Bonian Golmohammadi: WFUNA – World Federation of UN Associations

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization working for a stronger and more effective United Nations. Established in 1946, WFUNA represents and coordinates today a membership of over 100 United Nations Associations and their thousands of members. Guided by our vision of a United Nations that is a powerful force in meeting common global challenges and opportunities, WFUNA works to strengthen and improve the United Nations. We achieve this through the engagement of people who share a global mindset and support international cooperation: global citizens. We actively collaborate with our core constituents – the national United Nations Associations, with the United Nations, civil society organizations, governments, philanthropies, universities and the business sector.

After working for 8 years as Secretary-General of the United Nations Association of Sweden, I was elected Secretary General of WFUNA, at the 39th WFUNA Plenary Assembly, in August 2009. Every three years United Nations Associations from all corners of the world gather to discuss their work within the framework of the Federation. In 2009, WFUNA’s 39th PA took place in Seoul, Republic of Korea. In this occasion, a new President for the Federation was also elected, Ambassador Park Soo Gil of the Republic of Korea, who succeeds our former President, Mr Hans Blix

At the 39th Plenary, we launched our latest campaign: The Global Citizens Campaign. The Global Citizens campaign aims at underscoring the interconnectedness of global issues and of all peoples; promoting democratic problem-solving of global issues; and educating and engaging the youth of today to be leaders and world citizens. The Campaign comprises of a series of programs, which address today’s main global challenges.

We work through three sets of strategies: Education and Awareness; Policy Development and Advocacy; and Multilateral Cooperation and development projects, relating to the UN’s main pillars of peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. Within the context of the Global Citizens Campaign we have developed several programs addressing today’s challenges in climate change; realization of the MDGs; implementation of human rights; prevention of genocide and gross human rights violations; and promotion of effective engagement of civil society in the work of the UN.

Go Beyond is a program that aims at finding innovative and collaborative solutions for climate change by bringing together major international corporations, UNAs, global citizens and consumers. Our goal is to alter the consumption behavior of individuals towards a climate responsible lifestyle. As current trends indicate that no African country will achieve the Goals by 2015 our YOUth Impact Africa project addresses the troubling status of the MDGs through youth-led community projects. The project raises awareness about the Goals and empowers African youth to become change agents themselves. Civil Society in Action for Human Rights allows United Nations Associations to take an active part in UN mechanisms for monitoring human rights. Through training seminars, WFUNA focuses on capacity-building and democracy by providing the necessary tools for UNAs to monitor and check their government’s behavior and write reports to notify the UN system. The Responsibility to Protect, also known as R2P, is a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. WFUNA’s peace and security programme implements an advocacy movement for mobilizing public and political will in support of this crucial international norm. The creation of a functioning civil society is a precondition for sustainable development. We have developed a Training Course for Civil Society that better trains NGOs, such as UNA Croatia, on how to navigate through the UN system. The curriculum provides practical knowledge, advice and guidance to NGOs who wish to constructively and effectively engage with the UN system.

Since its establishment in 1946, WFUNA has strived to connect people of all ages with the work of the United Nations. To that end, we have made a consistent effort to integrate a diverse range of youth-related activities into our core programming. On 12 August 2010, the UN inaugurated the first International Year of Youth (IYY) under the theme: Dialogue and Mutual understanding. In celebration of the IYY, we have enhanced our youth-specific programming, and we are currently implementing several initiatives.

WFUNA recently published a handbook which aims to facilitate youth engagement in decision making at the United Nations. To date, only 25 nations include young representatives to their General Assembly delegations. WFUNA’s Handbook, produced in collaboration with UNFPA, and the UN Youth Program, provides information on the youth delegate program, and how young people can lobby their governments to adopt one. To build the capacity of our existing youth network, we launched a Youth Seminar Series. The seminars train UNA Youth members in project management; 5 seminars are going to be held throughout the International Year of Youth. This year we were, once again, a main partner for the UN’s Global Model UN conference, held in August in Kuala Lumpur. Over 350 students participated from over 50 countries around the world. WFUNA’s new three-year international disarmament advocacy program, Zero World, is designed to engage and mobilize young people in efforts towards a world without weapons. Our internship programme provides young people with the opportunity to work in a supportive and creative environment in which interns develop professional skills, taking full advantage of a working and learning experience with a global NGO at the United Nations. In the past 5 years, WFUNA has hosted over 100 interns from 40 different countries.

Bonian Golmohammadi, glavni tajnik WFUNA-e

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