April 1, 2009 by cgsstlouischapter
Stefanie A. Hausheer
Before attending the Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) conference in Washington, D.C., I understood in an abstract way that by voting, I helped send representatives to the nation’s capitol to speak for me, but the experience of lobbying on Capitol Hill marked a turning point in my experience of American citizenship. As we walked past the countless senators’ and representatives’ offices and as my group met with staff members inside some of these offices, I felt so close to the seat of legislative and political power. Never before have I felt so connected to the government, and never before have I felt that we, the people, have so much power to affect the actions of our elected officials.
In addition to the empowering experience of lobbying, the incredible array of speakers that presented on various topics provided me with a wealth of fascinating information. Gillian Sorenson of the UN Foundation gave me fresh evidence of the U.N.’s important role in the international system, but she also reminded me that we Americans must push our government to be far more involved in the U.N. so that we can take advantage of the multilateral initiatives that it offers us.
During a breakout session that discussed nuclear abolition and more effective peacekeeping, I was reminded of the threat that we all face since so many nation-states are armed with nuclear weapons. I also enjoyed the breakout session that discussed several treaties that have stagnated in the American legislative system and have not been ratified by the senate. I was dumbfounded to learn that the United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I also learned a great deal about the Rome Statute and the ICC, and I was startled to learn about how little the United States has done to cooperate with the ICC.
The final panel, which dealt with the notion of a UN Parliamentary Assembly, was fascinating because many of the speakers presented ideas that I had never heard before. I was intrigued by the idea of a world parliament, and after hearing from a panel of experts, I would like to do further research on the matter.
Although I loved lobbying on Capitol Hill and hearing the speakers during the conference, perhaps my favorite part of the entire trip was interacting with CGS members and staff. I felt so lucky to spend a few days with such brilliant, well-informed, dedicated, and remarkable people! Everyone I spoke to wanted to get to know me and exchange ideas. I felt so inspired just by talking to the CGS delegates at the conference.
In sum, the entire experience at the CGS conference in Washington, D.C. was fantastic. I will not soon forget the information that the speakers and the attendees shared with me, and coming to the conference definitely motivated me to become more of an activist in my own life. Even though some of the information I learned was negative or frightening, I now feel equipped to do something about the issues that concern me. Attending the conference has also spurred me to check out several books from the library so that I can build on the knowledge that I gained from the trip. I am so grateful to have been chosen to embark on such a wonderful adventure!