41st Congressional Staff Delegation to United Nations Headquarters

The Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted its 41st Congressional Staff Delegation to the United Nations (see participant list) on June 22nd. The delegation focused on refugee issues and the activities of the United Nations in dealing with their status as well as resettlement.

The first event of the day was a working breakfast hosted by the United States Mission to the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis discussed the role of the United States in working with the U.N. to deal with the many different issues surrounding refugees from across the globe. The delegation also discussed issues of the U.S.’s role in advancing principles such as women’s rights and basic liberties enshrined in the U.N. charter.

Following the breakfast, Eva Busza, Director of the Strategic Planning Unit at the Executive Office of the Secretary General at the United Nations, presented the delegation with an overview of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s five-year vision for the U.N. and specifically discussed the four main goals for this period. Ms. Busza explained that the world and the U.N. must move forward in creating sustainable development and come to a global agreement on climate change by 2015 as a continuation of the Durban Review Conference. Additionally, she stressed the need for a policy of prevention by the U.N. and its member states which would look to reduce hazards from natural disasters, national conflict, and take a proactive approach to issues facing displaced populations.

The next briefing was given by John Ging, Director of the Coordination and Response Division of the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Mr. Ging emphasized that the U.N. was looking to create more partnerships with organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League in order to deliver better results in humanitarian programs to their respective regions. Mr. Ging also made it a point to say that humanitarian intervention is not a solution, but a response to crisis. Prevention of humanitarian crisis is the key to creating a stable environment where the probability of interventions is minimized.

The final briefing was conducted by John Solecki, Senior Policy Advisor for Advocacy & Communications of the New York Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Mr. Solecki explained that there is a new phenomenon occurring within the traditional definition of the refugee; today there are more people who are becoming urban refugees. For example, 18 million refugees have settled in Cairo and this has created obstacles in addressing their needs in an urban environment. One of the goals of UNHCR is to provide refugees with legal assistance and documentation which would allow them easier access to a stable lifestyle in their country of residence.

The delegation then toured the United Nations Secretariat and General Assembly buildings. This was followed by a working lunch with Diplomats from Uzbekistan, Georgia, Myanmar and Turkey Missions to the United Nations. Representatives from the Italian Consulate, Kurdistan Regional Government, and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office participated as well. During the lunch, Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan, a representative of the Permanent Mission of Djibouti to the United Nations, and Rapporteur for the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Third Committee, addressed the delegation. Ms. Hassan gave an in-depth presentation on the role of the Third Committee’s work in the area of refugees.


Lara Talverdian Legislative Assistant, Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

Ariana Reks Legislative Assistant, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

LaDavia Drane Legislative Director, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

Janice Kaguyutan House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Howard Berman(D-CA)

Leon Fresco Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Isaiah Akin Legislative Assistant, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Lliam Morrison Legislative Correspondent, Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Philip Simshauser Special Assistant, Representative Dan Burton (R-IN)

Rachel Hines Legislative Assistant, Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO)

Moh Sharma Fellow, CAPAC, Representative Judy Chu (D-CA)

Caitie Whelan Foreign Affairs Legislative Director, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA)

Tom Garofalo Legislative Assistant, Representative Jim Moran (D-VA)

Lars Hydle Legislative Assistant, Representative Ed Towns (D-NY)

Rhoda Margesson Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy, Congressional Research Service

Audrey Wood Government and Civil Society Liaison, United Nations Information Center

Funding for this program has been provided by the United Nations Foundation

For more information, please contact Boris Shapoval at boris.shapoval@thehdi.org