GlobalSolutions.org’ 2011 Conference, Global Challenges: Global Solutions, was a major success thanks to the plethora of distinguished speakers and the energy and passion of those who attended. The conference took place in the cozy Carriage House near Dupont Circle where people listened to speakers, asked questions, and debated various important issues of international relations, the role of the U.S. and the UN in the world, and an assortment of other topics. Members came from 24 different states including as far as Maine, California, Arizona, Minnesota, and Mississippi.
The conference kicked off with a presentation by Suzanne Nossel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Ms. Nossel spoke about the importance of U.S. engagement with the United Nations in solving the many difficult problems we face in the world today. As a member of the State Department, she was able to offer CGS members insight into how her department operates and works with international organizations.
Following Ms. Nossel and a report by CGS Chief Executive Officer, Don Kraus, on the state of the organization (it’s doing well), people scattered to various rooms for different breakout sessions including Lobby Training, The UN and You, and Congress 101. Lobby Training provided a solid foundation for those new to lobbying on Capitol Hill with background on the two lobby day issues, Genocide Prevention and UN Funding, and tips on how to lobby most effectively.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Congress 101 presentation given by Darcy Burner, from Progressive Congress. Ms. Burner broke down the members of Congress into tangible numbers to work with so that we, as internationalists who care deeply about continued, responsible U.S. engagement in the world, can most effectively advocate and influence Congress. Ms. Burner was both informative and refreshingly friendly and funny in her presentation. She made the point that our perceived enemies are only our adversaries on issues where we disagree. But there are some issues where we can work with those with whom we usually disagree, and we should look at each issue individually so that we can accomplish our goals.
During lunch, a panel moderated by incoming CGS Board Chair, Jim Riker, spoke about the evolving roles of the G8, the G20, and the United Nations and fielded a variety of insightful questions from the audience.
Following lunch, there was a panel on UN Treaties including the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Law of the Sea Treaty, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Many at the conference, including myself, had a basic understanding of at least one or two of the treaties, but the panel of experts allowed for a deeper understanding of these important treaties being considered by our government today.
In the third breakout session, U.S. in the World Co-Director Priscilla Lewis gave a presentation on how best to talk to other Americans about the importance of responsible U.S. engagement in international affairs. Those who listened to her speak learned about the common perceptions and assumptions of average Americans regarding international relations and the United Nations and the best strategies to try to influence those who disagree with us.
Following a day listening and talking, learning and teaching, Thursday evening provided a relaxing atmosphere to talk about topics brought up during the day while sipping on wine and enjoying Georgetown Cupcakes beautifully decorated with the CGS logo. To cap off the soiree, longtime CGS and World Federalist Society member Myron Kronisch received the Edward Rawson Global Citizen Award for his dedicated service to our vision and mission.