January 9, 2012
Supporting a Strong U.S. â€“ UN Relationship
Last week, Congress reached an agreement to avoid what was dubbed the â€śfiscal cliff.â€ť In addition to its adjustments on certain tax rates, the deal delays automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration. Less well known is that the agreement does include spending cuts, which will affect international affairs and UN-related accounts.
- The legislation postpones across the board cuts for all programs until March 1, and pays for the delay by mandating $24 billion in cuts.
- Over the next two years - FYâ€™13 and FYâ€™14 - there will be $12 billion in cuts in discretionary spending applied equally to defense and non-defense programs (the other $12 billion is not related to international affairs or UN accounts).
- These funding cuts equate to about $3 billion per year, proportionately, for non-defense spending. As international affairs spending is about 10 percent of non-defense discretionary spending, the cuts could be $300 million per year if applied across the board. As in 2011, it is possible that UN accounts could take a disproportionate amount of these cuts.
Congress will address the size and scope of the cuts as part of the final FY13 appropriations process, which will occur in March, and as part of the FYâ€™14 appropriations process, which will occur later in the year.
Schedule Your In-District Advocacy Meeting for February 15-28
Across-the-board spending cuts could take effect March 27 and UN funding is in danger. Chapters can make their voices heard by scheduling face-to-face meetings with their members of Congress or staff to discuss the importance of full funding to the United Nations. Remember, you may not always have an opportunity to meet directly with the member, but a meeting with their staff is just as important. In-district meetings are the most effective form of citizen advocacy and we are here to help you make it happen!
UNA-USA will release the 2013-2014 UNA-USA Advocacy Agenda on prior to these meetings. In preparation for your meeting, please see our tips on effective advocacy.
Help Shape the 2013 Advocacy Agenda
The 113th Session of U.S. Congress has begun! Each session, UNA-USA members, with leadership from the Council of Chapters and Regions Steering Committee Advocacy Committee, develop an official Advocacy Agenda that outlines the priorities of UNA-USA advocacy efforts. Each Chapter is asked to submit one survey, providing the Advocacy Committee feedback on what your Chapter members and leadership would like to see included in UNA-USA's Advocacy Agenda. Please contact your local Chapter leaders to participate in this process. Email Laura Giroux, membership director, for more information.
UNA-USA Joins More than 100 Organizations Urging Senate to Ratify Womenâ€™s Convention
A letter was recently sent to all members of the U.S. Senate urging them to make ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) a priority in the 113th Congress. UNA-USA, some of its Chapters, and its Affinity Group, UNA Women, all co-signed the letter, joining the likes of organizations such as Center for Women Policy Studies, Human Rights Watch, and the National Womenâ€™s Law Center in asking the Senate to take up CEDAW. The Convention is part of UNA-USAâ€™s Advocacy Agenda, and its focus on U.S. ratification of UN treaties. For more information on the effort, view this recent USA Today article.
Leo Nevas Task Force Adds New Member
UNA-USAâ€™s Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force welcomed Amb. Mark P. Lagon this week. Lagon is International Relations and Security Chair at the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University. He joins 13 other individuals on the Task Force in their mission to actively urge the U.S. to membership on the UN Human Rights Council, and as a member, to appoint a knowledgeable ambassador to the Council to maximize U.S. engagement and leadership. You can read Lagonâ€™s full bio here.
Whatâ€™s Happening at the UN
- Human Rights Head Notes Grim Results from Analysis of Syria
- General Assembly Closes 67th Session
- World Malaria Report 2012 Released
- Humanitarian Crisis Grips DRC
Human Rights Head Notes Grim Results from Analysis of Syria
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently announced the results of a preliminary data analysis, which found that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 15, 2011. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay noted that the analysis provides a very useful basis upon which future investigations can be built to enhance accountability and provide justice and reparations to victimsâ€™ families. Regarding humanitarian funding for the conflict, the UN Secretary-General announced that there would be a donor conference in Kuwait City on January 30.
General Assembly Closes 67th Session
The UN General Assembly recently concluded the main part of its 67th Session with the adoption of nearly two dozen texts recommended by the Fifth Committee. Included in the adopted draft resolutions was the program budget for 2012-2013, the proposed budget outline for 2014-2015, the scale of assessments for those budgets, international tribunals, and the UN pension system. Acting by consensus, the Committee approved an estimated 5% increase in the regular budget for 2012-2013, bringing the total to $5.39 billion. The Assembly also retained the existing formula for assessing member states' financial contributions to the UN regular budget and its peacekeeping operations during the 2013-2015 period, including the 0.01% ceiling for assessing the rate of least developed countries and the 22% maximum assessment rate for all other countries, including the United States. U.S. representative Joseph Torsella also issued a statement, outlining the U.S.-UN successes within the Fifth Committee over the past year.
World Malaria Report 2012 Released
The World Health Organization released its World Malaria Report 2012, noting a significant slowdown in global funding of anti-malaria campaigns that threatens to roll back gains made against the disease in the last decade. The rapid expansion in global funding for malaria prevention from 2004-2009 leveled off from 2010-2012. The number of long-lasting insecticidal nets delivered to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, dropped from 145 million in 2010 to an estimated 66 million in 2012. â€śIf we fail to come together and urgently resolve the shortfall, there will be no averting a humanitarian crisis,â€ť said Ray Chambers, the Special Envoy for Malaria.
Humanitarian Crisis Grips DRC
The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) announced that a substantial increase in violence among ethnic groups in the DRC has led to a serious humanitarian crisis in the country. There has been a significant increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the Kilimani, Kalinga, Lushebere and Bihito camps in Masisi, which contain 20,700 IDPs in total. The UN Secretary-Generalâ€™s spokesperson also reported that a human rights investigation is under way in the country.
The UNA-USA Advocacy Update is structured around the UNA-USA Advocacy Agenda, which focuses UNAâ€™s work on four core issue areas: securing U.S.-UN funding; advancing human rights through the UN; encouraging U.S. ratification of international treaties; and supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Also included in the Update is a recent â€śround-upâ€ť of the monthâ€™s most important UN news. If you would like additional information on any of the items included contact the Membership Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.