TRANSITION: NEW NGO REPRESENTATIVE

Grace Amarachi Ezeonu

With joy we welcome Grace Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN, who on September 1 will begin her service as NGO representative for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the United Nations. To this important position Grace brings a strong background in social justice and leadership and a commitment to systemic change and collaboration. Many community experiences in her home country of Nigeria add a special dimension to her understanding of global issues.

JeanStoner cropAs for me, I now conclude six years of service at the UN expressing gratitude for meaningful immersion in the international arena, beneficial networking with other NGOs, and energizing engagement with many visitors and groups about global issues. Dag Hammarskjold said it best: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!”

Jean Stoner, SNDdeN
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
NGO Representative at the United Nations

DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD’S VISION FOR THE UN: MAKE ROOM FOR STILLNESS

Dag HammarskjöldDag Hammarskjöld, 2nd UN Secretary General, served from 1953 until his untimely death in 1961. In 1957 he established a Meditation Room at United Nations headquarters in New York because he believed that “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.”

Meditation Room UNSecretary Hammarskjöld created the room to be one of utter simplicity, containing only a spotlight falling on a block of iron ore with a mural on the wall behind. Simple seats allow visitors to rest and ponder the light, iron, and design and their relevance to the UN and their own peace-making efforts. His dedication, displayed outside the Meditation Room, concludes: “There is an ancient saying that the sense of a vessel is not in its shell but in the void. So it is with this room. It is for those who come here to fill the void with what they find in their center of stillness.”

Let us all continue to bring stillness, peace, and understanding to our troubled world.

UNITED NATIONS: REPORT FROM PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES

By Sister Nathanael Lee, LSHF, Missionary Oblates’ Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) 2015–2017 Intern/Fellow. She is from South Korea and a member of the Little Servants of the Holy Family.)

Sr. Nathanael Lee in UN   General Assembly Hall

Sr. Nathanael Lee in UN General Assembly Hall

A major part of my two-year internship with the Justice and Peace ministry at Missionary Oblates – US Province is understanding the workings of the United Nations. For my local congregation back in Seoul, Korea, the UN is considered beyond our scope of work. It is a distant institution and far away from our daily apostolate life. I can hear colleagues from my Order, Little Servants of the Holy Family, saying, “Why in the world would a Catholic Sister need to go to the United Nations?” Needless to say, my colleagues are always ready to serve the poor and keen on caring for those most abandoned right in our neighborhood. We as an Order have no problem with a ‘so-called’ grassroots level approach to human problems.

Before this recent visit to the United Nations, my knowledge of indigenous people was confined to images from the 1986 British film ‘Mission’ and 1990 American film ‘Dances with Wolves’. From my perspective they both present a stereotypical view of indigenous people. South Korea ethnically is a pretty homogeneous society, so I have very little knowledge of indigenous issues. It may be surprising to some people to know that this was the first time I heard about “rights” for Indigenous people. I was not only ignorant as a global citizen, but I also had a narrow perception of the concept of minority. So recently participating in the UN Indigenous Forum simultaneously exposed me to two new things: the UN system and the issue of indigenous rights.

The 15th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place in New York City from May 9-20, 2016. I was amazed to see a large number of indigenous people proudly wearing their traditional attire in the General Assembly hall and raising their voice. Their stories were equally fascinating and agonizing – homicide, massacres, evacuation, and displacement, etc. These were stories I never hear about through the mainstream media. I wondered “why”, considering a resolution on the rights of indigenous peoples was declared and adopted by the UN in 2007. For me, the UN was the perfect place to begin absorbing this totally new subject matter. I was learning by listening to real indigenous people in their own voices, reading through official conference documents, and participating in side-events.

Here in Washington, D.C., through the Oblate JPIC office, I have learned how to approach global and national issues that begin at the grassroots level. The link from grassroots to national then international promotes a “no one left behind” strategy. It is like the Good Shepherd who goes after one-lost sheep until he finds it among the hundred. (Cf. Luke 15:4) In my case, ‘a woman religious from a small local congregation goes to the United Nations’ sounds unrealistic somehow at the beginning. Having said that, I am confident now about persuading my Little Servants of the Holy Family Sisters on just how appropriate it is for us to engage with the UN on behalf of voiceless people in desperate need. It was a tremendous privilege to participate in the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I am grateful to VIVAT International, an accredited member of the UN, for bringing me as part of their delegation. I appreciate all people who strive and search for one lost sheep until they find it.

Unpfii15 crop

LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND: FOCUS FIRST ON THOSE WHO ARE THE FURTHEST BEHIND

Poverty shoe cropIn 2012 Franciscans International and ATD Fourth World realized that a handbook was needed to translate the legal language of the UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights into concrete suggestions to help those working at the local level to better understand the implications of human rights for people living in extreme poverty. Their useful manual is now available in English, French, and Spanish, and free pdfs are accessible here: franciscansinternational.org/handbook/. You will also find introductory videos with subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and German.

 We must talk about poverty,
because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.
Dorothy Day

CULTIVATING FRIENDSHIP: HIROSHIMA SPREADS PEACE WORLDWIDE

sapling from Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Gingko treeOn May 2, Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, along with Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), presented to the United Nations Office at Geneva a sapling from an A-bomb Survivor Gingko tree in Hiroshima. In the fall the sapling will be planted by the UN Secretary-General in the Ariana Park of the Palais des Nations in Geneva as part of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative. Jointly sponsored by UNITAR and the NGO Asian Network of Trust-Hiroshima, the initiative aims to safeguard and spread worldwide the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s A-bomb Survivor trees.

SNDATUN SURVEY: POSITIVE RESULTS AND HELPFUL INPUT

checkOur Survey responses showed high interest in and satisfaction with our SNDatUN NewsBriefs. Respondents would like to see a priority for climate change, then education, poverty eradication, and UN events, and followed by migration, gender equality, and financing for development. They indicated support for more of the following: guest authors, images, links to UN content, and multimedia. Thank you to all who gave such helpful input.

Additional suggestions welcome any time: email SNDatUN@SNDdeN.org.

NEW INTERNET DOMAINS .NGO AND .ONG: PROVIDING CREDIBILITY TO NGOS

Two new internet domains became available in 2015. Unlike the .org domain, which can be ngoong.jpgused by any person or organization, .ngo and .ong are available only to validated NGOs, providing immediate recognition and credibility for these organizations. We Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur obtained our new domains and are now included in the Directory of validated NGOs. www.sndden.ngo (English)  www.sndden.ong (French)

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