In commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labor (12 June), International Day of the African Child (16 June), and the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor (2021), Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the UN with several NGOs is co-sponsoring a virtual event with the NGO Mining Working Group at the UN, with the title, “Unraveling child labor in the mining industry in the Congo Basin.” The event will take place on 18 June 2021, at 9:00 PM ET/14:00 UTC. Simultaneous French translation will be available for French speakers. Please join us for this crucial webinar which will feature insights from policy analysts on the difficulties with implementing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mining code, a social work practitioner who offers psychological and social assistance to children in Kolwezi a mining community in the DRC.  Panelists will also discuss the relevance of international frameworks like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Conventions on Child Labor, and the Sustainable Development Goals to child labor. Together, discussants will provide policymakers and civil society advocates guidance on the pathway to eradicating child labor in the DRC mines.



Generation Equality Forum will be held in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021. The Forum is the largest global feminist gathering since 1995: governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and young people will come together to drive gender equality forward. All the events are digital and broadcast on the event platform, accessible from 29 June.

The Generation Equality Forum is part of a series of World Conferences on Women organized by the United Nations since 1975. The Fourth Conference, which took place in Beijing in 1995, was a historical turning point for gender equality at the international level. 

At the Generation Equality Forum, you will be able to interact with other participants, ask a question, follow a conference: 90 events involving 500 panelists will be offered to you.

To register and to learn more about the Forum, click on the following link: 

Registration closes on 27 June 2021.


The United Nations General Assembly declared 22 April as the International Mother Earth Day in 2009, acknowledging that the Earth and its ecosystems are our common home. Under the theme of ‘Restore our Earth,’ this year’s Earth Day highlights the need for increased action to address the climate crisis and protect children and young people.

Human health depends on the health of Mother Earth that sustains us.  The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet – and its people. The World Health Organization estimates that 75 percent of new and infectious diseases are zoonotic, and about one billion cases of illnesses and millions of deaths occur every year from these diseases. The world is currently experiencing the devastating impacts of the COVID-19, which many scientists believe originated from wildlife.

We must all do well to care for Mother Earth and her ecosystems. As Sister Dorothy Stang  said, “the death of the forest is the end of our life.” The UN will officially launch the UN Decade of Ecosystems Restoration on 5 June – the UN World Environment Day.

Each of us can do something to limit global warming. Click on the following link for the ten simple actions you can take to limit global warming and care for our planet

 Read more:

 International Mother Earth Day;


There was an enormous sense of relief among stakeholder countries, organizations, and individuals worldwidewhen Mr. Joe Biden announced on his first day in office as the President of the United States of America that his office will return the United States to the Paris Agreement. The United States and China are the two biggest carbon emitters. Hence, these two powerful economies have a moral obligation to lead in the global fight against climate change.

So far in his administration, many believe that President Biden is giving this global crisis the serious attention it deserves.  He convened a two-day virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change on 22-23 April, with forty world leaders.  Other stakeholders invited to make a presentation during the Summit include Pope Francis, some city mayors, climate activists, indigenous leaders, climate and environment ministers from some countries, etc.  According to the US Department of State, the Leaders’ Summit on Climate was aimed to highlight the urgency – and the economic benefits – of more critical climate action.  It will be a crucial milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

Some of the key focus of the Summit were:

  • Galvanize efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5C within reach.
  • Mobilize public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.
  • Highlight the economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation.
  • Encourage transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
  • Showcase subnational and non-state actors committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5C.
  • Discuss opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the effect on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net-zero by 2050 goals

In one of his remarks during the event, President Biden cautioned that the signs of the impacts of climate change are unmistakable, the science undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting. He committed the US to cut its carbon emissions by 50% by the end of the decade.  Some other world leaders also announced additional ambitious climate targets. But as the saying goes, “the taste of the pudding is in the eating.” So, we shall see how far these leaders are willing to walk their talk in the coming years.

Read more:

A Summary of the 2021 Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming;

UN Climate Change Conférence UK 2021 :


The twentieth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues convened virtually from 19-30 April 2021. The theme for this year’s forum is; Peace, justice, and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development 16.” Indigenous peoples are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people, social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics distinct from those of dominant societies in which they live. Indigenous peoples represent about 6.2 percent of the world’s population. They also protect 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in his opening remarks at the 20th session of UNPFII, listed some of the problems faced by indigenous peoples in many parts of the world as extreme poverty, disproportionate higher infant and maternal mortality, and many others. Indigenous peoples’ lands are among the world’s most biodiverse and resource-rich. This has led to increased exploitation, conflicts over resources, and land misuse. Violence and attacks against indigenous leaders and women and men working to defend indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories, and resources are on the rise.

The UNPFII aims to:

  • provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds, and agencies of the United Nations, through ECOSOC;
  • raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system;
  • prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues;
  • promotes respect for and full application of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and follows up the effectiveness of this Declaration (Art. 42 UNDRIP).

Read more: UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:


22 March is observed as World Water Day. The World Water Day celebrates water, raises awareness of the global water crisis, and supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: “Water and Sanitation for All by 2030.” Water is fundamental to the survival of every living thing. It is also a source of livelihood for millions of people worldwide. But this very precious gift of God to humanity is fast becoming inaccessible to many people around the world. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right that governments must provide for their citizens, as they pledged in the 2030 Global Agenda. Various parts of the world are experiencing an acute shortage of safe drinking water due to climate change. Water is a public good and must never be exploited for commercial purposes. The theme of the 2021 World Water Day is valuing water.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Clean Water Project, provides life-saving clean, safe drinking water to the students that the Sisters serve in Africa, South, and Central America.  

According to a 2017 UN report,

  • 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water
  • 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation
  • Two in five health facilities worldwide have no water and or alcohol-based hand rub – 2016
  • Three billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities at home – a practice that is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19 infections
  • Water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030
  • Some countries experience a funding gap of 61% for achieving water and sanitation targets.

Read more:

UN World Water Development Report:

Sisters of Notre Dame Clean Water Project:


March is celebrated as Women’s History Month to highlight women’s contributions to events in history and contemporary society. In their message to commemorate the International Women’s Day, on 8 March, both the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and the Director-General of International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, acknowledged the critical leadership role of women during the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to Mr. Guterres, countries with women leaders are among those that have suffered fewer deaths and put themselves on track for recovery. He noted that women’s organizations had filled crucial gaps in providing services and information on the pandemic, especially at the local level.  On his part, Mr. Ryder also praised all working women, those working on the frontline, and those he described as “shouldering an unprecedented and disproportionate burden of unpaid care work during the pandemic.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the efforts of women and girls around the world in shaping an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aligns with the priority theme for the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care, and domestic work, and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.


The UN Secretary-General’s message and the UN Chamber Music Society Concert in Celebration of International Women’s Day:

CSW65: “Women’s Participation in Public Life and the Elimination of Violence for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls”

The sixty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) convened virtually from 15-26 March 2021. The priority theme for the CSW65 is Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life and the elimination of violence for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The CSW was established in 1946. It is the largest UN annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Commission is the primary UN platform through which national governments work together to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The CSW meets annually for two weeks around March at the UN HQ in New York;  to prepare recommendations that can shape global standards on women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social, and educational fields; to document the reality of women’s lives throughout the world; to monitor and review progress and problems in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and to ensure that the UN system is in compliant with highest standards for gender equality, and that its activities and reports give due attention to women and gender analysis. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the CSW65 convened virtually. The good news is that virtual set-up allows more people from various parts of the world to participate in the proceedings and to host side events. According to the NGO CSW/New York, a record number of over 27,000 people from around the globe participated in some capacity during the CSW65. And over 700 side events were hosted by global women’s rights and gender equality organizations. A lot of the events were very informative. You may click on the links below to view some of the sessions and side events.

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme during the sessions takes the form of agreed conclusions negotiated by all Member States. The UN Women drafts the document and submits it to the Bureau Member States. Each Member State reads and inserts or removes what they don’t want. NGOs also have the opportunity to make input.

Read more: Unedited Agreed Conclusions from CSW65:

Recording of CSW65 official meetings and side events:

More on side events:


At this moment in history, when many people around the world yearn for justice, peace, and security, here is a milestone worth celebrating. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force on 22 January 2021. The Treaty is the first legally-binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons entirely. The coming into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons implies that henceforth; the development, production, testing manufacture, acquisition, possession or stockpiling, transfer, control or receipt, use or threat to use, stationing, or deployment of nuclear weapons are now considered illegal.

Below are some facts about the Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, prepared by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nukewatch, and The Nuclear Register:

  • The United Nations approved the Treaty in July 2017 by 122 nations.
  • According to the terms of the Treaty, 50 nations had to ratify it (or accede to it) before it would enter into force. Entry into force would automatically happen 90 days after the 50th ratification was deposited at the UN.
  • As of 1 November 2020, 84 states have signed the Treaty.
  • On 24 October 2020, Honduras became the 50th nation to deposit its ratification at the United Nations.
  • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force on 22 January 2021.
  • None of the nuclear weapons (US, Russia, England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) have signed the Treaty. Legally, the terms of the Treaty will not apply to them until they have signed the Treaty. None of the “umbrella states” – those countries protected by agreements with nuclear powers have signed the Treaty.
  • The Treaty outlaws the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use, control receipt, stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • The entry into force of the Treaty will make nuclear weapons illegal under International Law.
  • The Entry into Force will pressure umbrella nations, especially nations with US/NATO nuclear weapons deployed on their soil (Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Turkey) and nations that permit nuclear weapons in there, controlled waters, or on US bases on their soil, to reconsider their responsibilities under the Treaty.
  • Five of the nuclear weapons states (US, England, France, China, Russia) have been obligated under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (since 1970) to pursue disarmament “in good faith” “at an early date.” The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is an expression of the impatience of non-nuclear states with the failure of NPT states to meet their obligation to disarm.
  • According to Article 6 of the US Constitution, international treaties to which the US is a signatory are the “Supreme Law of the Land” and supersede state laws.
  • With the Entry into Force of the TPNW, Nuclear Weapons will now be in the same category as land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, and poison gas.
  • As of September 2020, the nuclear weapons states possess 13,400 nuclear weapons.

 *The breakdown is as follows –

Learn more:

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:



The coronavirus pandemic has not only disrupted the social and economic lives of billions of people around the world, it has also interrupted the education of over one billion children and adolescents in almost all the countries of the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that the closures of schools, universities, and other learning institutions and the interruption of many literacy and lifelong learning programmes, have affected the lives of 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries. In the wake of this unprecedented disruption in education, the United Nations observes the International Day for Education. In his message to mark the 2021 International Day for Education, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres paid tribute to the resilience of students, teachers, and families in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic that, at its peak, forced almost every school, institute, and university to close its doors.

The right to quality education is a human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 26) and affirmed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 2015, all Member States of the UN unanimously adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with the pledge to ensure quality education for every child by 2030. Education offers children an opportunity out of poverty and a fair chance in life. But sadly, a staggering 265 million children and adolescents around the world still do not have the prospect to enter or complete school, according to a UN report. The report also indicates that; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math, less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school, and about four million children and youth refugees are out of school.

As we commemorate the International Day for Education, the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, has urged governments to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Learn more: International Day for Education: