United Nations Climate Conference Online!

United Nations Update

Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland


  • Right to a Healthy Environment - On October 8, 2021 the Human Rights Council at the United Nations passed a resolution on the Right to a Healthy Environment. The text of the resolution was proposed by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.  A second resolution was also passed and a Special Rapporteur was established that is dedicated to increasing the focus on the impact on human rights of climate change.  It is hoped that through these resolutions people around the world will see the link between climate change and human rights because in recent years several environmental defenders have been murdered (e.g., Berta Cáceres in Honduras).  More information on these resolutions can be found at the following link - https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1102582#.


  • 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 2021 - Beginning 31 October through 12 November 2021 the 26th United Nations Climate Conference of the Parties 2021 commonly referred to as COP26 will be held in Glasgow Scotland. This conference is being hosted by Great Britain in partnership with Italy.  COP26 is felt to be a momentous event because it is believed by some to be the last chance to "get runaway climate change under control."  It was in 2015 at COP21 when the Paris Agreement was developed.  As part of this agreement, a commitment was made by every country to work together to limit global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius and to actually aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.  At COP21 there was an agreement made by each country to return every five years "with an updated plan that would reflect their highest ambition at that time." Due to the pandemic the meeting was postponed by one year and now will begin on 31 October and end on 12 November 2021. For more information about COP26 and to keep abreast of the events associated with it please check out the following links –


  • Robin Tokmakian, the LWVUS UN Observer for Climate, asked that we pass on the following information:


With this note, we would also like to invite you to a special event in Glasgow Climate Law and Governance Day, University of Glasgow and online (05 Nov 2021). CLGD 2021, with an intense programme of over 16 in person and online sessions hosted by international organizations, country delegations, foundations, law associations and firms, law faculties and many other leading climate law and governance actors, provides an important point for the global climate law and governance community to meet, share ideas and build new innovative collaborations to tackle climate change and implement the Paris Agreement across international and domestic regulation, climate litigation, legal scholarship, and commercial practice circles. 


The event also features the Climate Law and Governance Global Leadership Awards 2021 and International Climate Law and Governance Student Essay Contest 2021 Prizes on 05 November 2021, recognizing negotiators, general counsel, and distinguished practitioners, academics and civil society leaders, also outstanding students, for their contributions to the global legal response to climate change. 


With leading climate law and governance counsel, experts and practitioners preparing to join over 20,000 Party delegates and observers for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) on 01 – 12 November 2021, a unique opportunity arises to increase ambition, harness the knowledge and engagement of the climate law and governance community, share innovations and good practices, and strengthen networks and capacity for the race to net zero. In response, the Climate Law and Governance Initiative has launched this global call for partners, sponsors and session hosts for Climate Law and Governance Day 2021 and associated activities in Cambridge and Glasgow in October and November 2021, with an important online component. There are four key themes this year: 

Operationalising the Paris Agreement:

Testing Legal and Governance Tools for High Ambition Implementation: 

Advancing Climate Resilience and Climate Justice: 

Net Zero Legal Frameworks to Enable Climate Neutral Investment and Finance 

Members of your delegation and others can register for the course here. Scholarships and fee waivers are available upon request, particularly for delegates from low-income countries.  Your colleagues would also be welcome to the Official COP side-event Net Zero Climate Law & Governance - Advance Ambition & Action for Paris Agreement NAPs/NDCs & SDGs, taking place at 11.30-12.45 on 6 Nov 2021 in the Clyde Audatorium, Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW. This will be an interactive, online roundtable highlighting net zero climate law and governance innovations to strengthen ambition, markets, strategy and compliance. It will also celebrate new research and practices which help implement Paris Agreement national adaptation frameworks, nationally determined contributions and advance key sustainable development goals.  


In essence, we would be very grateful if you might post and pass on these invitations from the Climate Law and Governance Initiative, so that those in your networks who are interested can benefit several COP26 opportunities for UNFCCC Parties interested in sharing experiences and strengthening climate law and governance capacity, engaging legal advisors and others from many delegations together with legal experts, students and practitioners. This year, there options for free registration and online participation, in five main events: 

October 29– 30: Climate Change, the SDGs, and the Law: Academic Law and Policy Conference (In person in Cambridge and online). 

November 05: Climate Law and Governance Day (In person at the University of Glasgow and online) 

November 06: Net Zero Climate Law & Governance - Advance Ambition & Action for Paris Agreement NAPs/NDCs & SDGs (Official COP Side Event; Clyde Auditorium, Blue Zone) 

November 07: Climate Law and Governance Specialisation Course (In person at the University of Strathclyde and online) 

December 01: Accelerating Paris Agreement Compliance for Sustainable Development (In person at the University of Cambridge and online) 


If any of your delegates or observers would be interested in these opportunities, we would kindly ask that you forward these invitations to them, and post them more broadly. We would also be delighted to share flyers or other news of your side event, as well as other activities in Glasgow, with the CLGI network of over 5,000 senior officials, legal advisors to delegations, legal experts and professors, legal practitioners and students of law and governance related to climate change. 


We look forward to learning whether colleagues from your organization would like to participate this year, and invite you to contact us on [email protected] and [email protected] as we would be delighted to respond to any questions. 


Kind Regards,  


Ms. Sophie Quinlan  

Researcher, Climate Law and Governance Initiative 

LLM Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge  



Ms. Chantalle Byron 

Secretariat Coordinator, Climate Law and Governance Initiative 

Associate Fellow, Centre for International Sustainable Development Law 

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge 

LWV Howard County approves new Equity in Education Position

At the Annual Meeting on April 24, 2021, our membership approved the Equity in Education Position, and decided to conduct an additional study to address follow-on questions and issues. 

Dear LWVHC members,
At our February Unit Meeting, membership came to a consensus to update our education policy to
include language about equity in education. At our annual meeting, we will be voting to adopt our
updated position.
The Board approved a second study on equity in education, which will also be presented for a vote
at the annual meeting. You can read the proposal below the new education position text.
The LWVHC Board
Proposed Update to Education Position:
This proposal adds a tenth article to our position.

10. Equity in education (2021)
a. Equity requires that we provide each student with the resources, support, and instruction
necessary to achieve academic success. Schools with disproportionate numbers of students with
special needs [including English as a Second Language (ESL) and Free and Reduced Meals
(FARM)] require more support than schools that are less challenged.
b. Equity is achieved through:
i. Balanced school redistricting. Balanced school redistricting is
defined as: (1) capacity utilization, (2) community continuity, (3) factors related to social-economic
ii. Allocation of resources such as communication systems,
technology, maintenance and capital improvements, and even playground equipment based on the
need of each school.
iii. How experienced the staff, administrators & support staff are.
iv. Transparent and comprehensive data collection related to factors
affecting equity that allows citizens to understand how equity goals are achieved.
v. Expanded multi-cultural course offerings and consistent advanced
placement offerings among all schools.
New Education Study Proposal

Working Title: Equity in Education, Expanded Study
The purpose of the study is to expand LWVHC positions that specifically address equity in
education. Potential areas of study include:
· faculty diversity,
· school discipline,
· curriculum diversity beyond Euro-centric studies,
· equity in funding for building maintenance and construction.
Possible additional areas of study include:
· mental health support, specifically suicide prevention,
· equity issues related to the use of and access to technology.

LWV Announces Consensus on Vote By Mail

We are pleased to announce to our members that the Board of LWVMD has approved the following position on Vote by Mail.

League of Women Voters of Maryland VBM position:

Support for Vote By Mail (VBM) for elections in Maryland where all registered voters are automatically sent a ballot in the mail without having to request one first, and in-person voting options are available but limited.

The following best practices should be applied to any VBM legislation:

  1. Prepaid postage for return of ballots should be required. 
  2. Ballots should be mailed at least three weeks before an election. 
  3. Voter Education using all forms of media is essential in preparing voters for the vote by mail process.
  4. Ballots should be tracked throughout the process by means such as the use of barcodes.
  5. Some form of signature privacy should be made available for returning ballots.
  6. Ample drop boxes must be available in all counties and Baltimore City and they must be conveniently located, especially with public transportation access and/or access to rural areas when appropriate. Safety must also be provided for the ballots and the voters.
  7. Ample in-person polling places must be available in all counties and Baltimore City and they must be conveniently located, especially with public transportation access and/or access to rural areas when appropriate. Safety must also be provided for the ballots and the voters.
  8. Vote counting should start before Election Day.
  9. If a signature is missing or required, the voter should have a chance to correct the challenge.
  10. Early opportunities for in-person voting should be continued.

Thanks to the hard work of the Vote By Mail Study Committee, our Program Chair Elaine Apter, all the Local League members who participated in consensus meetings and the board, we now have a position that we can use in testimony before the 2021 General Assembly.

Watch the December 17th Unit Meeting

Watch the December 17th Law Enforcement Forum with Sheriff Harris and State's Attorney Gibson on Facebook.

December 17th Unit Meeting - Law Enforcement Forum


Forum Video Posted on Facebook

Watch the November Unit Meeting on Vote By Mail

Is the United Nations Still Relevant?

Is the United Nations Still Relevant?

By Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland


On October 24, 2020 the United Nations (UN) will celebrate 75 years since its birth.  Commemoration of this historic event will occur in the midst of many crises that include a global pandemic, global economic decline, and multiple environmental disasters – to name a few.  Among the crises is the question, "Is the United Nations still relevant?"  Despite a 6.5 billion dollar budget for peace keeping operations, the UN has been for the most part ineffective in dealing with the conflicts in Yemen, Libya, and Syria (Gladstone, 2020).  Furthermore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues with no end in sight.  While the UN has lived up to its goal of preventing another world war, more recently Secretary General António Guterres has not been able to motivate the international community to seriously address the needs of the most vulnerable.  The feeling among those who study international affairs is that the UN is currently on a downward trend in terms of influence and effectiveness largely because most countries have turned inward, especially due to the pandemic, to focus on their own needs.  Many countries are now not as interested in multilateralism that requires cooperating with other countries to solve global problems. 


Part of the problem is that the structure of the UN has kept power in the hands of the victors of World War II – Britain, Russia, United States, France, and China – and given little significant power to the General Assembly with its 193 member states (Gladstone, 2020).  In addition, the fact that Britain, Russia, United States, France, and China are permanent members of the 15-seat Security Council and have veto power has been a major impediment to addressing international problems.  This is because they often deadlock on issues and they also do not represent the current balance of power in the world.  Furthermore, the dysfunctional relationship between the United States, China, and Russia has not helped.  Moreover, these five permanent members of the Security Council are not keen on making structural changes to the organization.  The problems with the UN structure not only imperil the lives of those impacted by conflict, but also are imperiling the ability of countries to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html).  These 17 goals aim to fast-track for those furthest behind a reduction in poverty, hunger, AIDS, and discrimination against women and girls by 2030. 


Another challenge that is impacting the UN is the present autocratic leadership in several countries that does not see value in international cooperation and collective security.  According to an article written by Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor at the Guardian, on 23 July 2020, David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee believes that we are now," living through an age of impunity" where there are no limits on behavior and the external power constraints that the UN Security Council should be able to provide are not there. 


However, despite its challenges some ambassadors still see value in the UN system, if only as a place for member countries to air their grievances and "defuse the domestic pressure exerted on governments faced with intractable problems."  There are also proposals to do, as Samantha Power, the former United States Ambassador to the UN has said, "workarounds" that would allow work to be done outside the UN Security Council, such as in the UN Human Rights Council where the veto does not exist (Wintour, 2020).  Because of its role as the only international body where countries can come together to discuss their multiple concerns and challenges, the UN still has relevance in today's world. 


As Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed, President of the International Court of Justice said in a recent article published in the UN Chronicle (Ahmed, 2020), "…if the UN did not exist today, it would have to be invented."  However, a UN 2020 would likely not be invented with the same structure.  He further explained that after all, the current UN system is "not carved in stone."  It has been adjusted in the past and "can be modified again" for the common good of humanity (Ahmed, 2020).


There is hope that the needed alterations to the UN system will be done by the younger generation of leaders who see borders not as limits but as opportunities to ensure that humanity is treated equally and fairly.  Certainly any changes in the UN system will not happen overnight, but in order for this much needed international organization to continue to be relevant and address future challenges, the balance of power will need to change so that it better reflects the current needs of the international community.



Black, M. (2008).  The no-nonsense guide to the United Nations.  Toronto, Canada:  New Internationalist Publications.

Gladstone, R. (2020, September 16).  The United Nations turns 75 amid calamity and conflict, The New York Times, p. A7. 

Publications Department United Nations Association, USA (2005).  The ABCs of the UN. 

United Nations Development Programme.  (2020). The sustainable development goals.  Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html

Wintour, P. (2020, July 23).  What is the future of the UN in the age of impunity?  The Guardian.  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/23/what-is-the-future-of-the-un-in-the-age-of-impunity

Yusuf, A. A. (2020, July 10).  The charter of the United Nations after 75 years:  Personal reflections.  UN Chronicle.  Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/charter-united-nations-after-75-years-personal-reflections



Election Protection Hotline Is Live, Everyday

Cynthia Williams, Our President, recently attended Election Protection Training, and has this to share:

The Election Protection hotline is now live seven days a week, with attorneys and other legal professional answering calls from voters across the country. Voters can call 866-OUR-VOTE to get voting help regarding issues from registration challenges to vote-by-mail information to polling place lookups. 

In addition to the hotline resources, Election Protection is now offering voters help via our new digital tools: texting via 866-687-8683, live chat via 866ourvote.org, and live chat via Election Protection’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Voters can now get help by (1) texting “MYVOTE” to 866-687-8683, (2) messaging us at 866ourvote.org, or (3) direct messaging us on Facebook (Election Protection) or Twitter (@866OURVOTE). 

Lastly, here are some sample messages/posts that can be shared via email or social media:

  • Call our Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for LIVE help M-F from 9am-9pm ET. Call 866-687-8683 today!
    • Get help registering to vote
    • Check your registration status
    • Find out about early voting or absentee voting options in your state
  • Did you know that you can get voting help from Election Protection without calling the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline? Chat with @866OURVOTE at https://866ourvote.org/ by clicking the chat icon in the upper righthand corner or text 866-687-8683. #ProtectOurVote
  • Text MYVOTE to 866-687-8683 to get voting help from a trained Election Protection volunteer. #DefendingDemocracy


Read more

Justice Ginsburg Remembered


Nearly 4 years after going viral for dressing like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Columbia girl fondly recalls her personal connection with the Justice

By Sameer Rao, Baltimore Sun, September 20, 2020


Many people have looked up to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a role model. Fewer have gotten a note from the trailblazing jurist after going viral for dressing like her.


That’s what happened to Michele Threefoot of Columbia in 2017. The then-8-year-old was inspired by reading Debbie Levy’s biographical picture book, “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark," that she and her mother, Krista Threefoot, created a costume for her school’s Superhero Day. Photos of Michele went far and wide online, and Ginsburg ultimately reached out to her through an assistant.

“Dear Michele, You look just like me! May you continue to thrive on reading and learning. Every good wish, Ruth Bader Ginsburg," the note from the justice read.

Michele Threefoot, now 12, still admires Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after making a special connection with her four years ago. (Krista Threefoot/Courtesy of Krista Threefoot)

Almost four years later, with many mourning Ginsburg’s death from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday, Michele Threefoot has not forgotten the gesture.

“She was there for me in my life for almost half of my life, and you can’t take that away,” the now-12-year-old said on Saturday. “She’s important to me and my family, and she’s the only hero I have that isn’t, like, my family.”

[More Maryland news] An unofficial car show that placed Ocean City ‘under siege’ last year begins Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know. »

Michele and Krista Threefoot both said they were shocked and saddened by the news of Ginsburg’s passing.

“It’s really sad, actually, because I didn’t really know she was sick until I heard that she had died,” Michele said. “It was kind of a big surprise for me, I did not expect her to die. I thought she was going to live to 90, I thought for sure.”

“We’re all mourning the loss of an icon, but I think a lot of people are really inspired by everything she fought for,” Krista added. “So, a sad moment, but also an invigorating moment.”




League Mourns Justice Ginsburg

League of Women Voters Mourns the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


WASHINGTON—League of Women Voters president Deborah Turner and CEO Virginia Kase issued the following joint statement on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

“It is with deep and profound sadness the League of Women Voters mourns the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A fierce advocate for women’s rights and civil rights, Justice Ginsburg’s vision for America transcended race, age, gender, and economic lines. She was a beloved champion of justice for all.

“Early in her career, she was a trailblazer who challenged the status quo and bucked tradition, upending gender norms and societal expectations of women through her strategic litigation approach. When she was denied opportunities, she created her own and ensured that the door was opened for others.

“Over Justice Ginsburg’s 27-year service on the United States Supreme Court, she was a champion of the Constitution , famously penning a stirring defense of the Voting Rights Act in her dissent to the Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision and the Court’s opinion in the United States v. Virginia, which struck down Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy.

“Justice Ginsburg’s wisdom, determination, and dedication to equal rights embodied the League’s belief in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy. She touched each and every one of our lives. May she rest in power.”


CONTACT: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | [email protected]

September 2020 President's Report

President’s Report – Cynthia Williams

September 10, 2020 LWVHC

The Voter

We haven’t had a Voter for some time, now.  We need to work on a strategy to get it up and running again.

19th Amendment 100th Anniversary Celebrations

We had a very nice celebration for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment on August 18, 2020 in front of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.  The speakers included County Executive Calvin Ball, Delegate Jessica Feldmark, County Council Chair Deb Jung, and former County Executive and Delegate, Liz Bobo.  We were presented with 2 declarations and a citation.  The event was well attended.


Beth Hufnagel has moved the computer into the office and we’re happy to have Gina back in the office as well.

Candidate Forums

We will be doing candidate forums for the General Election on Oct. 2nd via Zoom.  Our partners will be the Association of Community Services of Howard County, the PTA Council of Howard County, and the Horizon Foundation.  The invitations have gone out to the candidates, and we’re waiting to hear back regarding their availability.  The Zoom rooms have been scheduled.  It has been advertised to our members and to some Facebook communities.  We’re speaking to our sponsors regarding what their responsibility is to be, and we’ve brought on another partner (Horizon Foundation) that will try to get us questions for the Circuit Court Judge forum (with Becca Niburg as backup).  We are hoping to have the forums streamed on Facebook in addition to being posted on our website. 

Poll Evaluation

We will not officially be doing poll evaluations for the General through the BOE, but some of us will probably being doing them for other organizations.  We have been working closely with the BOE to get the most accurate voter information for the General election.


We have sent out requests for donations in order to advertise the Voter Guide more effectively, as well as a t-shirt fundraiser.  Both are doing very well so far.


Our Letter to the Editor was published in the Columbia Flyer and the Howard County Times today.  We have been distributing our Voter FAQ sheet (Cheryle had it translated to Spanish) at farmer’s markets and CCC sites (when we have the volunteers or myself).  It has also been given to Delegate Courtney Watson, ACS, and the Horizon Foundation for distribution.  We contributed a slide to the Howard Hughes “Big” event on Friday.  NeighborRide is giving out Vote411.org cards to their passengers.  Attempted to get permission to hand out the Voter FAQ sheets at the landfill (they get 2,000 people in on a Saturday).  After much tussling, couldn’t get permission.


We held our Retreat via Zoom over 2 nights this time.  Discussed how to advertise the Voter Guide, whether or not to deliver ballots for people in nursing homes and assisted livings, what to talk to Guy Mickley (who we’ve been communicating with regarding voting info) about, doing the t-shirt fundraiser, and the signup sheet for volunteers.


National Registration Day September 22, 2020

Looks like the above will be at Howard County General Hospital headed up by Cheryle.  I was hoping to have more groups participating, but it’s not worked out that way.  We may get more volunteers out of it, though.  We’ve been mailed posters and stickers for the event.  We’ve committed to 100 registrations – basically a number pulled out of the air, but who knows?  **Update:  We will also be partnering with the YMCA in Howard on this day.

General Registration

Besides the Hospital, Cheryle has several registration opportunities scheduled (see her report).

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Event

The Sheriff’s Dept. has agreed to partner with us for the above event.  There will be deputies located in various places in Downtown Old Ellicott City.  Several businesses have been contacted and they will support the event by putting the Voter FAQ sheet in their windows.  There may be donation boxes put in those shops if they allow it and containers can be found cheaply, which I may have just found.  The event has been advertised using ACS, our email blast, and various Facebook Communities.  Two TV news stations have been contacted in hope that they will cover the event.  The elected for the Ellicott City District have been contacted.  Hopefully it won’t rain.

Election Judges/Racial Equity Task Force

Cheryle, Beth, and Grace have all volunteered to be Election Judges and are going through the training.  Please let me know if I missed anyone.  Thanks go to all of them for their service.  Laura and Beth’s names have been put forward to join the above task force that is being put together by Councilmembers Opel Jones and Christiana Rigby.

Voter Guide

Barbara is working on it and hopes to have it completed mid-September.  Question remains whether or not to print it, and if so, how many copies?

Outside Presentations

We have been requested of late to do several presentations:  2 for Oakland Mills, 1 for HCC, 2 for AAUW, the HC Library system, and Sandy will be participating in the HCC Sustainability Day.

Unit Meetings

There are 3 Unit meetings – the September and October ones are regarding voting, and the November one will include State’s Attorney Rich Gibson, Sheriff Marcus Harris, and (hopefully) Police Chief Lisa Myers.  The September and October Unit meetings have Zoom rooms and have been advertised in the usual ways.  If I can figure it out, they will also stream on Facebook.


Krista and I attended a webinar regarding consensus and programs.  The Fall Workshop will be on Saturday, September 26, 2020 (via Zoom).  We will be expected to fill reach consensus on the programs they are putting forward, and fill out the form they provide by Monday, December 14, 2020.