As Sana Mostifa, softly took the microphone, she introduced herself with quiet brevity as “one of the lucky ones,” since she was living here, in the states. She went on to tell her story, how her father, who had always been outspoken in his political beliefs had suddenly disappeared, and how her family feared the worst and went into hiding, so they wouldn’t disappear too. She left for the U.S. on a school visa to get her masters degree, while her teen sister back in Syria hasn’t seen the inside of a school for three years. Sana Mostifa now has her masters degree and works on raising awareness of the struggles women in particular face in refugee situations.
Sana Mostifa was only one of the incredible people I met during my time at the United Nations for the Commission on the Status and Women. The Commission is the annual gathering of UN Women, and I was able to attend as a youth delegate for the Episcopal Church, and the only delegate from the Diocese of Oklahoma. This trip was in part sponsored by the UNA, who offered me a generous matching grant, and because of this, I was able to spend two whole weeks in New York City, soaking up the words of women and advocates from all over the world. The already diverse streets of NYC veritably sung with different languages on our daily commute, as we streamed into the UN Headquarters.
Every morning, bundled up in scarves and mittens, my mom and I would set out in the snow and spend the morning at either the general plenary sessions, where member states have a dialogue on the yearly revisions made to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Most days however, we attended side events on a plethora of different issues, and a few solutions. In the evenings, we would gather as a delegation to share stories and debrief, as well as share meals together.
While the member states are no doubt, extremely important and essential to the entire process of UNCSW, as a newcomer I was struck far more by the work that was already being done by NGO’s. The people who aren’t waiting on the go-for-it policy, or government money, but rather, are motivated by their belief that women should have the same fundamental rights as men. One man we heard speak, detailed how, everyday when he left in the morning he would make peace with his life, because he was convinced his work would be bombed, but every day he still went.
UNCSW was a life event I won’t forget and a formative experience for me. I learned more about the challenges women face, and the efforts being taken to stop them, it has left me with a craving for social justice, a pen, and a mind filled with ambitions and anxieties. I will continue to spread the message in Tulsa; just like the NGO’s at UNCSW, change starts at the grassroots level, and it is happening all around us.
Submitted by Emma Palmer
For immediate release.
TULSA (May 19, 2076) – The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma (UNAEO) is currently seeking nominations for the 2017 Ambassador Edwin G. Corr Global Citizenship Award. Now in its third year, this award recognizes outstanding individuals whose personal or professional efforts have advanced eastern Oklahoma on the global stage.
“We are so proud of the work being done in our state to improve our communities and better connect us to the international community,” says Ruby Libertus, Ph.D., UNAEO Board of Trustees President. “This award gives us an opportunity to highlight these valuable efforts.”
Nominations can be submitted through http://www.UNAEO.org/nominate. The winning candidate will be honored at the UNAEO’s annual United Nations Day Dinner in October.
About the UNAEO
The UNAEO is the Eastern Oklahoma chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. Founded in 1946, the UNAEO supports Model United Nations teams across Eastern Oklahoma while advocating for humanitarian issues. The chapter is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations, strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system, and achievement of the goals of the United Nations Charter. The organization’s core purpose is to promote diplomacy and inspire a better world. Additional information is available at www.UNAEO.org.
Ruby Libertus, Ph.D.
President of the Board of Trustees
A Potluck Dinner!
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Time: 6:00 p.m. Emerson Hall
All Souls Unitarian Church
2952 South Peoria
With Rob Andrew, U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Residence at the University of Oklahoma.
“Foreign Service as Patriotic Service: Inspiring Citizen Diplomacy in the 21st Century.”
You are cordially invited to attend and to bring guests.
Free for current UNA EO Members & Students,
Non-members without a dish: $10
Rob Andrew is a Foreign Service Officer and has served at our embassies in the following locations: Mexico City, Mexico; Moscow, Russia; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Stockholm, Sweden. As the Diplomat in Residence at OU, Rob promotes career and internship opportunities for students and young professionals through his region, which includes the states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
In order to have a balanced menu, we ask you to bring a dish consistent with the menu groups defined by the first letter of your last name.
It would add to the flavor of a UN dinner if you would bring food which is associated with different countries.
A-F…SALAD G-P…VEGETABLE/MEAT Q-Z…DESSERT
Optional: A bottle of wine to enjoy and share, if you wish
The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma
invites you to a celebration of United Nations Day
In honor of Tina Peña
Ambassador Edwin G. Corr Global Citizenship Award Recipient
Dr. Abdur Rashid
Former Chief of Global Information
"United Nations Humanitarian Assistance in Food & Agriculture"
Oaks Country Club
4101 Oak Country Club Drive
Tulsa, OK 74131
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
6:00pm to 9:00pm
United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma Seeks Nominations for Ambassador Edwin G. Corr Global Citizenship Award
For immediate release.
TULSA (June 6, 2016) – The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma is seeking nominations for the Ambassador Edwin G. Corr Global Citizenship Award. Nominations are being accepted through July 8th, 2016 and can be submitted on www.UNAEO.org/nominate. The recipient will receive the award during the United Nations Day Dinner on October 25, 2016.
Nominees should be individuals whose professional, volunteer, or civic activities have supported the internationalization of Eastern Oklahoma.
Nominations are now being accepted at www.UNAEO.org/nominate.html.
For more information, contact Kara Tilly at email@example.com.
About the United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma
The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma is the the Eastern Oklahoma chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma supports Model United Nations teams across Eastern Oklahoma while additionally advocating for humanitarian issues. The chapter is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations, strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system, and achievement of the goals of the United Nations Charter. The organization’s core purpose is to promote diplomacy and inspire a better world. Additional information is available at www.UNAEO.org.
President of the Board of Trustees
My experience started at the moment I decide to participate in MUN competitions. I have always loved to be involved in Model United Nations, now that I got the opportunity to go as a delegate with my school. I felt as if I was an ambassador and the fact that I have to represent a country is exciting, because you are working for that country and you are trying to do everything to make your country noticed. I feel it is a transformative experience that deepens the understanding of the participants about the world and their place in it. Delegates emerge from this activity with an open mind, fresh ideas and new friends. With the skills they develop in speaking, writing resolutions, negotiation and diplomacy, it is not surprising that many of us then become community leaders, and in the future global involved. I encourage all students that have the opportunity to attend to these competitions to do it. It is an experience that in the future you can actually serve in. Now it may be learning and working towards a role, but then that could be part of your future. Thanks to this practical experience I am feeling prepared and it makes me love more my major and field more.
Representative of Chile at MMUN, 2016
By Kara Tilly, President
As we close out 2015 and embrace the new beginnings that 2016 has given us, it seems like a great time to reflect on the plans we have for an exciting, bright future.
Your membership with the United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma (UNA EO) is a testament to your commitment to promote diplomatic solutions around the world... starting right here at home. Your efforts, contributions and even your intentions are worthy of recognition. I speak for the board of trustees when I say that we appreciate each and every one of you.
I have three things to share with you today:
2016 will bring many changes to UNA EO. Our board of trustees is implementing our long-term strategy to guide the organization for many years to come. Our organization has been an active member of the Tulsa area for 68 years and our strategic plan will help ensure our traditions continue for future generations. As we have matured, we have been met with growing pains. We are committed to creating an active and sustainable organization. Wherever the future takes us, both our mission and membership will be at the forefront of our minds. We are investing in innovative programs that will engage and inspire our membership across Eastern Oklahoma.
Our programming will change during this upcoming year with the promise of realigning our actions with our mission. We appreciate your patience and feedback throughout this period of adjustment. We plan on communicating openly with our membership regarding changes in our programming to give you a clear vision of what's to come. Our goal is to create long-term sustainability for UNA EO and with your help, we know it will be a success. We'd love to hear from you about our programming as well as receive feedback as our programs are updated.
As we enter 2016, we will be assessing our strengths and weaknesses in order to better serve our members and our communities. Therefore, unless otherwise noted, all 2016 events are currently being reviewed and our speaker series is on hold until further notice. Please adjust your calendars to reflect this change. We look forward to inviting you to our future events.
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU
You have my commitment, and the commitment of the entire board of trustees, to make this organization GREAT again. We want our reputation for excellence to spread throughout Eastern Oklahoma. UNA EO will improve, and we won't rest until you see it. So stay tuned...
This is an exciting time for the United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma as we evolve into an organization that understands and meets the demands of our evolving membership while recognizing our traditions and proud history. As we mature, we welcome your assistance. If you would like to have a hands-on impact in creating a sustainable UNA EO, please contact us. We believe that together, we are stronger.
As always, my door is open to you.
UNA EO Board of Trustees
By Shawn Broyles
On the corner of Pygmalionos and Lidras in Old City Nicosia sits my favorite bar, a small specialty beer establishment called Brewfellas. From the Outside patio I can slightly lean to see around the corner to the end of Lidras where there is a guard shack staffed by three uniformed Greeks. This is of course the main pedestrian checkpoint to cross the Green Line into the TRNC, a United Nations demilitarized zone which divides both the city of Nicosia and the country of Cyprus. On about a weekly basis I go through this checkpoint to both practice my Turkish in the cafes of Lefkosha (The Turkish name for north Nicosia) and peruse the bookstores. Given the relative ease of passing one might never surmise the turbulent history of the Green Line and the ongoing ethnic tensions on the island. If one spends any significant amount of time on the island this history becomes apparent. It lies just below casual observation but defines almost every aspect of political life. The last presidential debate in 2013 had an entire session dedicated solely to this issue which is grounded in Cypriot history and self-determination. More importantly one would not immediately know the incredible effect that the history of a small island and the resulting dispute could have on the economic future of the international community.
It would be both glib and obtuse to attempt to describe all of modern Cypriot history within a small article such as this, so I will do my best to only outline the major points that are relevant to the issues at hand, primarily sovereignty. Cypriot history ancient and modern is defined by this concept. The Greek speaking population on the island which has been there since the end of the Bronze Age has spent nearly all of that time ruled by numerous foreign powers from Romans and Byzantines to Crusaders and Ottomans. The most pertinent colonial masters for the sake of our discussion are the Ottomans and finally the British Empire. Ottoman rule from 1570 onward introduced a Turkish population to the island through both its patrimonial Timar system and some forced relocations from Anatolia, with some natives converting to Islam and joining the Turkish community to avoid the heavy taxes levied against non-muslims. That Turkish population has hovered around 18-20 percent and remains so today. For most of the Turkish populations’ tenure on the island both Greek and Turkish Cypriots have lived in relative peace. Indeed Sir Samuel White Baker, a British officer, wrote in his accounts in Cyprus as I saw it in 1879 (a year after its administration was officially turned over to Britain from the Ottoman Empire) the great amount of economic co-operation that existed between the two communities.
British colonial rule would, however, prove to be brutal and polarizing. The idea of enosisor political union with Greece became popular among Greek Cypriots during the early 20th century. Cypriots had long been tired of being denied say in their own governance by the British and thus sought sovereignty through enosis. This was a part of a much larger historical idea to unite all Hellenic peoples and was therefore subject to nationalist and fascist overtones. The successful union of Crete with Greece and subsequent expulsion of Turks from the island rightly worried Cypriot Turks who began to support partition or taksim. Intercommunal violence during this period was only exacerbated by British policy during the 1950s to turn a blind eye to, and at times agitate, armed Turkish groups in order to neutralize armed Greek pro-enosis groups (see TMT and EOKA respectively). Independence came in August of 1960 with United Nations membership only a month later. The subsequent constitution appeared to only create more problems and intercommunal violence continued resulting in the establishment of the UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) with resolution 186. Despite U.N. presence on the island, tensions between the two communities, partially fueled by their respective national patrons, continued to pursue their projects which culminated in violence. After the displacement of 30,000 Turkish Cypriots in December 1963 the British military drew the ‘’Green Line’’, a ceasefire line which would become impassable after the events of 1974. A series of military dictatorships in Greece throughout this period would eventually culminate in the attempt to realize enosis through force and overthrow the democratically elected Bishop Makarios III, whom the United States State Department labelled the ‘’Castro of the Mediterranean’’, not a favorable epithet during the most intense years of the Cold War. In response to mobilization of Greek and Cypriot forces, Turkey invaded the north part of the island under the auspices of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee which they felt legitimized their action, despite protest from the U.N. and the international community at large.
The events of 1974 are complex and for a separate discussion. Suffice it to say that the events which led to the Turkish invasion of the island were precipitated by rightists and fascist thugs on both sides who were encouraged by the CIA, the State Department, and Henry Kissinger, a story which I leave to much more eloquent and perspicacious minds. I urge anyone interested in these events to read the late, great Christopher Hitchens’ indictment of Henry Kissinger in The Trial of Henry Kissinger which has an entire chapter on the Cyprus dispute.
The most salient fallout from the 1974 conflict is the long lasting political division reinforced by the international community and the immense loss of personal property. By December of 1974 over 180,000 Greek Cypriots had been displaced to south of the Green Line. Almost immediately several thousand Turkish Cypriots moved to Turkish occupied territory and claimed formerly Greek property, the return/compensation of which is a key discussion points in the most recent (December 2015) peace talks between Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which declared its’ independence in 1983 remains unrecognized by any nation or international body with the exception of Turkey on whom it relies heavily for economic assistance. The Greek side of the island, the Republic of Cyprus, has no diplomatic relations with Turkey, a problem which lends itself to problems both grand and banal. Indeed, there are no direct flights between Istanbul and Larnaca, much to my irritation. These grievances of international recognition which economically isolate the TRNC and cause the RoC to use their veto against Turkish accession to the EU can only be resolved by the communities on the island. It is in this very major way that the events of 1974 and resulting negotiations on property and security affect the international community.
The most notable and recent plan to resolve these issues was the famous 2004 Annan Plan for Cyprus. Despite great hope for the Annan Plan which proposed a two state federation with a rotating presidency, limited right to return, and a ‘’Reconciliation Commission’’ to address previous issues, the Greek side gave the referendum a loud and resounding ‘’no’’ with 76 percent of voters rejecting the plan while the TRNC largely accepted it. This rejection was received negatively in the international community. The word ‘’disappointment’’ was aimed at the Greek Cypriot decision by both Germany and the United States. Regardless of one’s opinion on the rejection of the Annan plan, it would be at the very least unfair to denounce the decision as unwarranted. Among the many reasons given for the no vote was the international community’s limited addressing of Greek Cypriot security concerns. There were and are 35,000 Turkish troops on the island which is a matter of major concern for modern Cypriots.
Indeed 1974 is still with in living memory for many. I can no longer count how many discussions I have had with older cab drivers about their experiences during the 1974 war. Many have not returned north to see their childhood homes as it would only serve to reinforce the intense sense of loss they already bear. Despite these feelings of intense sadness, anger, and loss, Greek Cypriots have not given up on the idea of unification with the north. The nationalist fervor of enosis is long gone for both older and younger Cypriots. During my first month on the island I wore a wristband with a Greek flag on it. Much to my surprise I was met with disapproval. ‘’Why would you wear this? You’re in Cyprus, not Greece.’’ This is a sentiment which seems to cross most party lines. With renewed talks as of 2014 and the numerous meetings between the two heads of state Anastasiades and Akinci, it seems as if Greeks may be ready for a peace agreement.
It is no coincidence that these renewed talks occur within the context of the 2012-2013 financial crisis and the discovery of large offshore natural gas reserves in 2008. It is estimated that Cyprus stands to revive its economy and gain several billion euros if unification can be agreed upon and EEZ disputes with Turkey resolved. I will leave the complexities of this discussion for the next article but I will close with what I believe to be a very true and important statement. The ability of the international community to resolve disputes with an approach heavily informed by historical knowledge and understanding is essential to maintaining economic and physical security. Make no mistake, Europe’s aims to move away from dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, especially in the light of current events in the Crimea and Ukraine, hinge largely upon their ability to help resolve disputes within the European Union. Cyprus is a unique and important part of this dynamic. As I will elaborate in the next article, Cyprus natural gas reserves, unification, and improvement of relations with Turkey remind us that we should not dismiss small, far-off border disputes as irritations rooted in historical rivalry but as chances to stretch the muscles of our international organizations to create a more peaceful, economically stable world.
By Kelly Sweeney, Advocacy Chair
The morning is announced with the day’s first call to prayer. Making my way to the café to meet my ORU travel companions for breakfast, I take an elevator that would breach any United States safety standard. The students are enjoying a breakfast of hummus, pitas, and Turkish coffee. Sitting down to join them I realize the milk in my cereal is warm, and it serves to remind that cold beverages are an American-style custom. Two students chat in Spanish as the inn keeper bends his ear trying to discern what language it is. Today, we are going to M’fraq, Jordan in hopes of bringing basic supplies to Syrian refugees and hearing their stories. After some discussion, we break into groups. Each group gathers into one of the two vehicles and we begin our journey from Amman. Nobody wears seatbelts and ironically, no driver pays much attention to curbs or street lines. The ride is similar to a New York taxi cab, but the music is in Arabic with the trademark lyrical sound of an Islamic prayer set to a techno beat. After our arrival to the M’fraq mission, we go through a clothing check ensuring the inoffensiveness of our garments. This results in a few minutes of changing for some of the women, who are asked to change into long sleeves and high necked shirts. Our designated groups then pair with a translator and begin visiting homes. The following are four brief accounts of the changes and current lifestyles of Syrian refugees.
As the journey to M’fraq winds down, one of the local missionaries agrees to take us to the larger refugee camp. He is nervous as we draw close to the Syrian border and warns us to mind our camera. Police and their vehicles pepper the sides of the road. On the horizon hundreds of cinderblock houses emerge. Rooftops are made up of old, torn UN tents and people mill around. Two boys ride bikes on the dirt road leading from the camp. They stare at the van as we pass. Catching the eye of a roadside officer, our driver quickly turns around for the return trip to M’fraq, nervously saying today is not a good day to try and make it to the camp of over 100,000 Syrian refugees. Upon our arrival back, we meet the incoming group of volunteers for next week’s deliveries and visitations. Before taking my ride to the Amman airport from a local family, I make one last trip to the unfinished rooftop making up the building’s fourth floor. Looking across the city to the Syria, I think about the Jordanian bombers that flew and banked over the border leaving smoke plumes in the distance hours before.
During the hour ride to the airport, I process the interactions, cultural differences, and surprising similarity in human relations. Teenage girls gossip in texts, fathers take pride in their crafts and workmanship, grandmothers dote on their grandchildren and mothers brag on their children. Although many of us are divided by loyalties to societal standards and ideologies, schools of thought that conflict—the basic respect for humanity surrounding the refugees in Jordan is notable.
The UNA EO blog is a collective venture. The purpose of this blog is to highlight meaningful experiences had by Americans in Eastern Oklahoma as well as to promote diplomacy in our home state.