The Global Citizen: UN Funding
A guest blog post by Jessica Ziegler:
This past weekend I attended the Nashville PRIDE Festival for the first time since moving to this city over three years ago. Despite the heavy rain and gloomy weather, the festival was an uplifting experience. In the short hours of my attendance at the festival, I spoke with a number of people from all different backgrounds: foreign aid workers, rodeo cowboys, nonprofit employees, former teachers, community activists, musicians, and many others. Even though these people came from different backgrounds, were different ages, and had vastly different life experiences, one thing that they all had in common was their pride-pride in who they are now, pride in where they've come from, and pride in where they can go.
As I spoke to all of these individuals and began to learn about their stories, it struck me that, like them, I was also intensely proud of what I represent, of the unique experiences I have had, and of how these experiences have shaped me into the person that I am today. More than that, though, I realized that I am immensely proud to be a member of the Nashville community, one which, as is evidenced by the annual PRIDE Festival, clearly values social cohesion, inclusion, and connectedness.
A guest blog post by Courtney Vick:
I've grown up hearing about Bonnaroo. I'm from Tennessee and for the past ten years, whenever summer rolls around, the word that begins with a B and ends with a roo is on everyone's tongue.
Back in May, a few weeks before Bonnaroo X, my friend, Megan, asked me if I'd like to go. She had already asked our mutual friend, Senwhaa. I jumped at the chance to go with two of my best friends to a music festival. The three of us would volunteer, listen to some of our favorite bands, explore new music, and camp (I'd just like to say that I had people betting against me on the camping part, and I was determined to prove them wrong :).
My dad and I woke up early the morning I departed for Bonnaroo. We bought a tent and all of the supplies I would need for the five days I was there. I met up with Anu, Weena, and Mel at the airport, and we were off. We stopped in Murfreesboro for a bite to eat at Sal's Pizza and met up with Eben for lunch. We hopped back in the car and set our sights on Manchester.
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, and Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, both made remarks recently highlighting the importance of the UN and noting the progress that the institution has made.
Rice spoke at the annual meeting of the United Nations Association of the United States. Below are some highlights. Check out Rice's full speech here.
Rice spoke about the need to engage with the UN to solve global problems:
"Now more than ever, Americans' security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off-so much stronger, so much safer and more secure-in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it."
Rice also spoke to the various accomplishments of the UN:
Last week I spoke to members of the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) who were preparing to lobby their members of Congress. I was asked to give a 30,000 foot overview of the political climate on the Hill regarding the UN, an update on the U.S. role at the Human Rights Council and the status of ratification of the Law of the Sea convention, CEDAW and the Rights of the Child treaty. Take a look at the presentation and let me know if you have any questions.
Citizens for Global Solutions’ banner, alongside a United Nations (UN) flag and photos of UN peacekeepers adorned the CGS booth in Planet Roo at the 2011 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Representatives from different organizations canvassed in Planet Roo, speaking with festival-goers on a variety of topics related to increasing awareness of environmental and political issues that threaten the well-being and life of people and the Earth. We shared Planet Roo with many other important NGOs that do good work and, similar to CGS, depend on a large supporter base to effectively operate and reach campaign goals.
One may assume that developing a hook to intrigue festival-goers in Planet Roo to come to the CGS booth amidst all the other distractions would prove difficult. We were the folks talking about genocide prevention, International Organizations funding, congressional legislation and humanitarian obligations over a weekend where great music and art was the constant and joyful centerpiece.
I recently read the Better World Campaign's poll regarding the American public's opinions of U.S./UN relations. The results that Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research found showed that:
"Eighty-five percent (85%) of voters say it is important that the United States maintain an active role within the United Nations, with six in ten voters (61%) saying it is very important the United States do so."
With all of the current events taking place in the international community, it is now extremely important for the United States to continue paying their dues to the UN. These dues will not disappear and disregarding them now will only result in us paying them later.
"Americans support the United States paying our dues to the UN on time and in full. Six out of ten Americans (60%) favor the United States paying our dues to the United Nations on time and in full, while 34% oppose."
Another statistic that really caught my eye demonstrates how important Americans feel it is for the U.S. to maintain its financial contribution to the UN peacekeepers...
Sarah Margon, Associate Director for Sustainable Security, and John Norris, Executive Director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress, recently published an article explaining why it is imperative that the United States does not withhold our financial support from the United Nations.
"Withholding funds from the United Nations would fail to reap significant savings, make it more difficult for our nation to lead, and seriously undermine our highest foreign policy and national security priorities."
The article goes on to describe why cutting UN funding will actually cost the U.S. money.
"...cutting funds now also means we are shifting our obligations onto future generations since U.N. membership still requires dues even if Congress cuts the budget. Restricting U.S. support for the United Nations ultimately has a much higher price tag than it does savings as doing so substantially decreases our political legitimacy while costing America money and jobs."
Although approximately 60 percent of the American people support the United Nations according to recent polling, Congress continues to chop away at the international affairs budget, including a recent cut of $377 million to UN funding. For some unknown reason, Congress is ignoring the facts that the UN...
John Danforth, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN (2004-05), and a Republican U.S. senator from Missouri (1976-94) just published an excellent article in USA Today laying out why it is in the United States' interest to stay engaged in the UN.
He says that while Congress has been debating whether to limit contribution to the UN, the real debate is:
"how we can best influence the institution to accelerate the adoption of reforms while not shutting down the organization's work, decreasing U.S. influence, and costing American taxpayers more money."
His bottom line is this:
"Cutting or limiting our funding, particularly at a time when the world is facing a number of global challenges, can only handicap U.S. diplomacy and give our adversaries a stronger hand."
I hope his former colleagues on the Hill are listening to this Republican icon from the "Show Me" state. Click here to send a message to your representatives supporting U.N. funding.
Citizens for Global Solutions will be at this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, from June 9th to 12th. This is our first ever appearance at Bonnaroo and we are greatly anticipating four days of fun and learning with great people and music!
Bonnaroo is an opportunity for us to share our mission and educate others in a setting that celebrates music and life. Citizens for Global Solutions envisions a future where we embrace our interconnectedness as individuals and nations, cooperating domestically and internationally to end war and to recognize and protect our most basic and fundamental human rights. Bonnaroo is a place of interconnection. It is a unique opportunity for people of different backgrounds to come together to celebrate a common interest: great music by talented artists. The festival presents an opportunity to learn from musicians, one another, as well as the many non-profit organizations that will be present at information booths open to the public.
In an editorial in the Seattle Times, two members of Congress made a strong statement about the importance of international relations funding as budget battles loom. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), and Bill Clapp, the founder of Global Washington and Seattle International Foundation, laid out the key reasons to maintain the international relations budget, including:
"Foreign assistance is the first line of our national defense, making us safer by stabilizing volatile nations. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphasized, 'development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.'"
In addition to saving us from the troubles and expenses of war, programs that rely on the international relations budget also reduce the need for additional aid in the future. The editorial states, "it cost $100 million to eliminate smallpox on the planet, but now saves the world $1.3 billion annually." International relations spending, a mere 1% of the budget, allows us to proactively solve minor international issues before they become major problems that we have to deal with.
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