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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 78, No. 3, March 2002

Making Our Voices Heard — Making Our Votes Count

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President’s Corner
News from the Units
Member News
Education Committee
Congressional Representation
Mail Delivery -- DC Voter
Homeless Children and Hard Choices
National Program Planning Results from Unit Discussions
Health Care: CareFirst (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) Conversion
International Relations Committee
The Council for Court Excellence Report on January 28, 2002, Brown Bag Dialogue
Highlights of Feb. 6, 2002, Board Meeting
National Capital Area LWV News
Opportunity Knocks
Great Decisions Discussions: Columbia and Drug Trafficking
Calendar: March 2002
Great Decisions Discussion Meetings in March
UN Wrap Up for Year 2001, Doris Schapira


The League of Women Voters celebrates the 82nd Founders Day this month.

We have received from National the results of the National and District of Columbia Election Administration survey performed by local League members. LWVDC report determined the election procedures are working very well in D.C. and it is felt these opinions are shared by most local election officials. More public attention and money are the most effective solutions for the existing problems. We will use them as guidelines for election planning. Key National findings were in four categories: voters do not have consistent and reliable access to voting; tabulation of results is not consistent and reliable; election workers are not given the support they need to successfully; and, communication between election officials and voters is insufficient.

In addition to full voting representation in Congress, members attending LWVDC Unit meetings on National Program Planning also proposed the following positions of special interest: Campaign Finance Reform, Health Care, and Civil Liberties.

A Call by LWVUS to National Convention has been received. The convention will be held in Miami, FL., June 15=18, 2002.

The LWVDC Annual Dinner Meeting will be held on April 25nd. See page 7 for more information. Mr. Walter Smith, Executive Director of D.C. Appleseed has accepted our invitation to be our guest speaker.

UDC has arranged for students to assist us as interns. They will be involved in attending hearings and meetings to perform oversight, and assisting Jeanette Miller in researching data to update KYDC, which is a text used in their class.

DNet, LWV Democracy Network, coverage of election 2002 has been launched. LWVUS has received funding for DNet, thus we can plan and proceed to include it in our voter education efforts. — E. Patricia Hallman, President

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At 10 am on March 8, 2002
1730 M STREET, NW, SUITE 1000
Republican Staff Director, US Senate Caucus
on International Narcotics Control
(See below for more information)

General Meeting "The UN and YOU"
At 12 noon on March 15, 2002
The Sumner School Lecture Hall
1201 17th Street, NW
Dr. Andrew Rice, President, UNA-NCA
Ms. Dawn Calubia, Deputy Dir., UN Info Center
Mr. Steve Dimoff, VP, UNA of the USA
(See insert "What Does the United Nations Do For Me?)

Plan to attend the LWVDC 82nd Annual Dinner Meeting April 25, 2002

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There will be no Unit meetings until April, but that doesn't mean the Units are not busy! Joan Domike, Chair of the Evening Unit, reports that its Wine and Cheese Tasting Party held on February 8th at the apartment of Geri Albers was a social and financial success, raising $517 for the general fund of LWVDC. For only $12 each some 36 members and friends enjoyed the camaraderie of the event and the beautiful view of the Cathedral at sunset, as well as the variety of good wines, excellent cheeses, plus other goodies. Elaine Melmed was the winner of the raffled bottle of fine California cabernet sauvignon donated by Julie Domike. Our thanks to event chair Geri Albers, to the members of the Unit who donated the wine and cheese, and, to our hosts Geri and Don Albers; thanks also go to Sheila Willet for the handsome flyers.

Next on the list of Unit fund-raisers is the brown bag lunch to be provided by the Upper 16th Street Unit at the General Meeting on the UN, March 15 (see IR Committee report). — Sheila Keeny, Unit Director (966-1692)

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It is with sorrow that we announce the death of Margery Eliot, an active member of the DC League in the 1970s and '80s. Margery, a geographer and a member of the Society of Women Geographers, is fondly remembered by her many friends in the League for her capable and cheerful leadership in several capacities: as a Vice President, as Unit Council Chair and Membership Chair, and as overseer of the Voter Mailing, among other activities. 

Welcome New Members: Joining the local DC League: Mildred W. Goodman, Audrey H. Gray, Micaela Mendelsohn, Susan Drake Smith.

Contributions: Frank Daspit, Jean Fleming, Roberta Johnson, Marian Mlay, Kristin Moore, Nelson Rimensnyder & Lisa M. Nickerson, Susan Smith Sedgewick (in memory of Esther Monson), and Walter O. Jacobson.

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The Experience Corps has a success story that needs repetition throughout the city. The volunteers of this program have successfully mobilized time, talent, and wisdom of adults 55 and over on behalf of children in our public schools. The volunteers serve as reading and math tutors in five elementary schools in this city, by giving girls and boys time and attention. The results are increased levels of reading and math. Roberta Keller, the Recruiting Specialist for Experience Corps, challenges League members to volunteer as tutors. The Corps provides training and support. Already there is a waiting list of children who have requested tutors to meet with them for the 2002-2003 school year. Let us put children first. For more information, call Constance Tate (882-0387) & Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Co-chairs

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Amy Slemmer has resigned as DC Vote's executive director as of January 31; 2002. While DC vote reorganizes and looks for a new director, the office manager will continue to answer inquiries, fill orders, relay messages, and call meetings.

LWVDC member Hope Bogorad is facilitating participation of DC Vote in the, National Legislative Seminar of Delta Kappa Gamma This is the first time that DC Vote has been asked to do outreach to a national meeting other than the League of Women Voters. Any similar contacts will help educate citizens from other states about our plight. If you are a member of an organization holding a national meeting in the District please let us know about it.

A day of Hill lobbying for DC voting rights is planned for late summer and a second "Bonfire of the 1040s" will be held April 15. Watch for time and place.

Sweet Honey & the Rock granted DC Vote the rights to its two song CD. One of the songs is about full voting rights for DC citizens. It can be ordered by calling DC Vote at 202-462-6000. — Kathy Schmidt, DC VOTE Liaison (237-5550)

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Mail Delivery -- DC VOTER

The VOTER mailing committee continues to work on problems of delivery to our members. We have been told that bulk mail can take two weeks to arrive. We mail out the VOTER the third or fourth Friday of each preceding month. If you have not received it by the seventh day of the month it is dated, please leave a message for me at the League Office [347-3020], with your name and zip code. We'll take it from there, and try to ensure your timely receipt of the VOTER. — Barbara Luchs 363-0853

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Members of the Children-at-Risk Task Force are making headway with this year's study of homeless children. In a recent week, they: 1) audited a meeting of emergency shelter providers entreating city officials for more emergency shelter space; 2) met with the director of Valley View Apartments, a new transitional housing facility; 3) interviewed the director of shelter for women and families at the Center for Creative Non-Violence; and 4) toured the Community of Hope Belmont facility to observe a tutoring program of DC Public Schools.

What has been ascertained on the basis of these and other site visits (and thanks are due to the Free Legal Clinic for the Homeless for facilitating these visits) is the imperative need for the city to immediately identify additional emergency shelter space. The existing facilities are currently at capacity, and the hypothermia season has only just begun.

What has also been learned is less clear-cut. There are many reasons for the current upswing in homelessness, including the recession and the massive lay-off of hotel workers following September 11. Of primary concern is the growing shortage of affordable housing. The probability of new housing becoming available in the immediate future is virtually nil. It will take several years at best for the recently legislated Trust Production Fund to produce new housing. Meantime gentrification is squeezing existing stock.

Even more challenging is the issue of whether limited city funds should be spent for emergency shelter or for the social service programs that prevent homelessness in the first place, such as substance abuse programs, treatment of mental illness and job training, not to mention income support.

Many experts contend that building more emergency shelter creates a cyclical demand for even more shelter programs. Government dollars, they contend, are better spent on mental health, substance abuse, and job training, for example. But what society can long tolerate citizens living on the sidewalk?

At a time when government budgets are flat, there is not much hope for massive public housing, transitional, permanent, or emergency. The homeless in this city will remain dependent to a major degree on the network of resources maintained by churches and private non-profits. There are many well-managed and motivated programs in Washington, but they lack the coordination, funding, and capacity to accommodate the needs of the swelling numbers of homeless and extremely poor families.

The Task Force will continue its study with the goal of identifying some measures the League can realistically work towards to ameliorate the plight of homeless children. The Task Force welcomes the help of any members who are equally outraged that in the capital of the richest nation in the history of the world there are children without a roof. Surely there is something we can do to help them. — Joan Wilson. (237-6264) Co-chair Children At Risk

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The views gathered from Unit discussions in January were considered by the DC Board at its February 6 meeting and reported to LWVUS. The consensus was to retain all positions, although restudy was proposed for Election of the President, especially the Electoral College. As to the three areas of special interest, first we stressed that Full Voting Representation in Congress for DC is a fundamental goal relevant to everything else; then the specific topics proposed were campaign finance reform, healthcare, and protection of civil liberties. Your Board will keep in mind the full range of other topics of interest identified in the reports from the Units, including those for consideration when planning our own local program for the two-year cycle that starts next year. —

Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice President

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The following letter dated January 22, 2002, was sent to Commissioner Mirel, DC Department of Insurance & Securities Regulation, with copies to Mr. Robert R. Rigsby, Corporation Counsel; Mrs. Linda Cropp, Chair of the D.C. Council; and Mr. Walter Smith, Director of NCA CareFirst Watch:

Dear Commissioner Mirel:

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia urges you to carefully review the proposed conversion of non-profit Blue Cross/Blue Shield to forprofit status. We question whether or not such a conversion would benefit the citizens of the District and the surrounding metropolitan area. The assets of CareFirst were created through charitable sources and favorable public tax and regulatory treatment. Thus the mission of this nonprofit states a commitment to community service.

We strongly urge you to collaborate with your peers in Maryland and Delaware to scrutinize the operation of CareFirst and enforce its commitment to providing access to good health care to the entire community.

We further hope that you will soon schedule public hearings to begin the process of informing and involving citizens in examining the issues.

The D.C. League of Women Voters is a member of the National Capital Area CareFirst Watch coalition. We strongly approve the coalition's goal of ensuring that the proposed conversion be scrutinized closely by regulators and not approved if it is harmful to the public interest.

Please notify us of any programs, hearings, or sessions aimed at educating the public on this issue. Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations.

Sincerely yours, E. Patricia Hallman, President The 

Healthcare Committee will meet Tuesday, March 26 at 10:30 am at the LWVDC Office. — Natalie Howard (882-8762), Chair

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INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE REPORT: The IR program offers many opportunities for any LWV member to learn about our complex world by attending a General Meeting and taking part in reaching a new League position in international affairs, or by attending a Great Decisions discussion session. Be sure to check the enclosed blue notice for details of upcoming meetings open to all League members and friends.

TRADE CONCURRENCE: First, a report from Janet Burmester, LWVUS Task Force and IR committee member, who conducted a discussion of the proposed trade concurrence at a general meeting on February 12. Twenty-two members attended; we discussed the issues addressed by the new position, how it differs from the old 1973 position, and then voted individually by completing the tear-off ballots printed in the December/January National Voter. Those who did not join us at Sumner School on February 12 and who have not yet voted are urged to vote immediately by mail, fax, or e-mail, as directed in the National Voter. Mailed votes must bear your name, address, and League, and must be postmarked by March 18; members have until March 22 to vote on-line or by fax.

UNITED NATIONS: Committee Co-Chair Anne Porowski has arranged a General Meeting on The UN and You to be held at the Sumner School on Friday, March 15. A panel of distinguished speakers (see flyer for details) will update our members on current issues before the UN as we prepare for Unit Meetings in April on the proposed new UN position. The speakers' presentations will begin promptly at noon; if you want to come early for a brown bag lunch prepared by the Upper 16th St. Unit as a LWVDC fund-raiser, use the tear-off on the enclosed flyer. Lunch begins at 11:30.

GREAT DECISIONS: COLOMBIA AND DRUG TRAFFICKING is the subject of the March 8 (10 to noon) of our Great Decisions discussion group. The meeting will be held in the Board Room at LWVUS Headquarters, 1730 M St., NW. Enlightening our discussion will be an expert guest, William J. Olson, Republican Staff Director, U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Guests are particularly welcome. The Great Decisions meeting of March 22 will be led by past IR Committee Co-Chair Susan Rao, who has lived in India and is married to a native of that country. It will take place in the Lounge at Ingleside Community, 2050 Military Rd., NW, from 10-noon. To join the group, or for further information, call Great Decisions coordinator Hope Marindin at 966-6367. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692) Co-Chair

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The Council for Court Excellence (CCE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic organization that has been working since 1982 to improve the administration of justice in the courts and related agencies in the Washington metropolitan area, and to increase public understanding of the justice system. Staff members Peter Willner and Priscilla Skillman, and Board member Linda L. Bostick spoke about the Council's projects and purposes. Other guests present at the dialogue were Bob Echols, LWVUS staff member who works on the League's Judicial Independence study, as well as two intems at the CCE. Anna Marsh, convener of the dialogues this year, served as moderator.

Linda Bostick, a citizen of the District of Columbia who serves on the Board of CCE, described the Court Community Observers Project that took place in a three-month period beginning in February 2001. Participants in that project observed the environment of the courthouse, including some 15 judges in the Civil Division, and copies of a report and recommendations prepared by the staff on the basis of the volunteer observations were provided. Ms. Bostick commented that the observers were welcomed; she said the courts want to improve and appreciated the project. Nine League members served as observers in the project. See your September 2001 DC VOTER for a report by Leaguer Nathalie Black on the experience.

Some of the significant findings that grew out of the observers' reports on the Civil Division were inadequate signage at the metro stop and inside the courthouse, to help locate courtrooms as well as the childcare facility.

The report included recommendations for improvement relating to these and other observations.

Peter Willner described current concerns being addressed by CCE; for example, efforts to reform the foster care system and the excessive cost of police overtime for criminal hearings.

The CCE is beginning a new Court Community Observers Project as of January 28, 2002, to continue for three months. They hope to observe each of the 40 judges in the criminal court at least 10 times each focusing on Criminal calendars, Arraignment Court, and the Criminal Division Clerk's office. The CCE's plan is to replicate this pilot project later in other sections of the Superior Court and in the US District Court for DC.

Priscilla Skillman of the CCE staff emphasized the importance of these projects, reminding us that the courts are one-third of our three branches of government - citizens need to focus their perspective on the Judicial as well as the Legislative and Executive branches.

Addressing the questions (a) how was the CCE founded? and (b) how is it funded?, Ms. Skillman said (a) the DC Bar decided to look at a study published under the auspices of Senator Mathias during the 70s to assess whether its recommendations were being effected; and (b) CCE funding is derived from membership dues, fund raisers, and foundation grants. Ms. Skillman works in foster care as a facilitator between the famil court, social service agencies, and the Corporation Counsel.

There is a need for administrative law judges to be independent of the government agency involved in hearings. The state of Maryland has been operating a central hearing panel for 10 years to foster such independence. The DC Council passed a law creating a central hearing panel, two years after the study. That legislation is now before the U.S. Congress. (Note: Administrative law judges work for the Executive branch, while other judges work for the Judicial branch of government.)

A questioner asked what are the prospects for allocating funds for the recommended changes. The reply was that funds for the recommended changes, for example, the improvements in signage, certainly can be made available from the budget of the Superior Court. It was noted that the D.C. Superior Court have been totally funded by federal funds for the past four years.

Bob Echols of the LWVUS staff commented on the LWVUS Judicial Independence project, which is just ending its first year. Leagues involved are working to identify potential threats to judicial independence at both state and local levels. He is working on a report that will be available on the LWVUS web site ( when completed. He noted some similarities with the CCE work, for example, the Omaha LWV had a Courts Watch. Ms. Skillman noted that the CCE is also interested in Federal Courts, and may initiate a project next year. — Frances Gemmill (362-6784)

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Anna Marsh, as Chair of the Nominating Committee, reported partial success, but said we still need a candidate for First Vice President.

Plans for 82nd Annual Meeting (April 25, 2002): Walter Smith, Executive Director of DC Appleseed, has accepted our invitation to speak at this annual meeting. LWVDC has worked with DC Appleseed on issues including the DC Council, DC charter revisions, and the proposed conversion of CareFirst from nonprofit to for-profit. Walter Smith has spearheaded the formation of the CareFirst coalition.

Upcoming Voter Service activities include a demonstration of the new voting machine and voter registration during parentteacher conferences at the School Without Walls on February 13. The following actions relating to Voter Service were taken by the Education Fund Trustees: The EF Trustees approved a proposal to spend up to $20 for tabletop exhibits to be displayed at high school voter registration activities and the D.C. Bar Youth Law Fair. The Trustees also approved a motion directing the Voter Service Committee to investigate LWVDC acting as coordinator of a series of mayoral forums and cosponsor of a city-wide Council forum. Elaine Melmed will ensure that the cost of printing 10,000 voter service brochures is underwritten. The estimated cost is $900.

DC VOTE: Kathy Schmidt reported that Amy Slemmer has resigned as Executive Director of DC Vote, and a search for a new Director has begun. There is new hope for Congressional hearings in late summer, and DC VOTE is still planning the annual protest on April 15th against "Taxation Without Representation".

National Program Planning: Barbara Yeomans presented the results of the February Program Planning Units for Board approval prior to transmittal to LWVUS.

Affordable Housing: Liz Martin said the members of the Housing Committee who worked so hard and made a difference in the January 2002 Affordable Housing legislation deserve highest appreciation, and this statement was greeted with applause by the Board. The Housing Committee will meet with Eric Price of the Mayor's office on February 19 to learn about the Mayor's plans for the Housing Trust. President Hallman met with Dr. Clarence Davis, Professor of History at UDC, regarding potential interns to work with LWVDC. — Frances Gemill

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REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION STUDY: Entitled The Future of Transportation Planning in the Washington Metropolitan Area, this NCA general meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 2, from 9:30 to noon, at the headquarters of the Council of Governments (COG), 777 North Capitol Street, N.E. (Union Station Metro stop). All Leaguers are invited to attend. The speaker will be John Mason, mayor of the City of Fairfax, immediate past chairman of COG's Transportation Planning Board and representative to the federal Metropolitan Planning Organization. The meeting will be held in the COG Training Room on the ground floor and will focus on the findings from the LWV local League meetings held throughout the NCA area in the fall of 2001.

NCA ANNUAL MEETING: When? Saturday, May 18, 9:30 a.m., at the Marriott at Metro Center: registration at 9:30 a.m., breakfast at 10:00. Program by the Alliance for Better Campaigns. Registration fee, $25 (which is less than cost!) .Make sure it's on your calendar. NCA Nominations: The Committee (Liz Martin, chair, Mary Elizabeth Gordon, Arlene Calaby, Jan Dring, and Jean Sagan) has found candidates for most of the upcoming Board vacancies. Still heeded: one director (Maryland preferred) and the Nominating Committee Chair Virginia preferred). Call a Committee member to volunteer or suggest a candidate.

NATIONAL CONVENTION (JUNE 14-18): LWVUS Convention: Speakers - At its February meeting the NCA Board decided to ask LWVUS to limit the number of convention speakers, to avoid the last-day time crunch that marred Convention 2000. Citing the concurrence of all NCA member-League presidents, President Barbara Sherrill sent the letter to each National Director. A copy to each of the related listserves invited Leaguers nationwide to endorse our request. Pre-Convention Dialog - NCA will conduct a meeting (date to be determined) for delegates and other interest Leaguers to discuss the Convention program and administrative matters that will come up at the Miami Convention. Details will be coming to member-League presidents.

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The League of Women Voters has been aptly described as a "University Without Walls," that is to say, when a League's members decide to study an issue, at the national, regional, state, or local level, the issue will be studied thoroughly, with opportunities for all members to participate.

Here in D.C., our local studies are truly proceeding in this pattern, and tuition is free. We are approaching the end of the first year of four local studies that were adopted at the Annual Meeting in April 2001. The issues are: Affordable Housing, Children At Risk, Education, and Healthcare. All of these studies are providing regular meetings that are rich in learning opportunities. If you want to know what's what on these issues, call Elizabeth Martin or Julia Cuniberti (Housing), Joan Wilson or Joan Domike (Children At Risk), Connie Tate or Gladys Weaver (Education), or Natalie Howard (Healthcare) and involve yourself in learning adventures through one of these committees. This could be one of the best courses you ever have taken.

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The implementation of Plan Colombia, the U.S. initiative to help eradicate the thriving drug trafficking in that country, presents many strategic and ethical problems for Americans and Colombians. How do we combat American drug users who purchase mind-numbing quantities of Columbian cocaine and heroin, indirectly supporting armed groups on the left and the right who feed off the trade? Colombia is the world's third-largest recipient of American aid, just after Israel and Egypt. How effective is this aid?

Dr. William J. Olson is in the middle of the debate and will lead our discussion. Before joining the U.S. Senate Caucus he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Narcotics Matters at the Department of State and has also served as Director for Low Intensity Conflict in the Department of Defense.

Join us on Friday, March 8 from 10 am to noon at 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000.

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82nd Annual Dinner Meeting
When: Thursday, April 25, 2002, 5:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Kellog Convention Center

Watch for March 13th mailing! Members attending the 82nd Annual Meeting will elect three officers and three board members as well as approve the 20022003 budget. The nominating committee report, the proposed budget and a flyer/reservation form for the dinner will be mailed to DC League members on March 13th.

A buffet dinner will follow the annual meeting. The keynote speaker will be Walter Smith, Executive Director of DC Appleseed. Chairs will be available to members who wish to attend the annual meeting and not stay for the dinner.

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          1 2 9:30-noon, NCA Reg. Trans. Study
3 4 5 6 10 am, LWVDC Board Meeting 7 8 10 am, Great Decisions #4; Speaker: Dr. Williams Olson 9
10 11 12 Deadline for April DC Voter 13 10 am, Education Comm. Mtg. Special Mailing for Annual Meeting 14 15 12 noon-2 pm, General Meeting United Nations 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 10 am, Great Decisions Discussion #5
April DC Voter Mailed
24 25 26 10:30 am, HealthCare Comm. Mtg. 27 28 29 30

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Friday, March 8: Colombia and Drug Trafficking
10 - noon Special Guest: William J. Olson, Republican Staff Director,
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Location: LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street, NW, 10th Floor
Metro - Farragut North

Colombia is the preeminent source of drugs for this hemisphere and, increasingly, Europe. The role of the U.S. in supporting attempts by the Colombian government and its military forces to suppress this traffic means that this is an on-going U.S. problem.

Guests are particularly welcome at this session of Great Decisions.

Friday, March 22: India Today: a rising democracy
10 - noon Discussion leader: Susan Rao, past Co-Chair, International Relations Committee, who has lived in India and whose husband is a native of that country.

Location: The Lounge, Ingleside Community
3050 Military Road, NW

The flare-up of hostile relations between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and the fact that each country has, and has tested, nuclear missiles make this a renewed source of concern.

Great Decisions is a nation-wide educational program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association. LWVDC has been a participant for many years. This year's program will continue on a bi-monthly basis into May. If you are interested in joining the group and/or purchasing a briefing book with chapters on each of the eight current topics, call Great Decisions Coordinator Hope Marindin at 966-6367.

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UN WRAP UP for Year 2001
Doris Schapira
UN Observer for the League of Women Voters

Within days of the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Congress finally recognized the value of the United Nations. They quickly confirmed the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and the House voted to pay $582 million in back dues.

Nobel Peace Prize for 2001

Hailed for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world," the United Nations and its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001. The Laureates attending the ceremony said:. "We look forward to a world in which the peoples, working in cooperation with governments, with full respect for international law, will enable the UN to fulfill its mission to save this and succeeding generations from the scourge of war." They also called for the prompt establishment of the International Criminal Court, the non-violent pursuit of peace and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

UN Ambassador 

John Negroponte was confirmed without dissent by the Senate in a voice vote and was sworn in as United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations on September 18, 2001. From 1960 to 1997, Ambassador Negroponte was a member of the Career Foreign Service. He served at eight different ' Foreign Service posts in Asia, Europe and Latin America; and he also held important positions at the State Department and the White House. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned Mr. Negroponte for hours on "his allegedly lax reporting of human rights abuses in Honduras" while Ambassador there.

UN Funding 

The President signed the bill authorizing payment of $582 million in dues arrears on October 5. On November 12, the United States paid $475 million towards its peacekeeping arrears. On November 20, Congress approved funds to meet the $266.2 million assessment for the regular UN budget for calendar year 2001. Of this amount, $100 million will be withheld pending a certification by the Administration that "the UN had taken no action during calendar year 2001. . . to cause it to exceed the adopted budget for the biennium 2000-01." The legislation also includes $32 million for the U.S. assessed share of the work of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. U.S. assessed contributions to the UN regular budget are down from last year's level of $299 million, reflecting the agreement of the General Assembly to reduce the U.S. assessed share from 25 percent to 22 percent.

Language that would prohibit the use of U.S. funds for cooperation or assistance to the International Criminal Court was adopted on a voice vote. This precludes the United States from making a financial contribution to the work of the Court during the course of FY 2002.

Commission on the Status of Women

The 46th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be held from March 4-15, 2002, at New York Headquarters. At this session the Commission will consider the following two thematic issues: "Eradicating poverty, including through the empowerment of women throughout their life cycle in a globalizing world" and "Environmental management and mitigation of natural disasters: a gender perspective."

At its 45th session last March; the Commission focused on two themes: "Women, the girl child and
HIV/AIDS" and "Gender and all forms of discrimination, in particular racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance."


he Special Session of the General Assembly on Children was to have taken place in September 2001 but was postponed after the September 11 tragedy. It is expected to take place in May 2002 and will bring together government leaders, NGOs, children's advocates and young people in New York. The final preparatory meetings became bogged down when the U.S. delegation objected to the format that had been decided on at previous preparatory meetings. Their objection was that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was to be the basis of the agreed text. The administration is opposing the Convention, which the Clinton Administration signed but the Senate never ratified. The US and Somalia are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the treaty.

In 1990, 71 Heads of State and Government and other leaders signed the World Declaration on Survival, Protection and Development of Children and adopted a Plan of Action to achieve a set of precise, timebound goals. The commitment to these goals has helped move children and child rights to a more central place on the world's agenda. The Special Session is to be a follow-up to the 1990 World Summit.


The following is excerpted from the UN website ( The United Nations has long been active in the fight against international terrorism. Its first anti-terrorism treaty was in 1963. Immediately after the attack, on September 11 it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the United States and called on all States to work together urgently to bring the perpetrators to justice. In earlier resolutions, it demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban authorities act swiftly to close all camps where terrorists are trained. It unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, and called on Member States to adopt specific measures. It demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden to appropriate authorities so that he can be brought to justice.

Treaties The United States refused to attend the UN Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on November 11. The United States had been invited as a conference observer, since we have not ratified the treaty.

War Tribunals and ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will try individuals charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Forty-three out of the sixty countries required for the court to begin functioning have so far ratified the ICC treaty. The United States signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but the Bush Administration has said it will not ratify it, claiming that the Statute is unacceptable unless it exempts American service members and American civilian officials. The ICC is expected to begin by summer of 2002. Until then, the world relies on ad hoc war tribunals, such as the tribunal now prosecuting former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.


The UN Security Council approved a six-month International Security Force on December 19 to assist the interim government in Afghanistan in protecting Kabul and surrounding areas. This followed meetings conducted by the UN in Bonn, Germany, to help Afghanistan to establish the interim government.

Your LWVUS Observers are at the UN to represent you and to share information with you about the UN.

Send mail with questions or comments to
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