Claremont celebrates the UN, looks to global goals

by Mel Boynton, president, Pomona Valley UNA

All around the world this week of October 24, people are celebrating the 70th birthday of the United Nations. Rising in the ashes of World War II and after the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guided by Eleanor Roosevelt, the UN has helped keep the peace and promoted human rights and development for seven decades.

In our local UNA chapter, we’re constantly working to share the UN’s work with the community and our nation’s leaders. A current Hart Research survey of registered voters show 90 percent support for US involvement with the UN. Eleven UNA chapters in southern California and over 100 other chapters across the country demonstrate just how much support exists for the important work of the UN.

Claremont residents are invited to join a gala, “UN at 70” dinner event on Thursday, October 29 at Edmunds Ballroom on the Pomona College campus, co-sponsored by International Place, Pomona College Office of International Initiatives and the Pomona Valley United Nations Association (PVUNA).

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this month, “The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to reflect—to look back on the UN’s history and take stock of its enduring achievements. It is also an opportunity to spotlight where the UN—and the international community as a whole—needs to redouble its efforts to meet current and future challenges across the three pillars of its work: peace and security, development and human rights.”

These goals didn’t materialize out of thin air. In fact, before the SDGs, the UN adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight goals adopted in 2000 that the world would use as a roadmap to work toward reducing extreme poverty.

The MDG’s inspired policies and investments have helped lift 600 million people out of extreme poverty, prevent 4.3 million deaths from malaria and improve the lives of millions more around the world. The success of the MDGs proved that goals work. The new global goals were adopted by all 193 UN member nations after three years of public input and negotiation.

Over eight million people around the world had a chance to choose their own priorities for the goals through the MyWorld website. Here at home, UNA-USA held consultations in 50 cities across the country, including two consultations in southern California.

Based on that feedback, the UN settled upon 17 goals focused on achieving three extraordinary things:  ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice and fixing climate change. Unlike the MDG’s, these goals are a to-do list for all countries, not just the developing world. Member states have a focus on better data and stronger metrics to better capture results. While the MDGs focused on eight goals, and 18 targets, the SDGs have expanded efforts to focus on 17 goals and 169 targets.

At a time when much of the globe is torn apart by conflict and we try to help millions of refugees fleeing the carnage, there is something powerful in the fact that all 193 nations on the planet were able to come together and agree on a to-do list for the world.

Within these goals are issues that speak to each of us. For example, the new goals include a commitment to the rule of law that was never part of the MDGs. Access to justice is a precondition for achieving almost all the goals, but it is particularly important for fighting a truly global scourge.

The State Department estimates that 27 million people worldwide are living in modern slavery, victims of both forced labor and sex trafficking. Ending human trafficking will take local and global action.

Fortunately, goals 5, 8 and 16 include specific targets to address this scourge and the actions needed, such as improving justice systems and ensuring that children have birth certificates, have bipartisan support on Capitol Hill as well as among local leaders.

The UN, like each of the member states, is far from perfect. But much has been accomplished. We hope you will join the effort to educate and mobilize citizens around the good work of the UN on this historic birthday.


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