Friday, December 21, 2012

More Testimony

Following up on our article of December 20th ("Consequences"), we are using this space to publish reader comments on Senate Bill 23.

We're inviting students, public employees, teachers, librarians, and members of the public to
tell us how potential limitations on access to United Nations reports and resources would effect
their pursuit of knowledge.

Our first comment is from a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma:

"I recently completed my doctoral dissertation on UN peacekeeping operations from 1991-2007 at the University of Oklahoma. Without access to the UN and other NGO's data, through the Oklahoma Library and other resources, I would not have been able to complete this degree and research project. The UN and related subsidiaries have an immense amount of data and research ranging from security, health, climate and human rights issues. To limit our access and abilities to effectively share this knowledge is not only prohibitive to progress, it reverses it. As the United States continues to slide down the international rankings in a number of educational indices, you would think we would embrace access to valuable information, not restrict it."
--Jarrett Jobe

Our friend Christiaan Morssink offers a few more considerations ("in no way in order of importance," he says):

"a. American agricultural schools and farmers and  businesses are deeply involved and earning money via the FAO and its programs.
"b. Almost all graduate schools in the country use the UN System for research, internships, PhD dissertations, sabbatical programs, international conference planning and knowledge discrimination. Without the UN's involvement around accreditation, how do you know which universities and which research to take seriously. How do you attract foreign students and foreign investments if you want to foresake the network that makes this all possible?
"c. The threat of health (care) crises worldwide is monitored by CDC, PAHO ( an arm of the WHO). We are deeply involved in worldwide prevention programs, including here at home that needs to rely on a global system. Stepping away from the UN on this point is like saying we can control viruses to respect our borders.
"d. Protection of  American journalists, promotion of democracy, export of American culture, including the promotion of tourism to the shores of Oklahoma (tongue in cheek) is in no small measure the work of UNESCO.

"In light of the interconnectedness of the economies of the world, the health care systems, the trade systems, the communication technology, the diplomacy requisites, etc. it is not only ignorant or stupid to declare the UN a 'verboten' entity, it is plain dangerous for the welfare of Oklahoma and the U.S. We are capable of being a really serious constructive leader in world affairs, especially in providing stewardship of this earth, but these anti-UN laws makes a mockery of that."  
--Christiaan Morssink

Ron Burkard, a retired program manager who now lives in Oklahoma City, adds this comment:

"During my 40 year career in international development as an employee of both CARE and World Neighbors I have managed programs for U.N. agencies such as the World Food Program and UNICEF and have first-hand experience coordinating with those and other agencies such as the United Nations Development Program, World Health Organization and others, both in the nine countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa in which I lived and worked and in a number of others.  The world is a better place because of the United Nations and it's various agencies.  While imperfect as all human creations, we need the U.N. and should be supporting, not attacking it.  I find it hard to understand what could possibly motivate clear-thinking Americans to be opposed to the U.N. and the high ideals for which it stands."
--Ron Burkard

The Respect Diversity Foundation, well-known in Oklahoma, for its educational activities and extensive speakers bureau, has offered this statement:

"Human rights activists, civil rights leaders and other speakers for the Respect Diversity Foundation (RDF) gain valuable information through reports from UNESCO and other UN organizations.  It has been noted that often, after an RDF educator speaks to an assembly of middle and high school students, the bullying incidences go down.  Every form of information that helps our educators teach character building lessons is a good thing.  Let’s embrace the good work of the United Nations." 
--Joan Korenblit
Executive Director
Respect Diversity Foundation

Klint Alexander, an attorney, expands our thinking on this subject to include a comment about the benefits that UN-affiliated organizations bring to the American business community:

"Regarding your anti-Agenda 21 measure, keep in mind that the WTO, the IMF (bailout central), the World Bank and WIPO are all UN-affiliated institutions.  Is it realistic for farmers or oil companies operating abroad to not order reports/summaries concerning trade restrictions in foreign countries, especially US-China trade disputes on currency manipulation, IP piracy, or dumping, or recent retaliatory sanctions imposed by the WTO against the EU for banning American hormone-treated beef? Do OK taxpayers wish to know whether the IMF is approving American tax dollars to bailout Greece, Ireland and possibly Spain? The World Bank's dispute settlement arm - ICSID - is the number one place for multinational corps based in the US to go to resolve their investment disputes all over the world and by preference of American oil and gas investors to seek compensation when their assets are expropriated / nationalized in Venezuela or Africa. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a single place for a US patent holder to file a patent registration in multiple countries without having to go to each country to file, paying separate lawyers' fees and registration fees for each country. 
"The List goes on and on ......." 
--Klint Alexander 

Katy Hansen points out that "Agenda 21," the supposed reason for SB23, poses no threat to Oklahoma communities:

“'Agenda 21' was formulated and adopted 20 years ago by 178 nations who came together to consider how to improve our environment. It includes goals, objectives and suggested activities.  This document is neither an international law nor a treaty or even a resolution.  It is not legally binding.  Agenda 21 has no legal authority or precedent over any state or local government or over any citizen. American diplomats helped negotiate the document, and President George H. W. Bush accepted it on behalf of the United States."
--Katy Hansen

Did You Know? 

In the library catalog at Oklahoma State University's Edmon Low Library, there are over 4,000 books and articles related to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 

A search of the online catalog of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries yields 1,275 entries related to the UN's World Health Organization

An author search of the University of Oklahoma's online library catalog shows nearly 700 books and articles by the World Meteorological Organization

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