Around the world, consultations are taking place to exchange ideas and gather views on a shared vision of “The World We Want”. The United Nations has asked all member nations to establish consultative sessions to determine the new set of humanitarian goals post-2015. The aim of the program is to invite wider participation in the dialogue about the post-2015 development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals and set out a new framework for the global development community. Through a nationwide consultation process the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is gathering views from Americans about what they want for themselves and the global community. Among the American delegates are 10 American Red Cross volunteers from Red Cross Youth Services and Red Cross Emergency & Disaster Response who attended the California session December 7.
Close to 120 Delegates representing the public and major non-profit humanitarian Organizations such as American Red Cross, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, YMCA and Rotary International are represented in the US/UN Consultations. The Consultations cover United Nations Millennium goals that include 1. An honest and responsive government, 2. A good education, 3. Better healthcare, 4. Affordable and nutritious food, 5. Equality between men and women, 6. Freedom from discrimination and persecution, 7. Action taken on climate change, and 8. Access to clean water and sanitation. The results will be recorded by scribes as part of the White Paper for United States to be sent to the UN as is being done from all UN member nations and will be used by the UN in creating the Post-2015 Millennium Goals.
Youth Delegate Aliza Makhani, Red Cross San Fernando Valley (SFV) District Youth President, served as an official scribe for Freedom From Discrimination & Persecution. “I’m proud to represent Red Cross in expressing the success of our Measles & Rubella Initiative in alleviating world suffering,” she stated. Like Makhani, Niki Etebari, SFV Red Cross Community Service Officer, has been a strong advocate in the fight to eradicate Measles and was the Red Cross Youth Delegate to Washington, D.C. to the National Measles & Rubella Conference where she accepted the National Award for top non-profit organization combatting disease which was won by the Los Angeles Region Red Cross as top fundraiser for the Red Cross/UN Foundation Measles & Rubella Initiative led by Red Cross Youth leaders.
“In all honesty, we have come a long way as citizens of the world and still, there is so much to strive for to make our world better for all,” said Najia Lodin, a Los Angeles Chapter Red Cross Youth Advisor and the moderator for the US/UN Consultative Session on Global Health.Right before the consultative session took place, former South African President Nelson Mandela, a leader for peace, passed away. His close friend Emmy winner Sherry Simpson Dean memorialized her good friend. “This week we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela with a moment of silence. He encourages me to create the film Power as he understood each individual has value to make a difference for a peaceful society. I was with Mandela in Cape Town in 1990 when he said, “I greet you all in peace and democracy not as a prophet but as a servant of the people and…I place my remaining years in service to you in your hands.” Simpson-Dean added that Mandela felt freedom and democracy is an idea in her film she embraced as Mandela embraced that day dancing across the stadium. “We celebrate his life and his spirit.”
We also celebrate the success in improving world health through the work of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations such as Red Cross. 60% of children in the world are vaccinated by UN Programs and NGOs like Rotary International’s Polio Plus which has practically ended the spread of polio in our lifetime and Red Cross Measles & Rubella Initiative has dramatically reduced worldwide measles and rubella infection. “The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon held a high level panel for 12 new goals along with Britain’s David Cameron. Our Consultation results will go into the US State Department world and lead to diplomatic agreement on US goals. Our goals are to stimulate unique conversation on the world we want in 2030 among a cross section of America,” said Chris Watley, UNA-USA Executive Director.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s official representative to the US/UN Consultative Session, Steven O’Dowd, Director of the Bureau of International Organizations Office of Human Security said, “We are advancing US policy and interests in UN Agencies and President Obama’s State of the Union goal is to eliminate extreme poverty within 2 decades. Healthcare needs to be accessible to all including emergency care. We are reducing child mortality rates and HIV and Polio and Measles and responding to disasters with humanitarian assistance through the UN and humanitarian organizations like Red Cross & Rotary.”
“Your contribution contributes to the report to the UN. I’ll take what you have done back to the State Department and give them input on what you did here today and it will reflect on the positive actions we will take as a nation.”
“With social inequality in the third world this disparity affects how the impoverished have access to aid after a disaster due to discrimination. We learned that organizations like the Red Cross provide aid to all people in time of disaster without regard to social, economic or cultural differences. We, also, learned about the World Food Program, World Health Organization and how the International Committee of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies come to the aid of the most in need when aid is needed the most,” said David Tuckman, Red Cross Mass Care Supervisor & Disaster Action Team Leader who served along-side Nelson Mandela’s friend Simpson-Dean as the Co-Moderator for the UN/UN Consultative Session on Freedom from Discrimination & Persecution.
With more than 100 delegates voicing their perspectives on the change we want to see in the world it is clear that what we do does make a difference. “What we do in Red Cross does make a difference and to represent the Red Cross fundamental principles and express them in the US/UN Dialogue shows that youth do matter and that our voice is heard,” said Agens Premkumar, a Red Cross District Youth Officer and Red Cross Youth President in Van Nuys, California.