On Friday, December 10th, the Humpty Dumpty Institute held its 33rd Congressional Staff Delegation to the United Nations Headquarters. The delegation featured a bipartisan group of senior congressional staffers (see participant list).
The day’s program, planned with the assistance of the United Nations Democracy Fund and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, focused on how the UN addresses the issue of Democratization.
The program started with a briefing over breakfast from Ambassador Rick Barton, the United States Representative on the Economic and Social Council from the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN). Ambassador Barton spoke to the representatives about his current work and how important it is to have support from their representatives in Congress. Following Ambassador Barton, Mr. Jared Kotler, who handles Press and Public Affairs at the Office of the Under-Secretary General, United Nations Department of Political Affairs (UNDPA), delivered an overview briefing about how the United Nations works, along with the important role of the UNDP.
Andrew Bruce was the next speaker. Mr. Bruce serves as an Electoral Political Officer within the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (EAD). He spoke to the group on the how crucial voter registration and fair elections are worldwide, especially in developing democracies. He also spoke in-depth on the challenges with election related violence and the importance of international cooperation to stem this violence. Mr. Bruce shared how the UN played a successful role in the registration of over 80 million voters and high voter turnout in Bangladesh. This was but one example of a major UN success story.
Following Mr. Bruce, Michael Doyle, the Chair of the Advisory Board for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and Annika Savill, the Senior Advisor for Policy Management and External Relations for UNDEF engaged the staffers in a briefing on the key programs of the UNDEF. The Fund is the brainchild of India and the United States and is instrumental in promoting democratization in countries in which the United States and other nations would not be welcomed. The Congressional staffers learned that the Fund is a successful outcome of U.S. bipartisan political support. It was conceived under the Administration of President George W. Bush and strongly advanced under President Obama’s administration. UNDEF is one of the youngest UN offices. It is currently operating in 115 countries including Russia, Algeria, and Iran.
Following the morning speakers, the Congressional participants toured the United Nations building where they learned more of the history of the UN as well as saw firsthand the current renovations. They returned to a working lunch at which Shireen Said, of the Democratic Governance Group in the Bureau for Development Policy of the United Nations discussed democratization in the context of development. Joining the group for lunch were Admiral and Mrs. Paul Yost. Admiral Yost is the former Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Current Director of the New York Office and Representative to the United Nations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Currently, LDS Charities assists with HDI humanitarian projects in Laos, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
Summer Alhinnawi Office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Austin Durrer Office of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)
Thomas Garofalo Office of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)
Rachel Hines Office of Rep. Russ Caranahan (R-MO)
Rachel Houston Office of Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Ken Takeda Office of Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
George McCormick Office of Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
Luke Murry Office of Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Jerr Rosenbaum Office of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Meyer Selgiman Office of Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA)
Yohannes Tsehai Office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Emily Wauford Office of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Diana Ohlbaum House Foreign Affairs Committee (D)
Daniel Harsha House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Office of Rep.Howard Berman, (D-CA)
Mckenzie Millar U.S Department of State
Mike Beard United Nations Foundation
Jordie Hannum United Nations Foundation
Millie Meyers U.S. Mission to the United Nations
Congressman Ben Gilman New York