Southern California Regional Council of Organizations

Affiliated with the United Nations Association, Southern California Division

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Southern California Regional Council of Organizations

SCRCO covers a geographical area from the Mexican border all the way north through San Luis Obispo County.  It would take you a day of driving time to traverse.  Los Angeles County itself has a population of over 10 million people.  There are nine counties all told making up Southern California with Los Angeles as the hub.

SCRCO currently is composed of 29 regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs), most of which have many local chapters or churches or units, such as the YWCA of Southern California; League of Women Voters of LA County; Zonta International, District 9; Presbyterian Synod of Southern California and Hawaii; and the California Federation of Business and Professional Women.  Think of SCRCO as a circle with 29 spokes sticking out from it, and at the end of each spoke are 10 to 50 more spokes each representing a local unit.  

The information flow from SCRCO goes to each Regional NGO Board by way of their regional representative who attends regular monthly meetings of the SCRCO Board in Los Angeles.  Any information that reaches the local chapter comes via their own regional NGO.  Seventy-five per cent of SCRCO member NGOs are regional counterparts of NGOs that belong to the UNA-USA Council of Organizations. When SCRCO does advocacy with its U.S. Congressional Representatives or the US Administration, it can point to the fact that it represents the total of individuals who belong to all the local chapters of each regional NGO in support of a given UN-related position, which will be thousands.  

In November 1992 when I was  in my third year as President of the UNA-USA Southern California Division, I received a phone call from the Executive Director of a Congressionally-mandated body, the US Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations, asking if I would put together a coalition of NGOs who would put on the Commission’s February 1, 1993, Public Hearings in Los Angeles.  

The Planning Committee of the 22-member Host Coalition enjoyed working together so much that these nine NGOs became the nucleus for a Regional Council of Organizations:  American Association of University Women; Bahai’s; Church Women United; Friends of the UN; Alliance for Global Unity; Humanist Association; International Association for Volunteer Effort; United Nations Association; and the World Federalist Association.  On May 5 they asked for formal affiliation with the United Nations Association at the Southern California Division level to correspond with the Council of Organizations at the national level. The purposes would be to:

1) Educate the public on the role and organization of the United Nations      and its agencies,


2) Improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and strengthen it.

Based on the receipt of letters signed by these organizations affirming participation, the Division Board gave unanimous approval July 31, 1993, with the Council Chair to become a voting member of the Division Board.  Subsequently, a special article appeared in the Summer issue of the Division Newsletter.  In October, Guidelines were adopted by Regional Council representatives that included this policy statement:


The Council may represent and promote officially adopted policies and positions of the UNA-USA.  It may not adopt policy positions or make policy statements on behalf of its members, their organizations, or the UNA.


A Nominating Committee, chaired by the AAUW representative, presented a report in January and the first officers were elected in February 1994.  Advocacy and education have been our primary goals.


Some of the more interesting programs and projects we’ve undertaken as a coalition are:

  • For the UN’s 50th Anniversary in 1995, we celebrated with monthly programs in various venues on the accomplishments of individual UN agencies.

  • In 1998 numerous NGOs purchased the recently completed 480-page International Instruments of the United Nations, such as treaties, conventions, charters, etc. adopted by the General Assembly of the UN from 1945 to 1995 and presented them to public libraries.  It was edited by our own Regional Council representative and national officer of Friends of the United Nations, Irving Sarnoff.

  • Between May 1999 and December 2002 SCRCO provided no-cost subscription to NGOs for Quarterly Newsletter Paragraphs on UN topical issues.

  • For five years beginning in 2000, with the cooperation of the  LA County School System, SCRCO invited high school students to celebrate UNESCO’s Principles of the Culture of Peace through student creations and performance.  It was led by SCRCO’s representative from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Paul Kimmel, supported in part by a Sages grant.

  • On October 12, 2002, SCRCO held a one day Global Health Conference for non-governmental  members and the public.  Collaborators were the UCLA School of Public health and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.  Stephen Lewis, the Keynote Speaker, was former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Annan’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.  A UNA-USA Web Exclusive carried the story.  It was funded in part by the California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment.  The Better World Campaign underwrote a conference budget item.

  • In 2004 SCRCO and the UNA Division invited UNA-USA President Luers to Southern California where he spoke at separate events, attended a special breakfast and had several small meetings to acquaint him with local chapter representatives and various concerns.


A representative group of SCRCO advocacy communications have urged:

  • Establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court;

  • Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

  • Funding of Assessed Peacekeeping Operations;

  • Ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

  • US Re-entry into UNESCO;

  • Global education and information about the UN System in public schools.

Most of these issues are still before us.  It is important now that we follow up on these commitments to ensure that a strong United Nations continues to be a priority for President Obama.

Please join us on January 21, 2009, and bring your organizations goals and concerns.


Rene Wilson


Southern California Regional Council of Organizations


January 2009




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