The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO)

About the UU-UNO

Unitarian Universalists and the United Nations

World problems transcend national borders. The UN and its agencies can count among their successes worldwide improvements in literacy, health, housing and nutrition as well as unique communication facilitation. But much remains to be done.

Critical issues remaining on the UN agenda include environmental degradation; AIDS; the rights of women, children, and minorities; the production and transfer of arms; and, as always, peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building. Since the end of the Cold War, hundreds of thousands have suffered torture, displacement and death in local border disputes; yet without the constant efforts of the UN’s mediators, those terrible tolls would have been much higher.

The United Nations provides a public forum and support system for non-governmental organizations, empowering small grassroots groups to find allies and become catalysts for effective international action. Slavery, colonialism and apartheid have all but ended in the 20th century, due largely to the orchestrated actions of civil movements. Modeled by the tremendously successful international Committee to Ban Landmines, civil society organizations could very well put an end to war in the 21st century.


Can UUs really make a difference at the U.N.? 

In July 1997, through the initiative of the UU-UNO, the UUA was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This resulted in a significant increase in potential influence beyond that of our previous status as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) accredited to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).  

As a DPI-NGO, our two delegates could attend informational briefings of the DPI, receive regular mailings on UN issues, and use the NGO Resource Centre at the UN. We could attend the annual DPI/NGO Conference in New York, but were limited to the role of educating our members and others about the UN.  

Now as an ECOSOC-NGO, we retain the above privileges, but also have gained the right to state our views at the UN, not merely to listen. We can send six more delegates to attend public meetings of ECOSOC bodies, and can submit position papers on relevant issues. In this way, we can express the power of our ethical beliefs at the world forum.


How does the UU-UNO relate to the UUA? 

The UU-UNO is an Associate Member of the UUA that acts as the denomination’s agent and voice at the United Nations. The UU-UNO has its own Board, runs its own programs, and raises its own budget. The UU-UNO recommends names to the UUA Board of Directors for appointment as delegates to the UN. The UUA relies on the UU-UNO for knowledgeable recommendations on delegates and key issues.


Functions of the UU-UNO

What does the UU-UNO do?
  • through our newsletter, Window on the World
  • through action alerts, printed and electronic  
  • through annual seminars featuring experts on international issues  
  • through programs at UU General Assembly, district and cluster meetings
  • with readings, music, and information for UN Sunday
  • through our RE program UN-ME for grades 4-6

  • through our annual intergenerational services
  • through our office internship program

  • Our delegates to ECOSOC can observe meetings, make recommendations, and lobby UN officials.

Directors and Staff

Board of Directors

Executive Committee  
  Rev. Ben Bortin, President
Staten Island NY
  M. Elaine Harvey, Vice President
Kingston ON
  Doris Henderson, Secretary
Danbury CT
  Jim Gunning, Treasurer
Teaneck NJ
  Richard Kopp
Huntington Station NY
  Eleanor Mason
Morris Plains NJ
  Hildegard Schubert
New York NY
  Phil Rutledge
Indianapolis IN
  John Washburn
New York NY
Other Directors    
  Ida (Ollie) Cohen
New York NY
  Barnett Cook
Tallahassee FL
  Eryl Court
Toronto ON
  George Dorsey
New York NY
  Rev. Olivia Holmes
Boston MA    
  Rev. Virginia Knowles
Silver Spring MD
  Susan (Tudy) McLaine
Ottawa ON
  Jessica Mark
Columbia MD
  Irene Mehnert
Malvern PA
  Martha Bennett Moore
Bronxville NY
  Judy Sadegh
Austin TX
  John Wohltman
Asheville NC


  Rev. Francis (Fran) Mercer    


  Envoy Coordinator Eleanor Mason
Assistant Coordinators: Canada East  
  Canada West
Eryl Court
  Cecil Muldrew
District Envoys  
  Ballou-Channing Alma Morrison
  Central Midwest  
  Clara Barton  
  Florida Barnett Cook
  Heartland Edie Holden
Clark Hendryx
  Joseph Priestley Dr. Robert Schell
  Massachusetts Bay Peter H. Smith
  Metropolitan New York  
         Manhattan, Brooklyn & Staten Island Sally Lineweaver
    New Jersey Eleanor Mason
    North of New York City and Connecticut Doris Henderson
  Mid-South Nancy Nowak
  Mountain Desert Dave M. DiGiacomo
  New Hampshire/Vermont Muriel Brownstein
  Northeast Helen Zidowecki
  Ohio Meadville Dr. Edward Truitt
  Pacific Central  
  Pacific Northwest Eleanor B. Hunting
  Pacific Southwest Eleanor Cottrell Eagan
Laura Woolley-Smith
  Prairie Star Marlyn Swanson
St. Lawrence  (Canada) 
Evelyn Frain
  Southwest Carol Groppe
  Thomas Jefferson Judy Turnipseed
  Western Canada Cecil Muldrew
page last updated 21 October 2000