Thanks to the UNA-USA network, the 2018 UNA-USA Leadership Summit was a resounding success! With over 500 attendees from 46 states including the District of Columbia, this year’s Summit was the largest convening to date.
For three incredible days, UNA members heard from notable speakers . These speakers included Thomas Pickering, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1989-1992), Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ambassador Robert King, former special envoy for North Korea human rights issues at the U.S. Department of State (2009-2017), and Munira Khalif, U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, speaking on the importance of a strong U.S.-UN relationship.
All UNA members are encouraged to sign-up and attend the National Summit, held each year. This year we had a number of UNA Chicago members in attendance. Below in an overview or their experience.
Day 1: Welcome to DC!
The Saturday before the Summit isn’t officially a part of the summit, but this year, there was a happy hour hosted, where we got to meet other members of UNA USA, and participants of the conference.
Day 2: Speakers & breakout sessions
Day 2 is really when the summit begins. This year, we got to hear speakers that ranged from Hilary Corna – a bestselling author, to Munira Kalif – the US Youth Observer to the UN to Tracy Roosevelt- great granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It was also filled with breakout sessions such as: UN 101, Chapter Best Practices, Model UN and Global Classrooms, and UN Advocacy, to name a few. As you can tell, the day is all about learning, listening, and networking.
Day 3: More speakers & More breakout sessions
Day three was very much a continuation of day two. This time, we heard Thomas Pickering – Former US Ambassador to the UN, Ed Royce – Chairman, US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Robert R. King – Ambassador of the US on North Korea Human Rights Issues. The breakout sessions consisted of topics such as: Action on Climate Change, Global Health, Human Rights Close to Home, Careers at the UN, and Global Refugee Crisis Beyond Syria.
The day ended with a dinner and cocktail hour at the Institute of Peace. Here we where we were able to hear Andrew Gilmour, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights speak.
Day 4: Lobby day!
Lobby day is the final day of the summit and the day that you get to turn all you’ve learned from the past two days into action. Though this may sound daunting, most states are represented by at least 10 people- some are represented by over 50- so we were never alone. To prep for this groups gathered to conduct research on the representatives. This allowed us to be prepared to discuss the more important topics with them. Overall, it was truly an empowering experience.
Our impact was felt beyond the in-person Congressional meetings and dynamic panels. UNA-USA members sent over 500 emails to Congress, at least 200 UNA members tweeted at their elected officials, and #USAforUN earned over 13 million impressions and reached nearly 2.5 million users.
That sounds like a lot, but the time flies by! When you leave you’re left with a better understanding of not only what the United Nations does, but also what the United Nations Association does, and how your chapter can help its mission. We hope to see you at the next one!