TRIANNUAL NEWSLETTER OF THE LONDON & SOUTH EAST REGION WORKING FOR A STRONG, CREDIBLE & EFFECTIVE UNITED NATIONS
ISSUE 14 | OCTOBER 2011
London & SE Region United Nations Association
Welcome to the October Issue of LaSER, the newsletter for all United Nations Association members in the London and Southeast Region.
Restructuring UNA-UK The Region Chairman’s report on the latest developments The UNA-UK Board has now approved the Strategic Plan and new governing documents to be put to a Special General Meeting on Thursday 24th November (35pm, venue to be determined). The papers also include new conference standing orders.
In this Issue… Restructuring UNA-UK/Make your voice heard
Arab Spring/The Case for Libya
This brings to a close a long period of debate within the Board and in the Association more widely on both the merger of UNA-UK with the UNA Trust to form a single charitable body, and the Strategic Plan proposed by the Board to guide the organization through the next four years. It is now for the membership to pronounce. If you cannot attend the meeting, you may consider appointing a proxy to represent you. Among the issues to consider are – §
Feeding the bottom billion/Walk 3 to the Wendover Woods Inter-School Debating/MUNGA 4 On Human Trafficking If you have not visited our website (www.unalondonandse.org) please take a look and tell us what you think. Past issues of LaSERs, event listings and full-length reports of activities are available on the website. You can now sign up to receive LaSER electronically. Don’t miss the opportunity to showcase your branch! We look forward to hearing from you.
§ § § §
Does charitable status significantly inhibit the merged organization’s right to criticise and campaign? Do members have adequate and effective rights over the governance and policy positions of the new body? Are the new arrangements for conference appropriate? Is the revised composition of the Board acceptable? Are members happy with the electoral arrangements?
Under the new plan, conferences will be organized by a Branch, Region or Nation, “supported” by the Board. At the LaSER Autumn Council meeting on 17th September members present voted to offer to play this role for a conference in 2013, assuming adequate support. This could be an opportunity to get the new structure (if approved) off to an exemplary start, and to this end the Regional Executive would like to hear from members interested in practical involvement.
Make your voice heard! The committee really does need new members: why not propose some names or even ask fellow members to put up YOUR name?
Copy date of the next Issue: 10 February 2012. For contribution guideline and details, go to: www.unalondonandse.org/Publications.htm
Editor: Angela Viano (email@example.com)
Membership involves meeting as a committee four or five times a year - but more crucially gives you the chance to play an active role in our programme of work maintaining UNA as a civil society organization. This is the largest and most active Region in UNA, and your committee has had - can have - a decisive impact on how UNA is run, and what its policies and priorities should be! PS The Region also needs someone who could spend say 8 hours a month keeping our website up to date. A great way to make your mark on the internet!
The London and South East Region is part of UNA-UK, currently serving 25 branches in the Region. Views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily represent the policy of UNA-UK or the Region. Editorial material and photos can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
The Arab Spring | Roger Hallam/Alison Williams
The Regional Autumn Council on 17th September debated the origins and implications of the Arab Spring.
The Executive Committee is delighted to announce that
Roger Hardy, formerly of the BBC World Service, argued that everywhere the unrest was about “bread, jobs and dignity”, but that outcomes depended on the specific structures and history in each country. Autocracies and the self-perpetuating elites linked with them through family and business interests were soon targeted. Following the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and (provisionally) in Libya, the movement was encountering brutal repression. The Syrian regime in particular was likely to survive. Western support was inconsistent, often lapsing into mere rhetoric, with principle struggling to trump interests. But on one thing Roger insisted: the notion that Arabs will never enjoy freedom and prosperity had gone forever. Firas Jabloun, of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, then took us through the stages of the Tunisian revolt, from the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi to the counter-revolution still under way. Firas felt that dignity even more than bread had underpinned a struggle in which the people had shown great discipline and maturity. A thoughtful discussion then ranged from Palestine (Firas thought the question of Jerusalem was always present) to the role of women and media coverage, and from R2P to Islamism and oil interests. (Roger Hardy’s book “The Muslim Revolt: a Journey through Political Islam”, is a brief and lucid summary of movements and opinion in the Islamic world prior to the Arab Spring)
Professor Philippe Sands QC has agreed to serve for two years as President of the Region in succession to Baroness Helena Kennedy. Philippe is a leading figure in International Law and Human Rights. A barrister at the Matrix Chambers and a professor of International Law at UCL, his many publications include Lawless World (2005) and Torture Team (2008). He was a co-founder of the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development and, as a practicing barrister, has extensive experience of litigating before English and international courts, including cases involving Guantánamo and Belmarsh detainees and that of Augusto Pinochet. Philippe will address the Region at our December AGM.
The Case for Libya | Bruce Kent A response to Keith Hindell’s article on the “Responsibility to Protect” (see LaSER Issue 13) There is no need for Keith Hindell to try to do the Foreign Office's job for them.
Global Model UN Conference
The UN was not created in 1945 to authorise war but to save humanity from' the scourge of war' (Preamble to the Charter).The Security Council has no right, in any circumstances, to authorise military action unless non violent solutions to conflict have been explored and found wanting (Art.42 of the Charter).
George Nimfour, Westminster branch Hon. Treasurer, recently participated in the Global Model UN Conference in Incheon, South Korea, joining UN SG Ban Ki-moon Mr. Kiyo Akasaka (left), Under-SG (UN/DPI) and George and 400 students keen to develop leadership and problem solving skills. He led the Belize ‘delegation’, coordinating policy on environmental refugees and renewing commitment to international environmental governance. Debating into the night and ‘hotel hopping’ between delegations, resolutions were argued out and agreed. Composite resolutions on all topics were passed by the conference General Assembly and Security Council. In all, a valuable learning experience. (George was awarded a grant from the Eric Price Holmes Travelling Fellowship Fund, part of the London UNA Trust)
Amongst others the African Union and the Vatican representative in Tripoli called for negotiations and dialogue and thought a nonviolent solution possible. Such calls were rejected by NATO which has now improperly become the military arm of the UN. This country has spent £1billion on its bombing campaign, ten times more than was forecast. Only God knows, or ever will know if we follow previous practice in Iraq, how many civilians were killed in that process. A dictator has been removed. Good. Who next? Syria? Bahrain? I doubt it. This was one whom we helped until very recently to keep in power. Gaddafi was a good customer for our arms sales men. That is why the hypocrisy is so obvious. Don’t think that oil is not a factor in this affair. The UNA would do well to promote public interest in non-military solutions to conflict if we are really interested in avoiding ' the scourge of war' in the future. We could well learn lessons from South Africa. (Bruce Kent is Vice-President of “Movement for the Abolition of War”)
LaSER | Issue 14 | October 2011
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
Remembering Dag Hammarskjöld | David Wardrop and the manner in which the UK government still protects contemporary records. They covered the Indian government’s stance on the roles of the UK and the US and also explained the Soviet Union’s stance when Lumumba requested its support. Lord Hurd recalled meetings with Hammarskjöld when serving with the UK Mission in New York and we learned of recently discovered documents showing variances between witness statements and official crash reports. Later, Susan Williams launched her book “Who killed
Dag Hammarskjöld? The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa”. Photo@UN/DPI
The 50th anniversary of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death was marked by a conference in London titled “Dag
Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the End of Empire”. Twelve speakers told us of the rapidly changing scenarios through which Hammarskjöld steered the UN
The previous evening, the Swedish Ambassador hosted a soiree featuring reflections by Lord Hannay and others together with music Hammarskjöld loved and readings of his poems and speeches. The events were organised by the School of Advanced Study at London University, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the UNA Westminster branch.
Feeding the Bottom Billion – How?
A Walk to the Wendover Woods....
On 12th July, UNA Westminster and the All Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development held a meeting in the House of Commons chaired by Heidi Alexander MP. Professor Lawrence Haddad, Director, Institute of Development Studies and Steve Wiggins, Overseas Development Institute, assessed the challenges of feeding a rising population with decreasing resources. They referred to The Future of Food and
Five intrepid souls from Streatham & Clapham branch braved torrential downpours to travel to Wendover Woods for a walk to mark the International Year of the Forests. We had the further moral support of a good number of other branch members (and members of other branches) who liked the idea but couldn't make the date. We took Ban Ki-moon along too (on a laptop) with a download from the IYF website. He reminded us how many livelihoods depended on forests (1.6 million) and how deforestation was currently contributing more to global warming than the world’s entire transport system (that's planes, trains, cars and ships put together).
Farming - Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability, a recent DFID report undertaken by the Foresight Government Office for Science. This covers issues like gender and food production, food waste, carbon emissions, climate change, biodiversity, zerotillage and food technology. Both speakers argued for a flexible approach to food production, emphasizing that well-managed farming and distribution can lead to greater local employment and economic advances, citing successes in Ghana. David Wardrop
Stop Press In the Horn of Africa there is an ever-deteriorating situation for thousands of people with disputes between rival factions taking place on the border between Kenya and Somalia exacerbating an already desperate situation. We call on members to do everything they can to flag up this situation and keep putting pressure on the UN and DFID to do everything possible to protect refugees already in Kenya or in transit to Kenya, and to ensure that the delivery of aid to IDPs is possible in Somalia whose political situation needs to be urgently addressed. LaSER | Issue 14 | October 2011
We took our own tree quiz with a number of fascinating woody facts not to mention the picnic (and the forest cafe baked us a cake). So it's not the biggest international year, but well worth supporting none the less. The Forestry Commission were incredibly helpful as were the Go Ape Treetop Adventure people who gave us a roofed picnic area for free, so other branches might be able to take advantage of the forest opportunities. The Forestry Commission have also launched their own IYF activities so hopefully spreading understanding of the international significance of forests. And in the end the sun came out and we had a great time! Peter Webster
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
Inter-School Debating Competition
In the picture: Stephen Harrow presents the prize to the winners.
On 30th June Purley with Sutton Branch of the United Nations Association held the Final of the Inter-School debating competition , which they have been running since 1977, at Croydon High School. More than 20 secondary schools (a mix of state, public and private), mainly from Croydon & Sutton but also Epsom, Redhill, Horsham & Crawley, compete in the competition annually which is sponsored by the Legal & General Assurance Society. Every year the local UNA Branch publish a list of topics for debate on their web site and also the draw. The team drawn “at home” selects the topic and the away team then decides whether to propose or oppose. The Branch provides three independent, volunteer judges for each debate. This year’s Final Debate, Chaired by Dick Moran, was between Old Palace School, Croydon (represented by Hana Shabi and Emma-Jane Humphreys) who defeated Wallington High School (Joshua Heath and Hannah Mirsky). The Branch Judges were Les Kemp, Rodney Towner and Stephen Harrow. The prizes for the winners, runners up and individual best speaker (Joshua Heath) were presented by Jas Weir Stephen Harrow.
Running a MUNGA in deepest Sussex
Where in Sussex are you likely to find 165 eager students discussing international issues at a Model United Nations General Assembly? Look no further than Uckfield Community Technology College! This year’s event, organized once again by the College and Wealden UNA Branch, saw students representing countries such as Afghanistan, Denmark, Indonesia and Australia. Six Draft Resolutions, some with controversial and debate provoking clauses, were presented on issues as diverse as education, the rights of women, the eradication of poverty, the environment etc. Each of them were studied by committees of 30 students whose recommendations were then presented and voted on in a plenary session presided over by the President of the UN General Assembly. Three crucial components make this annual event successful: First, the students are highly motivated. Secondly, the Principal, Mr Hugh Hennebry, and staff of the College are outstanding, extremely co-operative and motivated. Finally, Terry and Rosemary Baker of Wealden UNA supplied brilliant documentation plus a bevy of flags. Neville Grant
Would you like to run a MUNGA? It is not as difficult as you might think. For information and support please contact Rosemary and Terry Baker on 01825712553 or at email@example.com
On Human Trafficking | Brian Beeley On October 13th, at the Camden Centre, Tunbridge Wells UNA staged a public meeting addressed by Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for South East England, on Human Trafficking. An appreciative audience of over forty people heard Catherine welcome recent UK Government legislation to combat Trafficking. She gave a vivid and compelling account of the suffering caused by criminal elements - and explained what can be done to raise public awareness and reaction.
LaSER | Issue 14 | October 2011
Also speaking with Catherine was Cliff Grieve, an expolice officer and prime mover of the Kent Community against Trafficking. With her assistant Mark Wheeler, Mrs Bearder showed a brief but alarming video on Sex Trafficking. She highlighted the Conference on Trafficking which she would sponsor in Reading on October 15th, ahead of Anti-Slavery Day on October 18th. Earlier on the day of her talk, Catherine had spoken about Trafficking and her visit to Tunbridge Wells on Radio Kent. For more information, contact Brian Beeley on 01892 533566 or firstname.lastname@example.org