history of the united nationsThe name United Nations (U.N.) was coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was first used on January 1, 1942 in the Declaration by the United Nations. Twenty-six nations pledged to continue resistance against the Axis powers in the Declaration by the United Nations. Though the name was coined in 1942, the United Nations did not become official until 1945.

A key event in the history of the United Nations is the San Francisco conference, which convened on April 25, 1945. The conference was presided over by Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. Fifty nations were represented at this conference, most of which were from the North, Central, and South American republics.

The nations met in San Francisco to draw up the U.N. Charter, which was signed on June 26, 1945. However, the U.N. did not officially come into existence until October 24, 1945 when the majority of the signatories ratified the Charter. The charter did not come into force until this date because the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — ratified it.

The main goal of the U.N. Security Council is to maintain international peace, which was among the original aims that many nations had in mind when founding the U.N. Of the five permanent members of the Security Council, all but France were intended to serve as the enforcers of peace, as claimed by Roosevelt. The other allied nations were tasked with establishing other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to aid the U.N. in its tasks.

Prior to the creation of the U.N., another organization, the League of Nations, existed with a similar goal of achieving peace and promoting international cooperation. The 58-member League of Nations was established under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. After failing to prevent the Second World War, the League of Nations ceased its activities. Thus, the history of the United Nations began, as many countries saw the necessity for a more successful international organization.

Prior to the more well-known San Francisco conference was the Quebec conference of August 1943. During this conference, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden decided to begin drafting a declaration calling for an international organization.

Since its creation, the U.N. has addressed many global issues, such as women’s rights, children’s rights and the refugee crisis. Keeping in mind its original goal of maintaining world peace, the U.N. created the U.N. Emergency Force (UNEF) on November 7, 1956. The UNEF, as well as many other organizations and individuals, have been awarded Nobel Peace Prizes.

Today, U.N. membership totals 193 countries and includes almost every single recognized independent state. The U.N. still focuses on its main goals of peacekeeping and building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. Though it has accomplished a lot since its founding, the history of the United Nations has only just begun and the organization has a lot of work in store for the future.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

development projects in armenia

With a population of over three million, Armenia relies heavily on Russian support due to its geographic isolation, numerous monopolies in the business sector and a small list of countries to which it can export its goods. The unemployment rate in the country is nearly 19 percent as of 2016. Development projects in Armenia are taking place that seek to address these issues among others.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a Peace Corps project that has been teaching English in Armenian villages and towns since 1992. Peace Corps TEFL volunteers work in both secondary schools and colleges. The project has two goals: improving student academic performance and success in life and improving the effectiveness of teachers by forming communities and relationships with their TEFL colleagues.

Irrigation Systems Enhancement Project (ISEP)

In 2013, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $30 million loan for the ISEP. The goal of this project is to build efficient and sustainable irrigation while reducing the amount of energy used. In conjunction with The World Bank, the ISEP has successfully managed to decrease water shortages and increase the reliability of water supply and delivery.

Improving the Quality of Neonatal Care Services in Armenia

This development project in Armenia is a USAID initiative, and it seeks to improve upon the performance of health care providers through family-centered neonatal care, creating a system of constant quality improvement in healthcare facilities and strengthening the capacity of selected professional associations in advancing neonatal care standards. By achieving these goals, this program will address the issue of Armenia’s child mortality rate.

2015 Armenia Demographic and Health Survey (ADHS)

The ADHS is a nationwide household survey that is used to gather key demographic information on health-related issues. Information from the survey allows government officials to make decisions on how much funding will be allocated for which health programs.

The Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA)

One of the core development projects in Armenia is the country’s leading authority on investment, export and tourism promotion. The Development Foundation of Armenia aids possible investors by providing information on investment opportunities, the country’s business climate and recent government legislation. The DFA promotes tourism by running campaigns that show Armenia as a popular tourist destination and creating trips that familiarize international media with the country. Recently, the DFA appointed a representative in Chicago.

With these development projects in Armenia, along with others currently taking place, Armenia will be able to make strides in its economy and healthcare. With help from organizations like USAID, the World Bank and the Peace Corps, continued improvement seems to be a likely possibility.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to Kosovo

In February 1998, the armed conflict between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) came to a head when Slobodan Milošević, the President of the FRY in the late 90s, responded to KLA guerilla operations with an increased intensity.

Following the FRY’s elimination of Kosovo’s semi-autonomous status, after they gained independence from the Soviet Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the KLA instigated a guerilla movement against the Serbs in the hopes that doing so would call international attention to their plight. Unfortunately, despite a clear degradation of political relations between Serbia and Kosovo, the international community failed to intervene with the speed and authority necessitated by the impending disaster.

Eventually, it became obvious that the time for diplomatic action had passed unheeded. The result was catastrophic. On the heels of an already displaced 400 thousand Kosovar Albanians and an estimated killing of 1,000 civilians by FRY forces, NATO opted to instigate a campaign in Kosovo that was at once, illegal and legitimate. Illegal in the sense of it never being approved by the U.N. and legitimate in that it was the only option available for the prevention of further human rights abuses in Kosovo.

The result of the infamous NATO Air Campaign in Kosovo, lasting between March 24 and June 10, 1999, and effectively ousting Serbian forces from the region, was the abrupt displacement of nearly 1.5 million individuals within Kosovo and into neighboring Albania and Macedonia.

The issue then became how so many innocent civilians were going to survive. The solution is the question of this article: What was the success of humanitarian aid to Kosovo? The answer concerning aid during the immediate crisis is that despite the unprecedented amount of relief aid thrown at the conflict, its implementation was haphazardly managed and ultimately far less effective than it should have been.

Humanitarian aid to Kosovo during and following the NATO Campaign was marred by a lack of collaboration between aid organizations – of which there were over 250 operating in Kosovo and Albania alone. As well as a seeming lack of professionalism among even the most seasoned aid agencies (UNHCR). One report evaluating the failures of their response, sights appointment of inexperienced staff to positions of leadership as one of the many problems that plagued the humanitarian response.

Today, more than 18 years after the beginning of the crisis, Kosovo has yet to rid its borders of the aid organizations that came during the war. The greatest problem facing Kosovars is unemployment which had reached 35 percent in 2016.

One of the ways the issue of unemployment is being addressed is through social enterprises. In Kosovo, these take the form of small businesses established by locals to provide basic necessities to the community. These types of programs are what many aid workers are turning to as they search for alternatives to the continued presence of large aid organizations in Kosovo.

The success of humanitarian aid to Kosovo can, more or less, be regarded as a failure given the continued need for aid nearly 20 years after the end of the war.

– Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr


Global School Attendance Rates DropAs students around the world return to school, there are those who will spend their bitters winters in makeshift shelters. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNESCO), about 123 million or 11.5 percent of school-age children worldwide do not attend school due to wars, conflicts and global poverty. Improvements in global school attendance rates have dropped in recent years. While the number of out-of-school children has declined globally from 99 million to 59 million between 2000 and 2013, progress has largely stalled in the last ten years.

“The lack of education for displaced children could create a lost generation,” stated Gabriella Waaijman, Regional Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an independent humanitarian organization assisting refugees. Schools, she went on to say, are a secure location for children, helping to build social structures and teaching survival knowledge.

Persistent wars and protracted conflicts, bouts of droughts and other humanitarian emergencies have been responsible for threatening and, in some cases, even reversing the educational gains of the last decade. For example, in the ongoing war in Syria, about 8.4 million Syrian children are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. Nearly two million Syrian children are no longer in school. An even greater number of these children, about 2.5 million, live on the run or as refugees in displacement camps.

The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have resulted in a combined total of 3.4 million missing out on school. With increasing global populations exacerbating the situation, global school attendance rates have dropped even further.

Nowhere is this as salient as in East Africa. Only 65 percent of primary-school-age Burundian and Congolese refugee children are able to go to school. In South Sudan, the country with the highest proportion of out-of-school children (2.2 million), 70 percent of children do not receive an education. Of the one million South Sudanese refugees spilling over into neighboring Uganda, more than half are children. Forty percent of these primary-school-age students are not enrolled in primary school, and 80 percent of eligible students cannot obtain a secondary school education.

Still, according to the UNICEF, though global school attendance rates have dropped, there have been some notable gains, particularly in Ethiopia and Niger. Despite the poverty endemic in these poor countries, the number of children enrolled in primary school has increased by 15 and 19 percent, respectively.

Children deserve the best we can provide. Already having been displaced from their homes, schools and communities, children deserve a chance to build their educational futures on their own bright, hopeful terms. Education can teach children about diseases they can then protect themselves and their families from. It can curtail the flow of recruitment of child soldiers. It can help reduce child malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.

While teachers can help guide the students along the way, a shortage of teachers also underscores secondary reasons why global school attendance rates have dropped. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Institute of Statistics, if every child in the world were to receive a primary and a secondary education by 2030, nearly 69 million new teachers will be needed. This includes 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers.

Tens of millions of potential students–more girls than boys—are not in school. They work to support their families, live in remote areas or are too poor to afford basic supplies as shoes and school uniforms. Cycles of poverty and regional or global conflicts only place more burdens on children, who are our next generations.

UNICEF Chief of Education, Jo Bourne, has noted that “learning provides relief for children affected by emergencies in the short-term, but is also a critical investment in the future development of societies in the long-term.”

Bourne called for increased investments. In the first half of 2017, UNICEF received only about 12 percent of the required funding dedicated to providing education, opportunity and stability for children in crisis. Even so, Bourne stated that “investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough.

Earlier this year, the Commons International Development Committee in the United Kingdom called on the country’s Department for International Development to increase international aid money spending dedicated to education, which lags behind other forms of spending, in order to tackle “the global learning crisis.”

Similarly, Bourne underscores the path that countries should follow: “Governments and the global community must target their investments at eliminating the factors preventing these children from going to school in the first place, including by making schools safe and improving teaching and learning.”

Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

Mark GreenOn August 7th, Mark Andrew Green became the 18th administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID is the part of the executive branch responsible for furthering international development.

As Administrator, Mark Green is responsible for leading this charge. His vision of international development has the potential to affect the lives of millions of the global poor. With that in mind, it’s important that we know who exactly he is. Here are the 7 most important things to know about Mark Green.

  1. He used to be a member of Congress. Mark Green was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 through 2007. He represented Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. This is good news. It means that Green understands the ins and outs of politics and advocacy.
  2. He has a track record of supporting international aid. While serving as a representative, Mark Green voted consistently in support for international development. He was a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. And he co-sponsored the Hunger to Harvest bill, which aimed to reduce hunger in sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. He has been an aid-worker himself. After graduating college, Mark Green and his wife taught English to rural Kenyans through WorldTeach. In his congressional testimony, Green reiterated how much this experience shaped his worldview, and how it will shape is work as an Administrator.
  4. He was the Ambassador to Tanzania. After serving as a representative, Mark Green served as an Ambassador from 2007-2009. He oversaw President George W. Bush’s first visit to Tanzania. According to Mark Green himself, his tenure as Ambassador taught him “lessons too numerous to count.” His experience in the international makes his leadership as an Administrator trustworthy and reputable.
  5. He’s worked in the private sector. After his ambassadorship, Mark Green remained involved in international development. Green served on the board of directors for Malaria No More and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Most recently, Green was president of the International Republican Institute. Notably, all the organizations Green has been a part of have one important thing in common. They focus on development with the end goal of making donor countries self-sufficient.
  6. He has bipartisan support. Mark Green served as a Republican representative, but he has support from both sides of the aisle. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, praised him during his confirmation hearing. “He has the deep personal passion and commitment to do this job as shown through years of work in advancing our common good on the international stage,” Senator Baldwin said. And Mark Green himself promised during his confirmation hearing to “work in [a] bipartisan spirit.”
  7. He is knowledgeable about aid. Simply put, Mark Green understands what makes good aid policy. He consistently said that “the purpose of foreign assistance should be ending its need to exist.” In other words, Green’s goal at USAID is to end global poverty. Ensure that the world’s poor stop needing aid. And he has been clear in the steps he will take to steer USAID towards achieving this lofty goal. Specifically, he’s called for USAID to “incentivize reform, diversify our partner base,” and “foster local capacity-building” within partner countries.

You may never have heard of Mark Green. USAID doesn’t often make the front pages of newspapers. But that doesn’t make the work that Green and USAID are doing any less important. And under the leadership of Mark Green, USAID is sure to keep on helping millions of people.

Adesuwa Agbonile

Photo: Google/span>

Global Vision International
Global Vision International (GVI) was founded in 1998 with the mission of working “hand in hand with local communities, NGOs and government organizations to facilitate real change on the ground.” Global Vision International programs range from environmental and wildlife protection to global education, community development, health and construction projects that help communities use their resources sustainably and to their benefit. The ultimate goal of the organization is to fulfill local communities’ needs and requirements so they may move forward towards a better future.

GVI currently operates in over 25 countries all over the world in collaboration with international partners like the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children. The organization received multiple awards for its excellent programs that allow individuals from around the globe to help those in need. The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, CNN, The Boston Globe and other newspapers and magazines have also praised the organization for providing opportunities for sustainable tourism and teaching individuals the ins and outs of being a responsible global citizen.

Originally GVI programs were geared towards community development, education, health and environmental protection. These were considered the essential elements of international development efforts by organizations like USAID and the U.N. Recently GVI inaugurated new programs that will add another level to development and will help create more equal societies. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are now essential components of GVI’s goals.

So far GVI has helped provide microloans for women entrepreneurs in Latin America and has begun women’s education classes in Africa and Asia. This is a big step towards achieving global economic growth because, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says, “Empowering women is smart economics” as “closing gender gaps benefits countries as a whole, not just women and girls.”

The IMF claims that achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality will ensure international development goals in education, health and poverty reduction are met. Increasing the number of women participating in the paid labor force has been found to accomplish many positive goals. Such goals include raising both economic and agricultural productivity, increase spending on the education and health of children and shifting policies towards providing greater access to clean water and sanitation.

It is very good news for international development that organizations outside the U.N. and the IMF have incorporated women’s empowerment into their programs and policies. When more organizations incorporate women into their projects greater change is possible. GVI is only one of many groups that have adopted the necessary innovations for change.

Christina Egerstrom
Photo: Flickr

Rural Indian Farmers British Asian Trust
Prince Charles is not only royalty, but he is also the founder and president of the British Asian Trust (BAT). And on Feb. 3, 2016, he announced a new fund designed to improve the lives of small Indian farmers at the BAT’s annual fundraising gala in London.

Like many farmers in developing countries, rural Indian farmers are caught in a poverty trap. They make just enough money to survive but not enough money to invest in productivity-raising methods and equipment. Without access to affordable loans, they are unable to improve their lives for themselves and their families.

Prince Charles understands their plight and hopes to reverse their situation. At the gala, he said, “These smaller holder farmers often realize only a small proportion of the value of their products and can get caught in a poverty trap with no obvious way out. By making real inroads into helping the [agricultural] sector upscale, the fund will increase productivity in a sustainable way and make a staggering difference to so many lives.”

According to a 2012-2013 Report on Employment and Unemployment Survey by the Indian government, the majority of rural Indian households rely on agriculture as their means of employment. Furthermore, nearly half are self-employed. By giving them the means to invest in themselves, Prince Charles hopes he can change the face of poverty in the Indian countryside.

History provides a reason to be optimistic about Prince Charles’ goals. Prior to the 1980s, Chinese farmers were also caught in a poverty trap. By privatizing collective farms and encouraging an open market, Chinese farmers could make more money than they needed to feed themselves. They invested this extra money into increasing their agricultural productivity. Little by little, the Chinese economy grew and then exploded into the powerhouse economy of China today.

The BAT also announced another fund dedicated to skills training in Pakistan. This will be its “largest-ever fund” — and the BAT will work alongside the Aman Foundation to bring knowledge and skills to the country’s most disadvantaged people.

To raise money for this project and for South Asian communities in general, the BAT will also begin a public fundraising drive with the UK Department for International Development (DiFD). The goal is to raise £3 million and the DiFD will match donations given by the public.

This will be the first time that the British Asian Trust appeals to the public on a national basis. While the BAT has raised millions for South Asian nations over the last nine years, all proceeds have come from private and corporate donations. At this year’s gala, for example, over £900,000 was raised for charity. Numerous celebrities attended, including British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Prince Charles and his British Asian Trust have ambitious plans for the year, such as starting a new fund in India, a new fund in Pakistan and its first-ever public fundraising drive. If they succeed, they’ll bring Indian farmers out of poverty, give Pakistani people much-needed skills and raise money and awareness for South Asia’s most vulnerable.

Dennis Sawyers

Sources: Government of India, Ministry of Labor and Employment, International Business Times, NDTV
Photo: Wikimedia

You’ve probably heard of Clif bars. Whether you are leaving for work or school, running to the gym or caught up in the daily rush, Clif bars provide sustainable, long-term energy and doesn’t sacrifice taste or nutrition.

But beyond helping you attain a more sustainable body and mind, Clif Bar is also working to build a more resilient world. It is built on a bottom line of five “aspirations”: strengthening the company through long-term investment, creating a brand that is sustainable in its ethics, quality and authenticity, forming the company around the best interests of its employees’ creating strong, healthy communities, both locally and globally and forwarding conservation and restorative environmental practices. One way Clif Bar does this is through continual work toward a 100 percent organic brand.

“We start every recipe with the goal of [fully] organic products, but we don’t always get there depending on supply,” says Sue Hearn, senior director of communications. In pursuance of increasing the availability of organic crops, the company has invested in research, creating the nation’s first endowed research position focusing on plant breeding for organic crops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“It is critically important that our young people know the benefits of organics and leverages them to develop solutions for all of agriculture. We deeply believe that healthy seeds and healthy soils are key to healthy plants and animals,” commented funder George Siemon.

The company’s headquarters — a former World War II valve factory that was remodeled using reclaimed materials primarily from railroad construction — is also a model of responsible development. It boasts soundproofing technology made from recycled jeans and one of the largest solar panel conglomerations in the United States. Despite its innovative, high-tech design, the company headquarters retains a utilitarian feel, much like Clif Bars themselves do. As further confirmation of the company’s environmental initiatives, its headquarters received LEED Platinum certification for the utmost environmentally-conscious design.

The company also encouraged employees to pursue a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer time a year, amounting to a massive 10,000 hours of community service logged in one year. Beyond building sustainably, the company is working to actively encourage growth in communities and impoverished areas all over the world through service work and research initiatives, such as its agricultural funding. Each year, employees participate in a company-wide bike ride to commemorate the company’s commitment to low-impact development and healthy living.

As a further example of encouraging sustainable, healthy living, the company pays its 320 employees to use its in-house gym for 30 minutes per day, take part in fitness classes and get nutrition counseling and subsidized meals. Rather than trying to balance work and life, founder and former CEO Kevin Cleary works toward integrating the two, providing payment for employees to do their dog-walking and dry-cleaning while on the clock, as well as daycare services alongside the company gym. Its commitment to the wellness of its employees, as well as its customers, has helped it become a reputable brand for empowering and supporting its workers.

This commitment has paid off. Clif Bar has a voluntary turnover rate of around 5 percent. Beyond worker benefits, it offers employees 20 percent shares in the company, increasing shareholder value and encouraging workers to lead initiatives in creating a more sustainable, productive brand. The worker engagement that has resulted, Cleary says, is remarkable.

So next time you need some fuel for a workout, workday or work-in-progress, consider a brand that is derived from and promotes healthy, sustainable ideas and projects to build a more responsible global community.

– Jenny Wheeler

Sources: TriplePundit, Clif Bar
Photo: TriplePundit


Foreign aid is one of the most controversial issues in the U.S., but many people who are against increasing foreign aid fail to realize that only less than 1 percent of the U.S. annual budget is devoted to foreign aid. Most of the people who want to cut foreign aid estimate that the U.S. spends up to 30 times more on foreign aid than it actually does.

The aid that the U.S. gives is divided into two subcategories — the 151 account and the 152 account. As the Center for Global Development states, while the 151 account deals with international development and humanitarian assistance, the 152 account is concerned with international security assistance. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department are the two groups that provide the most money for international aid. In 2010, the 152 account — international security assistance — was given 10.38 billion dollars in aid.

This money for security assistance is utilized in several different ways, and the programs are administered by the Department of Defense and the State Department. One of the most widely known programs that uses this security assistance is International Military Education and Training (IMET). IMET uses the money in order to provide training to foreign troops using U.S. military doctrines, tactics and equipment when necessary. An example of IMET in action is the security assistance that the U.S. has provided to Lebanon. Since 1985, the U.S. has had more than 1,000 Lebanese military students come to the U.S. for training and education.

In 2007, the U.S. spent $10,581 million on the 152 account, $16,287 million on the 151 account and a total of $68,408 million on their international affairs budget. While this may seem like a lot of money, in the same year, the U.S. spent $625,850 million on its national defense budget.

The 152 account is important because it provides security assistance to groups that need tactical training and weapons. It helps to ensure that the three core security objectives of the U.S. – enhancing U.S. security, bolstering America’s economic prosperity and promoting democracy abroad — are carried out. The security assistance training programs, such as IMET, are supposed to improve the relations between the U.S. and other countries and promote self-sufficiency.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: CGD, Oxfam America Princeton The White House The White House FAS FPC GPO Congressional Research Service
Photo: American Foreign Relations

Want to really know what the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is doing? To learn more about USAID, go explore their official video channel. See videos about agriculture, development, health, war and famine relief, videos in the field, and on the ground showing their progress and impact.

The bigger overall question though: What is USAID, really?

USAID is the agency of the US government that handles all international affairs relating to diplomacy, development, and foreign policy. Started in 1961 by John F. Kennedy, USAID works in over 100 countries, creating markets and trade partners, protecting human rights, food security, and the environment, addressing health issues, prevention and recovery from conflicts, reduction of poverty, basic humanitarian response, and addressing US interests and security. While all of this is massively challenging and consuming work, USAID tries to do it all while working with less than 1% of the total federal budget.

One of their agendas is to make all governments more transparent, accessible, and accountable in order to build democracy worldwide and “make every voice count.”  In partnership with Sweden, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and Omidyar Network (ON), they have launched an inclusive campaign for citizen involvement; a global fund to support innovation, scaling-up, and research that will harness new technologies to enable citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

Want to know more of the inside scoop about what they’re doing and what it all means? Click here.

– Mary Purcell

Source: You Tube,, USAID


What is USAID