Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The World Celebrates the 60 Year Anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration

“All human beings are born free and equal in rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

These words, ratified 60 years ago today, open the Declaration of Human Rights. A world divided by war and ideology, but united in hope, gathered to inscribe these words in history. On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly gathered and ratified what would become the most universally translated document of all time.

Unfortunately, we still witness daily violations of these human rights in countries ranging from Mynamar to even the United States. However, as we are driven further apart by our ideological differences and economic competition, we must remember that we are united as a global community. Empowerment of all people, respect for every human life regardless of ethnicity, nationality, race or sexuality is something we declared our alliance to 60 years ago and needs to remain at the forefront of our global consciousness.

The legacy of the Declaration has at times been overshadowed in this era of globalization; yet the United Nations has continued working hard to promote human rights globally. We must recognize the strides we have taken, please visit the web sites of those working to protect human rights: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UNHCR.

Let There be Net

Have you ever had to deal with pesky mosquitoes? If you live on planet Earth, then the answer is probably yes. You probably have not, however, had to deal with the crippling and deadly effect of malaria; a disease born by and transmitted to humans from mosquito bites. Malaria is a huge problem, and merely smacking every mosquito you see is not going to stop it anytime soon. Fortunately, the United Nations is on the case, and there is promising evidence that malaria may be wiped out by the target goal of 2015. Run and hide little vampires, the entire international community is shining a light on this problem, and the results are already very encouraging.

Almost one million people die every year from malaria, a completely preventable disease. The majority of these deaths are in children under 5 years old. The answer is revolutionary. The World Health Organization, Bill Gates Foundation, and countless other organizations are providing state of the art high tech mosquito repellent webbed force-field technology…or mosquito nets, in layman’s terms. The answer is that simple, and extremely effective. The UN estimates that deaths from malaria have so far dropped 50% this decade, and increased investment in vaccines, pesticide treatments, and bed nets may completely eradicate the disease by 2015. The recent meeting to up the attack on the disease was attended by star-advocates of the cause, Bono and Bill Gates. This plan aims at being the ultimate bug zapper, and will protect millions of at risk people around the world. According to Bill Gates, “It’s going to make a huge difference.”

mosquito netsia

Friday, December 5, 2008

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cool? Not if you're an Elephant!

Imagine you are an elephant in Kenya. You wake up in the morning and smell sweet corn in the distance. Being the curious pachyderm that you are, you decide to head over to a giant corn planting--taking no heed of the fence since, after all, you ARE an elephant. You were just following your nose and it doesn’t occur to you that these crops might be the livelihood of your human neighbors.

However, as land in Kenya becomes scarcer, farmland increasingly encroaches on elephant habitats. This is dangerous for elephants that wander into towns in search of water and for habitants who have had homes and livelihoods destroyed by the elephants. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to search for solutions to wildlife-human conflict. The solution will focus on maintaining biodiversity and elephant habitat while promoting sustainable and environmental farming practices. These solutions include: planting crops that are repellant to elephants such as chili, building moats around crops and cohabiting with the wildlife while promoting ecotourism.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Football Players Game to Stop the Spread of HIV/AIDS

Of the multitude of events and efforts surrounding today’s 20th Annual World AIDS day, football fans across the globe can expect the launch of a new campaign featuring two of the games most popular and renowned players, Michael Ballack and Emmanuel Adebayor. This campaign is aimed at emphasizing the importance of teamwork and cooperation in the battle against global aids. While Ballack has been involved with UNAIDS since 2006, his on the field rival and off the field friend, Adebayor is new to the cause, but no less enthused and dedicated. Employing the prominence and star-power of two such remarkable figures in the world of football, this effort is an effective way to reach out and empower young populations around the world. To view their public service announcement and to find out more about World AIDS day, please visit UNAIDS.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fistula: Nasty but not Necessary

Have you ever avoided someone because you thought they were smelly or dirty? While you probably just decided not to spend too much time with them, in some places women are literally expelled from their communities because they smell. And it is not their fault… blame fistula.

Fistula is a common complication of giving birth. Basically, the baby accidentally rips a hole between the birth canal and its mom’s bladder or rectum. Left untreated, it causes a new mother to leak urine or feces. However, it is an almost completely preventable condition that occurs from a lack of medical attention and has been eliminated in North America and Europe, and for only $300 the tissue can be repaired and the woman can return to her community and care for her children.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is on a campaign to provide access to this surgery for women around the world. To learn more about fistula, or to help change lives (just $5 provides food to a recovering fistula patient for one week), click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ahoy! Pirates off of Somalia’s coast are more destructive than you think…

Pirate attacks are increasing off the coast of Somalia, and committing atrocities that would put even Davy Jones to shame. While the pirates hijack ships, the Somali people end up walking the plank in this maritime struggle. Somalia relies heavily on the developed world for aid, and piracy is keeping this important commodity from reaching the shore. The U.N. is doing its part in organizing the international community to combat these scurvy-ridden sea rats, but there is something you can do to help make the lives of countless Somalis better.

Women in Somalia are struggling to survive against many hardships. In addition to the horrific situation in some areas of Somalia, women face discrimination throughout the country. One of the obstacles they face is the inability to attend college. This lack of education leads to a lack of representation in government, business, and leaves them with no opportunity to succeed. Only 4% of women in Somalia can pursue higher education!!! With your help, we can change this. The Somali Women’s Scholarship Fund is working to send deserving women in Somalia to school so they can be effective, productive members of society. Watch our video, and see how you can help here. Pirates depend on instability in this region to continue their marauding ways, so kick them in their booty, and help Somali women!

Rhinos are Cool, Poaching is Not

Rhinos, those fascinating animals with unfortunate horns in the middle of their faces, have a tough life. Not only do they have to live with the largest facial "decoration" of any species, some humans have decided rhino horns are way cooler decorating their walls.

Back in 1977 the countries of the world came together at the United Nations to protect these odd creatures from poaching. Now the UN has recruited Interpol, the USA, China, Kenya, and others to be real world Planeteers. The United Nations wants to ensure a peaceful existence for all--even if you have horns growing out of your face!

For more on the United Natons' work to the protect rhinos, click here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Congratulates President-Elect Barack Obama

“This is, I believe an historic opportunity,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, extending his heartfelt congratulations to United States President-Elect Barack Obama. With the many challenges facing the United Nations including the Millennium Development Goals, nuclear proliferation, the food and energy crisis, climate change and global financial turmoil, the Secretary-General is encouraged by Obama’s repeated message of hope, multilateralism and diplomacy while campaigning. The two (very busy) men met last year while on a flight between Washington and New York, taking the time to talk about the pressing goals of the UN. The Secretary General reported that he was very optimistic about their relationship in the future, noting that Obama “was very engaging and he knew a lot about the United Nations.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zidane and Ronaldo Play to End Poverty

Two football kings, eight matches, and one goal: ending poverty. Football legend Zidane and Brazilian star Ronaldo, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors, are joining hands and feet once again to end poverty and raise awareness about the Millennium Development Goals. The upcoming 6th annual “Match Against Poverty” will take place in Fès, Morocco on November 17th. The project originally launched in 2003 seeking to promote each of the goals with a corresponding match. This year’s match will be themed by the first Millennium Development Goal “Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger,” while marking the half way point to the 2015 deadline set by the UN General Assembly.

Proceeds from the previous five Matches have benefited anti-poverty projects ranging from supporting female entrepreneurs to the construction of sports centers for street children and the disadvantaged. Funds have gone to support projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Comoros, Cuba, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Viet Nam.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Protecting the Globe's Greatest Treasures

Many key words and themes spring to mind when one thinks of the work of the United Nations, but sand drawing and ox-herding are probably not some of them! In an effort to further protect the world’s most treasured cultural items and traditions, UNESCO established The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday. The new list includes about 90 treasures, which include Indonesian shadow puppetry, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, textile art in Peru, polyphonic singing of Aka Pigmies of the Central African Republic, Mexico’s indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead, sand drawings in Vanuatu, and much more. These unique elements join a multitude of other important cultural and historical characteristics and traditions covered by the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Next time the United Nations comes up, new things may now come to mind!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The UN Embraces the Digital Age: Text Messaging for Change

The UN embraces the Digital Age: Text Messaging for Change

Pop!Tech, the global technology conference, was held last week, unveiling new projects designed to effect global change through technology. This conference displayed ways in which technology developed in countries of abundance could be used to ease the burdens in countries of scarce resources. One of these innovations is as simple as making text messaging more accessible to organizations working in developing countries. Ken Banks demonstrated FrontlineSMS, free software designed to harness the power of text messaging. Humanitarian groups and NGO’s can download this free software and use it to send information to people working in the field, so necessary information is never far away. The UN is using this technology to send security alerts in Afghanistan, while MercyCorps is using this software to send market prices to farmers and power a healthcare network in Malawi.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It was all about the Blue Flag!

Friday October 24th, the UN celebrated its birthday, marking 63 years to the date since its mandate began in 1945. Like the rest of the world, the UN has evolved quite rapidly over these years, containing 192 member states and thousands of programs. The occasion was celebrated in an array of events throughout the whole world, which included film screenings in DC, blood drives in Namibia, concerts in New York, and tree-planting in Darfur; The UN Yearbook was also launched and a ceremony was held in Moscow honoring 60 years of UN presence in Russia.

We might ask, what does UN Day really mean? Well, this day celebrates the UN’s success throughout time. It also promotes the values inscribed within the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as honoring the everyday struggle to make this a peaceful and just world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UN Saving 64,000 Children from Malnutrition in Somalia

As the situation in Somalia is still extremely dire, Children are some of the hardest hit, and proper nutrition is a serious issue. Malnutrition is one of the largest problems confronting children in the east African nation, and the United Nations is taking revolutionary proactive steps in providing for those who can't provide for themselves. Internally displaced peoples in Somalia make up a large portion of those who are suffering from malnutrition. Partnering with the World Bank, the UN is set to distribute a product called "Supplementary Plumpy" to more than 64,000 children over the next six months. The product is a peanut based paste that requires no preparation to consume. Studies show that malnourished children who consume the paste are able to recover from malnourishment in two months, and protect themselves for another four. This aid comes at a time of increased conflict and tension concerning the pirate situation off the coast, and increased international attention to the area.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Much Needed Assistance for Kyrgyz Youth

Children in Kyrgyzstan, the second poorest nation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, will receive increased attention and assistance thanks to UNICEF. In a country where over fifty percent of the population lives in poverty, and more than twenty-five percent live in extreme poverty, children are some of the hardest hit. About half of Kyrgyz babies between six months and two years old are anemic, and many children under five years old show signs of stunted growth as a result of malnutrition. However, UNICEF has elected to step up funding to help improve the dire situation in Kyrgyzstan after Ann Veneman, the agency’s Executive Director, visited the nation recently. Pledging $270,000 in additional funding, Veneman said, “Giving a child a solid nutritional start in life is critical to physical, mental and social development.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stand-Up and break the Guinness Records!

Last year in the week of Oct. 17th more than 43 million people around the world Stood Up against poverty and broke the Guinness World Record for the largest stand up in a week. Today the movement to end extreme poverty is attempting to break that record and inspire 1% of the population (a massive 67 million!) to Stand Up and demand our world leaders to keep the promises and goals they set in 2000 and take action against poverty.

Given the challenges facing the international community such as halting and containing the effects of climate change, the rise in food prices, and the global economic crisis we must not forget about the world’s poor and how they are disproportionately affected by these issues. Not acting is no longer an option. We are half way to the finish line, and while tremendous achievements have been made, we (and our leaders) still have a long way to go.

So STAND UP and grasp the immense power YOU have to change the course of the world! STAND UP and give 5 minutes of your thoughts to positive ways in which we can tackle this problem! STAND UP! And don’t sit on it!
Across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, the global movement in support of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals continues to grow. Events ranging from concerts, dances, teach-ins, film screenings and prayer circles to raise awareness and urge people to take action. To find out how you can take part in the Stand Up Guinness Record- breaking attempt got to:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

UN Joins Forces with European Football League to Raise Awareness of World Hunger

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is partnering with the European Professional Football League to launch a food awareness campaign. The coalition hopes to raise funds, as well as awareness, to fight global hunger and malnutrition. The number of undernourished has climbed to almost one billion people. FAO hopes that heightened awareness of the issue will help bring it to the forefront of European and global politics. The campaign is called “Professional Football Against Hunger” and represents more than 960 football leagues across Europe. Proceeds from the campaign will be used to finance micro-projects in developing countries. There are currently over 2600 projects in 130 countries.

Friday, October 10, 2008

UNICEF Aims to Increase Road Safety

Iran, a nation with twenty times the global average number of annual traffic deaths, is poised to benefit tremendously from a UNICEF led program aimed at reducing traffic mortality and injury. UNICEF’s campaign, which primarily focuses on the youth population, intends to raise awareness regarding important safety procedures and precautions, like reducing speed, wearing seatbelts, ensuring children are seated in proper restraints in the car’s back seat, and enforcing the use of helmets for bicycles and motorcycles. UNICEF will implement this program in partnership with various Iranian agencies and authorities with the hopes of dramatically reducing the number of young people who die as a result of traffic accidents. Currently, about 2,700 children under the age of fifteen and 28,000 people total die in auto-related accidents; an effectively employed effort by UNICEF will help protect the safety of Iranian children.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

UN Vows to Continue Fight against Global Poverty, Despite Economic Obstacles

United Nation’s Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has pledged relentless commitment on behalf of the United Nations to combating global poverty, even in face of concrete challenges. Speaking from United Nation’s headquarters in New York City, he said, “Everyone has felt the earthquake on Wall Street. But it has not shaken our resolve. Banks may be failing. But the world’s bottom billion can bank on us.” Despite seriously troubled economic circumstances, in September, member nations pledged sixteen billion dollars to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a positive sign that the goals may be met by their target year, 2015. A general consensus seems to exist among member states that hard economic times are no reason to slow poverty reduction and development efforts. In addition to continued financial support, Secretary General Ban also asserted the importance of progress in the Doha Round and the possibility of expanding the G-8. While the dramatically growing prices of food and fuel are not good news for anyone, the world’s poor can rest assured that the United Nations, as always, will strive to keep the battle against the global poverty pandemic at the forefront of the international agenda.

Friday, October 3, 2008

UN Common Humanitarian Fund to Benefit One Million in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR), having been subjected to violence as a result of spill-over from Darfur, will receive money from the new United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund. The increasing instability in CAR, a result of the escalating violence neighboring Chad and Sudan’s Darfur region, has affected more than one million people in the country. 2.5 million dollars has been pledged by the United States, directing the funds to be focused on health care, access to water, survival of infants and young people, and aid to help those who have been displaced. The new funding will allow humanitarian action to be more efficient; it will be directed to the 110,000 displaced people and the one million others affected by the conflict. The influx of funds will allow those on the ground to respond to emergencies faster and more efficiently.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UNICEF Gives Sports Therapy a New Meaning

Thanks to UNICEF led initiatives in the Lira district of northern Uganda a sense of community and normalcy is beginning to reignite amongst the area’s youth, as schools reopen and efforts are made to rebuild a sense of community. Helping these children reacclimate to their surroundings is certainly no small task; many of them were held hostage and forced to fight by insurgents for many years. Others describe horrific ordeals including disease, death, and other occurrences many of the children deem unspeakable.

Fortunately, UNICEF is seeking unconventional ways to rehabilitate these children. Using sports, mainly soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and other bond-building activities, UNICEF hopes to encourage non-violent conflict resolution and a deep sense of community. UNICEF hopes such programs will also help keep kids back in school and help to ease negative memories. According to Alex Ochien, a parent of two students at the Angolocom School, “The sport competitions help the child to forget about the past, and help all of us in the community to focus on the present and the future.” A young participant in these UNICEF supported programs says, “sports and games have brought him together with new friends and opened his mind to think positive thoughts, stay out of trouble and do well in school.”

Though the reconstruction in every sense, of Northern Uganda will prove to be a challenge, the United Nations is making definitive strides in improving the lives of children in the region.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WHO works to ban tobacco advertising (and does not like electronic cigarettes either)

On May 30th of this year, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), as part of its “World No Tobacco Day” campaign, called on all governments to ban the promotion, sponsorship, and advertising of tobacco and cigarettes as a result of shocking statistics on youth smoking due to ‘predatory marketing and advertising strategies’ ,aimed at youth populations. At the same time, other companies creating “quitting methods” and products to quit smoking, the electronic cigarette for example, are not considered safe either by the WHO. The electronic cigarette is a battery-powered product usually made of stainless steel and resembling a real cigarette that claims to be a nicotine replacement has not been proven to be safe or legitimate. Users puff on the electronic cigarette as they would a real cigarette, but producing no smoke. Rather, the product, which has a chamber for storing liquid nicotine in various concentrations, produces a fine, heated mist, which is absorbed into the lungs. The WHO study group on tobacco product regulation is set to address the issues surrounding the electronic cigarette, among other topics, when it meets from 12 to 14 November in Durban, South Africa.

Monday, September 29, 2008

World Leaders Optimistic Malaria Will be Eradicated by 2015

On Thursday, September 25, world leaders announced the goal of ending deaths from malaria by 2015 is within reach. Malaria, the single greatest cause of death for the world’s children, causes more than one million deaths each year. A celebratory mood could be felt at the Malaria Summit as data released by the World Health Organization suggested malaria rates are falling. The decline is credited to scientific advancements, including the development of a possible vaccine, as well as increased prevention efforts. Historically, malaria has been a blight on the world’s health record, since it is a largely preventable disease. However, news that the instance of malaria has decreased creates excitement and momentum for this campaign. An unprecedented pledge by a number philanthropic organizations for $3 billion for malaria programs was also announced on Thursday, providing the funds that will hopefully eradicate this disease. "Everyone needs victories," said Timothy Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation, “and this is a good one.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UN Helps Settle over 5,000 Refugees from Bhutan

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] helped more than 5,000 refugees from Bhutan leave their camps in Nepal for resettlement in other countries. The United States accepted the largest number of refugees with 4,833, followed by 131 refugees in Australia and 129 in New Zealand. The program hopes to resettle another 2,000 to 3,000 before the end of the year. There are currently 107,000 refugees originating from Bhutan living in seven camps in eastern Nepal. Nearly half of them have expressed an interest in resettlement. Some of the refugees have been in exile for as long as 17 years. The resettlement process has run smoothly due to the collaborative efforts of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration [IOM], the Nepalese government and the resettlement countries. The program has created opportunities for success for the refugees by holding English classes and skill-training at the camps. "Although starting over is not easy, there is a program for everyone with the resettling agencies, no matter what age, qualification or gender. We have seen other former refugees doing well, so we can do it as well," says one refugee who recently arrived in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Hope in Somali Conflict

The United Nations Political Office for Somalia reached a new level of peace in Somalia through its inter-party, international dialogues. According to a communication document released on Sunday September 21st, two parties The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) held a second round of High Level Committee and Joint Security Committee (Djibouti) meetings from the 17th through the 21st. Also present were the United Nations, African Union, European Union, League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference, representatives from other countries, and Somali civilians. During the meeting, both parties solidified their efforts to continue peace talks, and set up sub-committees in order to implement the outlines already established by the Djibouti agreement. In addition, both parties agreed to conduct field assessments, and form a Board that would coordinate with the humanitarian efforts in the region.
The meeting proved to be another step in what the international community hopes, is a successful solution to the current humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

United Nations Quickly Tackles Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

The United Nations has rapidly responded to a deadly outbreak of Cholera outside of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Marie Okabe, a U.N. spokesperson, has reported that more than 90 people have contracted the disease, and that the primary cause stems from a lack of clean domestic water. To combat this, the U.N. has established a means by which to deliver 30,000 liters of water for each day of the outbreak, until the local water is once again sanitary. In addition, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization have created two treatment clinics in the area for those who need help. These clinics are being operated jointly with the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Disaster Averted with Help from UNDP

When Hurricane Gustav passed through Haiti late last month, damage and destruction were much less than in previous years thanks to efforts to avert flooding in and around the capital city by removing trash and other excess waste, eventually recycling the materials into highly useful cooking materials. In a country that already suffers from tremendous developmental challenges, it is important to ensure that setbacks and destruction as a result of the Atlantic hurricane season are as minimal as possible. Working alongside various agencies within Haiti, the UNDP is making tremendous strides in improving the lives of Haitian citizens in a multitude of vital areas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Support Women's Heath and Rights

Americans for UNFPA is working (in the time after the appropriations markups and before the new President and Congress are sworn in) to get the next President on the record supporting global women’s health and rights. They’re taking out an ad in Roll Call in September, aimed at Obama and McCain, with a simple statement “Dear Senators Obama and McCain, promise to fully fund global women’s health by restoring the $235 million that has been blocked from UNFPA in the last seven years” and the signatures of supporters. The visibility of the names of global women’s health and rights supporters will demonstrate the value of global women to both presidential candidates.
Take a second to sign this ad, and your name will be listed with thousands of others in an ad directed at Obama and McCain.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

UN Recognizes Glasgow as an 'Official City of Music'

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced yesterday that the city of Glasgow would be the newest addition to its Creative Cities Network. UNESCO recently created this global partnership to encourage universal social, economic and cultural development by promoting creativity at a local level. Glasgow joins the ranks of other artistically innovative cities like Seville and Bologna.

Culture, affirms UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, is an defining trait of all societies. It allows people to see the world both introspectively and retrospectively; they are better able to understand their values and their individual purpose in life. Additionally, it highlights the lifelines of societies and encourages people to be proud of their nations achievements as well as their own.

Glasgow was named to this exclusive list because of the role of music in defining and supporting its economy. It averages 130 concerts a week, ranging in style from underground grunge rock to traditional Celtic music. Music revenues account for $150 million of Glasgow's annual GDP. Through the UN's recognition, Glasgow and the other cultured cities will be able to share their individual culture with a much larger audience and encourage new outlets for self expression both at home and abroad.

Image Source

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remembering and Embodying UN legend Sergio Vieira de Mello

When a truck laden with explosives crashed into Baghdad's Canal Hotel August 19, 2003, 22 dedicated public servants perished. On the anniversary of this attack, it is important not only to remember those whose lives were tragically and unjustly cut short, but their principles. In today’s world where foreign policy is shaped by hard power and military might, it is essential to stick to Sergio Vieira de Mello’s belief in the power of conversation and peaceful negotiation.

Sergio, the mission’s head, is regarded as a legend within UN and foreign policy circles. The efforts of the talented peacemaker and diplomat have resulted in the repatriation on countless Cambodian refugees, and Sergio led the building of the world’s newest nation, East Timor. His remarkable abilities as a negotiator and his unwavering dedication to fostering peace was recognized by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who appointed Sergio to lead the mission head in Iraq. He had little time to fulfill his humanitarian and diplomatic duties, as the terrorist’s bomb claimed his life only months into his mission.

Sergio’s legacy continues: he is the subject of Chasing the Flame, a newly released book by Pulitzer Prize Winner Samantha Power. Both an HBO documentary and feature film based on his extraordinary life are in the works. Also be sure to check out the new blog, also titled Chasing the Flame. It is dedicated to keeping Sergio’s peacemaking vision alive. His devotion to fostering constructive and open dialogue is as relevant and important as ever to shaping American foreign policy.

Reminiscing on Sergio’s memorable role in crafting a more peaceful form of diplomacy, Annick Stevenson opens the Chasing the Flame blog:

Imagine a world in which everybody would speak to his/her neighbor, would listen to his/her views and would try to understand them, would, more generally, always wish to know the will of others before deciding, would negotiate before envisaging any military reaction, would never ever view war as the solution to any conflict whatever the reasons may be...A world in which war would become impossible because it would too difficult to think of killing someone you share so much with. This world existed. It was in the mind of Sergio Vieira de Mello. This is how he conceived it and lived it, as much as he could, or at least as a matter of principle.

Five years later, let us not only honor his memory, but follow his example.

Visit the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Image Credit: the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grassroots Organization Thrives Thanks to UNDP Support

A local aid organization in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, L’Association Trait d’Union des Jeunes Burkinabès (ATUJB), is working to reintegrate former professional sex workers into society with UNDP’s help. ATUJB seeks to provide women with health care, vocational training, and behavioral support, and thanks to UNDP, the number of women helped as well as the resources available have vastly increased. Over 5,000 women are being assisted, empowered thanks to ATUJB to start their own businesses, get educated, and find sustainable jobs.
UNDP also allocated the organization $100,000 to enable it to branch out its services to neighboring towns, as well as increase their capacity for HIV/AIDS services.
On Burkina Faso alone, UNDP gives support to 146 organizations battling HIV and AIDS, and these organizations are contributing to real change. HIV prevalence rates fell from 6.5% in 2001 to 2% in 2008.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UN Provides Immedaite Assistance to Displaced Georgians

In response to fighting between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, the United Nation's World Food Program provided timely humanitarian aid to 2,000 displaced persons in Georgia's capital Tbilisi. Today the WFP will extend its food rations to those outside of Tbilisi, particularly targeting the conflict's most vulnerable victims: rural residents, school children, tuberculosis patients and people suffering from HIV/AIDS. But the WFP is not the only UN agency working to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced: UNHCR has established two humanitarian corridors out of South Ossetia. In upcoming days it plans to provide basic, non-food based assistance to civilians and to offer temporary shelter and refuge where needed. Their teamed efforts, coupled with aid from other humanitarian groups, is essential in providing relief, refuge and assistance to the tens of thousands who had fled South Ossetia over the last four days. Additionally, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced the need for an immediate ceasefire between the warring sides.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How UNDP is Lowering Oil Prices with Buffalo

Tractors are becoming too expensive due to fuel prices; therefore, buffalo are again being widely used for ploughing, for manure in light of expensive chemical fertilizers, and also for cash when needed.

“King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has for years said buffalo were integral to a sustainable agricultural policy and since 2000, Thai NGOs, with the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, have been working with farm groups to boost output and cut back on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The buffalo has been crucial to that strategy” according to IRIN.

From 2000, the programme began donating buffaloes to 11 different communities throughout Thailand. In batches of 10 to 27, they have over time led to sizeable numbers of offspring on farms throughout the country.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Play safe-Help stop HIV

UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, has participated in the launch of the “Play safe-Help stop HIV” campaign. This initiative to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS during the Olympics in Beijing provided 100,000 condoms accompanied by HIV prevention and anti-discrimination information at the launch in Olympic Village. Additionally, all Olympic games participants will receive an AIDS fact sheet and two AIDS videos spots featuring China’s Yao Ming and Germany’s Michael Ballack who serves as a UNAIDS Special Representative.

Friday, July 25, 2008

UN Fights World Hunger, One Country at a Time

Swaziland is just one of many countries currently suffering from the Food Crisis. However, unlike other countries, Swaziland’s situation is currently exaggerated by the worst drought in over fifteen years. In order to better the situation, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has assisted the local government in establishing "Input Trade Fairs" where farmers are given vouchers which they can trade in for seeds and other necessary tools. This initiative is funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, providing farmers with relief from the environmental and economic conditions hindering them. This program demonstrates the UN’s self-sustaining approach to aiding farmers in Swaziland, giving them long term means to help themselves, rather than direct short term aid.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

712 Displaced Congolese Return Home with UN Help

“Now, I can have a real roof and not live under anymore plastic sheeting,” said one Congolese man to a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) officer. This man was finally able to return to his home in the Northern district of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Previously he was living in a displaced persons camp due to violent inter-ethnic clashes that have occurred since the end of the DRC civil war. He was just one of the 712 citizens of the DRC returned by UN chartered boats to his hometown July 21, bringing the total of returned internally displaced persons under the UNHCR assisted return program to 3,000. Over 1,800 more IDPs are expected to return home with help from the UNHCR in the coming weeks.
Hope and success are increasing in the region as rebel forces are disarmed, stability is rising, and fighters are being reintegrated into society. IDPs returning home are receiving food and agricultural assistance from UN agencies, attempting to rehabilitate war-torn lives and sustain lands ravaged by violence. UNHCR says they hope to complete the IDP return program by the end of the year.

For more details on this story and more from the DRC, visit

Friday, July 18, 2008

UN Unites Kids and World Leaders

In an initiative lead by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), nine kids drafted their proposals for global development and presented them to the leaders of the world's most industrialized nations at the 2008 G8 high-level summit in Toyako, Japan. They served as representatives for the 2008 'Junior 8' Summit held in Chitose City in Hokkaido, Japan. After months of preparatory work, the 39 participants issued the Chitose Declaration, a statement consisting of recommendations for how G-8 leaders can address the issues of climate change, development and poverty, and global health. Among its suggestions is the establishment of international "Green Indexes" to encourage consumers from all nations to buy green. Additionally, the Chitose Declaration advocated the end of politically-based aide and the support of universal educational programs centered on disease prevention, nutrition, sanitation and sexual education. It also insists that governments should not be able to restrict the availability of health education and contraceptives. With the help of UNICEF, young people's ideas are being turned into action and a new generation of proactive, professional leaders is being forged.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reaching for the Top

Have you ever dreamed of scaling Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world? This year, that dream became reality for a group of Nepali women. The first all-female, all-Nepali expedition team successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest in May 2008. Known as the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 (FIWSE 2008), this group of women came together from a wide range of castes and ethnic backgrounds to promote tolerance and break down traditional gender barriers. Supported in part by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Food Program (WFP), their climb promoted the Millennium Development Goals by facilitating women’s empowerment and gender equality. The ten courageous women who reached the summit this spring hope that their actions will encourage young girls in Nepal to pursue an education, enter male-dominated professions, and strive for success regardless of their gender or caste.

Read UNDP’s press release about FIWSE

Monday, July 14, 2008

Environment for Sustainable Development

Did you know that the UN Environmental Program is bettering the world for all global citizens? Since its inception in 1972, UNEP has served as the voice of the environment, partnering with governments, NGOs, media, and the private sector to help developing countries while minimizing environmental damage for future generations.

Before the UNEP, the number of governments with environmental ministries was only at 58. Now, there are over 200 governments dedicated to protecting their environments! Nationally protected areas have increased 5 fold, and both the Elephant and Rhino species have been brought back from very near extinction. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by UNEP, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their efforts to build up greater knowledge about climate change. A UNEP partner program,, has also established a television channel which brings high quality campaign and conservation videos to a worldwide audience. In an age where climate change is affecting both developed and developing countries alike, UNEP's work touches us all.

To learn more, visit UNEP's website above.

Check out at

Thursday, July 3, 2008

US Congress Approves $665 Million for UN

On June 26, US Congress approved $665 million for the United Nations and other international organizations. The money would be allocated for crucial peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia. $141 million would also be deposited into the Contributions to International Organizations account to assist with UN work in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the president approves this bill, a great step would be made in boosting American-UN relations. Citizens in countries where UN missions are active would also experience the benefits of increased funding in their daily lives as the UN works to improve democracy, human rights, and equality worldwide.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

George Clooney on 60 Years of Keeping the Peace

The year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the UN Peace-keeping Forces. Also known as “Blue Helmets”, the UN Peace- keepers have become one of the most adaptable and reputable international forces since World War II. The UN has deployed the forces over 110 times since 1945. The UN Peace-keeping forces, whose members represent 119 countries, are currently fighting to maintain peace, and sustainability in 17 countries ( To find out more information, you can watch this video, or visit united nations

Friday, June 27, 2008

UN Teaches Americans about Millennium Development Goals

Do you want to know more about the Millennium Development Goals? “Core Concepts of the MDGs,” an online course provided by the UN, seeks to delve deeper into educating Americans as to the origins, strategies, and hopes of the 8 MDGs. Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, establishing universal primary education, empowering women and promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing global partnerships for development. These goals were born when 189 world leaders met in 2000 to form the Millennium Declaration, and have been primary objectives of many UN organizations since their development.
Half-way through the 15 year time-span set for the MDGs achievement, great success has already been realized, but there is much more to be accomplished. This interactive and inspiring course includes messages from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and graphics which illustrate the implementation and urgency of the MDGs. It tests newly gained knowledge and encourages Americans’ involvement in the achievement of the MDGs, giving all of us a chance to have a share in the reduction of poverty, hunger, and inequality worldwide!

Take the course and learn more! Visit the link above

Monday, June 23, 2008



Holidays let us collectively remember the past and daydream together about the future. International observances bring Haiti together with Sweden, get Liberia reminiscing with Kazakhstan about the good times, and let Thailand and Canada contemplate about tomorrow over a glass of UN punch. The United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council (UNESCO) have founded countless holidays and coordinate global festivities to unite the world in celebration and remembrance. Here are just a few of the countless holidays recognized by the UN:

  • January 27- International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • February 22- World Day for Water
  • March 21- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • April 23- World Book and Copyright Day
  • May 15- International Day of Families
  • June 23- United Nations Public Service Day
  • July 11- World Population Day
  • August 9-World Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
  • September 21- World Day of Peace Day
  • October 24- United Nations Day
  • November 20- Universal Children’s Day
  • December 1-World AIDS Day

Learn about more holidays!

So put on your traditional party costumes, call up those neighboring countries and get ready to party like you never have before!! But remember, don’t outdo yourselves: you have two more this week!

Image Source

A 'Swish' Heard around the World

He dribbles, he shoots, he scores!

With that swish of the net, the Bulls forward Luol Deng gets the crowd cheering, and gets Sudanese kids on their feet as well. Luol donates $50 for every basket he scores to Ninemillion, a campaign created two years ago by the UNHCR, with Nike and Microsoft as invaluable team members. It hopes to give over nine million children, many in South Sudan, better access to education, sports and technology by 2010. Not only does the campaign strive to secure donations, but it wishes to give a voice to the refugee children and to inspire people of every nation with their undying courage and limitless strength.

Team up with Luol and the UNHCR in guaranteeing a brighter future for refugee children and in inspiring a new generation alive with their own hoop dreams!


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who you gonna call? Not Ghostbusters...THE UN!

Imagine being a child traveling in a foreign country and walking down the street with your family. All of a sudden there is an explosion and you get separated from your parents. You learned in school what to do in an emergency: Call 911! Suddenly you realize that 911 doesn’t work, you can’t find you parents, and there is nobody to help you.

So what can you do as a trapped, lost, or injured child in a foreign country? Thankfully, the UN has your back! The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has asked countries throughout the world to link to a global child helpline. The UN has proposed the helpline number to be 116 111, which is already being used in European countries such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden. Child Helpline International’s (CHI) data shows that more than 10.5 million calls are made to child helplines every year for counseling and emergency intervention. In today’s globalized world, a universal child helpline will greatly benefit the well-being of children everywhere. Next time you are a child in an emergency, all you have to do is call 116 111 and help will be on the way!

For further information

Image Source

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peace Talks Occurring in Darfur to End Violence

The AU and UN hybrid mission to bring peace in Sudan has been holding new chats with the Sudanese government and rebel groups in an effort to curb violence in areas like Darfur so that humanitarian aid may be distributed to civilians and peace talks can begin.

The situation in Sudan, especially Darfur, has only worsened over the course of the past five years. The UN African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was created to help with the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement in July 2007. Hopefully these talks will be a step forward for the UN and AU and for an end to the violence in Darfur.

To learn more go to:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking at aid on google

Google and many UN humanitarian aid agencies have now teamed up so that you can use Google Earth to look up the locations of aid distribution around the world. The UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) has now posted maps that show the refugee camps located in primarily Darfur, Iraq and Colombia.

This partnership is a tool to show Americans and the world the actual work that the United Nations is performing. It brings the work of humanitarian aid home.

This project is a continuance of a number of programs, in partnership with Google, that operate as tools to connect developed countries with the stories of people in developing countries and with the work that international organizations are performing. Such other projects include UNICEF's initiative to share children's stories on, a website where children from developing countries can record their journey and share it with the world.

To learn more about this:

Read the original news article:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Webcasts from the UN

Ever wanted to know what happens within the United Nations Headquarters in New York City? Now you can experience what it is like to be an Ambassador when you go and watch the webcasts that are posted of various meetings and debates on the UN website. Every day at noon, the UN holds a briefing that is streamed online for all to see. You may not be an employee for the UN but you also can find out what is going on and see for yourself all the great work the United Nations is doing.

Check out the webcasts at:

Monday, March 24, 2008

2.6 Billion People: That's a lot

Today we urge you to read this posting on the New York Times blog which talks about the UN Water team's efforts to deal with the 2.6 BILLION people who don't have access to sanitation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UNDP and Fortis Team Up

The United Nations Development Program is partnering up with the private sector to encourage increasing use of green technology, thus echoing the carbon-trading strategies specified under the Kyoto Protocol.

UNDP is working with Fortis, a Dutch-Belgian finance group, to promote Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) practices in nations that previously did not embark on such environmentally friendly actions. These efforts support the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to reduce poverty and promote practices that support human development such as acting in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Seb Walhain, leading representative of Fortis Bank, expressed his excitement concerning the reduction of greenhouse gases and the efforts of United Nation member states to promote clean development. In a press release concerning the efforts, he stated that “Fortis is proud to be working with UNDP to spread the benefits of the carbon market to new parts of the developing world.”

To learn more about the UNDP and the private sector are doing to mitigate some of the problems caused by climate change, visit At that site, you can also get more information concerning an UNDP-USA sponsored event entitled “Fighting Climate Change.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Insects as a Valuable Food Source

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recently promoted the idea of using insects as a valuable food source during emergencies. Patrick Durst, a senior forestry officer at the FAO in Bangkok says, “In certain places, insects can very well be seen as part of the solution to hunger.” According to scientists, crickets, caterpillars, and grubs are a reliable source of protein and can safely be eaten as a reliable food source should no other safe option be available. Some restaurants around the world are beginning to put bugs on the menu.

Using insects as a reliable food source during emergencies is becoming an increasingly popular means to combating hunger. However, the challenge lies in organizing insect food operations on the ground in countries most in need. There is almost no infrastructure to raise insects as a food source in the countries that need it most and the challenge of transporting large quantities of these insects’ far distances has not been overcome. There are concerns about the safety of eating bugs and dangers that might come with over-harvesting them. The facts are on the table and many challenges lay ahead, but there is a glimmer of hope for the future of preventable hunger.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Over 6 million children to start a new school year in Afghanistan with the help of the UN

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is implementing a program to ensure that both boys and girls in Afghanistan will be given access to quality education in a safe environment. UNICEF is partnering with local organizations in Afghanistan to build more schools, provide materials for both students and teachers, and providing quality training for teachers.
A major obstacle that remains is gender disparity among boys and girls in schools, child safety, and a limited number of quality teachers. Currently, 32 percent of boys complete primary school while only 13 percent of girls complete primary school. Both UNICEF and the Girls’ Education Initiative are working diligently to enroll an additional 330,000 girls in school this year. “This is a big challenge for all of us, the Afghan nation and the Afghan children, to bring about parity, or equality, for children and ensure that all children, whether they are girls or boys, continue to go to school, and complete their schooling, so that they can contribute not only to their own development, but also contribute to the building of the country,” UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Afghanistan, Sikander Khan, said at a press briefing in Kabul today.
Recent concerns have arisen in Afghanistan as attacks on schools and community intimidation create serious obstacles that prevent children from attending school The government, local organizations, and UNICEF are partnering to implement ways to protect families and schools from extremist attacks and small progress has been made. This year the number of children enrolled in school is 6.2 million, up from 5.7 million last year. UNICEF and the Afghan government hope to continue making progress by working together to ensure access to education and a safe future for their country and its children.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nice Awards

Peace and Cooperation, an affiliate of the United Nations, announced its 2008 Peace and Cooperation School Award. The award was announced at UN headquarters. The theme of the award, “water for all” reflected goals promulgated by the United Nations Development Programme and by the Millennium Development Goals, which Peace and Cooperation recognizes as a vehicle that encourages progressive strides toward expanding clean water to people worldwide.

Airline Ambassadors, a humanitarian group affiliated with the UN, is cosponsoring the award. They have also sponsored international school awards relating to human rights, gender equality, and hunger. They hope that recognizing schools worldwide with the support of the UN will help increase awareness of global issues to teachers, students, and other campus affiliates.

The Peace and Cooperation School Award is one of many awards given by this non-governmental organization to recognize humanitarian efforts conducted around the globe.

Go to to learn more about Peace and Cooperation’s awards and how they use recognition as an educational tool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

UNICEF Partners with Dubai Cares

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is partnering with Dubai Cares, a program recently launched Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai to support education. Together UNICEF and Dubai Cares hope to increase education programs around the work in an effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

There are 92 million children in the world who are not currently receiving primary education. The Millennium Development Goals express a goal to achieve universal primary education by 2015. The funding from Dubai Cares will be used across the globe in Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe to build and upgrade schools.

To learn more about this:

Check out the MDG Monitor to see what the progress is for achieving the Millennium Development Goals:

Read the full article at:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WFP and UNDP Support First Inclusive Nepali Female Everest Expedition

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In an effort to draw attention to climate change on the Himalayas and inspire women all over world to achieve their goals, ten Nepali women will attempt to reach the peak of Mount Everest in the spring, through the help of the United Nations. Both the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Development Programme have raised one quarter of the $200,000 needed for the group to successfully complete their mission and continues to support the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008.

These women are hoping to break down some of the barriers that prevent women in Nepal, and other parts of the world from achieving their goals. They hope that by achieving their goals they can play a significant role in promoting education, and building awareness about the affect climate change has in Nepal and around the world.

If you want to get involved visit the FIWSE 2008 team website at

Friday, February 15, 2008

What you didn't want to know about Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the fourth largest shopping day of the year for millions of American men and women. Although buying chocolates, flowers, and assorted other goodies for the people we care about gets pretty expensive, it seems that people in the developing world are paying an even higher price than we are. V-Day may be a holiday about caring, but the companies that provide us with ways to show someone we love them seem to have completely forgotten about the people that work for them.

Yesterday (February 14, 2008) the United Nations hosted a briefing to raise awareness about the suffering of farm labourers in Africa and Latin America, some of whom work in near slave conditions to supply goods to a ­predominantly western market. Here are some facts that they thought it was important for us all to realize:

1) CHOCOLATE- According to the International Labor Rights Forum the world’s leading chocolate companies, including Nestle, M&M/Mars and Hershey, had failed to meet a promised 2005 deadline to provide consumers with a “child labour-free chocolate” certification programme and now faced a new agreed deadline of July 2008.

2) FLOWERS- 90% of cut flowers sold in the US come from Venezuela and Ecuador. Most of the flower workers are women who suffer from sexual harassment as well as health problems from the toxic pesticides used.

3) DIAMONDS- Many of our diamonds come from West Africa where diamonds have been identified to fuel armed conflicts throughout the region (that's what people are referring to when they say "blood diamonds"). Although the diamond industry's contribution to such conflicts has decreased in the past few years since the creation of a new certification process, there are still massive problems in the Congo and widespread corruption in countries such as Angola.

So, what can you do...?

Although it is probably too late for this Valentine's Day, there are changes that you can make in your daily life that will ensure your money is not hurting people in the developing world. Fair trade products are everywhere. Although coffee is the most visible, there are also Fair Trade chocolates, bananas, and even flowers ( sells them!). There are also plenty of causes that you can support through organizations like Global Watch and Oxfam International (just run a google search).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Art in Action

The power of expression was celebrated as over 12,000 children across the globe created priceless pieces of art. After the United Nations Postal Association (UNPA) declared an art competition with the theme “we can end poverty,” children from about 130 nations participated in the International Children’s Art Competition. The competition was held in honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The winners of the competition were granted the honor of designing stamps that will circulate internationally. The UNPA will use 5 stamp designs created by young winning artists from Armenia, China, Indonesia and Zimbabwe to represent the poverty eradication theme.

See the joyous pieces of art and visit the gallery where the pieces are displayed in a slide show.

To learn more about how are can be used as activism on behalf of the United Nations, contact UNDP-USA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stopping Traffic

Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 13) the United Nations will hold the first ever global forum on human trafficking in Vienna, Austria. The forum will cover a wide array of topics that fall under this subject heading ranging from forced labor and sexual exploitation to the removal of organs and other body parts.

The three-day conference, which runs through Friday, will bring together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, NGO representatives and trafficking victims from 116 countries.

UNODC chief Costa said that "a lack of information and a disjointed response have enabled human trafficking to flourish."He said it was one of the fastest-growing crimes and had many forms, "always in collusion with other unlawful activities like illegal migration, forced labor, pedophilia, child exploitation, civil conflicts and organized prostitution."

"It's time for the world to open its eyes to this modern form of slavery," Costa said.

Workshops will be held on a wide range of topics, from forced labor and sexual exploitation to the trafficking in persons for the removal of organs and body parts.

Although it is incredibly difficult to collect data, according to UN estimates, about 2.5 million people from 127 countries have been trafficked to 137 countries for purposes such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, the removal of organs and body parts, forced marriages, child adoption and begging.

Among those scheduled to attend the conference is pop star Ricky Martin and Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Ever want to choose when you go to school. Pick what books are assigned? Go to recess or take a break whenever you want?

Now, you can.

With the Cyberschoolbus, an online teaching tool/website produced by the UN, you can control your education while exploring global issues, watching webcasts, delving into country profiles, and of course, learning about the UN agencies of your choice.

The site is currently available in six different languages, thus increasing the possibility of having schoolmates with different backgrounds. It fosters ideals that promote diversity and appreciation for international institutions. So stop reading this blog and check out the site at

Monday, February 4, 2008

UNHCR’s commitment to providing identification for internally displaced people worldwide

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is taking steps to ensure that all internally displaced persons (IDP) around the world have identification that is recognized by their respective governments. This is an increasingly important issue.

Without identification, IDPs frequently cannot receive the humanitarian aid or government assistance after fleeing their homes. Governments and international organizations cannot determine the number of people needing aid without identification.
Identification is also necessary to ensure government-sponsored education reaches all children. If the government doesn’t know its citizens exist, there is no way for it to provide for them the necessary education, security, and healthcare facilities.

The UNHCR has worked with IDPs for over thirty years but they have recently increased their participation and activity. In Colombia, which has over three million IDPs within the country (the second largest IDP situation after Sudan), the UNHCR has already helped in registering 2.3 million people with the government. With twelve offices located throughout Colombia has already provide 500,000 people with identification cards. These programs have given out identification specifically to those groups which are most vulnerable to exploitation: indigenous and afro-Colombians and women.

Identification can be a matter of life and death in Colombia. The UNHCR’s efforts in Colombia and worldwide are working to make sure that all people can be recognized by their specific governments.

To Learn More:

Visit the UNHCR website:

Read some interesting articles and find out how you can help:

Colombia: Millions Displaced by Conflict Denied Basic Rights

UNHCR seeks $90 million for internal displacement operations

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Games for Good

Kids don’t just play games, they benefit from them.

In efforts to raise money for the United Nations Children's Fund, you can play a couple of online games that educate and fundraise for UNICEF. The game's website promotes an advocacy group that works on behalf of UNIFEF, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Through partnership, UNICEF and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF provide entertainment, opportunities for volunteers, fundraising outlets, and educational tools that function on behalf of children around the world.

The online games allow players help others via different missions related to promoting education, nutrition, clean water standards, better health practices, and sound responses to emergency situations. Players can challenge their friends and compete to see who is more successful in completing missions similar to the missions conducted by UNICEF in real life.

Check out UNICEF’s games and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Support children around the world. Learn about UNICEF. Play games for good!