Over the weekend I traveled to the UN headquarters in NYC for the second time to attend the annual United Nations Association Member’s Day. As always, this is a time when chapter members from all over the country gather to advocate, network and hear from top UN officials and ambassadors. This year the conference was moved into the General Assembly Hall!
Gaze upon the glory.
GAZE UPON IT.
Our keynote speaker for the event was the highest-ranking American in the UN, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
Some of his key points:
- The main concern from UN member states is whether the UN is currently fit to serve its purpose; there is great need for improvement
- Globally, many situations have changed faster than the UN has been able to adjust and respond. This is due in part to the fact that no money is allocated to ‘conflict prevention’ in the UN budget
- More conflicts are arising within states as opposed to state vs. state, with a large majority being attributed to political and religious differences
Before each panel concluded, the moderators took time to call on members of the audience for questions. Regardless of the topic being discussed, most questions shared a common denominator; what can I do?
If you had eyes, ears, thumbs and an internet connection in the past 15 months, you’ve probably had some opinions about the American election. In fact, you didn’t even have to be American to have an opinion about it! See J.K. Rowling’s magical contributions here.
She’s making America great again, folks.
But seriously, this was an extremely divisive election season and we all saw a lot of things that both surprised and enraged us. Doing something about it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. For example, you could:
- Protest – remember the tens of thousands that materialized at airports across the country within 12 hours of the travel ban? It’s effective
- Volunteer – seek out nonprofits that provide assistant to refugees and immigrants
- Donate – this doesn’t just mean money. If you have skills, put them to use. Remember all those lawyers at the JFK Airport helping out for free? Take note
- DO NOT remain silent. Silence is something we can’t afford anymore
One quote that stood out from the conference was directed at the refugee response, but has a much broader implication.
“We’re not facing a crisis of refugees. We’re facing a crisis of compassion and cooperation.” -Kamal Amakrane, Director, Office of the President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly
In almost every sense, we are facing a crisis of compassion and cooperation. In everything that we do, we must strive towards strengthening these ideals.
Learn more about getting involved at the UN: http://genun.unausa.org/
That’s all guys!