Our parent body, UNA-UK, has just published its Strategic Plan for the next three years.
Here is the response of the Coventry Branch. We welcome your comments about it. Please use the box below.
Global Citizenship is key
We very much welcome the Plan’s focus upon Global Citizenship. See our page Global Citizenship for more about this concept.
Of the three focus-areas, this is the one which UNA-UK Branches are able to participate in most directly, and it exactly fits with the sentiments of this Branch. The relevant lines from the full text of the Plan can be summarised as:
- Global citizenship means empowering individuals to think and act globally.
Coventry UNA agrees, but also thinks people need to act locally as well. At present it is not clear how people can be “empowered to act globally”, although UNA-UK might show us how this can be done. But the classic phrase of environmentalists is “think globally, act locally”, and we think the same concept applies not just for helping to improve the world’s environment but to address all global problems. For example, we think that we can help to improve international relations if people talk to others from different races, religions and nations, and begin to understand a little about their cultures, history and current problems. We need to look outwards from our own domestic issues, and meeting others is a great place to start.
- Sustainable peace and prosperity can only be achieved through shared understanding of the world’s problems and active promotion of the tools we have to address them. This requires wide public acceptance of the importance of global citizenship.
We are not sure we can expect all people to “understand the world’s problems”, although they can have basic knowledge about what they are. We are also not sure what “shared understanding” means. We also find “public acceptance of the importance of global citizenship” is problematic. Although we totally support the sentiment, we think that “citizenship” is a term laden with meaning and using the words “global citizenship” might initially raise more problems than it solves. We think that “wide public awareness of the meaning of the term ‘global citizenship’ and the importance of taking action to solve the world’s problems” might be more appropriate.
- The UN is a mystery to many in the UK. Through training and education, we will deepen understanding of the institution and empower people – and organisations – to engage with it. Through our youth programmes we will seek to nurture a new generation of global citizens, equipped with the necessary tools and impetus to tackle global problems.
Coventry Branch would welcome help from UNA-UK to do this. We have already made some approaches to schools and received very little response. We are planning to take action on Model United Nations and we are also aware of the UNESCO web pages dedicated to GCE at en.unesco.org/gced, but it is not clear how we can bring these programmes into schools where citizenship seems to have a very low priority.
- The goals reflected in our programmes are important ends in themselves. They are also inter-related. Informed and empowered global citizens can put pressure on the government to provide vision and leadership, at home and on the international stage. This in turn contributes to the UN system, which benefits the lives of all people, everywhere.
It is not clear how citizens can be empowered to “put pressure on the government”. Most people’s only interaction with government is via the ballot-box, and for most people domestic issues dominate in their voting decisions. We think it is the role of pressure-groups, such as UNA-UK, to apply pressure to the government. Thus we would prefer to work to strengthen support for UNA-UK to achieve this aim.
- UNA-UK’s lobbying and advocacy work can only go so far. If we are to achieve our objectives – UK action at the UN, widespread support for international cooperation and an active global citizenry, we need to reach people directly and work at the community level. Our network of members, supporters and local UNAs is therefore essential. But it needs to be strengthened.
And that is precisely what the Coventry Branch is working towards.