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."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"We Can Win"

WHO’s World Malaria Report 2014

Shows Malaria Cases Steadily Declining


Fifteen years ago, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals -- which have been called "the most successful global anti-poverty push in history." The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) include halving extreme poverty rates, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing universal primary education, and more -- all by the target date of 2015.

Goal Number 6 included a series of measures related to combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases. Target 6.C was defined as an effort to halt, by 2015, and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

How has the world done on this measure?

According to the United Nations:
 
  • Between 2000 and 2013, the substantial expansion of malaria interventions led to a 47 per cent decline in malaria mortality rates globally. 

  • In the decade since 2000, 3.3 million deaths from malaria were averted, and the lives of three million young children were saved. 

  • Thanks to increased funding, more children are sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Treatment for tuberculosis has saved some 22 million lives between 1995 and 2012.

“We can win the fight against malaria,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “We have the right tools and our defences are working. But we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable.”

According to WHO (a specialized agency of the United Nations), malaria cases are steadily declining around the world. In the African region, where about 90% of malaria deaths occur, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 54%. So, despite a 43% population increase in sub-Saharan Africa, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year.

How has this progress been achieved?

Between 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially. In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from just 3% in 2004. And this trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.

Additionally, access to accurate malaria diagnostic testing and effective treatment has significantly improved worldwide.

There is now an optimistic public conversation about eradicating malaria entirely by the year 2030.

For example, the recent East Asia Summit recently concluded with a declaration calling for the elimination of malaria from the Asia-Pacific region within the next 15 years. And, a just-published report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommends that the world's new development goals should include efforts to:

"End preventable maternal, new-born and child deaths and malnutrition; ensure the availability of essential medicines; realize women’s reproductive health and rights; ensure immunization coverage; eradicate malaria and realize the vision of a future free of AIDS and tuberculosis...."


(See, "The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet")

Taken together, the MDG's have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. The UN's new development goals, for the period 2015 through 2030, will undoubtedly call for a continuing commitment to the health and well-being of all of the world's people.

As members of the United Nations Association of the USA, we are proud to support these efforts.

In 2014, thanks to the generosity of our members and friends, we raised over $700 for Nothing But Nets -- a campaign of the United Nations Foundation. Nothing But Nets provides bed nets to people in sub-Saharan Africa who are at the greatest risk of contracting malaria.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria killed an estimated 482,000 children under five years of age in 2011. Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable mosquito-borne illness. In 2013, according to WHO, 97 countries had ongoing malaria transmission.

Help Us to Support American Leadership in the United Nations






 

It's easy to become a member of the United Nations Association. Use the sign-up form on the UNA-USA website, here ... http://www.unausa.org/membership

The price of an introductory membership is $25. It feels good to be a member of the United Nations Association ... It is so worth it!

If you're a student, 25 years or younger, you can join our "GenUN" group for FREE.

Thanks!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Team Immunity OKC

Donate to our Team
to Help Prevent Child Deaths
from Vaccine-Preventable Diseases


All members and friends of the United Nations Association are invited to donate to "Team Immunity OKC," a special initiative to support the "Shot at Life" campaign to save the lives of children in developing countries.


It's easy to donate with the Shot@Life online donation tool ...
Click HERE to activate the "Donate" button.

Our goal is to raise $405 from our friends in the '405' are code.
Even a small gift will help!

What's it about? It's as simple as this. Vaccines save lives. We know they do because respected UN agencies like UNICEF and the World Health Organization are tracking the results.

UNICEF reports:

"The dramatic decline in preventable child deaths over the past quarter of a century is one of the most significant achievements in human history. The global under-five mortality rate has declined by nearly half (49 per cent) since 1990, dropping from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. The under-five mortality is falling faster than at any other time during the past two decades. Thanks to the accelerated progress in reducing child mortality, the world saved almost 100 million children– among them, 24 million newborns – who would have died had mortality remained at 1990 rates."


Watch a 90-second YouTube video about Shot@Life here
... www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTOZRhDxZe8
A major factor in this significant achievement has been the increasing availability of vaccines. Yet, according to UNICEF, "One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease preventable by vaccine."

Major challenges persist. More than 30 million children are unimmunized either because vaccines are unavailable, because health services are poorly provided or inaccessible, or because families are uninformed or misinformed about when and why to bring their children for immunization.

How Your Gift will Help. Vaccines currently help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year. With your help, global vaccination programs can stop the 1.5 million unnecessary deaths that still happen every year, and ensure that all children, no matter where they live, have a shot at a healthy life.

Team Immunity OKC
is led by Priya Desai,
UNA-OKC President and
a "Shot at Life" Champion
Your donation to Team Immunity OKC will go directly to the "Shot@Life" campaign of the United Nations Foundation.

Shot@Life has developed partnerships with other public and private organizations to deliver vaccines where they are needed the most. Partners include the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the American Red Cross, and others. See a complete list of Partners here ...
http://shotatlife.org/about-us/partners/

The campaign's Implementing Partners have a proven track record. Their work has already contributed to a 99% reduction in polio, a 74 percent reduction in measles-related deaths, and the introduction of vaccines for the two most deadly childhood diseases, pneumonia and diarrhea.

More About the Campaign. Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for a global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccines, Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life.

Read more about Shot@Life here ... http://shotatlife.org/

Shot@Life Champions are a network of over 300 moms, dads, students, and activists dedicating their voice, time, and support to stand up for childhood vaccines.

Find out how you can become a Shot@Life Champion here ...
http://shotatlife.org/about-us/champions/












Thank you for supporting Team Immunity OKC!


Click HERE ...
It will make you feel good.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

LGBT Rights are Human Rights

by Sharon Bishop-Baldwin

A 2014 Human Rights Award Winner
via Facebook


Friends, all of the accolades we receive are special, for different reasons, but today's award was meaningful because it acknowledges that LGBT rights are human rights.

When Mary and I got up to receive our award and make some comments, I noted that looking around the room, I saw black, white, Latino, Middle Eastern, Christian, Jew, Muslim, male, female, young and old. But after listening to all but one of the speeches (one more came after us), what really struck me were our similarities!

From the UN Free & Equal Campaign
A Muslim speaker talked about having lawmakers propose and pass bills meant to curb his community's freedoms. A Latino speaker talked about bias in society because of differences (in his case a foreign accent). To a person, every speaker who went before us said some phrase or discussed some issue or idea that we ourselves have said about our own LGBT community -- from "Keep the faith" and "Be a voice for the voiceless" to talk of death threats and the work that remains to be done.

It was so meaningful to be in a room full of people who are fighting the same fights right alongside us, revealing how we're really so much the same.

We thank the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance for the honor and especially Bill Bryant of the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association for nominating us.

“Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.”

(Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a16

Friday, December 12, 2014

Human Rights Day in Pictures

Adam Soltani poses with his award. Photo credit: Imam Imad Enchassi

Some of our Favorite Photos from the 2014 Human Rights Awards

Collected from Facebook


.














Maya Martinez accepted an award for her mother, Sonya Martinez. Credit: Beautiful Dream Society.




Carlos Ortiz accepts his award in the chamber of
the Oklahoma House of Representatives
After all of the awards were presented, Mr. Ortiz, who is
a journalist by profession, interviewed a fellow award
winner, Carlos Tello.

"At least 23 members of ‪#‎yesalldaughters‬ are at the capital
today to represent and accept a 2014 Human Rights Award."
Photo: Traci Morales
After the awards program, some supporters of "Yes All Daughters"
stepped into the Capitol Rotunda for a group photograph.
"Yes All Daughters" was nominated for the 2014 Human
Rights Award because they stood up for the personal
security of all people.

 

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
-- Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

A Memorable Human Rights Day

Photo courtesy Carlos Ortiz

A Message from Wilfredo Santosrivera


It was a Happy Human Rights Day at the Capitol. For one day in the Oklahoma House Chamber, grassroots advocates met to recognize the achievements of a diverse group of people of all ages and colors. A collage if you will, like Carlos Tello's mural in the Hall of Governors on the second floor of the Capitol. All making a contribution in the mission of human and civil rights for all.

Like "Yes ALL Daughters", who were recognized for their contribution to the cause of human rights.


From Cristen Claire, via Facebook
Like Mary and Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, who proved that persistence and dedication pay off. And Vicki Miles-LaGrange, who believes in standing up for justice. And Santiaga Quiñónez, a little old lady, poor economically and in health, but who roared like a lion when she talked about her prison ministry. And other advocates like Bill Carmack, and Jeff Hamilton, whose wisdom and experience enriched this beautiful meeting of souls and minds.

Not to mention the valuable contributions of Carlos Ortiz, Mohan Chandran, Akash Patel, Adam Soltani, Claudia Rossavik, Bob Lemon, Sonya Martinez.

And advocates like Ahiezer Black, who always give 100% to the cause. And Christina Mizirl, who asks us all to give at least 10%, everyday to humanity. A great investment for us all.

It was not a perfect event, but it was our day to enjoy and we did.

We did it without a budget. We thank Tim, COCINA DE MINO, for going beyond the call of duty for three years in a row and thank you Ramiro from LA OAXAQUENA for your contribution to the cause. We loved the food.

We love the people and thank you all for making it a memorable Human Rights Day, and thank you Wallace Collins for your leadership of the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance. Sorry you could not be with us and hope that your meeting with our President Obama went well.

Hasta la vista, amigos!

Wilfredo