The 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76) opens Tuesday, September 14 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City and draws to a close on September 30. The first day of the high-level General Debate commences Tuesday, September 21.
The germinal concept for a global peace organization sprang up after World War I with the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations. This ceded almost two years into the Second World War on June 12, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill began to draft visionary guidelines in a declaration of eight common principles in international relations called the Atlantic Charter. Completed in August 1941, it provided the ideological basis for the United Nations organization.
In the ensuing seven decades, the United Nations has established a consistent presence in world affairs, war and in peace, in issues concerning famine, conservation and preservation, and health and illness, with an overall commitment to the health, safety, and welfare of Earth and her peoples.
Surprisingly, the work of the United Nations is largely unknown to many. In the Fall issue of ELYSIAN, publisher Karen Floyd addresses aspects of the United Nations’ wellspring of programs and ideals in two of her interviews with “Inspiring Women”, who share a common bond in their commitment to civil rights and the ideals of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nikki Haley was the 116th and first female Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, and 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from January 2017 to December 2018 and is a prospective Republican candidate for United States President in the 2024 election. Born to immigrant Indian Punjabi Sikh parents, she was born in Bamberg, South Carolina, and graduated from Clemson University.
Evangelist Alveda King, an American activist, author, former state representative for the 28th District in the Georgia House of Representatives, and FOX News contributor is the niece of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and daughter of slain civil rights activist The Reverend Alfred Daniel “A.D.” Williams King, younger brother of Dr. King and co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, who was allegedly murdered just sixteen months after his late brother’s assassination in April 1968.
As we live through these difficult times, it behooves us to hold dear to hope—and to live by the Golden Rule:
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
NIKKI HALEY addressed the General Assembly prior to the vote on Jerusalem, on December 21, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York—words that resound as clearly today as they did almost four years ago. This is a portion of that speech:
Standing here today, being forced to defend sovereignty and the integrity of my country – the United States of America – many of the same thoughts have come to mind. The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way.
But we’ll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected.
In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL AMINA MOHAMMED is the former Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, where she was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the agenda of UNGA 76 is the reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, entitled “Transforming Our World,” which was enacted by the U.N. in September 25, 2015 (Resolution 70/1.) A comprehensive, universal blueprint of transformative goals, it sets for the United Nations’ commitment to implementing the Agenda by 2030. Among the objectives are eradicating global poverty and achieving sustainable development in the economic, social, and environmental sectors by building, in part, upon the achievements of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), signed in September 2000, superseded in 2015 by the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, the U.N. continues its global commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
Earlier this year, on January 18, 2021, Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed, observed what would have been the 53rd anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. She spoke at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia:
I am deeply humbled in joining you to honour the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I thank the King Center for your invitation.
2020 was a year of tragedy as millions of lives were put on hold. And millions of lives were lost to COVID-19 and its devastating consequences. Livelihoods disappeared. Our shared values are being put to the test. The pandemic has laid bare deep-rooted inequalities in our societies. Members of racial minorities have suffered disproportionately, as have other vulnerable members of our communities.
The spread of the virus also gave new vectors of social media to disseminate hatred and misinformation. Even before the pandemic, the world was facing a surge of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other forms of discrimination. Now is the time for unity, solidarity, and compassion. UN values of equality and human dignity point the way.
As Dr. King reminded the world in his historic speech in front of the United Nations in 1967 – only a few feet away from where I stand today—“There can be no justice without peace, and there can be no peace without justice.”
This realization remains as relevant as ever. As we strive to recover from the pandemic and to build a better world, we need to forge a new social contract based on inclusivity and sustainability. That means investing in social cohesion and advancing equality and opportunity for all.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, as well as that of other African American civil rights leaders such as U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta who dedicated himself to the fight for racial equality or the ‘incurable optimist’ Ralph Bunche who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a United Nations mediator in the Palestine conflict will continue to inspire us in that journey.
Dr. Martin Luther King embodied the ideals of the United Nations: peace, social justice, and human rights. He lived and died defending human dignity and believing in the equal worth of every human being. As we use this commemoration to reaffirm commitment to that work, let us draw strength from Dr. King’s words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
The United Nations will continue to be your strong partner in this essential mission of the important work of Martin Luther King Jr.
EVANGELIST ALVEDA KING has a dream of her own: “I have a dream that America will pray, and God will forgive our sins.” As she carries the torch of her uncle’s dream she too observes that, “Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It’s a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated. “Racism oppresses its victims but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit.”
In tribute to the late actress, philanthropist, and leading AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor on the 20th anniversary of her death, ELYSIAN pays tribute to her on our cover and ICON feature. In the later part of her life, she devoted all her time, energy, and money to find a cure for this horrendous disease. Thanks to funds she bequeathed, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation continues her fight to seek a cure for AIDS.
On September 14, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, ELYSIAN honors such inspiring women at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta, at 395 17th Street NW. Space is based on availability, so if you wish to attend, please call (864)-596-7501.