Global Civil Society Champion
Over 800 people attended Rotary Day at the United Nations on Saturday 9 November, 2002. "Rotary shares the same social and humanitarian agenda as the UN system," says Sylvan Barnet, who has been representing Rotary International (RI) at the UN for over 16 years. The briefing sessions will be on the UN in 2002, the Security Council debate on Iraq, UNICEF and Environment and Peace.
Not many people know that when the UN Charter was adopted in 1945, there were 49 Rotarians in 29 of the official country delegations. Together with the other NGOs present, Rotary International was influential in changing the opening words of the UN Charter from "We the States" to "We the Peoples". Rotary concentrated on Charter Article 71, concerning NGO accreditation to the UN and strengthening the paragraphs on ECOSOC.
One of the other NGOs was the American Association for the UN, which became UNA-USA. Ever since, there have been close links between UNAs around the world and Rotary's global network of 1.2 million members and nearly 31,000 clubs in over 160 countries. UNAs and Rotary clubs share an interest in promoting global understanding of the UN's Charter. Both conduct Model UN Conferences for young people. The Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarships Program is the world's largest privately funded global scholarship program.
Rotary International's worldwide program to eliminate polio has the active support of The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) - they have organized national immunization days in over 120 countries. "In India, Rotarians, along with their families, friends, and co-workers immunized 150 million children in just one day!" says Barnet. For more information on Rotary International, visit www.rotary.org.
Giorgio H. Balestrieri
Director and Board Liaison
International Service Division
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