UNA-Luton

is the Luton branch of the United Nations Association.

We work in partnership with Equality in Diversity CIC and a wide variety of community organisations and statutory agencies to promote equality, justice, peace, human rights, community cohesion and the promotion of sustainable development to combat the threat of climate change.

The UNA-Luton stands for equality, justice, peace, human rights, community cohesion, the preservation of the environment and the protection of minorities. We reject the attempts by terrorists, extremists and populists to set societies and faiths against each other. They will not succeed because the vast majority of people in Britain and across the world wish to live with mutual respect and in harmony.

Join with us to take forward the UN principles of democratic values and sustainable development goals of the UN and make a difference to our society and the world:

  • Combating climate change and finding solutions
  • Promoting peace through a one world approach and a counter-narrative to the propaganda of violent extremism and division in society
  • Working with disadvantaged communities to improve their awareness about the importance of education, health, economic engagement and participation in all aspects of public life
  • Working with disadvantaged communities to improve their awareness about the importance of education, health and economic engagement
  • Promoting equality and human rights
  • Eradicating violence against women and girls
  • Promoting human solidarity, respect for diversity and community cohesion
UN Charter.pdf

Commemoration of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

We express our  sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Royal Family for the loss of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

We also celebrate his life and achievements. The nation, the Commonwealth and the world at large are indebted to him for his work. His legacy will inspire people globally for years to come. In particular, his Duke of Edinburgh Awards have empowered young people across multicultural communities at home and abroad. He was many years ahead of his time in recognising the dangers of climate change as long ago as the early 1950s. He was one of the founders of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1961, long before the relatively recent initiatives for Climate Change.  

Finally, we pay tribute to a man who came to Britain as an asylum seeker and went on to embody an image of stability and continuity  for the monarchy, the royal family and the country not just nationally, but internationally.

Solidarity with St Vincent

We stand with the people of St Vincent as they face the the threat to their lives, their livelihoods and their way of life posed by the sudden eruption of La Soufrière  volcano. We trust that the international community will rally round to support this small but resourceful community. Our sympathy goes especially to those people in Luton who are worried about the safety of their friends and relations on the island.

The United Nations marks international Women's Day 2021

UN Women has announced that the theme for 2021 should be: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world


 Misogyny to be recorded as a hate crime

On 17 March, we supported a petition urging the House of Lords to pass a cross-party Bill that would make misogyny a hate crime. The Lords took half a step towards passing it into law, and  referred it to the Law Commission for review. There is a still a way to go, but it is a start. Home Office Minister Baroness Williams has confirmed that police forces will be required to record misogyny as a hate crime from the autumn.

Exercising our democratic right to sign a petition may seem like a small step, but it is forbidden in many parts of the world and the progress of this Bill shows that it really can help to make a difference. Lord Cookham, who sponsored the Bill with Baroness Kennedy, quoted the petition in his speech. We are grateful to everyone who supported this initiative.

Clearly, the other lesson to be drawn is that we must not relax. There has been some progress - but there should be more!

You can read an update on the petition here.


Criminalise public sexual harassment

We are also supporting a petition which asks Parliament to criminalise public sexual harassment – the insulting and intimidating behaviour which many women experience on a daily basis. 

This petition will have to be considered for debate in Parliament because it has over 100,000 signatures. In fact, it has nearly reached 500,000. The more signatures it has, the greater its impact will be.

Enforcing the law

Of course, legislation is just a first step. A law is only as strong as its enforcement and the criminal justice system has an appalling record when it comes to crimes against women. Less than 4% of reported rapes result in a conviction. Attitudes in the police, the courts and the Crown Prosection Service must change.

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

It is disheartening that Turkey has pulled out of the 2011 Istanbul Convention. This was championed by the Turkish government, Turkey was the first signatory and the convention was, until Sunday 21 March 2021 , considered a triumph of Turkish statesmanship. Turkey now joins Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary who refused to join it, while Poland has said it will withdraw. International agreements of this sort help to encourage and disseminate good practice.

We support the statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, that this is a difficult time for the world and for gender equality, but a perfect moment to fight for transformative action and to salute women and young people for their relentless drive for gender equality and human rights.

Dr Nazia Khanum, OBE DL, the chair of UNA-Luton, reflects that ‘True equality will be achieved when we ask boys to take their lead from girls, and girls to take their lead from boys, without even thinking of their gender.’

While we celebrate gradual global progress towards gender equality, we still have a long way to go before gender justice is achieved. We call on everyone to choose to challenge all inequalities including gender inequities today and every day and take action to bring about a more just and fair society for all. Click the International Women's Day poster to see the video of the full programme which the UN broadcast on 8 March to mark IWD. It is hosted by Sophia Pierre-Antoine from Haiti who works with the International Organisation for Migration. It starts with a statement by Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, and continues with a lively mixture of speeches, entertainment and discussions.

The programme includes a stimulating discussion between young women which teachers and students may find especially interesting as a starting point for debate. It is facilitated by Eddie Ndopu, from South Africa, who is one of the UN’s eminent advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals. The participants are Katrin Jakobsdottir, Prime Minister of Iceland; Aya Chebbi, Tunisian activist and the African Union Envoy on Youth; and Xiye Batista, Mexican climate activist and co-founder of the Re-Earth Initiative. It covers a wide range of topics, including women’s leadership, reimagining the post-Covid world, climate justice, gender-based violence, energising young people and intergenerational activism.

Schools and colleges may be inspired by the thought-provoking presentations from Generation Equality Forum Action Coalitions in the second part of the programme. 

The fight for democracy in Myanmar

The UNA-Luton calls for an international arms embargo and sanctions against all military officers in Myanmar until the armed forces are brought under democratically elected civilian control. Every day, ordinary people are displaying extraordinary courage, coming into the streets across Myanmar to protest against the theft of democracy. They refuse to be intimidated, and they need international support.

The generals have made a great mistake if they think that Aung San Suu Kyi’s tarnished reputation clears the way for them to return to military rule. This is not about personalities, it is about democracy. As Tom Andrews, the UN Rapporteur on Myanmar, told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 12 February, the generals must be made to understand that they are not above the law. The UN Security Council and the UNHRC have both called for the release of all detained political activists.                                                                                                                                                

Following the atrocities committed by the Myanmar armed forces against Rohingyas, Britain and other countries already have sanctions in place against the Commander-in-Chief and his deputy who instigated the coup, along with other individuals known to have violated human rights, but wider multilateral action is needed.

As well as arms embargos and the withdrawal of support from the government of Myanmar, targeted sanctions must go beyond the handful of people at the very top. Every military officer in Myanmar is complicit in an act of corporate treason. All should be subject to sanctions – their overseas assets frozen, any businesses with military officers on their boards or as partners blocked and overseas travel by military personnel banned. If officers lower down the chain of command realise they are vulnerable, this will help to undermine the resilience of the armed services.

Over the past decade, it has often seemed as though democracy was retreating in the face of threats from authoritarian rulers. But the powerful public reactions against crackdowns in Hong Kong, Byelorussia, Russia, Thailand, India and now Myanmar suggest that it is time for the authoritarians to become nervous.

Swift and effective international action will send a message not just to the Myanmar junta but to authoritarians and would-be authoritarians across the world that they will be held to account for their crimes.

Humanity and unity will win:
United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021
COP26, Glasgow 1-12 November 2021

We are delighted that the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate accord, and we hope this will strengthen the determination of delegates to COP26 in Glasgow to seize the moment and turn the tide. As President of COP26, the government of the United Kingdom has stated its commitment to work with all countries and join forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire action.

The greatest longterm challenge facing us is climate change. Floods in Britain, forest fires in Australia, the United States and Europe, droughts in Africa, rising sea-levels and the extinction of animal, insect and plant species are evidence of the threat our way of life poses to the future of humanity. The Covid-19 lockdowns have shown us that dramatic change is possible when the will is there. 
COP 26 is an opportunity to set ambitious targets for practical action to achieve cleaner, low carbon, more resilient economies across the world. 

Events in 2021

Luton and the World

Luton is one of the most diverse towns in the UK, with a wide range of ethnicities, religions and cultures. Its people have links to almost every country in the world. Whenever events happen overseas, somebody in Luton is directly affected, and is well informed about the key issues.
UNA Luton contributes to the UN’s and UNA-UK’s goals by drawing on the wealth of Luton’s human resources, learning from experience in Britain and overseas and acting both locally and globally.

 

Socio-economic challenges

Luton has thriving industries and benefits from its excellent transport links by road, rail and the airport and its proximity to London, but not everyone shares its prosperity. Like many other British towns Luton faces socioeconomic challenges in a number of areas including health, housing, education and employment.
The town has been hard hit by Covid-19 which effectively closed down Luton Airport for a year. Apart from being one of the town's largest employers in its own right, the airport also supports an extensive network of ancillary industries, such as engineering works, hotels, sandwich shops, taxis, etc. A great effort will be needed to recover.

Working with others

We work with a wide variety of local and voluntary and statutory agencies, including Luton Borough Council,  the University of Bedfordshire and other UNA branches. We raise awareness  to trigger activism for achieving a just, fair, healthier, safer, more equal and peaceful society.

We work in partnership with Equality in Diversity CIC, a local community interest company. EiD publishes our reports and YouTube videos, maintains our website and FaceBook page and faciltates our Zoom events.