The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness among the American people about the ideals and work of the United Nations. Through its 120 Chapters across the United States, UNA-USA works with their local communities and elected officials to garner American support for the United Nations. UNA-USA’s sponsors range from USAID, Goldman Sachs, and the US State Department all the way to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The American Association for the United Nations, the original version of the UNA-USA, came out of the League of Nations Association in 1943. The Association was designed to promote acceptance of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals towards the formation of the UN in the late years of World War II. In the early years of the organization the AAUN led US representatives on a national tour to gain American support for the creation of the UN.

In 1964, the association merged with the US Committee for the United Nations to become the UNA-USA. Since then the UNA-USA has enacted many programs designed to educate Americans about the UN, including its Global Classrooms program – an educational program that engages middle school and high school students in an exploration of current world issues through interactive simulations. The core of the program is the model UN, where students act as UN Ambassadors to debate a range of issues on the UN agenda.

The mission of the UNA-USA is important for the operation of the UN and the continuation of its development and poverty focused programs. As the largest contributor to the UN budget—the US provides 22 percent of the UN’s total funds—support of the UN’s principles and work by US citizens is vital to sustaining the UN. Voters’ decisions in the US will ultimately have a large influence on how the UN is able to function. The UNA-USA is certainly succeeding to some degree: according to a Gallup poll in February 2013, two-thirds of Americans believe the United Nations plays a necessary role in the world today.

– Martin Drake

Sources: UNA-USA, Gallup, Global Solutions
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