Social Good Summit: Highlights From Day One

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George Garland is a 2014 UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow. View this post on his blog here

My first Social Good Summit day began at the United Nations Foundation’s Arthur Ross Conference Center. This was old home week for me as the Southern New York State Division had hosted a climate change event here just last week. Chris Whatley and the United Nations Association USA had engaged 24 bloggers to add to the social media conversation which includes 140 countries in 13 languages! Many of the graduate students and young professionals participating had founded organizations to promote issues ranging from better use of information technology in Madagascar to improved US understanding of China.

We migrated to the 92nd Street Y where a Digital Media Lounge facilitated hundreds of bloggers and tweeters heard from movers and shakers the United Nations pillars of human rights, ending poverty, and peace and security. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said that developing legal ways to migrate was the best way to combat illegal migration. Cracking down on human traffickers should get as much attention as cracking down on illegal drug traffickers. Refugees were mostly going to developing countries (86%) whose generosity was funding their needs. The citizen of these recipient developing countries in turn had downward wage pressure as millions of desperate and qualified people entered their work force and put upward pressure on prices for housing rental and consumer goods. The High Commissioner called for greatly increased support to address the consequences of chaotic, unpredictable violence which met with impunity from global institutions.

The National Capital Area United Nations Association had sent a resolution to UNA-USA written by their Human Rights Committee co-chair Luke Lee to expand the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to include internally displaced persons. Civil Society weighs in! Current U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power wrote Chasing the Flame which chronicled Sergio De Mello’s work in so many international crises. “Sergio” was an employee of UNHCR and is one of my heroes.

Graça Machel urged looking beyond the averages. While child mortality is improving, the 17,200 children under the age of five who die of preventable causes each day remain a concern. She noted that addressing the 50 million child brides whose human rights are violated will take a concerted effort by the global community which may extend over several generations. Yet these child brides represent a global target of 50 million who have little chance of success for meeting 6 Millennium Development Goals.

Kathy Calvin added that girls may not even show up in statistics where they do not get birth certificates. If you want girls to count, you need to count girls!

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