Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Good Fight Against Malaria

Here are some of our chapter volunteers who helped out with our
movie presentation at The Paramount -- Michelle Rodriguez, Kellen
Moore, Bansari Mehta, and Priya Desai (our chapter president).
Thanks to the generosity of the good people who attended our free movie screening on July 19th, we raised over $700 for Nothing But Nets. As a result, 70 bed nets will be sent to sub-Saharan Africa to help with malaria prevention efforts. We are so proud of the support of the friends and members of the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.

If you attended the movie, you're aware that the best prevention for malaria is bed nets treated with insecticide. Someday in the future, if current research is successful, there will be a preventive vaccine for malaria. Currently, though, the best prevention is to avoid the mosquitoes that carry the Plasmodium parasite.

In 2010, according to the World Health Organization, there were 219 million documented cases of malaria in the world. That year, the disease killed between 660,000 and 1.2 million people -- many of whom were children in Africa.

Malaria has a devastating effect on individual lives and entire communities. Because of this, the United Nations has made malaria prevention a global priority -- as expressed in the UN Millennium Development Goals.

To make a donation to Nothing But Nets,

Here's the good news about the UN's efforts:

<> Thanks to increased funding, more children are sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa.
<> Between 2000 and 2012, the substantial expansion of malaria interventions led to a 42 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.

Our $700 contribution to bed nets is designated for "Nothing But Nets" -- a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness and funding to fight malaria.

Nothing But Nets works with UN partners like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Health Organization to purchase nets and distribute them to countries in Africa. Net distributions are typically part of a wider public health effort within a country coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the UN and other local and international organizations.

Your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association supports American leadership in the United Nations. We are dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations -- including the good fight against malaria.

Join us!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Movie on Saturday

We'll hope you'll join us on Saturday as we gather to
 watch, learn, and inspire one another.
For a 3-minute 'featurette' describing the
movie, check out this link on YouTube
Here's what people are saying about "Mary and Martha," our featured film on Saturday at The Paramount in Oklahoma City:

"A wonderfully done film...." 

"The story line is strong and believable...."

"This story of mothers fighting for a cause is both inspiring and informing the audience on the real problems that face our current world." 

"The film is so well put together, and really thumps you with a whirlwind of emotion and sympathy.... A must watch."

"A brilliant film...."

"Mary and Martha" stars Hilary Swank as Mary, an interior designer who loses her son to malaria. She meets Martha, a British housewife played by Brenda Blethyn. They forge a common bond in their fight to support malaria prevention efforts. Through their struggle, they rebuild their lives, showing how ordinary people can make a difference and inspire positive change in the process. Oscar-winning actor James Woods plays a supporting role as Mary's estranged father.

"Mary and Martha" earned good reviews when it was released in 2013 as an HBO film.

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 19th -- 3pm
The Paramount
701 W. Sheridan
Oklahoma City, OK

Admission is free. Please come prepared to give a small donation to "Nothing But Nets," the malaria prevention campaign of the UN Foundation.

We hope to see you on Saturday!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Enjoy a Free Movie with Us

Enjoy a Free Movie at The Paramount on Saturday, July 19th

Enjoy a Movie.
Send a Net.
Save a Life.

In observance of Nelson Mandela International Day, your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association is offering a screening of the much-acclaimed film, "Mary and Martha" (starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank).

You're invited to join us for a matinee presentation -- Saturday, July 19th, at 3pm.

This FREE movie showing is designed to be entertaining, educational and inspiring. Our first-ever Nelson Mandela Day program will be offered in the comfort of the cozy movie theatre at The Paramount, 701 W. Sheridan, in Oklahoma City. Enjoy the company of other members and friends of the United Nations Association!

"Mary and Martha" is a film about two mothers connected by loss, inspired by hope.

From HBO: "Hilary Swank stars as Mary and Brenda Blethyn stars as Martha, an American interior designer and British housewife who have little in common apart from the one thing they wish they didn't. When malaria strikes, the lives of these very different women change forever. They forge a deep friendship and embark on an epic journey of self-discovery to Africa, dedicating themselves to the cause of malaria prevention. Beginning to rebuild their lives, they show how ordinary people can make a difference and inspire positive change in the process. Enlisting the help of Mary's estranged father, a former politico, the two women beseech both the powers that be and ordinary people to get involved, realizing a shared responsibility to all the world's children."

Our decision to present this film is motivated by our commitment to the values of the United Nations as well as the inspiring example of Nelson Mandela and his dedication to the service of humanity.

Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria.
For a family in Africa, a net can mean the difference
between life and death. Donate to Nothing But Nets.
Following the film, the members of our OKC chapter of UNA-USA will make a generous contribution to "Nothing But Nets" -- a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness and funding to fight malaria, a leading cause of death among children in Africa.

Nothing But Nets works with UN partners like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Health Organization to purchase nets and distribute them to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Net distributions are typically part of a wider public health effort within a country coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the UN and other local and international organizations.

About our Venue. Located on historic Film Row in Oklahoma City, The Paramount is a great place for breakfast, lunch, or a light dinner. It is a restaurant that serves coffee, wine and beer. (See here for their menu). It also offers live music, movies and stage shows on special occasions.

The small theatre at The Paramount offers a cool and comfortable screening room for people who enjoy good movies -- like you and me.

Join us at The Paramount. Bring your friends ... Enjoy a film and save a life as we honor Nelson Mandela!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jacklyn Brink Rosen

Jacklyn Brink Rosen (center) was hosted by Gerry Bonds on her radio
program, "The Living Room." Ms. Rosen was advocating for legislation
to fight hunger. Joining them was Rep. Richard Morrissette (right).

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

We are proud to announce the winner of our 2014 Public Service Award -- Jacklyn Brink Rosen.

Ms. Rosen is a Legislative Assistant for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. She was nominated by Rep. Richard Morrissette, who represents District 92 in Oklahoma City.

Several factors were considered in the decision to select Ms. Rosen as our award winner. First, we are impressed by her professionalism and commitment to the functions of the Oklahoma House of Representatives -- including the development of public policy, respect for the law, accountability, and responsiveness to constituent problems.

Just as important, we want to recognize Ms. Rosen's spirit of volunteerism -- a trait that is shared by many public sector workers in our state.

Ms. Rosen has been active in several community grassroots organizations, including the Shiloh Summer Camp, the Needs Foundation, RESULTS (a national group that creates the political will to end poverty), and the Malnutrition Coalition (a group that Jacklyn founded). Not least of all, Ms. Rosen is a volunteer leader of our Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.

Food security is a centerpiece issue for Jacklyn. Her concern about issues related to hunger and poverty motivated her to join the United Nations Association.

In the next few days, we will publish a more in-depth article about Ms. Rosen's selection as this year's recipient of our Public Service Award.

The announcement of our Public Service Award winner coincides with the United Nations' "Public Service Day" -- June 23rd -- an annual day intended to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community. 

In establishing Public Service Day, the UN General Assembly recognized that "...efficient,
accountable, effective and transparent public administration, at both the national and
international levels, has a key role to play in the implementation of internationally agreed
goals, including... the United Nations Millennium Declaration." 

For more information about international efforts to celebrate the value of public administration,
see the website of the United Nations Public Administration Network:

Congratulations, Jacklyn Brink Rosen!

The first of the Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Globally, about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished. More than 100 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.
Find more information at the UN website:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Welcome Development

Anti-UN Fervor Subsided in
Oklahoma's 2014 Legislature

Most Representatives Got the Message: Voters Aren't
Impressed by Goofy Attacks on the United Nations

The 2014 session of the Oklahoma Legislature ended a couple of weeks ago. We're happy to report that no crazy new anti-UN bills came forward to be debated or voted upon.

Following the 2013 session -- in which 4 anti-UN bills were introduced -- the (almost complete) absence of nutty state legislation in 2014 was a welcome development.

Actually, there was a little bit of anti-UN sentiment boiling at the State Capitol. That was evident in some of the talking points we heard during the session. Certain speakers and commentators were willing to use "UN Agenda 21" as a reference point in a couple of debates. But, the craziness was more subdued this year. For example, it didn't manifest itself in any new efforts to suppress UN-related research or reports, etc.

Rep. Gus Blackwell introduced a resolution in the 2014
Legislature which would have opposed the use of
the word "Sustainability" in our state. The resolution
never got a hearing and didn't receive a vote -- a good
sign that anti-UN fervor at the State Capitol is waning.
Only one new legislative measure was based on the premise of fighting the supposed menace of UN Agenda 21. House Resolution 1033 was introduced by Rep. Gus Blackwell. We wrote about it in March of this year. (See the article, "Don't Say Sustainability").

HR 1033 died a quiet death when the Legislative session came to an end on May 23rd. It didn't receive a hearing in committee. It was never debated or voted on. It simply went nowhere. Evidently, the leaders of the House of Representatives realized that HR 1033 was a screwy idea that didn't deserve the slightest bit of attention. Calls from our members and friends probably helped, as well.

Another item -- House Bill 2807 -- was touted by some Tea Party supporters as a measure to "nullify" Agenda 21 in Oklahoma. But, sometimes the Tea Partiers see connections that aren't really there. When we reviewed the bill early in the session, we saw that HB 2807 doesn't explicitly mention the United Nations or Agenda 21. We concluded that the bill was really about land-use (zoning) laws and laws regarding eminent domain. We recognized that these topics are beyond the scope of interest of our association. So, we didn't take a position on the bill, and we didn't ask our members to take any action on it, either.

Some Tea Party supporters attempted to
define House Bill 2807 as an anti-UN
measure. They said it would "nullify"
UN Agenda 21. But, Agenda 21 has
nothing to do with the subjects covered
by HB 2807.
(A good summary of House Bill 2807 appears on the website. Ultimately, the bill drew opposition from certain mayors and municipal government officials. At the end of the session, the measure had gained approval in the State House of Representatives, but it didn't come up for a floor vote in the State Senate).

All session long, there was a popular uprising against the Common Core educational standards of the National Governor's Association. The Common Core drama came to a climax last week when Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill (House Bill 3399) repealing the Common Core standards in the state.

This was another subject where a few fervid Common Core opponents attempted to define their opposition to the standards in terms of their favorite rhetorical straw man -- that is, UN Agenda 21.

We kept a close eye on this issue, but -- as with HB 2807 -- we recognized that the debate over Common Core wasn't really an issue for our chapter. We didn't take a stand; we didn't enter the fray.

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards were
motivated by concerns about appropriate local control
of education. But, a few of them "jumped the shark"
by implying that Common Core was a product of the
United Nations. In fact, it originated with the
National Governors Association.
In the debate over HB 3399, our friend Rep. Emily Virgin noted that Common Core had become a "toxic issue" in the Legislature. She observed that it was difficult to have a calm, rational discussion about the issue because of the outlandish rhetoric.

As if to illustrate her point, Rep. Gus ("Don't Say Sustainability") Blackwell characterized the Common Core standards as an "insidious" example of "federal tyranny." Rep. Dan Fisher complained that Oklahoma schools had become "enslaved" by dependency to the federal government.

From the fringe of the Common Core debate, we heard plenty of overblown anti-UN rhetoric coming from the most extreme Common Core opponents. Even so, we heard only one legislator make a public statement attempting to link Common Core to the United Nations. That was Rep. John Bennett (R-Sequoyah County):

"We voluntarily have sold our freedom for the sake of funds that come from a bankrupt government that forces conservative, God-fearing Oklahoma children to abide by the government-mandated curriculum which is birthed by the UN with the intent of creating a sustainable Earth without borders."

Governor Fallin supported the Common Core State
Standards during her tenure as the head of the National
Governors Association. But, last week, she signed a bill
repealing the Common Core standards in Oklahoma.
That's it. As a focal point of action at the State Capitol, the UN has waned from a centerpiece of legislation to a mere talking point in a broader controversy.

This is a welcome development. It reflects an understanding by most members of the Legislature that goofy attacks on the United Nations don't really impress the voters. In an election year, it's not smart to antagonize the quiet majority. Our State Senators and State Reps need all the friends they can get.

So, we're reminding all of our elected representatives that 86 percent of American voters think it is important "for the United States to maintain an active role within the United Nations." The United Nations Association of the USA speaks for that majority.

We are dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations.

Join us!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

National Security Fundamentals, Part 2

The Treaty of Paris, 1783

Diplomatic power has enabled our country to be more secure
and more prosperous. That's one reason why 86% of Americans
want to maintain an active role in the United Nations.

You often hear that our nation's military forces are America's front-line of defense.

It's a true statement, as far as it goes. But, it leaves out other elements of our national security resources.

The men and women in the military service are ready to respond at a moment's notice in defense of our country, and they always deserve our thanks and appreciation for that.

In another sense, though, our armed forces aren't really our front line of national security. Rather, they are the last resort in the defense of our nation.

Prior to the military option, America has always employed an array of non-military resources.

Primarily, one can think of the thousands of dedicated employees of our nation's foreign service. They are the men and women of our State Department who serve America in far-flung outposts. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, some 15,000 members of the United States Foreign Service carry out the foreign policy of the United States and aid U.S. citizens abroad.

If we don't often think of the State Department as being an essential part of America's national security capacity, perhaps it is because of the horror / fascination of modern military weapons. Perhaps we are too focused on the fast pace and dramatic action of 21st century military engagements. We lose sight of what is happening behind the scenes.

The fact is, though, that good old-fashioned American diplomacy has contributed greatly to our national security and independence. It has always been true throughout the history of our nation.

Benjamin Franklin, the most distinguished
scientific and literary American of his age,
was the first American diplomat.
For example, the website of the National Archives reminds us that America's independence was not simply the result of American patriots rising up in violent opposition to oppressive British policies. (Militarily, the Revolutionary War has sometimes been described as a series of British military victories and American moral triumphs). Rather: 

"The American War for Independence (1775-83) was actually a world conflict, involving not only the United States and Great Britain but also France, Spain, and the Netherlands. The peace process brought a vaguely formed, newly born United States into the arena of international diplomacy, playing against the largest, most sophisticated, and most established powers on earth."

A team of American negotiators -- John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay -- "proved themselves to be masters of the game, outmaneuvering their counterparts and clinging fiercely to the points of national interest that guaranteed a future for the United States." 

Their efforts resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 -- which ensured British recognition of the independence of the American colonies.

In the 21st century, America's active diplomacy has resulted in the reduction of nuclear weapons in Russia as well as the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. (Neither of these objectives could have been obtained through military power alone).

Through America's power as a sovereign nation to enter into treaties, we have advanced our national interest in areas such as human rights, trade and commerce, protection of the world's natural resources, etc. Our diplomatic power has enabled our country to be more secure and more prosperous. We have managed conflicts with our adversaries, enhanced our freedoms, and solidified alliances with nations that share our values.

In short, it is impossible to ensure the full measure of American security without the far-sighted work of courageous American diplomats. American diplomacy makes our nation stronger and saves us from costly, unnecessary (and sometimes futile) military adventures.

There are voices in our political town square calling for American diplomats to be withdrawn from the United Nations and from other international forums.

In answer to those voices, we should be perfectly clear: The surrender of American leadership in the United Nations will never be tolerated by the American people.

As evidence of this fact, we can point to a new public opinion survey of American voters. Eighty-six percent of respondents say it is important “for the United States to maintain an active role within the United Nations.”

We hope our politicians are listening!

Friday, April 25, 2014

National Security Fundamentals

Most Nations of the World Employ Two Types of
National Security Power -- Military and Diplomatic

Here's an interesting fact. There are 193 member states in the United Nations. Each of them has a permanent representative to the UN. But, not all of them have a standing army.

There are 21 nations around the world which have no armed forces.
This fact illustrates a fundamental characteristic of our world in the early 21st century: Most nations believe it is important to have both a national army as well as an active diplomatic corps.

The common wisdom is that nations need the capacity for active international engagement backed up by a credible military force. For some, it is a strong military force backed up by a posture of diplomacy. In any case, most nations choose to employ both the soft power of international diplomacy as well as a tangible military defensive force. They have decided they need both the capacity to talk as well as to fight (when pushed).

Yet, it is notable that a minority of nations have determined that they don't need both types of power. Given a choice to have one or the other, a score of nations has opted to invest in diplomacy.

This says something about the world we live in. If you're a nation-state, military power is optional. The soft power of diplomacy is essential.

So, doesn't it make sense for the United States to be an active leader in the United Nations -- which provides the world's greatest forum for international engagement?

We think so, too!

"U.S. Out of the UN?"

Opponents of U.S. leadership in the United Nations are essentially arguing for the surrender of one of America's most effective forms of national power.

"To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."
--Sir Winston Churchill