The founders of the United Nations well understood the monumental task it was to create the United Nations in 1945. They knew that it would need the support of global citizens worldwide for the rest of its existence to maintain a deep understanding of the need for international cooperation to achieve peace and "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind..."
The roots of the United Nations Association-USA lies in that understanding and owes a debt of gratitude to Eleanor Roosevelt who, after serving as U.S. representative to the UN General Assembly, dedicated the last 10 years of her life carrying the message of hope and peace through the UN across the United States through personal appearances, recruitment speeches and fund-raising efforts.
World Federation of the United Nations Associations
UNA-USA is part of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), which began in 1946 as a worldwide public movement for the UN. WFUNA is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 country-based UNAs and their thousands of constituents. It is an independent, non-governmental organization with Category One Consultative Status at the UN's Economic and Social Council and consultative or liaison links with many other UN organizations and agencies.
Today, UNA-USA is a leading center of policy research on the UN and global issues like peace and security, health, development and human rights.The East Bay chapter
Is one of 135 chapters nationwide dedicated to building understanding of and support for the ideals and vital work of the UN among the communities of Alameda and Contra Costa County. Our education, policy and advocacy programs emphasize the importance of cooperation among nations and the need for American leadership at the UN. Our educational and advocacy programs strive to engage our communities and develop international leadership skills among youth with a passion for making the world a better place.
Some of the challenges addressed by the United Nations and requiring support from the American people and our government include:
- Extreme poverty of the "bottom billion," those living on less than $1 per day
- Climate change-an unprecedented threat to the survival of nations and the planet
- War and genocide that take a particularly devastating toll on women and children
- Hunger and disease that annually cause nearly 9 million preventable deaths
- Unimaginable destruction wrought by natural disasters
- Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament; banning landmines, cluster bombs, and other anti-personnel munitions
We are dedicated to providing local residents with knowledge and skills to make informed decisions and bring their voice to our elected officials to help bring peace and a life of dignity worldwide.
Monthly Dinner Forums on Current Events (see sampling of topics below)
(includes delicious food at a local restaurant)
Annual General Meeting & Forum (January)
International Women's Day (March 8)
Run for Peace (September)
International Day of Peace Forum (September 21)
United Nations Day Celebration (October 24)
International Human Rights Day (December 10)
Surabi Menon, member of the IPCC and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient spoke At our UN Day dinner celebrationMonthly Dinner Forums:
Held on the last Wednesday of each month, our dinner forums spark lively discussions led by experts on issues in which the UN plays a critical role.
Some of the issues we have explored include:
- The status of Iran during the tumult following its recent elections
- Negotiations with Iran and North Korea under the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty
- Access to family planning: key to maternal health and population sustainability
- Traditional diplomacy-contribution or hindrance to peaceful resolution
- The international community's work with Haiti to ensure a better future
UNA-USA East Bay Youth Education Programs
We started a UNA Student Alliance Club at UC Berkeley dedicated to raising awareness about the pivotal role the United Nations plays in their futuresEugenie George
UC Berkeley club president
We are mentoring students at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, which established their own UNA student club and asked our chapter for assistance.
The UNA-East Bay Internship Program
The UNA-East Bay Internship Program is attracting the brightest students to wrestle with making a difference through collective action. Some great results!
Michelle Kwan Intern Spring 2010
Model United Nations
We assisted several under-served Oakland high schools create a Model United Nations program that inspired the teachers and the students with life-changing knowledge and experience. We are committed to strengthen the program and extend it to more students and schools each year.
Each year we encourage local students to participate in UNA's National High School Essay Contest. We select the best essay, which is addressed to the President of the United States, and send it to the national office where the three top essays are selected and the winners receive cash prizes and national recognition. In 2010 our local winner, Cathy Pham, won first place in the nation.
Two positions on the East Bay chapter's Board are filled by university students who gain invaluable experience and connect us to a goldmine of young people who are passionate about fighting for a better world.
ADVOCACY WITH GOVERNMENT
Making Our Voices Count on Policy
One of the UN Association's principal purposes is to encourage the U.S. government to consistently and firmly support international cooperation as an effective means to address global problems, and to provide constructive leadership that enables the United Nations to fulfill its unique potential.
Rita Maran - Advocacy vice president
UNA-USA's policy positions are carefully reviewed periodically. Within that framework, our East Bay chapter identifies what is of highest concern to our local members and Congressional representatives. We annually discuss these issues with senior legislative staff locally and in Washington D.C.
Among key issues that we advocated for in Washington in June 2010 were:
- Ratify UN conventions to protect human rights of women (CEDAW) and children;
- Support Obama's initiatives to reduce existing nuclear weapons and halt proliferation
- Adopt tough legislation to control climate change and greatly improve energy efficiency
- Make eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, preventable diseases and the other UN Millennium Development Goals a priority of U.S. policy by shifting funding from warfare toward providing "fair share" funding for the MDGs that the U.S. has promised
- Join and support the work of the International Criminal Court
Delegations of 7-10 people meet with district staff of Senators Boxer and Feinstein and local House Members. Then, at the UNA-USA national gathering, East Bay delegates go to Washington D.C. and join with UNA leaders and members from around the country for a "Day on Capitol Hill." We meet with the DC legislative staff of our Senators and House Members.
Through this process UNA East Bay maintains constructive dialogues with our elected officials. They encourage us to voice our concerns and welcome our Chapter's effort to collect signatures on a petition asking them to actively work for ratification of the critical international treaties that the U.S. has not yet ratified. For a copy of the petition go to our web site: http://unausaeastbay.org/advocacy/Petition.pdf
We urge you to sign and collect signatures on this petition and mail it back to us at: 1403-B Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704, or you may scan the petition and send it via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We deliver the signed petitions to our representatives during our annual legislative visits.