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UN official touts Iowa's int'l importance

BY CHASTITY DILLARD | OCTOBER 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Geographically, Iowa is landlocked.

But one U.N. official said Iowa plays a key role in international issues.

"Everyone is listening to Iowa today, and Iowa cares about the U.N.," said Aaron Sherinian, the vice president of communications and public relations at the United Nations Foundation. "That is a powerful connection."

Sherinian said Iowa's interaction with political figures and caucus coverage often puts a spotlight on the state from an international perspective.

"There's something about Iowa that is a great ambassador of our country to the world," he said.

In celebration of the creation of the U.N. charter on Oct. 24, 1945, Sherinian spoke to a crowd of roughly 20 as part of the UI's first event to recognize the day. Monday, Sherinian told the crowd how citizens across the nation and in Iowa can continue to play an important role in the United Nations.

Sherinian cited a recent report conducted by the Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates that said 86 percent of Americans support the United States maintaining an active role with the United Nations.

"If world leaders or if American leaders and elected officials don't realize that 86 percent of America supports a strong U.S. leading role in the United Nations, then they haven't done their homework, and someone has to tell them that," he said.

It is crucial for Americans to continue to remind leaders and fellow citizens about the importance of awareness of global issues, he said.

Hosted by the UI United Nations Association and the Iowa United Nations Association, local and UI organizations held the event to show how the community can get involved with world issues.

Ed Flaherty, the president of the Eastern Iowa Veterans For Peace, said the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights focus on freedom from starvation, oppression, and war meshes with his group's mission.

"The United Nations does have its problems, like any other large institution," he said. "But the U.N. is an indispensable force for peace in the world."

Students Abolishing Slavery member Lakshmi Kantamneni said the UI organization focuses on global peace and human rights.

"Basically, I feel like we fit into the overall picture of wanting to help bring peace and bring the idea that every human should have the equal opportunity to be free," the sophomore said.

But Sherinian said raising action is just as important as raising awareness.

And the U.S. economic questions make involvement with the United Nations more essential, he said.

"We are not living in a time where our economy will thrive if we sit and stare at our belly buttons," Sherinian said. "Our economy will only thrive if the world economy is healthy, and the U.N. does that every day."

Sherinian said the United States was built on the premise that everyone has a chance to make it.

"But none of us is going to make it if our world is falling apart," he said.


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