GFDD Participates in 2017 UNA USA Members’ Day at UN Headquarters

March 1, 2017

In its capacity as Vice Chair of the United Nations Association of the USA Council of Organizations, GFDD/FUNGLODE participated in the 2017 edition of UNA-USA Members’ Day on Friday, February 17th. The annual meeting took place in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York City. This year, a record number of attendees, including over 1,200 UNA-USA members, including several hundred students, met for engaging discussions about the most pressing issues
facing the United Nations. Throughout the day, topics discussed included the refugee crisis, conflict resolution, the new American Administration and Sustainable Development to name but a few. The overall objective of the event which was reflected in each session was to get people “Informed, Involved and Inspired”.

Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign and the Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy at the United Nations Foundation welcomed the participants in the morning, describing the UN as a very important tool, for international and even national security. Referring to US President Donald Trump’s recent declarations announcing that he wished to withdraw American
support for financing of the UN’s operations, Peter Yeo reminded members that polls suggested a huge support by Americans of their country’s commitment to the United Nations. Taking the floor after Peter Yeo, Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, underscored the challenges the world will face in the next years. He stated that “the world order is challenged by emerging powers, but not always for the good. The UN remains
the main organization in charge of world order, but it has to respond more quickly and more efficiently to a changing world”. After these two interventions, participants, mostly students, had the opportunity to ask questions, mainly dealing with Syria, ISIS, and the issue of disunity within the Security Council.

Discussions and exchanges continued throughout the day, as participants took part in 4 separate panels. The first one, called “The Road to
2030: Paving the Way to Transforming our World”, highlighted the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a universal goal. “We are part of the problem, and thus, part of the solution” claimed Rachel Snow, Chief of Population and Development Branch of the UN Population Fund Agency. The next panel, “Displaced Humanity: Where do we go from here?” discussed the challenges of current migration flows. Hamdia Ahmed, a US student
and Kenyan refugee, received a standing ovation after she delivered a vibrant speech, relating her story, and calling for action. Kamal Amakrane, Director, with special responsibilities for refugee and migrant issues, in the Office of the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, described the humanitarian crisis as a “crisis of coordination, a crisis of cooperation, and a crisis of compassion”.

After lunch, the third panel
focused on “Engaging Youth in the UN” before the last panel discussion considered the “Role of the UN in Conflict Prevention”. The Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the Arabic Republic of Egypt to the UN, Ambassador Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa participated in the sessions which included a lively debate with the audience.

At the end of a
very full day of discussion, Teta Banks, Chair of the UNA-USA National Council delivered the closing remarks highlighting once again the need for the commitment of the USA to the UN, and called on the participating members to continue engaging itself in efforts to promote the role of the United Nations. Ms. Banks concluded the session by inviting everyone to the 2017 Leadership Summit, which will be taking place from June 11 to June 13 in Washington, DC.

Members’ Day is not only about discussion, but action. All day long, “Phone2Action” initiatives were launched, to motivate members to contact Members of Congress and encourage them to maintain US commitment to the UN.

About UNA USA Members’ Day:
The annual UNA-USA Members’ Day event in New York convenes UN advocates for a day of expert presentations on topics like refugees, conflict
resolution, and sustainable development, as well as networking opportunities with community leaders, academics and students, and representatives from think tanks and globally-focused organizations.

About UNA-USA:
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a 50-state grassroots 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.

Interested in advocating?
Please, follow the link and read the instructions to contact your Members of Congress:

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