The Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) hosted its 47th Congressional Delegation to the United Nations on March 31 and April 1, 2014 with eleven Members from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) participating along with CBC Staff (see participant list below). CBC Chair Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) led this delegation. The activities began on Monday evening, March 31 with a working dinner hosted by Mr. Mark L. Epstein (HDI Board of Directors) which featured U.N. Secretariat officials and diplomats. The participants received an update on HDI’s activities in areas of congressional affairs, cultural diplomacy and higher education.
On Tuesday, April 1, the program started with a working breakfast at the United States Mission to the United Nations. Permanent Representative Samantha Power explained the critical value and importance of the United Nations, in particular in the realm of global security and crisis response. She also stressed USUN’s commitment to necessary reforms within the U.N. to make the organization leaner and more efficient. U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council Jeffery DeLaurentis next discussed current issues and priorities for the U.S. Mission. These included the situation in Ukraine, deteriorating relations with Russia, unrest in the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, and South Sudan, and humanitarian issues in Haiti.
A representative from the United Nations Department for Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO), Mr. Jack Christofides, opened the program at U.N. Headquarters. Mr. Christofides heads the Africa II Division at DPKO which covers West Africa and the Great Lakes region. The first topic of discussion was instability in the Central African Republic and DPKO’s immediate response with a new peacekeeping operation. Mr. Christofides then cited the Mali mission as an example of a DPKO operation by discussing the mission’s main objectives:
— Support of the transitional authorities in the stabilization of the country
— Implementation of the transitional roadmap
— Focus on major population centers
— Keeping open lines of communication
Other responsibilities of a peacekeeping mission included protection of civilians and human rights monitoring. In addition, in some locations its responsibilities could include creation of conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, the extension of state authority and the preparation of free, inclusive and peaceful elections.
The following speaker was Mr. Antoine Gérard, Deputy Director of Coordination and Response Division in the OCHA office (U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). Mr. Gerard also discussed the current situation in the CAR and the urgent need to protect civilians and prevent escalation of hostilities. He stressed that humanitarian resources were being stretched across the region and there is a need for more resources which can in turn prevent another refugee crisis from developing. In that regard, OCHA is acting within its mandate to provide relief and protection in CAR and other areas with humanitarian concerns. Mr. Christofides also spoke about the humanitarian response levels in Sudan/South Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Haiti.
Next, the delegation met with the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, who briefed Members of Congress on global issues and future priorities of the organization. He outlined the Secretary-General’s plans on environment, peace and sustainability, and emphasized the importance of U.S. support in these crucial areas. Mr. Eliasson talked about the importance of institution building as part of the Millennium Development Goals and the need to track progress around the world in order to create a sustainable model for others to follow. The Deputy Secretary-General also discussed the Climate Change agenda at the U.N. and stressed the need for collective action by all responsible actors in order to tackle this issue immediately and effectively.
The final meeting was with Mr. Pedro Medrano, Special Coordinator for Haiti, during which the participants received the latest update on humanitarian efforts in Haiti and obstacles remaining in those efforts such as the latest outbreak of cholera. Mr. Medrano talked about the allegations of the peacekeepers being connected to this outbreak and said that a major effort has been put forth to contain the spread of disease and improve sanitation, which was in unacceptable state by any standards. Other major obstacles in Haiti’s development post 2010 earthquake were also discussed. Mr. Medrano mentioned that years after this catastrophe, the struggle remains as there is a lack of funding and proper institution capacity to rebuild the infrastructure and the society. All the resources have been exhausted and much more is needed to be done by the private sector and the international community to make the rebuilding efforts successful.
The delegation members then proceeded to the U.N. Delegates’ Dining Room for a working lunch with various Permanent Representatives. HDI’s President, Ralph L. Cwerman thanked the participants for joining the 47th program and urged them to share this experience with their colleagues. After his remarks, Mr. Cwerman introduced the lunch speaker Mr. Djibril Diallo, Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS. Mr. Diallo briefed the participant on the goals of UNAIDS which include prevention of transmission by means of education, eliminating new HIV infections in children and helping with access to treatment in all areas of the world. He also pointed out that the organization works a lot on eliminating inequalities, stigma and discrimination associated with this disease to help those affected with proper coping strategies. The working lunch concluded with a question and answer session which marked the end of the program.
Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC)
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA)
Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Representative G. K. Butterfield (D-NC)
Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)
Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL)
Ms. LaDavia Drane, Executive Director, The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
Ms. Ayofemi Kirby, Communications Director, CBC
Mr. Kwame Canty, Director of Member Services and Programming, CBC
Ms. Charlyn Stanberry, Professional Staff, CBC
Ms. Veleter M. B. Mazyck, Chief of Staff, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Mr. Jirair Ratevosian, Legislative Director, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Ms. Calita Woods, Foreign Policy/U.N. Fellow, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)