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The Inside Scoop on the UNA-USA Annual Meeting

June 10, 2010

By George Garland

As usual, my UNA-USA annual meeting began with the UNA-National Capital Area annual meeting on Saturday evening. That reminded me of the fragility of our efforts. Andy Rice’s many achievements and warm yet unquenchable human spirit was remembered after Andy passed on June first. Evelyn Falkowski, my predecessor at UNA-NCA and contributor of $300,000 to the chapter’s endowment fund, was not able to be present for Tim Barner to receive the Falkowski Prize for individual contributions to the chapter as she had just broken her arm in too any places to count. That still didn’t stop Evelyn from offering home hospitality to Ann Prpowski, new President of the Chicago chapter, and Don Grubbs and Charlie, President of the Bucks County (PA) chapter.

The status of the strategic alliance between UNA-USA and the UN Foundation was amply discussed and became very clear. Step one is a draft agreement describing the strategic alliance. Some review process for chapters will then follow. Then the strategic agreement document is submitted for approval to the Attorney General of the State of New York. Approval of dissolution of UNA-USA by a Court in New York comes next. A virtual convention is being devised where UNA-USA chapters will have representation depending on chapter size for approval of the strategic alliance. Once this is approved by the convention, various assets will move to UNF. Chapters of the former UNA-USA will be given an affiliation agreement by which they can become part of a new UNA-USA which will be part of the Better World Campaign in the UN Foundation. We will then have access to all of the public relations, fundraising, and programmatic resources of the UN Foundation to further our cause. The Annual Meeting voted unanimously to endorse this process.

It was a great to hear Gabriel Levitt and Heather Hamilton, a long time International Criminal Court activist, spar over tactics. Both were right. Heather notes that, in the current political climate, the Obama Administration policy of supporting ICC activity but not pressing for reentry is optimal. Gabriel rightly points out that the job of the NGO community is to challenge and change the political climate to get the US to sign up again to the ICC.

The session on the Millennium Goals brought out the possibility (encouraged by the UN Foundation) of a ninth MDG on Energy Access for All. Mary Farnsworth thought it best to fold such concerns into Goal 7 while others feel that an eminently trackable goal might push progress on this crosscutting issue. Development legislation is being revised by Congressman Berman and we are encouraged to support his efforts. Lobbying by large firms such as Louis Berger results in white elephants such as the billion dollar power plant serving Kabul that does not provide electricity for Kabul. Lack of counter lobbying for appropriate technology which is far more cost effective was regretted (see for more on the Kabul fiasco).

What a meeting! George at

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