Advocacy Update

March 12, 2013


UN Sustains Budget Hits from Sequestration, Threatened Again in Continuing Resolution

Funding for the United Nations was recently slashed by mandatory across-the-board budget cuts, and funding is being threatened again as the House and Senate debate a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year (FY 13).

And to make matters worse —and more confusing—the FY 14 International Affairs Budget is currently under consideration in the House and Senate Budget Committees. The FY 14 Budget Resolutions are expected to come to the floors of both chambers next week. Deep cuts are also expected as anti-UN Members put forward amendments recommending significant reductions in various UN accounts.

Be a voice for the United Nations; call your elected officials today and tell them not to cut funding in FY 13 or 14 for important programs affecting the health and safety of people around the world.

More About UN Budget Cut as a Result of Sequestration

Mandatory budget cuts, known as sequestration, went into effect March 1 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.. These cuts, split 50/50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending, could mean that the U.S. will fall about $100 million short of its dues to UN peacekeeping. We stand to fall $300 million short on overall contributions to the United Nations. And global health dollars were cut by $432 million.

The House Appropriations Committee released a report last month highlighting what these cuts mean: 1.2 million fewer mosquito nets to protect people from malaria; 171,900 fewer HIV/AIDS treatments; 1.7 million not receiving the contraceptive care they want, and 238,500 children not getting food or educational assistance they need. Meanwhile, the cuts to international peacekeeping could equate to roughly the entirety of U.S. contributions to the missions along the Israel/ Syria border, and in Cyprus, Western Sahara, and Kosovo ­- all put together, times two.


The Power of Grassroots Advocacy

UNA-USA members are working hard every day to let their members of Congress know that the UN and its work is important, meaningful, and needs to remain a U.S. priority. The following story is just one example of how robust grassroots advocacy can make a difference.

Last week, the President signed the Violence Against Women Act into law, which included language making ending child marriage an official priority of the U.S. government. The passage of the legislation is a prime example of the power of grassroots advocacy.

Advocates from across the country, including supporters of the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign urged passage of the legislation through emails, social media, and in-person meetings to pressure Congress. This short video by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate Majority Whip, personally thanks Girl Up supporters for their work on advocating for the legislation, and urges them to stay involved. 

Advocacy makes a real, tangible difference. Over the past several weeks, UNA-USA members will partake in more than x meetings with members of Congress or their staffs in their home districts to advocate on behalf of the United Nations. These meetings are key to ensuring the UN has a strong voice of support in the U.S. Thanks to all the Chapters that have already made a difference during these last few weeks!


22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council Begins

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Dr. Esther Brimmer, delivered remarks coinciding with the opening of the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In her speech, Brimmer outlined four important principals for guiding Council action, including “universality, dialogue, principle, and truth.” She also highlighted recent successes of the Human Rights Council such as responding to major human rights crises, achieving compromise on difficult issues, and breaking new ground in the promotion women’s rights, as well as ensuring the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The Council’s four-day high-level segment included the participation of more than 80 senior officials from around world.

Brimmer’s speech followed the U.S. reelection to the Council within the UN General Assembly in November 2012. During its 22nd Session, the Council is expected to address a diverse set of issues including human rights situations in Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, and Sri Lanka, as well as the need to ensure the protection human rights defenders worldwide.

What’s Happening at the UN

  • UN Cracks Down on North Korea, Issues Sanctions
  • UN Secretary-General Gives Remarks on Post-2015
  • UN Helps Broker Peace Framework for DRC
  • New U.S. Secretary of State meets with UN Secretary-General

UN Cracks Down on North Korea, Issues Sanctions
The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to issue new sanctions against North Korea in retribution for that country's third nuclear test. North Korea faces restrictions on financial instruments and shipments of certain cargo. The resolution "sent an unequivocal message to [North Korea] that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UN Secretary-General Gives Remarks on Post-2015
The UN Secretary-General delivered remarks by video at a conference on post-2015 in Timor-Leste entitled “Development for All: Stop conflict, build states and eradicate poverty.” “Transforming violent conflicts and fragility into peace, justice and shared prosperity” must be at the core of the post-2015 agenda, Mr. Ban said.

 UN Helps Broker Peace Framework for DRC
The Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was signed in Addis Ababa. The UN Secretary-General considers the Framework a “milestone” but notes that it is now up to individual states - the DRC and neighboring countries - to implement action toward sustainable peace. The Security Council calls on the signatory States of the Framework to fully implement their commitments in good faith and supports the swift designation of a UN Special Envoy to support, coordinate, and assess national and regional efforts toward implementation.

New U.S. Secretary of State meets with UN Secretary-General
The UN Secretary-General met with new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The two leaders discussed the nuclear tests in North Korea, as well as situations in Syria, Mali, and Iran. The Secretary-General said that he welcomes plans for both President Barack Obama and Secretary Kerry to visit the Middle East and was very encouraged by President Obama’s call to action on climate change and his intention to pursue reductions in nuclear arsenals. The Secretary-General also noted that “U.S leadership would remain critical in the period ahead.” In remarks prior to their meeting, Kerry emphasized U.S. commitment to “strengthen our relationship with the UN even further in the years ahead.”

The UNA-USA Advocacy Update is structured around the UNA-USA Advocacy Agenda, which focuses UNA’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 “round-up” of the month’s most important UN news.  If you would like additional information on any of the items included contact the Membership Team at membership@unausa.org.


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