GFDD Attends UNA USA Annual Meeting in Washington DC, in its capacity as Executive Committee Member

June 12, 2014

On June 8, 2014, the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) joined other committee members of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA USA) for their 2014 Annual Meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Mobilizing for the World We Want”.

Marc Jourdan, UN Representative for GFDD, attended in his capacity as Executive Committee Member of UNA USA’s Council of

The Annual Meeting brought together UNA USA member organizations from across the country for skills trainings, issue briefings, networking opportunities, and capacity-building.

Chris Whatley, the UNA USA Executive Director opened the three day conference by welcoming participants and speaking about the importance of the UN system for
the American people as well as the work of Eleanor Roosevelt, an extensive campaigner for human rights and contributor to the work of the UNA USA.

H.E. Samantha Power, U.S Ambassador to the United Nations next provided a supporting video message commending the organization on its efforts to educate people about the importance of UN policies in the field of development, climate change and human rights, focusing particularly on the achievements of the Millennium Development
Goals and the need to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Stressing that issues of violence in the Central African Republic are a particular area of focus for the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda, Ambassador Power explained that UNA USA could play an important role in raising awareness for this foreign policy issue within its local chapters.

Aaron Etra, Chair of the UNA USA Council of Organization (COO) next took the podium
to explain the purpose of the COO. He explained that the COO looks to facilitate collaborations between member organizations and regional chapters so as to lead to the creation of effective work streams.

The plenary debate was followed by a workshop advising member organizations on effective techniques to help secure funding by the private sector. The session which was moderated by Ms. Mary-Frances Wain of UNA USA, offered effective ways for organizations to obtain
grassroots funding. Stressing that a 2013 Giving USA report confirmed that corporations represent 6%  of donations to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and individuals represent 75%  of donations. Ms Wain stressed the importance of hosting awareness raising events tied to particular UN issues and entering into partnerships for these events with private sector organizations with established grant making programs.

The main presentation by Ms. Wain was
followed by a case study by a local UNA USA Chapter in Houston stressing the importance of setting up budgetary planning and annual donations campaigns in order to identify effective funding opportunities early on.

The final plenary session included a presentation by Dr. Robert Orr, the Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning, on the importance of policy issues at the UN in 2015. Commenting that the year coincided with the presentation of new post 2015
development agenda and the possibility of a binding climate change agreement, Dr. Orr emphasized the importance of civil society organization lobbying their government for effective and concrete commitments to these agendas.

Following the presentation, GFDD representative, Marc Jourdan discussed with Dr Orr the extent of the Secretary General’s involvement in negotiations during the Climate Summit in September, who stressed that the Secretary General expected
Member States, such as China and the USA to bring concrete proposals to the table that would help finalize a binding agreement in 2015.

While providing an effective forum for CSOs to network among themselves and identify areas of collaboration on UN issues, the conference also culminated on Tuesday June 10th with Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

The day allowed representatives from each UNA USA Chapter, from the west coast to the east coast of the USA, to
lobby members of congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate on key UN issues.

GFDD together with other members of the New York City chapter attended congress to lobby New York State Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Representative Carolyn Maloney (for the Districts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens). The issues lobbied for included:

  • The need for the US to pay its outstanding
    peacekeeping dues for the year (US currently has a commitment of 27% of the UN’s peacekeeping budget);
  • The importance of ensuring strong and concrete US commitments in the fight against climate change during the Climate Summit meeting at UN Headquarters on September 23;
  • The importance to support the fight for gender equality and in particular to support the draft bill currently being passed through Congress entitled the International Violence Against Women Act (proposed legislation to address violence against women through United States foreign policy). A particular important topic for GFDD/FUNGLOE which was hosting a conference on the topic of Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict that same evening at FUNGLODE headquarters in Santo Domingo.

About UNA

The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a membership organization dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the ideals and vital work of the United Nations. For 70 years UNA-USA has worked to accomplish its mission through its national network of Chapters, youth engagement, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. UNA-USA is a program of the United Nations Foundation. UNA-USA
and its sister organization the Better World Campaign represent the single largest network of advocates and supporters of the United Nations in the world. Learn more about UNA-USA’s programs and initiatives at

About the Council of Organizations:
The Council of Organizations (COO) is an initiative of UNA-USA. The COO is a coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and local groups of
organizations with interests in education, social justice, labor, sustainable development, energy and climate, millennium development goals, human rights, health and women””””””””s issues that all share the common goals of making the American public more knowledgeable about global issues and strengthening the U.S. – UN relationship.

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