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
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
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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GREAT DECISIONS DISCUSSION PRESENTS
"COLOMBIA & DRUG TRAFFICKING"
At 10 am on March 8, 2002
1730 M STREET, NW, SUITE 1000
SPEAKER: WILLIAM OLSON,
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
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
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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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
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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HEALTH CARE: CAREFIRST (BLUE CROSS/BLUE
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
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
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
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
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 (www.lwv.org)
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
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
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
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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GREAT DECISIONS DISCUSSIONS: COLOMBIA
AND DRUG TRAFFICKING
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 MeetingWatch 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.
When: Thursday, April 25, 2002, 5:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Kellog Convention Center
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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9:30-noon, NCA Reg. Trans. Study
||6 10 am,
LWVDC Board Meeting
||8 10 am,
Great Decisions #4; Speaker: Dr. Williams Olson
for April DC Voter
||13 10 am,
Education Comm. Mtg. Special Mailing for Annual Meeting
noon-2 pm, General Meeting United Nations
||22 10 am,
Great Decisions Discussion #5
April DC Voter Mailed
am, HealthCare Comm. Mtg.
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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
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.
Metro - Farragut North
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.
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.
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.
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UN WRAP UP for Year 2001
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
UN Observer for the League of Women Voters
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
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.
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
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
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
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 (www.un.org/News/dh/latest/intreaterror.htm):
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
Your LWVUS Observers are at the UN to represent you and to share
information with you about the UN.