Conference in New York examines UWC and Ukrainian diaspora achievements from a North American perspective
On 16 September 2017, the conference “UWC at 50 and beyond: The North American Vector” and commemorative banquet held at the Princeton Club in New York, U.S.A. marked the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC).
Organized by UWC member organization Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the one‑day conference coordinated and moderated by Dr. Walter Zaryckyj, Chair of the UWC International Scholarly Council, was one in a series that is examining the achievements of the UWC and the Ukrainian diaspora with the goal of charting a course for the future of the UWC.
Participants were greeted by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations (UN) Volodymyr Yelchenko who highlighted the contribution of the UWC over the years to supporting Ukraine and its efforts within the UN.
UWC President Eugene Czolij delivered the opening address on the theme “The UWC at fifty – Reflecting on high-water mark achievements” during a session chaired by UWC Secretary-General Stefan Romaniw.
Four panel discussions followed during the course of the day, each focusing on different aspects of UWC activity.
Panel Discussion I addressed the theme: “Taking measure of UWC’s efforts to improve US-Ukraine and Canada-Ukraine relations.” Its moderator was Roma Hadzewycz, Editor-in-Chief of the weeklies Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly. The panelists, UCCA President Andrew Futey, Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Paul Grod and First U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Popadiuk highlighted in their presentations the strengths of the UWC member organizations in North America with respect to engaging the leadership of Canada and the U.S. on initiatives in support of Ukraine, its territorial integrity and its people.
Panel Discussion II, moderated by Tamara Olexy, Chair of the UWC International Council on UN Affairs, developed the theme: “Highlighting Ukrainian World Congress efforts in the United Nations.” Panelists, former Permanent Representatives of Ukraine to the UN Valeriy Kuchinsky and Yuri Sergeyev, President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations Orysia Sushko, and discussant Borys Potapenko, Chair Ad Interim of the International Council Support of Ukraine, focused on the UWC past and shared their views on its continued role in strengthening Ukraine’s position, and highlighted the importance of greater involvement of more Ukrainian NGOs within the UN framework.
Panel Discussion III, moderated by Director of UWC Humanitarian Initiatives Victor Hetmanczuk, offered participants a glimpse into the vast scope of work being done in support of the social needs of the Ukrainian population and also examined the activities of the diaspora in support of the human rights of Ukrainians worldwide. Panelists, President of the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee Larissa Kyj, Acting Director of the UWC Humanitarian Initiative Patriot Defence Marko Suprun, and retired Senior Policy Adviser, U.S. Helsinki Commission, Orest Deychakiwsky, addressed the theme: “Examining UWC’s work in the Humanitarian/Social Services/Human Rights Spheres.”
Rounding out the themes, Panel Discussion IV was titled “Examining UWC’s efforts in the Cultural/Informational/Education Spheres” as moderated by Chair of the UWC International Media and Public Relations Committee Iryna Mycak. Focusing on specific areas of activity within communities of the Ukrainian diaspora, panelists, past President of The Ukrainian Museum NYC Renata Holod, Associate Director of Harvard Research Institute Lubomyr Hajda, and UCCA Director of Communications and Media Andrij Dobriansky, highlighted accomplishments of the North American Ukrainian communities, primarily in sharing the Ukrainian identity with the mainstream.
A guest of the conference proceedings was Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valeriy Chaly who spoke during a Working Lunch Focus Session on the theme: “Why a free, stable and prosperous Ukraine matters to the United States.” The Ambassador reminded the guests of the role of Ukraine today, specifically to defend not only its territorial integrity from Russian Federation aggression but subsequently to protect the security and stability of Europe and the world. The session was chaired by US Federal Claims Court Judge Bohdan Futey.
Concluding remarks were delivered by UWC President from 1998-2008 Askold Lozynskyj. Speaking on the theme: “The Ukrainian World Congress looking forward: What to expect in the next 50 years,” Askold Lozynskyj highlighted the fact that the UWC, regardless of the development of political events both past and future, was, is and always must remain the conscience of the Ukrainian people.
The conference proceedings were followed by a commemorative banquet that featured two speakers.
Kateryna Yushchenko, former First Lady of Ukraine, spoke about the role of the diaspora in assisting the Ukrainian people in the consolidation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy.
The second featured speaker was Vasyl Hrytsak, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine. He presented guests with an image of the sacrifices being made by Ukrainian men and women on the front lines of the hybrid war with the Russian Federation, and the sacrifices of their families, emphasizing the need to intensify efforts to ensure an end to this war. In recognition of contributions of the Ukrainian diaspora in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine acknowledged the following individuals with certificates: Eugene Czolij, Stefan Romaniw, Paul Grod, Andrew Futey, Dr. Walter Zaryckyj and Borys Potapenko.
Greetings were delivered by Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Eugene Czolij, Andrew Futey, Paul Grod and Askold Lozynskyj. Master of Ceremonies of the banquet was UCCA Executive Vice President Michael Sawkiw.
On the occasion of the UWC 50th anniversary, donations were presented to the UWC by SUMA (Yonkers) Federal Credit Union and the Heritage Foundation 1st Security Savings Bank in Chicago.
The conference and banquet were organized by a Steering Committee including Executive Coordinator Tamara Olexy, Administrative Coordinators Andrij Dobriansky, Mykola Hryckowian and Lesia Orach, and Program Coordinator Dr. Walter Zaryckyj.
“The Ukrainian World Congress expresses gratitude to the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Steering Committee on successful events marking the 50th anniversary of the UWC in the city where the UWC was first launched, and the entire Ukrainian American community for its unwavering support and dedication to the interests of the Ukrainian people worldwide,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
In the photo from left: S. Romaniw and E. Czolij