Standing Tall with the UN

October 24, 2012|by Patrick Madden, UNA-USA Executive Director
In the long shadow of World War II, the world came together and committed to work together in a new way. The United Nations was to be the global forum for countries to debate, discuss, and decide how to address the world’s most pressing issues. Concerned from the onset with the importance of peace and stability among countries, the UN has grown into an essential institution where world leaders wrestle with 21st century challenges in health, the environment, food security, development, education, and the well-being of humanity – ultimately looking at how we can shape the future we want.

UNA-USA Chapters are the UN’s greatest asset across the United States. Our network of grassroots leaders are the megaphone for the UN’s work and impact. Often, the Chapters serve as a counterpunch for misinformation and misdirected punditry about the UN’s work. By no means is this an easy job. The UN isn’t directly vaccinating kids in the U.S., nor sweeping in following natural disasters in this country to deliver life-saving support, nor is it handing out food supplies in our inner cities – though UN agencies provide valuable technical assistance to U.S. agencies in these areas. Because Americans don't witness the UN's work firsthand, the institution is easily misunderstood, which makes it an easy target for nay-sayers. Yet, this is the work the UN does in the toughest spots around the world, which is why most Americans say it is important for the U.S. to support the UN.

This year, more than 175 events will be hosted by UNA-USA Chapters as they celebrate UN Day. Two new Chapters (Miami and Silicon Valley) add their voice to the tens of thousands of citizens in 100 cities and towns of all sizes that come together to acknowledge the value of the UN to the United States. Value is an important choice of words because there is a direct impact for the U.S. when it comes to the work of the United Nations: 

  • The UN supports our foreign policy and national security interests, for example by ensuring stability in countries transitioning to democracy by overseeing and providing support for elections. More than 100 countries have requested and received UN election assistance since 1991.
  •  UN operations are not only in our national interest, but in our economic interest as well. The U.S. receives more than $4 billion in economic benefits as a result of its relationship with the United Nations. And a recent study found UN Peacekeeping forces were eight times cheaper than an equivalent U.S. force.

However, the real value of the UN goes beyond budget figures and foreign policy documents – bringing countries together to tackle the world’s greatest problems. Disaster response. Helping eradicate polio. Staving off famine. Resolving conflict. The list goes on and on. With the U.S. Presidential election just around the corner, Americans are asking themselves if we are better off than we were four years ago. We can all agree that we are better off today than we were 67 years ago because of the impact of the UN’s work. This is what motivates UNA-USA Chapters and members to stand up on behalf of the United Nations.

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