to Michael Brooks-Jimenez and resides in Southwest Oklahoma City with her husband and children, Joaquin and Lucy.

The UNA-OKC 2015 Public Service Award will be presented to Ms. Martinez-Brooks on Monday, June 29th, 2pm, at the OCCC Outreach and Education center, 6500 S. Land Ave., in Oklahoma City. Find more information about the event on Facebook,

About the UNA-OKC Public Service Award

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated June 23rd as "Public Service Day" -- an annual day intended to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community. 

To commemorate this day, our chapter of the UN Association has created the UNA-OKC Public Service Award -- to honor a county, state or other governmental employee whose work serves to promote " progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."  (From the Preamble to the UN Charter).

UN Public Service Day recognizes the work of public servants, encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector, and highlights valuable contributions to community and global development.

For more:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Common Heritage of Humanity

The Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK:
Nominated for UNESCO's Heritage List

The Price Tower, a national historic landmark designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, has been nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The 19-story tower, located in Bartlesville, was completed in 1956. For many years, it served as the corporate headquarters for the H. C. Price Company, an Oklahoma oil pipeline and chemical firm.

A decision on a World Heritage designation for the Price Tower may happen soon. The 39th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee will take place from June 28th to July 8th in Bonn, Germany.

As reported by, "Bartlesville's Price Tower is one of ten buildings in seven states designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List."

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement in January.

Currently, there are 21 World Heritage Sites in the United States, including Cahokia Mounds (Illinois), Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico), Grand Canyon National Park, the Great Smokey Mountains, Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, and others.

Recent events in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Mali have highlighted
the multiple threats to cultural heritage during crisis,
including deliberate attacks, destruction as collateral
damage in fighting, the greed of unscrupulous traders and
collectors, vandalism of factions that seek to erase the
achievements of past cultures.
The UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites includes places of special cultural or physical significance, as recognized by UNESCO's 21-member World Heritage Committee (member states elected by the General Assembly).

Listed places may include forests, mountains, lakes, islands, deserts, monuments, buildings, complexes, or entire cities. Presently, as of May 2015, there are over 1,000 sites on the UNESCO list in more than 160 nations. According to Wikipedia, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 50 sites, followed by China (47), Spain (44), France (39), Germany (39), Mexico (32) and India (32).

Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the nation where it is located.

The World Heritage program began in 1972 with the adoption of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage -- an international agreement which has been ratified by the United States and 190 other state parties. The program serves to list, name, and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity.

Preservation of the world's cultural heritage has been a topic in the news recently, as World Heritage Sites in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Mali have suffered from attacks and destruction.

As an example, Iraq's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities reported earlier this year that an ISIS / ISIL militant group attacked the ancient archaeological site of Nimrud in northern Iraq and damaged it with heavy vehicles.

George Papagiannis of UNESCO laments the destruction
of priceless cultural artifacts at Nimrud, Iraq
George C. Papagiannis, External Relations & Information Officer for UNESCO, said the loss of artifacts from Nimrud was devastating for its brutality.

“These extremists are trying to destroy the entire cultural heritage of the region in an attempt to wipe the slate clean and rewrite history in their own brutal image,” he told the New York Times. He added that Nimrud was recently nominated to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

In response, the UN Security Council has called for the protection of cultural heritage and diversity. The International Criminal Court has defined the intentional destruction of historical buildings as a war crime. Additionally, UNESCO has developed a comprehensive set of international instruments to protect cultural heritage. Each of these actions is designed to authorize national governments to act forcefully to deter vandalism and deliberate attacks against sites of outstanding cultural significance to the human family.

See a drone's eye view of the Price Tower ...
... 3 minutes
"The Tree that Escaped the Crowded Forest." The Price Tower was designed to be a multi-use building with business offices, shops, and apartments.

The distinctive features of the building led its architect to compare the tower to a tree:
  • The tower is supported by a central "trunk" of four elevator shafts;
  • It is anchored in place by a deep central foundation, as a tree is anchored by a taproot;
  • The nineteen floors of the building are cantilevered from the central core, like the branches of a tree;
  • The outer walls hang from the floors and are clad in patinated copper "leaves."

In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Price Tower was "the tree that escaped the crowded forest." It was based on the design of a building that was originally intended to be built in the urban environment of New York City.

The Classen Building
The Classen building in Oklahoma City's Asian District was designed in the style of the Price Tower, as a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Want to Support UNESCO's Essential Work to
Preserve the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage?

Contact your federal officials to appeal for a waiver of the law regarding U.S. payment of UNESCO dues.

UNESCO is working on a smaller budget than it used to, because the U.S. withdrew its dues -– a significant portion of UNESCO’s budget -– several years ago as a result of a law about recognition of Palestine.

The U.S. lost its voting rights at UNESCO in 2013, a huge embarrassment for American leadership in the world community.

To support American leadership in the United Nations, please consider joining the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA). It's easy to join online ...
... and students 25 years old or younger can join UNA-USA for FREE at!

See the UNA-OKC website at