United Nations Brooklyn Chapter Annual Meeting/Holiday Party
Event Summary: The UNA Brooklyn annual meeting will be called for Monday, December 15th, at 6:30p. The meeting will be one hour, which will be followed by holiday party with food and drinks.
I’m pleased to attach our chapter secretary’s report on our 2011 annual meeting. It was a very productive meeting. Thank you to Professor Lester Wilson from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, for hosting the meeting. Here is a list of our officers and board members (new board members in bold) for 2012:
Officers (also board members)
Gabriel Levitt, president
Carla Hung, vice president
Peg Byron, secretary
Natia Matiashueli, treasurer.
From Left: Latvian UN Ambassador Normans Penke; UNA Brooklyn Chapter President, Gabriel Levitt, UN Advanced Graduate Certificate Program Director Professor Lester Wilson
Last Wednesday, March 16th, as part of efforts to raise public awareness about the United Nations, the United Nations Association Brooklyn Chapter was honored to co-host Ambassador Normans Penke, Permanent Representative from Latvia to the UN, as a guest speaker at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus, in Downtown Brooklyn. The event also was co-hosted by LIU’s UN Graduate Advanced Certificate Program as part of its Distinguished Speaker’s Series.
Ambassador Penke’s talk centered on Latvian’s historical development as a sovereign state and on how concepts of national self-determination and of multilateralism together contributed to its gaining independence. Since the Middle Ages Latvia found itself under the domination of foreign powers, such as Germany, Sweden, Poland and Russia. It first obtained independence in 1921 only to fall soon thereafter under the Soviet sphere during World War II.
Ambassador Penke spoke of the political ethos of national self-determination, as espoused by President Woodrow Wilson, which brought a short-lived independence to Latvia and the other Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania. However, as Ambassador Penke explained, what engendered Latvia’s more recent re-birth and security were modern multilateral institutions of the Post-World War II era: the United Nations and later the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
After a politically volatile period starting in the late 1980s, through which Latvians struggled in a tug of war with a disintegrating Soviet Union, Latvia regained its independence in 1991. On September 17 of that year, it became a member of the United Nations, which according to Ambassador Penke said was widely celebrated in Latvia.
Ambassador Penke commented that UN accomplishments seem to go under-reported and unrecognized in the United States in comparison with the European Union, where UN success stories are more frequently found in the newspapers of European capitals. This should not come as a surprise, as most states of Europe, such as Latvia, are part of the world’s most developed multilateral polity – the EU – and are therefore more comfortable with mutltilateralism generally. The United States is historically skeptical of international institutions, despite its global interests and involvement, and role in creating the UN. These contrasting attitudes toward mutlilateralism reflect the contrast in media coverage found in the US and EU.
The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer period, and refreshments, providing the opportunity to meet and talk further with the ambassador.
Among approximately 40 people attending the event were members of the UNA Brooklyn Chapter, residents of the Latvian-American community, professors of international affairs and political science, LIU graduate students, and others sharing interests in the views of the UN ambassador and in the United Nations Association.
Attendees seemed very enthusiastic about Ambassador Penke’s presentation and motivated to participate in future UNA programs and events.
UNA Brooklyn Chapter member Peg Byron and Professor Lester Wilson, director of LIU’s UN Graduate Certificate Program, deserve special credit for their roles in planning the event. Thanks as well to chapter Vice President Carla Hung, Secretary Bob Worth, and new member Adam Grabowski. Finally, thanks to chapter member Uldis Blukis for making the evening possible by reaching out to Ambassador Penke.
Our gratitude is extended to the Latvian Mission to the UN for lending its ambassador to us for a wonderful evening. The greatest thanks is reserved for Ambassador Normans Penke for taking the time to meet with our chapter and sharing his experience and wisdom.
The Reckoning Screening Followup
What a success!
I want to extend my thanks to all those who attended our screening and signed the AMICC (American NGO Coalition for the ICC) action letter urging the Obama administration to announce a policy offering strong American support and cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The following is a link to the AMICC blog post about the recent statement issued by the Ambassador for War Crimes Stephen Rapp at the resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC last Tuesday!