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  • Writer's pictureDebra DeLaet

Iowans Advocating for a Strong UN

Iowans Advocating for a Strong United Nations By Debra DeLaet (Executive Director, Iowa United Nations Association)

Earlier this month, a delegation of Iowans participated in UNA-USA’s annual Leadership Summit. The Iowa delegation joined members of UNA-USA from across the country as part of UNA-USA’s movement of 20,000 members working to advocate for a strong United Nations. The 2022 Leadership Summit was a hybrid event, with in-person attendees convening at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C. on June 5-6. Other participants joined virtually. The theme of this year’s summit was “US. TOGETHER. FORWARD.”

During the first two days of the summit, participants attended workshops to learn about the critical work of the United Nations, to network with grassroots advocates from across the country, to hear from high-ranking officials about U.S. engagement with the UN and the role of the UN in tackling global challenges. Interested members who were unable to attend the summit can access full recordings of the plenary sessions on this YouTube Playlist. You can watch highlights from the Leadership Summit in this short video. On June 7, the final day of the summit, UNA-USA, with support from the UN Foundation, hosted a digital Lobby Day in which participants met with their elected officials virtually to advocate for continued U.S. support for the United Nations.

I was delighted to lead a strong group of devoted supporters to the Leadership Summit. In addition to myself, our in-person delegation included three of our 2022 College Ambassadors: Luke Clausen (Drake University), Jackson Geadelmann (Luther College), and Kaitlyn Isom (Central College). We were joined by Eric Kwame Adae, a Director and newly elected Vice President of the Board of the Iowa Division of UNA-USA. We also were joined in-person by Heather Strachan, a student at Drake University who actively has worked to support the Iowa Division in many ways, including her work redesigning our website. Barbara Eckstein, representing the Johnson County Chapter, also attended in person. Other college ambassadors attended virtual sessions to learn about the critical work of the United Nations.

On Virtual Lobby Day, our Iowa delegation was joined by numerous members of local chapters to advocate for ongoing U.S. support for the United Nations. We met with staff from the offices of Senator Joni Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley, Representative Ashley Hinson (1st District), Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (2nd District), and Representative Cindy Axne (3rd District.) Senator Grassley joined us for our call with his office. Our delegation made a strong case for our elected representatives to support the United Nations. Specifically, our core ask focused on urging our elected officials to support President Biden’s budget proposal to pay our UN Peacekeeping and Regular Budget dues, in full and on time. We also urged members of the Iowa congressional delegation to support the budget request to begin paying back the arrears to UN peacekeeping operations that the United States has accrued since FY17.

We made a robust case that multilateralism and constructive engagement with the United Nations supports U.S. interests and values. We were able to convey the overwhelming support of Americans for the United Nations, with 84 percent of U.S. voters indicating that that it is “very important” or “somewhat important” for the United States to maintain an active role in the United Nations. Polling data by the Better World Campaign (BWC) indicates strong majority support among U.S. voters for the U.S. paying our dues to the UN regular budget (63 percent favor) and the UN peacekeeping budget (68 percent favor) on time and in full. The BWC’s polling data for Iowa indicate that a majority of Iowans support U.S. funding for the United Nations and the vital work that the organization does globally.

We shared evidence that UN peacekeeping operations save lives and shorten conflict, including two studies by the U.S. Government Accountability Office finding that a UN mission is one-eighth of the cost to U.S. taxpayers of deploying a comparable U.S. military operation. We made a strong case that robust U.S. support for the United Nations helps to enhance U.S. international legitimacy and global leadership rather than ceding leadership in international organizations to our adversaries.

We also emphasized the critical lifesaving work of the United Nations in responding to global health challenges and humanitarian crises. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides vaccine supplies that serve forty-five percent of the world’s children under five and help save over two million children’s lives every year. UN initiatives to combat malaria have helped save over 10.6 million lives. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and other humanitarian agencies play a critical role in responding to refugee and humanitarian crises in conflict zones, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Yemen. UN agencies provide essential food, shelter, medical care, and educational support to millions of civilians displaced inside and outside of their countries in conflict zones.

The Iowa Division of UNA-USA encourages you to contact your elected officials to urge them to support the United Nations. You can use these simple online forms to email your elected officials to ask them to fully fund the United Nations and to support UN peacekeeping.

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