Jeffrey Sachs | The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN's value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.
The UN Security Council discussed homosexual and transgender issues for the first time at an informal meeting on August 24. The United States and Chile co-sponsored the session, which focused on how LGBT persons in the Middle East are increasingly the target of self-styled Islamic State fighters.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters outside the closed session that it was about time the Council discussed this issue. "It's historic, seventy years after the creation of the UN, that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking center stage," she said.
Summer BookTalkUNA Guest of Honor: Dr. Alejandro Toledo
On July 13 our summer BookTalkUNA event, presented in co-operation with the International Institute of Education, featured honored guest Dr. Alejandro Toledo, the former President of Peru, who was invited to present his new book, The Shared Society: A Vision for the Global Future of Latin America.
In 2001, Dr. Toledo was the first Peruvian president of indigenous descent to be elected in five hundred years. In serving his country, Toledo fought against poverty by prioritizing investments in health care and education. With the resulting economic growth and social policies directed to the poorest of Peru, extreme poverty was reduced by 25 percent during his five-year term, and the Peruvian economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America.
New Sustainable UN Development Agenda to be Adopted by World Leaders in September
The 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement on the outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda that will be adopted this September by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York.
Concluding a negotiating process that has spanned more than two years and has featured the unprecedented participation of civil society, countries agreed to an ambitious agenda that features 17 new sustainable development goals that aim to end poverty, promote prosperity and people's well-being while protecting the environment by 2030.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement, saying it "encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world."
UNA-NY's 2015 Summer Soirée Draws an Ever Bigger Crowd
This year's Soirée held its rendezvous at The Hudson Terrace on July 23, attracting many UNA-NY members and even more friends and guests than ever before to this fun, relaxed gig aimed at facilitating networking and camaraderie throughout the 800-plus member strong organization.
First Lady Michelle Obama Inspires at the Girl Up Leadership Summit
In July, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Girl Up Leadership Summit. There was a line through the lobby and down the stairs as participants and chaperones eagerly tried to get seats in the hall, and the energy in the room was at an all-time high. The room was packed with 225 girls all rapt with attention as the First Lady talked about one of Girl Up's five main pillars: education.
The most captivating part of her speech was when the First Lady put all of us in the shoes of the 62 million girls who can't go to school. "Think about what it would be like to see your brothers going off to school every day while you were stuck at home," she said.
And she's right. Now it's our job to be there for the 62 million girls who don't have anyone who believes in them. The first step towards educating these girls is to have faith in them and give them the opportunity to go to school.
UNA-NY Receives 2015 Earl W. Eames Jr. Communications Award
The United Nations Association of New York received this year's Earle Eames Communications Award given by UNA-USA at their recent Annual Meeting. The New York chapter's website re-design by Littlefield and Company was the beginning of new efforts to promote a more effective communications outreach by UNA-NY, and was a significant contributing factor to this award. The website as well as other promotional efforts, such as emails, newsletters and social media have been actively managed by UNA-NY and its members, as well as volunteers.
Read the 2015 Briefing Book — and Know Why the UN Remains a Critical Partner for the U.S.
The UN is not a perfect institution, but it serves a near-perfect purpose: to promote global cooperation and address some of the world's most pressing challenges that no single country can resolve alone. Among other things, the UN is a platform for multilateral efforts to counter terrorism, stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons, increase economic development, provide humanitarian aid, promote democratic governance and, through peacekeeping missions, maintain order in some of the world's most dangerous places so U.S. forces don't have to.
As Congress works to protect our national security and foreign policy interests, and as the U.S. faces unprecedented challenges abroad — the UN remains a critical partner for the U.S. Be sure to let Congress know!
Young People at the UN in Support of Climate Action
Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams and environmental advocates Philippe Cousteau and Sylvia Earle joined local students at an event held at United Nations Headquarters to celebrate the International Day of Happiness and highlight the importance of tackling climate change.
'Evidence Is Clear: Equality for Women Means Progress for All' Ban Ki-moon Says in Address to UNA-NY Awards Dinner
"The empowerment of women, the theme of your dinner tonight, is a matter of fundamental human rights," said the UN Secretary-General. "But it is also crucial for building the future we want. Despite important gains in access to primary education for girls and political representation for women, progress remains far too slow and uneven. Discrimination and violence against women remain widespread, across the world. We cannot fulfil 100 per cent of the world's potential by excluding 50 per cent of the world's people. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all."
The UNA-USA and UNFCU Alliance:
Strengthening Support and Member Benefits
United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) and the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU) recently announced an alliance extending UNFCU membership to UNA-USA members, who can now benefit from all of the financial products and services exclusively available to the United Nations, its specialized agency staff, retirees and their families worldwide. The good news capped UNA-USA Members' Day, a gathering of over 800 UNA-USA members, senior UN officials, and diplomatic corps at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Our Screening the Issues event honored Holocaust Remembrance Day with a well-attended presentation of Aaron Yeger's A PEOPLE UNCOUNTED. It illuminated the story of the Romani people, exploring their rich culture as well as their suffering at the hands of others throughout history. As victims of varying degrees of racism on the one hand, and stilted romanticized images in popular culture on the other, the real-life intolerance and persecution of the Roma has historically been largely ignored. Commonly referred to as Gypsies, their tragic experience reached an extreme when an estimated 500,000 of the Roma were murdered during the Holocaust.