News and updates from the UU-UNO to keep you informed.
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March 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speak at the UN

Dear ,

We just wrapped up a hectic but wonderful two weeks of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. A group from the UU-UNO was very fortunate to have been able to attend one panel during CSW (see photo at right) featuring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Prime Minister Trudeau spoke about the need in all countries to have women leaders highly represented in all levels of government - something he is actively implementing in his own cabinet.

As you probably know, Spring Seminar is coming up in just one week! This year, I hope you will participate with your congregation or Envoy Team even if you can't make it to the seminar in person. I invite you to write a statement about income inequality which we will incorporate into the Spring Seminar Statement that is published at the end of each seminar. Please take a look at the description below for guidelines on how to submit your statement - we look forward to reading your congregation's contribution! Statements must be received by 5pm EST on April 8th to be included.

Please RSVP for the next Envoy conference call. There will be a New Envoy training call right after the Spring Seminar (April 12), and a normal Envoy conference call the following week (April 20). 

Blue Ribbon Congregations will be announced in May and will receive their award plaques at the Canadian Unitarian Council's National Conference in Vancouver, BC and at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly (GA) in Columbus, OH. Please let me know if you think your congregation may qualify but you haven't heard from me yet. 

In faith, love, hope, and justice,

Allison Hess

Envoy Coordinator


Sharing information and news is important, but you want to make change in your local and global community. Here's how.

Sustainable Development Goals

In light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the following "Time to Act" suggestions for March 2016 will be related to the Seventh SDG: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.


Please complete the following tasks by the end of April.

  1. Submit a statement from your congregation to be included in the UU-UNO Spring Seminar Statement. See below for more info.

  2. Check in with me regarding your congregation's Blue Ribbon status!

February Review: (1) Schedule an appointment to chat with your minister (2) Share Spring Seminar videos with your congregation.  
DPI/NGO Conference in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea
May 30 - June 1, 2016

The 66th United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)/Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Conference this year will be held in Gyeongju, Korea from May 30 to June 1, 2016. The theme is "Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together." If you or anyone at your congregation is interested in attending, the UU-UNO can register you as a delegate to the conference and provide information on discounted transportation, etc. if needed.
A look behind, a look ahead

March 4: UNO staff and interns at Spring Seminar Planning Retreat.

March 8: International Women's Day

March 14-24: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum at the United Nations.

March 19-20: UNO Director Bruce in Allentown, PA speaks at Burundi Peace Rally and UU Church of the Lehigh Valley service.

March 21: UNO hosts a panel at CSW on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and inclusive policies, "Breaking Free: LBT Women and the Sustainable Development Goals"

March 22: World Water Day, and beginning of Climate Justice Month

March 25: Extended deadline for Spring Seminar registration. All registration and participant forms must be received by 5pm Eastern.

March 29: UNO Director Bruce speaks at Lehigh University about LGBT rights.

March 31: Early bird deadline to register for the CUC National Conference in Vancouver, BC!

March 31: Deadline to qualify as a 2015-2016 Blue Ribbon Congregation.

April 7-9
: 2016 Intergenerational Spring Seminar - The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences.

April 18: UN Office closed for Patriots' Day.

April 19-21: UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem.

April 22: Earth Day, and end of Climate Justice Month - continue the energy with Commit2Respond!

April 30: UNO Envoy Coordinator Allison hosts workshop at UUA Pacific Southwest District Assembly in Santa Barbara, CA.


The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office hosted an event at this year's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) forum. It was one of only three events at CSW that specifically addressed the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. The UU-UNO has recently started a committee of non-governmental organizations at the UN to coordinate advocacy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity human rights. Tune into at 11am EST on April 8th to watch a live stream from the UU-UNO's Intergenerational Spring Seminar at the UN Headquarters. The panel will address the affect of biases (about sexual orientation, gender identity, race, criminal record, etc.) on global economic inequality.
Envoy Spotlight

In this month's Envoy Spotlight, I want to introduce you to Eryl Court and Debby Poljanowski, Envoys at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto in Ontario. Eryl and Debby will both be attending UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar this year where Eryl will be awarded the Elaine Harvey International Justice Award. For those attending the seminar, (or the CUC National Conference where a video of the event will be shown) you'll get to hear more about Eryl's amazing life dedicated to global peace. Here, Debby writes about her joy in serving alongside her co-Envoy:
    I am new to the Unitarian Church and the UU-UNO, so I do not have a lot of experience, but below is why I am enjoying my co-envoy role so far. Although I have known Eryl only for a short time, I was thrilled to hear that she had won the Elaine Harvey International Justice Award, and this is why...
    From the moment I met Eryl, I was charmed with her infectious spirit. During our first lunch meeting, she wasted no words. She dazzled me with history, quotes, stories from famous people, the realism of peace and the consequences of war. During Eryl's remarkable volunteer career in activism, she has traveled globally to attend peace conferences, worked with authors, founders of peace organizations, leaders, Nobel Peace Prize winners…. (I look forward to more adventure stories!)  Eryl has worked passionately for so many peace organizations. As a member of First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, she has been the UU-UNO Envoy for thirty years. Eryl has regularly attended the annual spring seminars. In her words, Eryl deems these seminars to be a fountain of inspiration and a wealth of information for all "global citizens". 

    It is for this reason that I am enjoying my role as an Envoy. It is the exceptional individuals that I work with, who radiate hope that peace and equality is achievable. I believe in the five programs of the UU-UNO. 

    Our goals for the UU-UNO at First Unitarian of Toronto over the coming year are to encourage involvement and enthusiasm for the UU-UNO and its programs through active participation and working with the youth of the congregation. Although I do get the sense here that anything is possible, it is going to take all of us…. especially the young people. Because we are not really living unless we are all living!

    One of the most fantastic statements I have ever heard was during my first lunch with Eryl. She said to me quite emphatically, "Dear Debby…. I am 91 years old, and I am NOT going to die until we achieve peace on earth!" 

Intergenerational Spring Seminar 2016
The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences
April 7-9, New York City

Opportunities to Participate Off-Site

Unfortunately, many of you are not able to attend the seminar next week, but I'm excited to report that this year there are a couple of opportunities for you to participate from afar!

  1. Watch a panel - We are live streaming the third seminar panel from the UN Headquarters on Friday, April 8th. Tune in from 11am-1pm EST to watch live, or watch it later, at The panel will be about how unconscious and overt biases (about race, sexual orientation, gender identity, criminal record, etc.) have an impact on economic inequality. Panelists will include Dr. Iva Carruthers, Christopher Sims, Dr. Jo Dixon, and Five Mualimm-ak.

  2. Help write the Seminar Statement - Get together a group from your congregation and write a statement that will be included in this year's Spring Seminar Statement. Please send an email following these seminar statement guidelines to by 5pm Eastern on Friday, April 8th for your contribution to be included in the final statement. Those present in New York will each draft a statement within their collaboration groups and these and yours will all be combined to form the Spring Seminar Statement. Once complete, the statement will be shared with UU congregations, UN missions, and other UN-affiliated NGOs.
United Nations Reform: Slow, Patient Work to Make the UN Better
By UU-UNO Director Bruce Knotts

         As President and CEO of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, I also serve on the NGO Security Council Working Group. This working group meets with the ambassadors of those nations currently serving on the UN Security Council and with high ranking officials and missions working on Security Council issues. The most interesting of these meetings are with the member state ambassadors of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group. This group of small and medium sized member states meets at the Swiss mission to the UN to work on improving how the UN Security Council works and increasing transparency in the election of a new UN Secretary General.

         In July 2015, the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group proposed a "Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes," which calls upon all members of the Security Council (both permanent and elected) to not vote against any credible draft resolution intended to prevent or halt mass atrocities.  As of a meeting I had with the ACT Group on March 22, 2016, 111 member states of the United Nations have signed on to this code of conduct.  Canada and the United States are not among those 111 nations...

News: United Nations
Include the following in your congregation's newsletter, website, and/or bulletin!   

Peacekeepers in CAR - Amid many reports of sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic, the head of the the UN Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) Parfait Onanga-Anyanga is taking concrete steps to root out this problem. Implementing a culture of transparency and accountability, he plans to emphasize care for victims and will bring those responsible to justice. 

Climate Change - Research released in the last couple of days reveals that global warming is causing antarctic ice to melt much more quickly than previously thought, threatening to flood cities by the end of this century. Additionally, a heat wave in the ocean has caused severe bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, threatening its status as a United Nations World Heritage site.

Children in Yemen - As the civil war there has dragged on for more than a year now, the children of Yemen are "locked in a vicious cycle of violence, loss and uncertainty." Many of them, even from the age of 10, are recruited to fight as child soldiers and those who do not fight are in constant danger of being killed or injured by the inescapable violence. The conflict has also led to a worsening of access to reproductive health care for an estimated 3.4 million Yemeni women of reproductive age who must rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN Populations Fund (UNFPA).
Program Updates
For more information on any of the program areas, email with "Attn: [program]" in the subject line.
LGBTQ Human Rights

We hosted this month the third meeting for the NGO sub-committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, SOGI, which is now a fully-functioning entity! We brought together organizations from around the globe to discuss advocacy and were very active at the CSW forum where only a few workshops even discussed SOGI.
LGBTQ Asylum/ Refugees

The asylum program is connecting with UU congregations across the US to provide tools to support asylum seekers. We're also working with local projects in NYC build culturally competent communities to welcome asylees and asylum seekers from many backgrounds.
Climate Justice

Climate Justice Month is under full swing and will last until Earth Day on April 22. We are putting together a joint event in May with the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation about Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice. This will kick off a series of events leading up to Ethical Eating Day on January 11, 2017.
Every Child is Our Child

We have begun writing grant proposals to support the ECOC girls and boys, and have begun working with Days for Girls International. Days for Girls is an organization that provides reusable sanitary pads worldwide, including in Ghana. With access to sanitary pads, more girls will be able to stay in school.
Women's Rights

This month marked the 60th year of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. The UU-UNO's women's rights program area was active and involved throughout the conference, including having organized and led a panel on LBT Women and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Racial Justice

We are preparing for the UN General Assembly Special Session on global drug policy. We have joined with several other organizations to coordinate discussion groups during the special session, work on a faith and drug policy panel, and an unofficial side event on the impact of drug laws on women of color. 
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Wilmington, DE 19801
United States

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Central East Region of the UUA
100 W 10th Street Suite 1008
Wilmington, DE 19801
United States