HDI Hosts Congressional Staff Focused on South Asia Issues.
On Friday, September 11, the Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted a group of senior House and Senate staffers at the United Nations. The delegation of ten (see participant list) was given briefings on the most recent developments in the volatile South Asia region by U.N. Secretariat officials.
Staffers attended a concert on the evening of September 10 featuring HDI Spokesperson Mary Wilson and Pakistani singing sensation Nauman Lasharie. This concert in commemoration of September 11 was organized by Musicians For Harmony to remember the victims of 9/11 and to bring attention to the current situation in Pakistan.
Staffers began the morning of September 11 with an in-depth briefing by the U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Alejandro Wolff. Joined by nine members of the USUN staff, the Congressional staffers were given a thorough overview of U.S. priorities at the upcoming 64th U.N. General Assembly.
This was followed by a series of briefings at U.N. Headquarters. U.N. South Asia Specialists Elizabeth Joyce and Christian Mahr of the U.N. Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate briefed the delegation on technical assistance and cooperation with India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in combating terrorism.
This was followed by Ms. Radha Day of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for Afghanistan/UNAMA. Ms. Day explained how the U.N.’s current role in Afghanistan has developed into a coordination role with 20 offices around the country and 1,800 people on the ground. The staffers were extremely interested in the security situation in Afghanistan. Ms. Day was frank, but stressed that despite the challenges, the U.N. was committed to helping bring stability to the country.
Sri Lanka was the next topic on the agenda with overviews provided by Carmen Van Heese and Masaki Watabe of the U.N. Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They explained how OCHA is not an operational organization, but rather one of coordination. They further explained that OCHA’s mission is to help in both natural and man made disasters – both of which have afflicted Sri Lanka. OCHA first arrived in Sri Lanka in the wake of the 2005 tsunami, but is currently providing assistance to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons in the aftermath of the civil war.
The substantive briefings were capped by a thorough overview by the senior U.S. diplomat in the United Nations system, Ambassador Lynn Pascoe. He stressed to the staffers that the United Nations is impartial, but not neutral. The United Nations is a norm driven organization and will work for human rights and freedom.
Before departing for lunch, the participants also heard from Peter Smith on the multi billion dollar U.N. Capital Master Plan. Mr. Smith explained how this is the first renovation of the U.N. Headquarters since the 1950s. He also explained that many of the contracts have been granted to local firms, and were thus of interest to local Congressional districts.
The day ended with a working lunch attended by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan, Farukh Amil, the Permanent Representative of Nepal, Madhu Raman Acharya, and the Deputy Permanent Representative of India, Manjeev Singh Puri. A lively and frank discussion had the participants engaged as they discussed the problems, challenges, and opportunities of the South Asian Sub Continent.
Dalis Adler Office of Chairman Rep. Ackerman (D-NY), Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia Staff
Brian Forni Office of Rep. Delahunt (D-MA) Subcommittee for International Organizations,
Human Rights and Oversight staff
David Grimaldi Office of the House Majority Whip
Allison Hollabaugh Office of Rep. Smith (R-NJ)
Lars Hydle Office of Rep. Towns (D-NY)
Jeremy Kadden Office of Rep. Berkley (D-NV)
Corey McDaniel Office of Senator Risch (R-ID)
John Sandy Office of Senator Risch (R-ID)
Jason Steinbaum Office of Rep. Engel (D-NY), Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Staff
Curt Tarnoff Congressional Research Service
Cherith Norman U.S. Mission to the U.N.
Deborah DeYoung UNIC
Mike Beard UNF
Jordie Hannum UNF