Laurel Hart (Outreach Assistant for UNA-UK), spoke about the value of the UN and its difficulties. Although for 70 years the UN has delivered stability and prosperity in many parts of the world, increasingly some people and states believe the international system will not deliver for them. Many governments are turning inwards, being more isolationist and having more nationalist agendas, as evidenced by Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. The UK also has been retreating from investing in the health of the international system. UNA-UK and others do not want this trend. UNA has run two campaigns – "1 for 7 billon” and “Stand For ”.
The former used various methods, including social media, in order to reform how the UN Secretary General is elected – and was successful in making the selection process to be based on merit, be more transparent. Although women were considered, an excellent man was elected to succeed Ban Ki-moon - the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres. The latter campaign emphasised that we are global citizens, united, and looking outwards instead of inwards. To do this UNA-UK asked hundreds of people across the nation what their values were - ”What do you stand for?”. Laurel also asked those present at this meeting the same question. There was a positive response, showing many people care about a wide range of international things such as gender equality or protecting the oceans. The results show that our values in the UK are international and we are committed to keeping Britain global. Laurel said it was good to wear our values on our sleeves and work to get the message across. The UN needs reform, but is essential. It needs strong leadership from the UK and the support of globally minded citizens. Laurel said she was proud to be a citizen of nowhere and everywhere.
After these presentations discussion continued for some time and speakers continued their contact with each other afterwards. For example Ahlam Akram (Founder & Director of Basira (British Arabs Supporting Universal Women’s Rights) stressed how we want a better future for our children and need to stress our common humanity. Women need to work together with one voice to be heard again and again and again.