Monthly newsletter for UU-UNO Envoys
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News and updates from the UU-UNO to keep you informed.
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Dear ,

It was amazing to see so many of you at the Intergenerational Spring Seminar earlier this month! This year's Seminar, Equity in Action: Gender in an Intersecting World, was an extremely powerful experience for all who attended, with a riveting keynote address, interactive workshops, and small group discussions that helped participants go deeper... and so much more! We had an excellent Envoy dinner on the first evening that sparked lots of ideas for future Envoy engagement. Stay tuned for more. Click the links below in the purple section about the Spring Seminar to read about the Seminar overall and how to continue involvement with the topic of gender equity, even if you weren't there. This is an issue that needs all our attention urgently.

Here are the minutes from the April Envoy Check-in conference call. Our next regular call will be Wednesday, May 22nd - please RSVP here. (I'll be in Boston for a staff group retreat on May 21st so we have to shift off the third-Tues-of-the-month schedule.) I'm also hosting a training for new UU-UNO Envoys on May 9th at 7pm EDT. Long-time Envoys who want a refresher are most welcome! RSVP is the same as above.

In faith, love, hope, and justice,

Allison Hess

International Engagement Associate

Some recommended text to put in your congregation's newsletter.

April at the United Nations is time to focus on the rights of indigenous peoples: from April 22 - May 3, 2019 the UN hosts its annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. On Thursday 25 April 2019, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, conducted the second of three informal hearings on how to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings. As part of its human rights efforts, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office is active in supporting initiatives to improve the representation of indigenous peoples at all levels within the UN system. Since indigenous leaders are neither governmental entities nor recognized non-governmental organizations, there has been no clear avenue for them to participate in UN processes, but the last four years have seen a shift within the UN General Assembly by Member States pushing for greater participation. There is much farther to go but we are grateful for and celebrate incremental progress. United Nations representatives, agencies, and offices lift up and bring attention to issues faced by indigenous peoples around the world, pushing for expanded justice for indigenous communities in each country. Unitarian Universalists can also take action on these issues locally to ensure that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is adhered to properly.
Photo by Isaac Humphrie
A look behind, a look ahead

April 10-13: UNO hosts Intergenerational Spring Seminar "Equity in Action" in NYC. (photo above from Opening Worship service.)
April 16: April Envoy Conference Calls.
April 22 - May 3: UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at UN HQ in NYC.
May 9: New Envoy Training Call.
May 11: CUC Annual General Meeting in Toronto, ON.
May 16-17: Allison in Boston for UU Holdeen India Program Board Meeting.
May 20-21: UNO staff in Boston for UUA Int'l Office staff group retreat.
May 22: May Envoy Conference Calls.
May 27: UUA Offices closed in observance of Memorial Day.
June 19-23: UUA General Assembly in Spokane, WA.


The following "Time to Act" suggestions for April 2019 will be related to the Third Sustainable Development Goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - focusing on target 3.1 (By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.) SDG 3? WHY IT MATTERS!

NPR and ProPublica reported in 2017 that, while it is declining in other developed countries and around the world, maternal mortality is on the rise in the United States. According to the Harvard Chan School Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, "The most notable disparity in mortality rates in the U.S. is defined by race: Black women die at a rate that ranges from three to four times the rate of their white counterparts." Maternal mortality rates are on the rise in Canada as well.
  • Organize locally for more accessible heath care options for all women! The WHO has identified poverty, distance from health facilities, lack of information, and inadequate services as some of the top factors preventing women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Support organizations like UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), WHO (World Health Organization), and ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), that are working on this issue.
Equity in Action: Gender in an Intersecting World

As you know, our Spring Seminar took place a few weeks ago in NYC. Many long-time participants have praised this year's as the best Spring Seminar yet. The Theme Panel was streamed live on UN Web TV and is available for viewing (we recommend organizing a congregational screening and discussion!)
The Seminar Statement created at the end of the event is a synopsis of what was learned over those three days and what participants commit to do moving forward. Take a look and consider implementing some of the resolutions in your own congregation. An article about the Seminar will be posted this week on our blog!
We've also put together a page of resources for further engagement with the topic of gender equity. It is full of ideas on how to stay involved and active towards making change!


Dear Envoys,

Let me begin by thanking you for the important work you do to ensure that there are good communications between your congregation and our office. We want to hear from you as we chart our course at the United Nations. You inform us as to what to prioritize and what we should research. Congregations are responsible for most of our advocacy areas at the United Nations.

We were joined at the Intergenerational Spring Seminar by Joseph Kingham Ochill who has been the Program Monitor for the Every Child is Our Child program in Ghana since 2009. Through this program, the UU-UNO has partnered with the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers association since 2005 to ensure that children orphaned or otherwise made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS or other causes get an education and health care. Participants learned much more about the Every Child is Our Child program from Joseph during the seminar and afterwards.

Joseph also visited UU congregations in Westport, CT; Shelter Rock, NY; and Huntington, NY with me to talk about and gain support for the Every Child is Our Child. Joseph visited All Souls, NYC with Allison Hess for the same reason.

This month the United Nations Permanent Form on Indigenous Issues began on April 22nd and will extend to May 3rd. Rev. Karen Van Fossan called me some weeks ago from the Bismarck-Mandan UU Congregation in North Dakota and introduced me to the Dakota Water Protector Legal Collective, part of the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at Standing Rock. Rev. Karen told me about the plan to charge the United States Government for human rights violations in the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and asked if I could help. I contacted the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and talked to their expert on Indigenous human rights, who told me that OHCHR has excellent relations with the IACHR and with all the regional commissions on human rights. She gave me some good advice and contacts to pass along to Rev. Karen.

I point this out because it is interesting news, but also because it is the model that I hope we can have with all congregations. We want our collaboration to be a two-way street where we can work together to solve programs, enhance mutual advocacy, and build our relationships with other activists.

I have observed that most meetings in Canada, including worship services in Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations, begin with an acknowledgement and gratitude to indigenous people on whose land they are located (in most cases which has been stolen). I went to a dinner of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (for which I’m the treasurer) in honor of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples and we began the dinner with a prayer and acknowledgement that we were on the land of the Lenape Nation. The Lenape Nation consisted of what is now all of New Jersey, New York City and surrounding areas, including parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Most of us learned in school that The Dutch purchased Manhattan in 1626 for $24 in trinkets. However, the Lenape and most indigenous peoples around the world didn’t and don’t accept the notion of ownership of land any more than the ownership of water or air.

At this dinner, I met Tāwera Tahuri of the Māori people in New Zealand. She was very concerned about the plans in New Zealand and Australia to "celebrate" the 150th year of the landing of Captain Cook. This might be a day of celebration for the white people in the region, but for the indigenous peoples of the region the arrival of Captain Cook brought the end of lives of traditional thriving cultures in the region which today struggle to survive. We in the U.S. have a similar anniversary coming up in 2020 as we mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth Colony. Nations of the world must reckon with the truth of our histories and put a stop to ongoing physical, social, and cultural violence against the indigenous peoples who first called these lands home.

We want to hear what you are doing on global issues locally in your congregations and how we can work together to make this a better world.   

Thanks again for all you do.
Bruce Knotts
Director, UU United Nations Office


Calling all high-school-aged youth: Join the UU College of Social Justice from July 13th through the 20th for Activate New Orleans: Racial Justice and Beloved Community!
This one-week training for high school youth offers interactive social justice
education and meaningful hands-on work with local organizations resisting white supremacy and building a thriving New Orleans. In a program grounded in UU values and practices, participants of all backgrounds are welcomed to engage issues of race and class against the unique backdrop of New Orleans history, culture, and activism.
Generous financial aid that can cover up to 75% of the program fee is available based on need until funds are spent. Learn more and register by May 31st.

Find more at

Clean Energy Policies Lead to Empowered Women

By Roy Meredith, Climate Justice Intern

The renewed emphasis on climate change is the most encouraging trend in American politics. More Americans across the political landscape are realizing that the costs of inaction are too high. Awareness of a problem, of course, is good only if it leads to action.......

In Opposition to Killer Robots

By Joanne Dufour, Disarmament Volunteer

Work to disarm our planet continues. Some good news of late reveals increasing support of the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons with the ratification by South Africa, the 22nd country to do so with the distinction of being the only country which gave up its program to develop.......

CSW63: Dismantling Gender Discrimination

By Chris Longo, Gender Equity Program Intern

On Monday, March 11th, in a packed drawing room of the Manhattan Public Library, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office hosted its annual parallel event in collaboration with the Commission on the Status of Women's 63rd session at the UN......

Are Tech Workers on the Road to Disarming Our Planet?

By Joanne Dufour, Disarmament Volunteer

Recent news from companies like Salesforce, Google, and Microsoft has seen a segment of their work force protesting their companies' connections with military policies in support of issues of major concern for those working for disarmament.......

Keep yourself and your congregation informed about important news coming from the UN
Global xenophobia - A "disturbing groundswell" of hate-based violence and intolerance aimed at religious devotees across all faiths must be countered before it's too late, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday, noting murderous attacks in just the past few days on a synagogue in California, USA and a church in Soum, Burkina Faso. He has set two "urgent initiatives" in motion to tackle hate speech and to ensure the safety of religious sanctuaries.

Drug-resistant bacteria - Deaths caused by infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria will skyrocket over the next two decades, along with huge economic costs without immediate, ambitious, and coordinated action, the UN World Health Organization and partners warned.

Justice & peacekeeping - Justice can be hard to come by in countries hit by conflict. To ensure that communities can settle disputes and see criminals lawfully punished, UN peacekeeping missions support mobile courts which travel to places where no regular court exists.

Game of Thrones & the UN - From King's Landing to the Iron Bank, so many of the breathtaking backdrops seen on the smash hit Game of Thrones television series are available for future generations to enjoy, thanks to a key but little-known role played by the UN cultural agency UNESCO.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT - Every two weeks the UN posts articles and videos summarizing noteworthy news developments over the past two weeks in the UN system. Find it here!       
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Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
777 UN Plaza
Suite 7G
New York, NY 10017
United States