Human Rights Day at the UN

To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt (played by Susan Marie Frontczak) took us back in time by reciting the UDHR in character. She then held a private conference, expressing the painstaking hours it took to create such a document, especially with all of the countries involved needing to agree on the language. Fifty-eight different legal systems were considered when writing the UDHR.

When speaking of the atrocities of war, she stated that:

“It’s harder for a country to settle its differences sitting across from each other at a table than it is to start a war.”

Eleanor also voiced her concern with the great danger that the Declaration could be used for countries to pass judgment on one another. She conveyed that we shouldn’t pass judgment, but point the finger at ourselves to see how we can improve.

After speaking for approximately two hours, Eleanor conducted a Q&A session. The questions were answered as if it were still 1948. At the very end of the Q&A Frontczak broke character to make a closing statement about the atrocities that still go on today. She left us feeling hopeful that we can still make a difference, whether on a local or international level.


World AIDS Day “The Right to Health”

World AIDS Day, co-organized with UNAIDS was held at the UN last week. The topic of discussion was “The Right to Health” and how to partner with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The HIV epidemic has evolved over the last 30 years, and although much progress has been made, there is so much that needs to be done.

Today, more than 40% of HIV infected people are being denied the most basic health services. This includes adolescent boys and girls, young women and displaced individuals.

UNAIDS wants to remind us that “Everybody Counts!” Providing quality healthcare that is available to anyone, no matter where they live, especially in places that are most affected, is imperative. When it comes to denial of services there needs to be a zero tolerance policy.

At the briefing, the panelists discussed some solutions to make progress. One was education. Keeping girls in school will decrease the risk of acquiring HIV considerably. Another was regular testing. 1 in 3 people living with HIV do not know they have it. Gender equality was another. Women who are empowered and have their human rights respected, the HIV positive number for them goes down.

World AIDS Day was a positive experience and brought a higher level of awareness to everyone than they had prior to attending.

World TV Day

At World TV Day at the UN many topics and questions were discussed. The biggest question answered was how to use television to get people involved in making a difference in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN.

One way is helping people become “informed” about the SDGs. Making caused-base documentaries and tv shows that motivate others to take action is one way. Other ways are making fictional movies (including animation) that force you to think about how you can make a difference.

One animated movie that partnered with the UN in focusing on meeting the SDGs was The Smurfs “The Lost Village.” It focused on several of the SDGs including climate action (13), life below water (#14), and life on land (#15). It was played in 78 countries and did a great job of getting the word out. The Smurfs are small, but they have big goals. #smallsmurfsbiggoals

People may not realize it, but if they just did a little to help, the SDGs of the UN’s 2030 Agenda would be rather easy to achieve. We just need to be informed as to how we can and TV can help us do that.

Fashion and Sustainability: Using Fashion to Make a Difference

Last week at the Fashion and Sustainability conference, the topics of discussion were how the fashion industry is trying to address the issue of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the UN.

One in particular is Goal #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. The fashion industry is the largest employer of women, but are their rights being protected in the workplace? Companies are taking steps to bridge the gap in workplace inequality, but there’s still work to do on it.

Also mentioned were companies like Eileen Fischer and Patagonia, which are leading the way in making everything they produce with an environmental and socially responsible mindset. From making new products from worn and recycled materials to customers trading in their worn clothing for gift cards. The second-hand clothing is then repurposed for someone else; rather than it simply going to waste. One of the panelists coined it as “making second-hand sexy.”

A challenge was made by Patrick Duffy; the moderator and founder of Global Fashion Exchange by stating:

In order for the SDGs to thrive, all of civil society, world leaders, institutions and the private sectors need to work together, take accountability for their actions and look for better ways of sustainable alternatives.”

It was inspiring to see all the steps that are being taken in the fashion industry to partner with the UN in meeting the SDGs of the 2030 agenda.

Upcoming Meeting with the UNHCR on the Rohingya Crisis

Tomorrow the UNHCR will be discussing the situation in Myanmar.

Half a million Rohingya refugees have fled from violence in Myanmar. The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The vast majority of Rohingya refugees reaching Bangladesh are women and children, including newborn babies. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection. They have nothing and need everything. This is where the UN and NGOs can get involved to help.

NGO Orientation at the UN – Learning How to Navigate the UN

At the NGO Orientation today we heard from many different UN bodies and the NGOs that work with them.

The main themes were “Working Together” and “Making a Difference”. The two go hand-in-hand; you can’t make a difference if you don’t work together, especially in the world we live in today.

With the SDGs 2030 agenda in full swing each of us need to work together if we want to meet these goals. The panelists reminded us that every government in the world has agreed to try and help meet these goals, and we need to speak up when we don’t see that happening.

We heard from Claudia Díaz from the Human Rights Council, Dalita Balassanian from the UNDP and the different NGOs that work with them.

NGO rep Scott Carlin from Long Island University focused on climate change. He stated that “we’re far behind meeting our goals” and “we don’t have enough funding, and 2030 is right around the corner.”

Discussing solutions was also discussed. Getting involved in NGO committees, taking to social media (in a positive way), making ECOSOC aware of changes that need to be made, and being involved with DPI are just some of the avenues we can take in “working together to make a difference.”

YOUnited – An In-Depth Look at How Youth Can Affect Change Through Policy and Action

Last week the DPINGO held a briefing on YOUnited, a youth led discussion on how to affect change through policy and action.

Topics addressed were how the youth are marginalized in the decision-making process of policy change, but need to play a critical roll in it. The average age of parliamentarians is 53-years old, with only 5% under the age of 35. This can easily be seen as a form of age discrimination.

Giving the advice on how to fight youth discrimination, Omar Almutawa, Youth Representative of the UAE stated, “Have a thick skin, and reply with action.” Getting involved and staying involved is the key.

With the 17 SDGs that the UN has put forth, we are all responsible for meeting them, and that includes the youth. Without the having the youth as an intricate part of meeting the SDGs, they will be very difficult to achieve.