One of the key roles of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A. is to motivate our membership to meet with their elected leaders and their staffs to let them know that we believe in the work of the UN. Let’s face facts: politicians often need to know that their constituents care about an issue before they will actually pay attention to an issue – let alone how they will actually vote on bills related to that issue. Hot topic and pocketbook issues that Americans are loud about include taxes, employment, global trade deals, healthcare insurance and education. If we want Congress to support legislation that strengthens the U.S.-UN relationship and the critical work of the UN in peace and security, human rights, social development and environmental protection, then elected representatives have to hear about it…from us!
UNA’s core advocacy issues are full funding for the UN, supporting human rights through participation with the UN Human Rights Council and other UN human rights efforts, maximizing our foreign aid dollars to forward the agendas of the UN Millennium Development Goals (soon to be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals), and ratifying global treaties such as the the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Last month I was down in Washington D.C. for the UNA Annual Meeting and, in conntection with its "Day on the Hill" program, helped advocate for the UN by meeting with the foreign affairs legislative aide for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (who represents Brooklyn's 7th district where I live). As it happens, per her voting record and having met with her on sevearl occassions, Congresswoman Velazquez (center of photo to the right) is already a pretty strong supporter of the UN, but letting her know, and reminding her, about the UNA’s efforts can help increase that support over time. And for those UNA members who live in districts known to be represented by less globally minded folks, such advocacy may be even more important.
Each fall, UNA encourages chapters to advocate in your own communities by setting up meetings at the district offices of your local representatives. For example, Peg Byron, chapter vice president and I had a nice and rewarding meeting a couple of years back with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (centered in picture to the left). What was striking about that meeting was not just how supportive she was but how much she wanted to learn about the UN and the UNA from us.
If you’re interested in meeting with your elected officials and/or their staffs in Brooklyn then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be back in touch with you to take the next steps!