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CGS 2017 National Convention in St Louis, MO

CGS 2017 National Convention, St Louis, MO

The 2017 national convention of Citizens for Global Solutions in St. Louis October 20-22 marked a new focus in its efforts to bring about a democratically governed world.  "Just Security 2020:  Citizen Action for an Effective and Inclusive UN" was the theme of the convention.  The featured speaker, Dr. Richard Ponzio, Director of the Just Security 2020 Program at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, explained how broad institutional reforms at the UN are designed to culminate in a 2020 summit on the UN's 75th anniversary.  The specific recommendations of the Albright-Gambari Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance can be found on the CGS website http://globalsolutions.org/issues/commission-global-security-justice-governance

David Lionel used videos in an interactive session to encourage discussion about what local groups can do to raise awareness of the Just Security 2020 effort and how to educate them about its specific recommendations.  The challenge is to find ways of generating local enthusiasm for this project for global justice and knowing how to bring other non-governmental organizations into a collaborative effort.

The World Federalist Institute's Friday meeting began with a report via Skype with Andreas Bummel in Germany about how a UN Parliamentary Assembly is needed to make the UN more democratic.  After that, the first topic discussed was what WFI's role should be in CGS in emphasizing global governance messaging and outreach.  The next topic was why WFI should be promoting a UN Parliamentary Assembly and how to do that.  The third topic was how WFI could and should promote World Federation Education and how such education is critical for the kind of social change we want to implement.

Signs of Hope Inside CGS

Donna with her new grandchild

I have become the chair of Citizens for Global Solutions Action Network at a difficult time.  It was very difficult to lay off our dedicated staff at the beginning of May.  But it became clear to all the members of both Boards (Citizens for Global Solutions Education Fund and Citizens for Global Solutions Action Network) that we didn’t have a choice.  Financially we couldn’t afford their salaries.  Some of our employees had been with us a very long time.  The decision and the process were painful.  It has been like losing dear friends.

So now we enter a new phase in the life of Citizens for Global Solutions.  We are now a volunteer-led, volunteer-run organization.  We hope to hire staff and interns again in the future, but for the time being we are looking for a few good volunteers.

So why should you, our members, our colleagues, our friends, our donors, our volunteers stick with us?  I believe there are many signs of the times that point to hope for our organization and our world.  This blog will share hopeful signs within our organization:

CGS Partners

CGS Banquet Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance Coalition Working Group Richard Ponzio

It’s not uncommon to hear issue advocates claim that different organizations are “siloed”—focused on their approach to the issues that concern their organization. Working every day on any one issue can create tunnel vision and prevent sharing best practices. It’s for that reason that Citizens for Global Solutions is committed to working across a number of issue groups that bring together like-minded organizations working broadly on related issues, but in different ways. It's this work that makes CGS a prime example of an interdependent and collaborative organization.

Citizens for Global Solutions is currently active in seven coalitions or working groups. Personally, my favorite is WICC, the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court, but since I'm WICC’s Advocacy Chair, maybe I’m biased. CGS co-founded WICC, which is why as Advocacy Chair, I’ve been happy to keep CGS at the forefront of ICC advocacy on Capitol Hill and continue to bring the CGS brand to many congressional offices. WICC regularly meets with congressional staffers and sponsors briefings and other events to raise awareness of the Court's important work in international justice and human rights.

Questions from Nepal: Debating the Merits of Voluntourism

On April 25th, a devastating earthquake hit Kathmandu, Nepal, killing over 4,000 people. As many around the world respond to the immediate aftermath, others look toward the future: how will Nepal rebuild? Financial aid is obviously needed; India is leading a massive aid effort along with other countries, while the US has already pledged $10 million. But the country will also need physical support. Who should provide it?

In the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, the country was flooded with untrained volunteers working with various NGOs. But while their hearts were in the right place, many of these good Samaritans did more harm than good. As Claire Bennett notes:

Ragtag brigades of well-intentioned do-gooders flooded the country…all clambering over one another looking for a way to make their mark and do good, but lacking either the skills or coordination to have an impact…. There were even reports of teams of doctors who arrived to help but were unable to feed themselves. This wave of unsolicited and poorly planned shipments of untrained people and donated goods was dubbed by some humanitarians “the second disaster." 

Peace on Earth, Peace of Mind, Piece of Cake

What holiday treats await foreign policy wonks?

Our team here at Citizens for Global Solutions is hoping that US foreign policy will continue to embrace international cooperation. The global challenges that we face internationally do not lend themselves to quick fixes. It is extremely difficult for America to act unilaterally to solve the problems to which our prosperity and way of life are inextricably connected.

We believe that the world wants and needs global leadership. And we believe that the US remains uniquely capable of providing it. Engaged, cooperative US leadership--not necessarily direct US power--will produce better outcomes in Syria, the Ukraine and elsewhere.

The US can and should be more selective and more circumspect about intervening militarily, responding to Americans’ strong support for more economic and diplomatic engagement in the world instead. Promoting democracy as a matter of economic, diplomatic, and political relations is and should continue to be an enduring part of US foreign policy.

As we get ready to enjoy the holiday season with our friends and families and make plans for the New Year, let us pause to take a look back from where we’ve come. The challenges of weak and failing states affect us all, and global problems require citizens—like you—for global solutions. We need to work together even more this year to help those living in abject poverty, changing environments, and oppressive regimes.

To our friends and colleagues in the Citizens for Global Solutions community, we wish you a joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year!  May you celebrate and bask in the warmth of your family and friends. Our CGS staff and leadership are grateful that we can continue our work with you to abolish war, protect our environment, and solve problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone.

In Peace,

The Citizens for Global Solutions Team

Citizens for Global Solutions: The Importance of your Gift

http://blogs.cdc.gov/genomics/files/2011/08/thankyoub.jpg

‘Tis the season of giving! An expression that becomes customary as acts of giving become commonplace around this time of year. As we walk down the street and see toy donation stands being constructed or hear that charming bell ringing for the Salvation Army, the holiday season is the time when charitable giving is at its prime. Each donation that we give is cherished in our hearts, as we believe our act of kindness will go towards the greater good, advance a cause, or even put a smile on someone’s face.

When I first came to Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), I was eager to learn about development and its significance to our organization. I soon gained valuable insight into the importance of charitable giving from foundations and from members like you, and how they help support CGS in attaining its mission and values.

But receiving donations does not come as easily as one might think. During my internship, researching prospective foundations for charitable giving was critical to fueling our movement. After I located prospective foundations that represented our ideas and beliefs, I wrote letters of inquiry (LOIs) that explained the link between our organization and that foundation and why they should consider us as a potential beneficiary. These LOIs enable our organization to receive funds, which allow us to push our mission forward.

Looking Ahead to 2015

My name is Victor, and I am a board chair of Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS). Our Board of Directors are traveling to Chicago this month to map out the road ahead for the organization. 

The meeting is in conjunction with a personal enterprise of mine: the 11th Chicago International Model United Nations (CIMUN), which I'm proud to say educates and inspires over 1,400 high school students from around the world.

As we move into 2015, I can tell you that the organization is working hard to confront the effects that our economy has been having on the non-profit sector as a whole -- simply put, a nerve-wracking drop in contributions (skip the rest of the article if you want to click here and help us out!).

I and my fellow Board members are rising to this challenge by undergoing a new strategic planning initiative, as well as moving forward on a smart capital project. We are converting our beautiful properties in Washington, DC into safe and comfortable income-generating housing for students coming to DC in pursuit of an International Relations internship. 

Finding safe and affordable housing in DC is tough – especially for students who are only coming for one or two semesters. Converting our space is a win-win – we provide some sorely needed space for students passionate about global issues, and this helps to stabilize our budget through a tough economic time.

Your gift right now is absolutely critical!

Your gift would go a very long way toward strengthening our organization and paving the way for long-term financial sustainability.

Right now, the CGS Board Members are tasked with:

Thank You

Staff and interns of GlobalSolutions.org working for you

Being approached by someone who is asking for “just a moment of your time” while you’re walking down the sidewalk is always very off-putting. Most people will just continue walking. This is not because they don’t care, but rather because they are sick of being asked for money.

However, monetary donations, especially recurring ones (monthly, for example), are the only fuel for membership organizations such as GlobalSolutions.org. There are many factors that go into making non-profit organizations successful, and much of it comes from members and donors investing in it. The reason that largely successful membership NGOs got to be as big as they are is due to support of the people.

At GlobalSolutions.org, we greatly appreciate any and all donation amounts we receive, and we use that to further the interests and values of globally minded Americans. Donations allow us to host events, like our 2014 Annual Conference that brings together members to lobby and build our global voices. Contributions support the release of reports, such as Birth of a Big Lie,  which exposed misinformation used to block the Disability Treaty. Further, they help us hold meetings with like-minded political advocates that share our vision, such as meetings of treaty proponents to support our Stop the War on International Law campaign.

60 Years Young and 20 Years of Service

(Photo: GlobalSolutions.org)

Counting his birthdays by the number of friends, not years, friends and colleagues of Global Solutions' "head cook and chief bottle washer" Don Kraus celebrated his 60th birthday and 20 years of service to the organization this past week.

The backyard patio at the national headquarters was filled with friends and supporters whom Don has worked with over the years. The event includes food, wine, music and great company.

Formerly a paper distribution business owner, Don came to Washington in the early 1990s after deciding he much preferred "selling peace to selling paper." Over the last twenty years, his role with the organization changed and he has been quick to evolve right along with the opportunities presented.

He was the Partners Program director for Global Solutions' predecessor organization the World Federalist Association, before moving sideways and up to take on the CEO mantle at its sister organization, the Campaign for UN Reform. He returned "home" in 2004 when the two organizations merged to form Citizens for Global Solutions, becoming the new organization's first Executive Vice President. In the summer of 2008, he stepped up to his current role as President & CEO of Global Solutions.

Don shared his thoughts at being with Global Solutions for so long.

It's Time to Act: Visit our Indiegogo Campaign

People underestimate the negative effects that not ratifying treaties can have on our lives. It can limit the rights of women or people with disabilities. Non-ratification also limits the influence that the US has in international decision-making. By not being part of the Law of the Sea treaty, the US loses opportunities to have a voice in decisions that govern the world’s oceans; this is a major issue for the US as the country with one of the largest coast lines.

Shouldn’t we embrace women’s rights and rights of the disabled? How can we end conflicts like the Syrian war without an arms trade agreement? The opposition wholeheartedly contests all treaties, while most proponents will advocate only for one. That needs to end. We CAN fight back, but we need to do it together, through broad support for treaty ratification.

The War on International Law is gaining traction, and we need to work harder to stop it. GlobalSolutions.org recently launched a project on Indiegogo, a crowd funding site, to raise money for our campaign. We need to bring attention to the Arms Trade Treaty, the Women’s Equality Treaty (CEDAW), the Disability Treaty, the Law of the Sea Treaty, and many others. The US has not ratified any of these crucial agreements, which has significant negative consequences for the US role in the world and for US citizens.

Our goals are simple: expose the opposition, identify the costs of this negative policy, and build a robust network of support that crosses traditional issue silos inside and outside the Beltway to reengage the US in adopting international law. We need your support in order to make this campaign a success.