Meeting in Review: December 2, 2015
Posted by Mike Carmichael
on Dec 04, 2015
President David opened the meeting at 12:30 p.m., led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced Marilyn Cruz to provide the words of inspiration.
Marilyn quoted John Holmes as saying, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” She advised us whenever we are down we should get on that Salvation Army van with John Jackson and remember the best exercise for the heart.
Secretary Mike Carmichael welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests:
Host or Home Club
Rochester, NY Club
Dean, School of Engineering at U. of Rochester
Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Lisa Norwood presented us with a banner from the Rochester, NY club.
Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Donnie Shaw led in singing the Happy Birthday song to Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:
Rob Warne - Nov 30
Pat Cunningham - Dec 01
Michael Onyemelukwe - Dec 01
Dr. Sam Hancock - Dec 02
Andy Koval - Dec 02
Abe Helal invited Rotarians to a formal dinner and celebration sponsored by the Capital Industrial Security Awareness Council, of which he is vice president. (We had an FBI agent describe the council system at an earlier luncheon.) The event is at the University Club on Saturday, December 5, starting at 6:00 p.m. The cost is $75 and registration is required by December 3.
Immediate Past President Jennifer Hara, as chair of the club’s nominating committee, reported the slate of officer nominees for the next Rotary year. The committee decided to nominate only one person for President-Elect, and that is Abe Helal. Candidates for that position lead a club meeting prior to an election and Abe will lead our December 16 meeting. Nominees for the Club’s Board are, in alphabetical order: Steve Adkins, Kathy Bailey, Michael Harper, Brendan McGinnis, Glen O’Gilvie, and Maria Nelly Pavisich. Nominees for the Foundation Board are: Deraux Branch and Pete Larson.
Shaun English, Chair of our club’s own Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC, reported its Annual Fund Drive extends from December 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. For those who want to take advantage of a 2015 tax deduction he encouraged contributions this month. Shaun read a list of projects supported by the Foundation and shared information about a link on our www.dcrotary.org website; on the home page click on “Foundation” under the masthead, and you will see full information and ways to donate.
President David recognized Lynn Holec for her work with our foundation’s Community Service Awards process. Proposals for 2016 grants must be received no later than midnight on Sunday, January 31, 2016. An application form and guidance is available on our website. David advised interested parties to take the requirements seriously.
Donnie Shaw and May O’Brien encouraged members to sign up for the Rotary Leadership Institute Part I scheduled in Washington (a rarity) all day Saturday December 12. This seminar will be held in the Law offices of K&L Gates Law Firm, 1601 K Street, NW, Washington DC. The fee is $95, but for every four enrollees we get a 50% rebate.
President David gave another reminder of the Club’s guest policy. The Club pays for a guest’s first lunch for a qualified Prospective Member of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C. Eligibility is determined by the member inviting the guest (using the Four Way Test as a guide). The new guest forms were distributed 11/25 and include a section for guests to indicate if they are prospective members. If the member or his/her guest does not make the distinction on the new form, or if it is not their first visit to our club, the guest will need to pay for lunch, or the member’s account will be charged $35 for the guest’s meal.
President David pointed out that Marilyn Cruz today finished her last task necessary to receive a blue badge and she will get one soon.
Bob Schott introduced speaker Ambassador Don Bliss, President of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, a position Bob said his own mother held fifty years ago. For 2006-2009, Don served as U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN-affiliated international organization, and as U.S. Permanent Representative on the ICAO Council. He has headed the UNA-NCA since 2014.
Ambassador Bliss started by saying this is the 70th year of the United Nations, founded in June of 1945 at the end of World War II. Its charter starts with “We the peoples…” (not states). Today it faces wars, terrorism, economic challenges, cybersecurity, and other issues that do not respect state boundaries.
The goals of the UN are to maintain peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and cooperate in solving problems and encouraging human rights.
The authority of the Secretary General (SG) is not clearly defined and the various arms of the UN have their own charters and leadership. Much depends on the skills and personality of whomever is selected as SG, who largely has to rely on influence through a “bully pulpit.” Next year they elect a new SG.
Each state has a single vote in the General Assembly, no matter its size. The Security Council has fifteen members, including five permanent members who basically were the winners of World War II (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the U.S.), each of which has veto power, plus ten non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.
There are 16 peacekeeping operations around the world, plus a special mission in Afghanistan. They involve 106,000 “blue helmet” forces from 123 of the 193 member states. It is important to have the UN deal with failed states, like Somalia, and other breeding grounds for terrorists. It was a success when South Sudan opened its gates to refugees and protected them. It is much cheaper for the U.S. to fund UN forces than to pay for our own boots on the ground. A congressional vote is needed to fund the UN.
The conventional wisdom is the farther one is from HQ in New York, the more effective the UN becomes. Some talk about the deal with Iran as something the Obama administration negotiated. It was negotiated with all five of the Secretariat’s permanent members and it will be enforced by the UN’s IAEA. International Air Travel is greatly enhanced by the ICAO. UNICEF has made great progress in the lives of children. WHO has helped eradicate smallpox and polio and vaccinates 50% of the world’s children The High Commissioner for Refugees deals with 60 million refugees and displaced persons in the world today. Most Americans are uninformed about the UN and some spread the idea the UN will take us over.
The role of the United Nations Association is to increase understanding of the UN, to seek U.S. involvement in improving the UN, and to prepare and educate the leadership of the future. Its Global Classrooms DC program involves high school and middle school students and teachers and culminates in the annual Model United Nations at the US Department of State. Over half of UNA members are under 40.
On December 10 UNA-NCA will hold its 2015 Human Rights Awards Reception on Capitol Hill.
The overarching purpose of the UN is to avoid another world war. It is often difficult to resolve conflict, particularly given the vetoes by China and the Russian Federation on many initiatives, such as for Syria and the Ukraine. On the other hand, the U.S. has used its veto power more than anyone else, mostly to protect Israel.
The World Bank says one billion people have been successfully moved from extreme poverty (earning less than $1.25/day). On September 25, 2015 the UN approved seventeen Sustainable Development Goals for the next fifteen years, starting with a goal to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. The world is busy fighting symptoms like ISIS, but we need to address the underlying problems that helped create ISIS.
Sometimes there have to be ways around the Security Council’s vetoes. The Iran negotiation involved the SC’s permanent members, but not through the SC. When the 2009 Conference on Climate Change failed to generate actions, the UN then asked for submissions of individual state’s plans to deal with climate change, and many pushed to have their plans ready before last week’s Paris conference. Some ecological activists criticize what was done in Paris, but we cannot have the perfect be the enemy of the good. Good progress was made.
We need to improve the staff of the UN, based on merit not geography. The US led in establishing the UN and needs to lead in making it better. We need the UN, in part because we cannot do it all alone.
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, AND ANSWERS
Q: Who are in the blue helmets?
A: Uniformed personnel from 123 countries. The U.S. only has “advisors,” because Congress will not authorize the deployment of our military personnel where they would serve under the command of any entity other than the U.S.
Comment: Some Rotarians were involved in the creation of the UN charter.
Comment: I am a U.S. citizen, but spent time as a speech-writer for Israel at the UN. I was very disappointed in what was not accomplished there with 193 nations in the room, but I saw after the speeches, some would get together over drinks or dinner and work things out.
A: As I mentioned, the five states found a way to negotiate a deal with Iran without risking a veto by working around the Security Council structure.
Q: How likely is it the U.S. or others in the Security Council will give up any part of their veto rights?
A: Basically no chance, but France has proposed a pledge for members not to use their veto in a case where it is determined there has been a mass atrocity, a mass abuse of human rights.
President David presented Don Bliss with a certificate noting that a tree that will be planted in a public area in his honor.
President David and Glen O’Gilvie presented a $10,000 check to Taylor Strange of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, which “expands professional development opportunities, access and capacity for nonprofit organizations throughout the Washington D.C. region and the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Each year the Center conducts an Advancement in Management Award Competition, presented by Pepco with additional support provided by Capital One Bank and the Rotary Club of Washington. Our club will continue to be recognized as a partner in helping improve nonprofit organizations and the work they do.
Raffle: Marilyn Cruz won the small pot of $25 but did not win the large pot of $547.
President David thanked Raven Canty for conducting today’s Raffle, Stu Shalloway for staffing the Hospitality Desk, and the secretary for writing today’s Meeting in Review.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.