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.

www.unausa.org/membership

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, www.facebook.com/events/868725539842455/


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 "...social 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: www.una-okc.org/public_service.html

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 NewsOn6.com, "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.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1176/
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 ...
https://www.youtube.com/embed/id5SgTOOQYQ
... 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 genun.unausa.org!

See the UNA-OKC website at www.una-okc.org.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The World Reacts - Part 1

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (left) and Iranian
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend the announcement of an
agreement on Iran nuclear talks on April 2, 2015 at the Swiss Federal
Institutes of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.
(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Political Spin versus Straight Talk
on the Nuclear Framework with Iran


Where Does the United Nations Stand on the Agreement?


The announcement on April 2nd of a framework nuclear agreement with Iran was big news, by any measure.

Naturally, there have been a range of reactions to the news. Many governments and civil society organizations have expressed their support. Public opinion surveys have measured the sentiment of American voters. Politicians have also offered their own thoughts on the deal, often with a heavy dose of political spin. It's hard to escape politics, isn't it?

The ministers of foreign affairs of France, Germany,
the European Union, Iran, the United Kingdom and
the United States as well as Chinese and Russian
diplomats announcing the framework of a comprehensive
agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
(Lausanne, 2 April 2015).
Most international leaders have spoken in favor of the agreement, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China.

Those five nations, often called the "P5" nations, are recognized leaders of the United Nations Security Council. One of their mandates is to control the spread of nuclear weapons. They have been focused on suspicious Iranian nuclear research and development activities since 2002, when the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) received information about a previously unknown uranium enrichment facility in Iran.

After years of attention to Iran's uranium enrichment capability, with the unwavering goal of assuring that Iran does not develop the capacity to build a nuclear weapon, the P5 nations support the framework agreement. In fact, they were at the negotiating table with Iran when the framework deal was worked out.

A political cartoon attempts to characterize
the nuclear framework agreement with Iran
as a 2-sided deal between President
Obama and the Iranian leader.
In fact, the framework is a multi-
lateral agreement. The United Nations
Security Council took its first steps toward
reaching an agreement with
Iran in 2006 -- two years before
President Obama was elected.
Here's the first element of Political Spin that is often heard in conversations about the framework: Some political commentators routinely describe the agreement as a deal between "Obama" and the Iranians. Or, they refer to it as a deal between "the Obama Administration" and Iran. In fact, it was the P5 nations plus Germany that took the lead on negotiations with Iran. It was an international coalition that hammered out the framework deal on Iranian nuclear activities.

(We give credit to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their individual leadership on re-opening diplomacy with Iran, but the strength of the international coalition has been a key factor in the success of the negotiations).

On multiple occasions in the last 30 days, Senator James Lankford -- our junior senator from Oklahoma -- has made the comment that, "The Administration agreement is weaker than the United Nations demands on Iran."

Is this comment more Political Spin or is it Straight Talk?

Well, Senator Lankford is correct in a way. But, his statement leaves out recent developments
with respect to the negotiations in Switzerland (where the P5 negotiators continue to meet
with delegates from Iran).

Here are five facts to consider:

The uranium fuel enrichment plant at Natanz, Iran.
BBC News reports that, "Analysis of environmental samples
taken from the plant and other tests carried out by the IAEA
in November 2014 confirmed that the facility was being
used to produce low-enriched uranium." It is not possible
to build a nuclear weapon with low-enriched uranium.
(1)  In 2006, the UN Security Council issued its first resolution demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Additional action followed. Increasingly strict levels of economic sanctions were imposed beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2012. In all, seven sanctions resolutions were implemented. An arms embargo was put in place. The assets of key individuals and companies were frozen. Travel bans were invoked. Iran was barred from participating in any activities related to ballistic missiles.

(2)  The goal of the sanctions was not to punish Iran. Rather, it was to force Iran to comply with the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a 47-year-old international agreement that is enforced by the IAEA in cooperation with the UN Security Council. Iran signed the treaty in 1968, and it insists that its nuclear-related activities have always been for peaceful purposes (which are allowed under the terms of the treaty). Even so, a 2003 report by the IAEA Board of Governors found that, "Iran has failed to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, the subsequent processing and use of that material and the declaration of facilities where the material was stored and processed."


(3) By 2013, the steady and broad application of sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. A round of the talks between Iran and the P5+1 was held in the Kazakh city of Almaty. Further talks were held later that year in Geneva.

(4) On 24 November 2013, an interim agreement was reached between the P5+1 countries and Iran in Geneva, Switzerland. Iran agreed to a freeze and partial rollback of portions of its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions. Meanwhile, the negotiators worked towards a long-term agreement. 

President Lyndon Johnson looking on as Secretary
of State Dean Rusk prepares to sign the NPT,
1 July 1968.
(5) The framework agreement announced on April 2nd is not the end of the road. The negotiators have given themselves until June 30th to produce a final, written agreement. The "framework" of the agreement is described in a Joint Statement issued by the negotiators. The
Joint Statement includes the following points on which all sides concur:

<> Iran's enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations.

<> Iran is allowed to conduct non-weapons research and development activities on centrifuges with an agreed scope and schedule.

<> Iran's underground enrichment center will be converted to a "nuclear, physics and technology centre."

<> Iran's Heavy Water facility in Arak will be redesigned and modernized to a "Heavy Water Research Reactor" with no weapon grade plutonium byproducts. The spent fuel will be exported; there will be no reprocessing.

<> Iran agrees to monitoring by the IAEA, including enhanced access by modern technologies to
clarify past and present issues.

<> After the IAEA verifies Iran's implementation of its key nuclear commitments:

The EU will terminate all nuclear-related economic sanctions.
 
The United States will cease the application of all nuclear-related
secondary economic and financial sanctions.
 
The UN Security Council will endorse this agreement with a resolution
which terminates all previous nuclear-related resolutions and incorporates
certain restrictive measures for a mutually agreed period of time.


Senator James Lankford -- (R) Oklahoma
With respect to Senator Lankford's assertion ("The Administration agreement is weaker than the United Nations demands on Iran"), the final point of the Joint Statement is particularly relevant. It is clear that the framework agreement is completely consistent with the goals and aspirations of the permanent members of the Security Council. Assuming that a final agreement is finished on schedule, we can expect a new resolution from the UN Security Council later this year. It will put the UN Security Council on the record as favoring the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Our Oklahoma members and friends of the United Nations Association deserve to know all the facts about the framework agreement with Iran -- not a cartoon version of the facts. As the negotiations continue, we will continue to provide analysis and commentary.

Thank you for your support!


What Do Americans Think about the Framework Agreement with Iran?

We queried The Google, and we found these 3 articles which we recommend:

More Approve Than Disapprove of Iran Talks, But Most Think Iranians Are ‘Not Serious’
"Ahead of a March 31 deadline for nuclear talks with Iran, more Americans approve (49%) than
disapprove (40%) of the United States negotiating directly with Iran over its nuclear program."
--The Pew Research Center

Poll Finds Most Americans Don't Trust Iran on Nuclear Deal
"Most Americans don't trust that Iran will abide by an eventual agreement to curtail its
nuclear program and not develop an atomic weapon, according to an NBC News poll released on
Thursday."
--NBC News

Poll: Majority of Americans Support Iran Nuclear Deal
"A new public opinion survey in the United States shows that Americans broadly support
efforts to negotiate an agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program.... The Washington
Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 59 percent of Americans polled favored
completion of a deal, with 31 percent opposed."
--Voice of America

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shane Jett in Geneva

The UN Human Rights Council
Hears from an Oklahoma Cherokee


Remarks delivered to the UN Human Rights Council on March 5, 2015
by Shane David Jett

Distinguished Delegates

It is an honor for me to address the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council and speak
out for the Native American indigenous tribes of the United States.

Shane Jett lives in Tecumseh. He served in
the Oklahoma House of Representatives
from 2004 to 2010.
I bring greetings from my beloved country, the United States of America, my State of Oklahoma, home of 39 Native American tribes, and my own tribe, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. OSIYO

I am grateful to the FAWCO for this opportunity.

As a former legislator in Oklahoma, I worked closely with each of our 39 Tribes. I have advocated for all Tribes on the State and National level. Today, I am truly grateful for this international forum to advocate for the rights of our future generations.

Like many tribes, the Cherokee Nation's was forced from our homelands to travel great distances by threat of military violence. We called this our "Trail of Tears." We were forbidden to worship in our traditional religions. We were denied citizenship. Our land was taken and redistributed... The list is long and sad.

There are many human rights issues that plague the Native American populations:

The UN Human Rights Council
meets three times each year in
Geneva, Switzerland.
  • violence against Native women
  • extreme poverty
  • lending practices
  • discrimination
  • lawsuits over taxation

These are well documented. I wish to tell you today about the destructive practice of blood quantification to determine the degree of "Indian Blood." This was implemented in 1885, and was often done in an arbitrary and non-scientific fashion by simply looking at skin color or other physical appearance to determine if you were "a full blood" or a "half breed."

Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council are
held in the Palace of Nations in Geneva.
The real purpose for the "blood quantification" was to mathematically reduce the number of tribal members by attrition. Though the United States has since dropped this requirement, the damage was done. Today many tribes continue to use blood quantum to justify expelling native children whose blood quantum drops below the minimum threshold.

The truth is that blood quantum was never part of true and authentic Cherokee culture or tradition. It was never a part of any American Indian tribal tradition. The irony is that it was never a European or American tradition. It was invented solely for the purpose of dividing us until we were no more. No need for violence. With the right mathematics there will be no more American Indians.

The ultimate tragedy would be for our ancestors to have endured so much to survive, only for my generation to squander our existence for all time. If we lack the wisdom to reject this mathematical formula, many tribes will cease to exist.

My appeal to the Human Rights Council is to consider recognizing the practice of expelling children from their tribe based upon an antiquated blood quantum system is both traumatic and a violation of their basic human rights. Blood quantum should be relegated to the pages of history as the archaic practice that it is. Blood quantification may be a useful practice for breeding and tracking livestock, but it should never be used as a means to expel Indian youth from their tribe, their culture, their heritage and their birthright.

Thank you.

WADO!

About the Author:
Shane Jett lives in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010. Born in Shawnee, Jett graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with his B.B.A. with a major in international business and a minor in Spanish. Fluent in three languages, Jett spent two years in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, working for Global Options International. Jett and his wife Ana Carolina Gomes have three daughters -- Raquel, Esther, and Sarah Grace.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Strengthening the Momentum

Middle School Students at the Model UN Conference in 2014

Middle School Students Tackle
Nuclear Disarmament at
Model UN Conference

 

Can You Volunteer to Help Lead
a Team of Middle School Delegates?


"Nuclear weapons are the most dangerous weapons on earth.  One can destroy a whole city, potentially killing millions, and jeopardizing the natural environment and lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects.... The United Nations has sought to eliminate such weapons ever since its establishment."
--From the website of the United Nations Office of Nuclear Disarmament
www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/

On Monday, March 2nd, the University of Oklahoma will host the Middle School Model United Nations Conference of the Southwest. In a 1-day conference (9am to 4pm), middle school students will practice skills that will help them through a lifetime -- knowledge and skills such as problem solving, teamwork, communications, and an appreciation for the good work of the United Nations.

Attendees will learn how to:

Write a position paper;
Formulate a resolution; 
Master parliamentary procedure; and
Caucus successfully
 

Vivian Armitage
The conference is being organized by Vivian Armitage, a member of the OKC chapter of the United Nations Association. She will pre-assign each student participant to one of several country teams. Each team will receive a country question sheet and an iPad. With help from team leaders, the students will familiarize themselves with their country's involvement in the quest for nuclear disarmament.

The presence of nuclear weapons in our world is one of those thorny problems that the global community has struggled with for decades. We don't expect our Middle School delegates to resolve the challenge of nuclear weapons in their 1-day simulation. Even so, the student delegates will have a chance to review some of the incremental strategies that have been advanced by the UN to achieve the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.

The United Nations "commends... the constructive
role played by civil society in promoting nuclear
non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament."
For example, the delegates will review the 2011 United Nation General Assembly Resolution, “United Action Towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.” The resolution (pdf) advocates a multi-prong approach to the control and elimination of nuclear weapons, including multi-lateral steps to:

<> Reduce the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons;

<> Establish additional nuclear-weapon-free zones;

<> Achieve the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by all "states" (nations) at the earliest opportunity;

<> Cut off -- throughout the world -- the production of fissile (bomb making) material; and

<> Other actions to disarm the world of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control -- which is considered to be "essential to international peace and security."

To the point of the Model UN conference, the resolution "Commends... the constructive role played by civil society in promoting nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, and encourages all States to promote, in cooperation with civil society, disarmament and non-proliferation education which, inter alia, contributes to raising public awareness... and strengthens the momentum of international efforts to promote nuclear disarmament...."

 

Volunteers are Needed on March 2nd


Some of our Team Leaders in 2014
Team leaders are needed to help lead discussions within the simulated country delegations. Can you help?

Here's how Vivian describes the job of the team leader:

"You will be a team leader from 9:30- 11:30. The topic the students will be researching is Nuclear Disarmament. Your group will be required to research your assigned country and its involvement in Nuclear Disarmament. Each group will then be given a country question sheet... and an iPad. Your job is to answer questions and assist them as they familiarize themselves with your country's involvement."

At the end of the day students will experience an abbreviated Model UN session and will practice the concepts they learned.

If you can help on Monday, March 2nd, please contact Vivian at vivianarmitage@yahoo.com.

Thanks!


A Tremendously Difficult Challenge

from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs
 

Virginia Gamba. Director of the
UN Office for Disarmament Affairs
"The United Nations has sought to eliminate such weapons ever since its establishment. The first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1946 established a Commission to deal with problems related to the discovery of atomic energy among others. The Commission was to make proposals for, inter alia, the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes. The resolution also decided that the Commission should make proposals for 'the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.'

"A number of multilateral treaties have since been established with the aim of preventing nuclear proliferation and testing, while promoting progress in nuclear disarmament. These include the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water, also known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was signed in 1996 but has yet to enter into force."

"Global norms for disarmament are vital to the sustainable development, quality of life, and ultimately the survival of this planet."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Carrying Dr. King's Courage

"...Just before 1pm, they step off toward the Edmund Pettus Bridge,
which is named for a Confederate general and Grand Dragon
of the KKK. At the head of the line are two American flags
and the flag of the United Nations."
From "The Selma Voting Rights Struggle & March to Montgomery"
By Bruce Hartford

by Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary-General of the United Nations


From a speech delivered in Atlanta, Georgia
May 8, 2008


Ambassador Young, Members of the Atlanta Chapter of UNA-USA, faculty, students and friends, I feel deeply privileged to be here today. Let me thank the Robert W. Woodruff Library for this opportunity to see the priceless treasures in its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. collection.

Allow me to pay tribute to you, Madam Mayor, for leading the efforts to safeguard these invaluable papers here in Atlanta -- the city that Dr. King called home, and the heart of the civil rights movement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
I am especially moved to have an opportunity to pay tribute to Martin Luther King here in Atlanta for the second time. The first was on a visit fifteen years ago, as a far more junior diplomat, while serving as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Korean Embassy in Washington, DC.

It was a unique experience for someone like me -- from a land halfway around the globe, yet deeply influenced by this country, by its principles and ideals, and by Dr. King's courage in striving to ensure they hold true for everyone.

Over the years, my admiration for Dr. King has grown even more profound, as I have grown older, the world more complex, and the rights he so valiantly fought for more acutely important than ever around the world.

Today, my admiration grew even further, as I saw the papers lodged in this library. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is a profoundly awe-inspiring document. Just reading a printed copy, it is easy to get swept up by Dr. King's shining vision, and forget that his powerful words were written under conditions of utter disempowerment. He couldn't even send the letter; it had to be smuggled out. Seeing the original, with paragraphs that Dr. King wrote on scraps of paper, I could only imagine what intellectual courage and conviction went into the effort.

I was also struck by the deep bond that exists between the United Nations and this great man. The Library staff was kind enough to show me many artefacts that underline the connection. Take Dr. King's acceptance speech on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. He was only the second African-American to be Nobel Peace Laureate. The first was his steadfast supporter, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ralph Bunche.

What I saw today helped me form a picture of their close relationship. A letter from Ralph Bunche, on UN stationary, asking Dr. King and his wife to visit him on the way to the Nobel ceremony in Oslo; an engraved invitation to the Kings to dine with the Bunche family at their home in Queens.

Dr. King and Mr. Bunche struggled together for the ideals they shared. Ralph Bunche was there at the Great March on Washington. He was at Dr. King's side leading the procession from Selma to Montgomery. It was 1965, and Mr. Bunche told the crowd that the United Nations was with them. He said, and I quote: “In the UN, we have known from the beginning that secure foundations for peace in the world can be built only upon the principle and practice of equal rights and status for all peoples, respect and dignity for all.”

These words capture the conviction underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary we celebrate this year. They are the tenets of the United Nations. And they are the tenets that Dr. King lived and died for. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.

When Ralph Bunche learnt that Dr. King had been assassinated, he was devastated. He said going to Atlanta for the funeral was the saddest journey he ever made.

He understood that this colossal tragedy reverberated far beyond the borders of the United States. As Mr. Bunche put it, and I quote, “The world has lost one of its most earnest, respected and commanding voices in the allied causes of peace, freedom and the dignity of man.”

The treasures I have seen here today validate these words. Dr. King remains an unsurpassed advocate of all the UN stands for: peace, economic and social justice, and human rights. We can be inspired by him as we pursue our overriding mission today to reach the Millennium Development Goals, the vision agreed by all the world's Governments to build a better world in the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I will leave here forever impressed by Dr. King's courage. He could see the bridge between the terrible injustices in our world and the noble rightness that humanity can achieve. He spent his life building that bridge and marching across it, from despair to hope, from suffering to salvation, from war to peace and from hate to love.

As the United Nations strives to tackle the problems raging our world and to realize the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we carry in our hearts Dr. King's unending courage and his unbending conviction.

So many people in this room have worked tirelessly to preserve his legacy. And all of us, especially the students here today, are challenged to carry it forward into the future.

Thank you very much.

Join the United Nations Association of the USA
at www.unausa.org/membership

From Dr. King's Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality."