Activity Report of the UNA of Hungary for 2013/14
The UNA of Hungary has launched again its successful specific programme: the UN ACADEMY. The Academy (held every fourth year, depending on the funding) is dealing with major issues facing the United Nations. It usually consists of an Opening Conference that is followed by a series of 10 lectures and consultations (once in a week) and a closing conference. It is held in the late afternoons during the teaching periods of the universities and colleges. The lecturers are excellent, well known Hungarian and foreign experts and researchers. The aim of the UN-Academy is to provide for national capacity building, to transfer the necessary knowledge for human resource development and to influence public opinion.
Since the year 2011 the Academy is run in a new, so called “mobile” format. Earlier it was concentrated to Budapest, now we are moving from town to town holding the lectures at major universities outside of Budapest. The guiding subject is “Europe, World Crisis and the UN”. Besides the leaders of the UNA professors of the given university also have the possibility to lecture. So far we had it in Budapest, Győr, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen and Kaposvár. The next towns are, Miskolc and Eger.
In the framework of our UN Forum programme we have invited representatives of UN Agencies in Budapest as well as ambassadors (accredited to Hungary) to speak about their country’s policy toward the UN.
2013 was the International Year of Water Cooperation. In October the Hungarian Government held an International Conference in this theme. To raise public awareness the UNA has organized a series of events as part of the preparation activities.
Our relationship with the UN Information Service in Vienna is exceptionally important. UNIS plays an important role in our information activities. Mr. János Tisovszky, Director (now back in NY) held a lecture on “The UN with no Taboos ”.
2020 is on the Horizon. A series of lectures in three aspects: a) Main issues of the World in 2020; Europe in 2020; and Hungary in 2020.
In cooperation with the researchers of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Professors of the Budapest Corvinus University, the UNA organized a scientific conference on the „Rio+20, next decade’s challenges and the UN Environment Programme.”
With the participation of Hungarian NGOs dealing with development issues and the Department of International Development Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UNA held a conference on the goals of the Post-2015 Agenda and the related Hungarian tasks.
The role of the UN and its specialized agencies in the present situation created by the world economic crises with particular attention to the world’s social problems.
Other important issues on the agenda: peacekeeping, human rights, proliferation of nuclear weapons, drug abuse etc. The UN Day event dealt with the situation in Syria.
The UNA has published the latest edition of “Basic Facts about the United Nations” in Hungarian in 1200 copies (a 380-page UN publication). The book is distributed free of charge. Copies were sent to all major libraries in Hungary including all university and college libraries. It is also available on the web site of the UNA.
Cooperation with UN Associations is taking place in the framework the European Meeting of UNAs and WFUNA.
Report on the Activities of The United Nations Association of Hungary 2006-2009
The United Nations Association of Hungary (UNA-H) is a national movement for the support of the United Nations (UN). It is the Hungarian member organization of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA).
Inspired by the first words of the Charter of the UN „We the Peoples….”, one year after the establishment of the UN, the WFUNA came to existence in 1946. Nowadays its membership consists of more than 100 national UN Associations. Initiated by the leaders of WFUNA, the UNA-H was established in 1947. Since then it has been functioning practically without interruption. Its statutes have been reviewed and reformed in 1989 and according to the new Hungarian Act on the Right of Associations it has been incorporated as an “Association Serving Public Interests”.
The sole purpose of the UNA-H is to promote the realization of the goals and ideals laid down in the UN Charter. Among others disseminates information about the activities of the entire UN-system. It is the only non-governmental organization in Hungary which encourages and supports the international cooperation in the framework of the UN-system in the areas of peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, international law and humanitarian action. The UNA-H offers you insights into what the UN is and how it works, as well as a channel through which you can join with people to become engaged in the critical global issues affecting us all.
Brief description of the UNA structure
The 97-member Governing Council (elected by the last quinquennial General Assembly on 2 February 2010) consists of representatives of major Hungarian NGOs and includes many outstanding personalities of political, scientific, cultural and religious life, as well as the mass media, among them representatives of the major parliamentary parties and trade unions. Prof. Mihály Simai, Honorary President of WFUNA, heads the 15-member Presidium. The Secretary-General of the UNA is Dr. Ervin Gömbös; both of them were re-elected by the Assembly. The UNA has some 1100 individual members and some 40 collective (institutional) members..
Other bodies of the UNA:
- Council of Former UN Staff Members and Experts
- Environmental & Sustainable Development Council
- Council for Human Rights, Minorities and Refugees
- Council on Health and Population
- Working Group on Disarmament and Peacekeeping
- Working Group on International Development Cooperation
- Working Group on Dug Abuse
Up to now, five local branches have been set up outside Budapest (in Nyiregyháza, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, Győr). All play an active role in initiating local level discussions and exchange of opinion on UN issues, commemoration of UN special days and events and especially increasing information dissemination about the work of the World Organization, mainly through the local media.
Does the UNA have a Model UN Program?
In cooperation with the Hungarian Model United Nations Student Association, and universities outside of Budapest (e.g. Szeged, Győr). Usually once in a year, the last one in Budapest 3-5 April 2009. Number of participants varies between 40-80. University students. Global Issues.
PRIORITY PROGRAMS/PROJECTS/ADVOCACY/CAMPAIGNS 2006-2009
In recent years the importance of international cooperation in the political, economic and social life of Hungary has grown considerably. By becoming a member of the European Union in 2004, it has become a major responsibility for the country to participate in international affairs of the Union. This had also a major influence on the civil society. The European Union has committed itself to the implementation of the decisions made by the large international conferences - like sustainable development and financing development - organized by the UN in the last fifteen years and to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For the UNA it has been a priority issue to promote the public awareness and the local realization of the MDGs through its publications, conferences and seminars. (See later.) Various aspects of the MDGs have been comprehensively discussed in different fora, including the participation of press, institutes of education and representatives of Government that are important in forming and informing the public opinion. We extensively used materials received from WFUNA. . In the framework of policy formulation and capacity building, the UNA has organized a UN ACADEMY with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 in Budapest. The theme of the UN Academy was “Global Challenges, Millennium Development Goals and Hungary”. (See later.)
For more than eighteen years Hungary has been taking part in UN Peacekeeping Operations. Several hundred Hungarian solders, police officers and civilians have been in various missions. The UNA assists the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement in the preparation of personnel for these missions. There is a close cooperation with the latter Ministry’s International Training Centre. Many of the Hungarian peacekeepers joined the UNA after their assignment. The UNA’s Working Group dealing with the issue has regular programmes involving these people. A commemorative meeting was held in 2008 on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of UN Peacekeeping.
For decades, the UNA of Hungary has held some kind of commemorative event on the Human Rights Day (10 December). In recent years major issues on the agenda of the UNA were: (2006) New Developments in the International Protection of Human Rights; (2007) The Institution of the Ombudsman and the Protection of Human Rights in Hungary (Conference in the building of the Hungarian Parliament in December 2007 in cooperation with the Parliamentary Commissioners’ Office); (2008) 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Panel Discussion of Young University Teachers before 250 participants.
The UNA provides legal advice to those seeking protection against abuse of these rights.
This is an area where the UNA has the widest networking with NGOs since this has become one of the major political issues in the last 20 years in Hungary. Both before and after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, 26 August – 4 September 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa), wide ranging discussions were held on the major points of the agenda. But the emphasis was always on the Hungarian situation.
Drug abuse is high on the agenda of the UNA. In the last decade it has become a major problem in Hungary, especially among young people. The Association has set up a Working Group dealing with the issues related to drug abuse and illegal trafficking. The Group has working contacts with several dozen experts in the field (medical doctors, pharmacists, drug producers etc.) Events are concentrated around the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June).
Since 1997, every February the UNA presents the Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to the Hungarian mass media in co-operation with the UN Information Service at Vienna and INCB. These press conferences have been very popular and have always had excellent media coverage, including television and radio news broadcasts and all major Hungarian daily newspapers. Summary of the report is always published in Hungarian.
The UNA’s relationship with young people (mostly students) is varying from time to time. After successfully organized UN Academies (see later) or Model UN Assemblies with good attendance (primarily university students) the participants are very enthusiastic about the UN and international issues. Nowadays many of them prepare their theses for a degree in these issues. The UNA is providing consultation and supporting materials for these students. After graduation, however, depending on their first job, they gradually loose interest.
The UNA considers the Hungarian Model United Nations Student Association as its sister organization. There is a close cooperation between the two organizations, furthermore the UNA supports the programmes (Model UN every year, conferences, seminars etc.) of the Student Association in various ways.
International Development Cooperation
As a result of Hungary’s membership of the UN, the European Union and OECD as well, it has become a major responsibility for the country to participate in international development cooperation, that is, to assist and speed up development in the developing countries.
MEETINGS/ CONFERENCES/ SEMINARS, INCLUDING COMMEMORATION OF UN DAYS, 2006-2009
50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution
From the archives of UNHCR a photo exhibition was opened in the headquarters of the UNA in June 2006: “Hungarian Refugees in Austria 1956-1962”. (41 photos were shown and distributed on DVD to the press and the public.) The Hungarian Revolution in late autumn of 1956 triggered the first massive refugee movement in Europe after WW2. Small numbers of refugees started arriving in Austria between 24 October and 3 November 1956, when some 3,000 to 4,000 people crossed the western border. After 4 November 194,000 Hungarians left the country. Some 180,000 went to Austria, the rest to Yugoslavia.
The UNA published a 240-page book “The Revolution and the Hungarian Question in the UN, 1956-1963” edited by Csaba Békés and Gusztáv D. Kecskés. The book carries many UN documents about the events including 17 General Assembly resolutions.
In 2008 the UNA of Hungary has launched again its successful specific programme: the UN ACADEMY. The Academy (held every fourth year, depending on the funding) is dealing with major issues facing the United Nations. It usually consists of an Opening Conference that is followed by a series of 10 lectures and consultations (once in a week) and a closing conference. It is held in the late afternoons during the teaching periods of the universities and colleges. The lecturers are excellent, well known Hungarian and foreign experts and researchers. The aim of the UN-Academy is to provide for national capacity building, to transfer the necessary knowledge for human resource development and to influence public opinion. Participants attending regularly the lectures receive a certificate of attendance. They also receive the publications of the UNA of Hungary (some 10 books). There is no tuition fee. In case of English lectures simultaneous interpretation is provided.
The last (fourth) Academy (in the fall of 2008) supported by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was on “Global Challenges, Millennium Development Goals and Hungary”. 520(!) persons registered for the Academy (mostly students). Half of the registered participants attended regularly the lectures. The proceedings of the Academy have been published in a 250-page book.
Commemoration of UN Days
Lectures - 2006: “61st Session of the General Assembly, the Reforms and the New Secretary General”; 2007: “The Security Council and Hungary” and “The 60th Anniversary of the UNA of Hungary”; 2008: “The UN: Old Dilemmas and New Challenges”.
The European Communities and the UN
On 9 May 2007 a one-day conference was organized on “The European Communities and the UN” in cooperation with the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest.
There are several “commemorative” meetings on various UN-days (World Environment Day, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Human Rights Day etc.)
In the last three decades the UNA has published some 40 books on the UN and related subjects in Hungarian. In the last 3 years the following books were published:
1. The Future of Development Policies and Changing Priorities: Africa (in English);
2. The Revolution and the Hungarian Question in the United Nations, 1956-1963 (edited by Csaba Békés and Gusztáv D. Kecskés);
3. Barnabas RACZ: Hungary and the United Nations 1956 – 1962: A Legal and Political Analysis (in English);
4. Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice (4th edition);
5. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (3rd edition);
6. International Bill of Human Rights(3rd edition);
7. Global Challenges, Millennium Development Goals and Hungary (Proceedings of the UN Academy 2008, some lectures in English).
Capacity-building achievements for 2006-2009, and priorities for the future
Due to the specific nature and the topics in our advocacy role, most of these activities are organized in the framework of public meetings, seminars or other conferences around specific UN related issues. These activities are much more readily covered by the media than the general statement on or about the UN. In the framework of these activities we can also cooperate with other NGOs and educational institutions.
Priorities for the future
In the present economic situation: survival.
Fundraising Strategies/ main Sources of Funding
The activities of the UNA are financed from project money. We are implementing different publicly important projects for a number of academic and other institutions and from the income of these activities we can cover our extremely moderate costs.
Some of our members are also supporting the Association.
Cooperation with WFUNA and with other UNAs?
The UNA of Hungary has always considered WFUNA as the international framework for its activities. The Constitution of WFUNA and the resolutions of its main bodies had been the main guidelines for the work done internationally and domestically. Prof. Mihály Simai, Honorary President and former President of WFUNA, Prof. Ervin Gömbös, Vice-President of WFUNA (former member of the Executive Committee of WFUNA) and other representatives of the UNA have attended all major events of the World Federation.
In recent years, according to our assessment, the organization of work both in New York and Geneva has improved considerably. New York, as the present Headquarters of the Federation is doing so much that sometime it is just hard to follow and provides so much valuable information to its membership that it is hard to process. The performance of the New York office is unprecedented in the history of the Federation. The activities carried out by Geneva should also be recognized. The convening of the meeting of the European UNAs last year (2008) is an excellent example of the work the office has been doing.
The UNA is actively participating in the collaborative meetings of the UNA Europe Network. There are two meetings a year in Brussels. There are ad hoc meetings with representatives of other UNAs visiting Hungary or our representatives making business or private trips to other countries. Mostly for financial reasons unfortunately no formal bilateral programmes have been developed with other UNAs. There is intense correspondence with several UNAs on specific issues. In 2008 the delegation of the Russian UNA headed by Mr.Alexey BORISOV, Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of UNA-Russia accompanied by Mr. Stanislav TULIN, Chief Accountant, UNA-Russia visited Budapest.
Links and Partnerships with UN Agencies, Funds and Programs
The UNA has regular contacts with UNRIC in Brussels since representatives of the European UNAs (UNA Europe Network) meet twice a year there. There are contacts with the UN Information Service in Vienna, the Human Rights Centre in Geneva and the Department of Public Information in New York.
The UNA is cooperating with the following agencies in launching (by the UNA) their annual reports to the press here in Hungary: UNCTAD (World Investment Report); UNFPA (State of World Population), INCB (International Narcotics Control Board – Annual Report).
Within the framework of our cooperation with UNDP the Africa Conference were organized by the UNA (see above).
The UNA intensively cooperates with the regional offices of UNHCR, FAO and ILO in Budapest.
Links and partnerships with Government, NGOs, Universities
The UNA closely cooperates with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government agencies.
The UNA has collective membership representing several major NGOs. According to new political structures in Hungary the UNA has started co-operation with new parties and other new social organizations. The UNA is in the process of becoming a coalition for the support of the United Nations.
Many Hungarian universities are represented in the leadership of the UNA of Hungary.
Originally drafted in May 2009 and partially updated in March 2011