Members of the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter attended the UNA-USA Conference from June 8 to June 10, held in Washington D.C. The conference brought together UNA members from around the country and enabled our board members to learn about how the organization is changing and where it is going.
About 200 people attended the conference. Our own New York Southern Division had an excellent showing, including members of the Westchester and New York City Chapters. Everyone was very excited to hear about our new Hudson Valley Chapter.
As an organization, UNA-USA is growing at a rapid pace. There are currently 18,000 members, which is double from what membership was about three years ago. The current Executive Director, Chris Whatley, has been in charge for about nine months and is rapidly recruiting young adults as new members. This was evidence in the large number of college students in attendance.
The actual programming was wide-ranging. After the initial speeches describing the purpose of the conference, including a video message from US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, there were breakout sessions on how to support women and girls across different issues led by UNA Women members. In addition, an in-depth discussion about peacekeeping featured Ned Rostov from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This panel informed UNA members about recent trends in UN peacekeeping and the need for greater participation by Western states, especially the United States.
Additional programming focused on preparation for lobby visits on Capitol Hill, which took place on Tuesday. Alongside the UN Foundation and the Better World Campaign, UNA is strongly urging Congress to fully fund UN peacekeeping as well as supporting climate change efforts, end human trafficking, and ratify international treaties.
Our own Congressman, Rep. Chris Gibson, was receptive to our positions and did meet with us briefly. He has been somewhat supportive of the UN in the past, so he may support full funding of Peacekeeping Operations. However, you can lend your voice to our support of peacekeeping by calling our representatives and using the below script.
Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME], I live in the city/town of [YOUR TOWN] and my zip code is [YOUR ZIP]. I ‘m calling to urge the [SENATOR/CONGRESSMAN] to support the mission of the United Nations by fully funding US peacekeeping operations. Whether in Mali, South Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN peacekeeping is saving the lives of vulnerable civilians who are victims of war and promoting international peace and stability. The United States must provide all financial support to the United Nations as required as a member of the organization. On this basis, I’m asking that the [SENATOR/CONGRESSMAN] ensure full funding of UN peacekeeping operations and defend the United Nations in the halls of Congress. Thank you.