WORLD PEACE DAY: “THE RIGHT TO PEACE: THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT 70”

#1International Day for Peace is marked on the 21st   day of September every year around the world. This day, according to the United Nations General Assembly, is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.  Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. A truly peaceful society can only be achieved where the human rights of individuals in a society, irrespective of ethnicity, sex or creed are upheld and respected, and their basic needs are met. The theme for the 2018 Peace Day is; “The Right to Peace: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.” This theme was deliberately chosen to correspond with the event of the 70th anniversary celebration of the adoption (10 December 1948) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “a milestone document in the history of human rights.”

The 2018 International Peace Day ceremony, marked by the traditional ringing of the Peace Bell, was led by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, at the UN Peace Garden in New York.

 

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Mr. Guterres rings the Peace Bell

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ 2018 Peace Day message:

“This year we mark the International Day of Peace as we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This foundational document is a reminder that peace takes root when people are free from hunger, poverty and oppression and can thrive and prosper.  With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our guide, we must ensure the achievement of the Sustainable     Development Goals. I encourage you to speak up. For gender equality.  For inclusive societies.  For climate action.  Do your part at school, at work, at home. Every step counts. Let us act together to promote and defend human rights for all, in the name of lasting peace for all.”

 Learn more: International Day of Peace: https://bit.ly/YpcjJT

Watch the UN Peace Day ceremony: https://bit.ly/2pqhlW1

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ND Seishin High School, Hiroshima, Japan visits the UN

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Students in the SNDatUN NY Office

 

I was quite delighted to welcome students from Notre Dame Seishin High School, Hiroshima, Japan, to the SNDatUN Office in New York, on 28th March 2018. The students were accompanied by Sister Mary Corripio, SNDdeN, and Ms. Aoyama, another faculty member. Below are comments from some of the students on the experience of their visit to the United Nations.

 

WHAT WE ARE DOING FOR THE WORLD.

My hometown, Misuzugaoka, has a strong connection, and we are acting to achieve SDGs 11: “SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES.”

Until recently, the conditions of garbage in my city had been terrible.  Crows and cats had always ruined there because the garbage bags were covered by only plastic sheet.  We couldn’t stand these things any longer, so we began to collect recyclable materials by ourselves and selling them. We used the money we made to purchase iron cages.  Now, we put garbage bags in these cages, and see no crows or cats around there.  Finally, we all live in a clean town.  I’m proud of this community.  I hope other cities in similar situation would learn from our city.

In the future, I want to work at the UN and engage myself in making world peace.  Thank you so much for giving us a chance to listen to your lecture. By Riko Fujiwara

 

I thought about SDG #5: “GENDER EQUALITY”

In the world there are a lot of countries where gender equal society does not yet exist.  In my country, sex abuse or unfair terms of employment still exist.

However, I thought we can’t create sustainable society unless women with ability and knowledge lead the world and create true peace and equal world.

I have heard about efforts by the United Nations to address the problem of gender inequality in the world.  I will try to share all that I saw and heard with my family, friends and other people. By Mizuki Kanou

What impressed me most during my visit to the United Nations was Sustainable Development Goals.  I had never known this project until I went to the United Nations.  This time I went to America for the first time, and I realize the difference between America and Japan.  I thought different countries have different problems.  Japan has many problems, too, so I want to take part in this project and contribute to solving them and building sustainable society.

Thank you for telling us about the United Nations.  By Kaho Ohara

 

There are many things that had impact on me during my visit to the United Nations Headquarters.  I was especially impressed by a statue which had been exposed to radiation in Nagasaki in 1945 and the guide introduced Hiroshima and Nagasaki for everyone.  I was surprised at this and happy, because I want people all over the world to know about Hiroshima.  I have learned about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, atomic bomb and peace since I was little.  I think that if more people know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we can come a step closer to world peace.  I learned that world peace could be accomplished with all countries and all people in the world, so I will try to do something about it as a person living in the world.  By Saki Nishimoto

 

Thank you for talking about the UN.

I’m interested in the UN and NGO works, so I was very excited.  I was deeply impressed when I saw the “Non-violence” and “United Nations General Assembly”, which I had watched on TV or read from books.

Now, there are many social issues in the world, and I’m worried about them.  I usually think what I should do especially for refugees and global warming.

I will study hard to develop my language skills and always pay attention to social issues.  Then, I want to be back to the UN again.   By Natsumi Ohara

 

I was so glad that I could go to the United Nations.  When I knew many commitments which are taken there, I realized again how cool the United Nation is.  When I saw the conference hall that I often see on TV, I was surprised at how large that was and knew from experience that here is the center of the world.

I conjure up visions of the conference atmosphere making many people all over the world discuss many problems.  When I saw that, I did want to work there and work out a lot of problems all over the world.  I got motivation from this experience.

Thank you so much.   By Sumi Sato

 

SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS: TOOL FOR REDUCING EXTEREME POVERTY AND INEQUALITY

5The World Banks defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day. The organization estimates that about 10.7% of the world’s population or 760 million people still live in extreme poverty. World leaders made a commitment in 2015 through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030. SDG 1 calls for an “End to Poverty in all its Forms Everywhere.” Access to Social Protection or social security has been identified as key to achieving SDG 1. Therefore, SDG 1:3 states that governments “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 to achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.” As described by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Protection or social security are set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability across the life cycle. This includes nine main areas: child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, health protection, old-age benefits, disability benefits and survivors’ benefits.

The Director-General of the ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, notes that “when access to essential benefits and services is guaranteed for mothers and children, for persons with disabilities or illness, for the elderly and unemployed, countries actually make their economies resilient while ensuring the human rights to social security.” Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 people around the world have access to universal social protection coverage as indicated in the 2017 – 2019 World Social Protection Report. Governments must therefore, recognize that providing social protection for the people is not only the right and just thing to do, it is actually a very economic smart thing to do. Countries that have made efforts in expanding their safety net programmes have seen a rapid decline in the rate of poverty and experienced economic growth.

Read more:

ILO World Social Protection Report 2017 – 2019: https://bit.ly/2CyyaTn

Infographic : https://bit.ly/2BbsTV2

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: “IS MIGRATION A FEMINIST ISSUE?”

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Refugee women with babies.  UN Photo

The fourth round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration took place from 14 – 18 May.  Members of civil society organizations have consistently pushed for mainstreaming gender perspective in all sections of the compact. This is because many believe that migration is necessarily a feminist issue. The United Nations Population Funds (UNPF) also acknowledges migration as a feminist issue and suggests that gender perspective is taken into consideration when formulating policies on              migration. Below are some of the reasons given by   the UNPF for the above assertion:

  • There are about 250 million international migrants. Almost half of these are women and girls. And women are increasingly migrating alone or as heads of their family.
  • Female migrants face major risks, including sexual exploitation, trafficking, and violence
  • Migrant women face double discrimination – as women and as migrants
  • Women do not stop getting pregnant when they are on the move
  • Women and girls’ migrant are more likely to face health problems – both in transit and at their destination.

Read more:

United Nations Population Fund: https://bit.ly/2GL1gkU

Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants: https://bit.ly/2ATrj5o

2018 WORLD DAY AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: “RESPONDING TO THE TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE”

7A United Nations General Assembly resolution 64/293 designated July 30th as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in 2013. This was to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of the rights of victims of human trafficking.” Trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon to which no country is immune. Pope Francis has called it a crime against humanity. And the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, describes human trafficking as a ‘vile crime that feeds on inequality, instability and conflict.’ Mr. Guterres laments that “human traffickers too often operate with impunity, with their crimes receiving not nearly enough attention.” Human trafficking has been described as the fastest-growing criminal business enterprise earning criminals over $150 billion annually. Trafficking in persons often involve very powerful local or international criminal syndicates who in many instances evade prosecution because of weak or corrupt criminal justice system.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2016 (UNODC) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons8 indicates that children are the second most commonly detected group of victims of trafficking after women. Between 25 – 30 percent of the total victims of human trafficking victims detected over the 2012-2014 period were children. This is especially true for the Sub-Saharan African region. It is estimated that over 10 million children worldwide are currently in the situation of slavery. This is the worst form of violence against children. One child in slavery is far too many.  For this reason, the UNODC has chosen, ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ as the theme for the 2018 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

Read more:

UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons: https://bit.ly/2LD8HRC

June 2018, Issue Brief on Children in Trafficking by the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons: https://bit.ly/2AiEYbn

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons: https://bit.ly/1pnkWx6

2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons: https://bit.ly/2jqIZ09

 

MAKING MIGRATION WORK FOR ALL: THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE, REGULAR AND ORDERLY MIGRATION

5In her opening remarks during the first multi-stakeholders dialogue held at the margin of the first intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, made the following plea: “Over the long-term the evidence is clear: the benefits of migration vastly outweigh the challenges. And without a clear understanding of migration, negative narratives surround migrants. “We must not allow xenophobic political narratives about migration distort our objective to enhance international cooperation on migration.” She further stressed that “it is only with facts and context that we can have a respectful and realistic discussion about migration, one that pushes back on the many inaccurate and negative narratives being touted for short-term political gains and misguided policies.”

The large influx of refugees/migrants from some middle east and African countries into Europe between 2014 – 2016, following the escalation of conflicts and the socio-political and economic challenges in these regions raised a huge global concern, as well as socio-political backlash from some European countries. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) responded to the situation by convening a high-level summit to address the large movements of refugees and migrants in September 2016. At the end of the summit, UNGA adopted a resolution 71/1, also known as the New York Declaration (NYD). According to the UNGA, the New York Declaration “expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.” Explicit in the NYD was a commitment by the Member States to negotiate and adopt separate global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees by 2018.

While work on the Global Compact for refugees was largely coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, the process for negotiating the

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UN General Assembly

global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was strictly state-led, and facilitated by the Permanent Representative of Switzerland and Mexico to the United Nations. After an extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and six intense months of intergovernmental negotiations, Member States came up with an agreed document on 13th July 2018. The agreed negotiated documents for both the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees, will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in early December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco. When adopted, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration will be the first-ever global framework on migration governance.

In her remarks at the end of the negotiations, the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, commended Member States for staying in the process despite as she noted, “some profound issues that migration raises such as sovereignty of states and human rights; what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion.” Ms. Mohammed pointed out that, “this compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.” All Member States of the UN was part of the intergovernmental negotiations for safe, orderly and regular migration except for the United States of America and Hungary.

Read more:  Intergovernmental negotiated and agreed outcome document of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; https://bit.ly/2LP0ycL

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 2016: https://bit.ly/2bqPpvC

The New York Declaration: https://bit.ly/2o9ItXe

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS: “A COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE

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From the left are: Sisters Mary Akinyi (K), Patricia Shanahan (US), Adele Ndona (DRC), JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador (Peru), Fidelia Chukwu (N) Christiana Sidi (N), Florette Mbonzi (DRC), and Praxides Awino (K)

July 2018, was an especially busy month at the SNDatUN office in New York. The United Nations (UN) hosted several significant conferences, including the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals. The HLPF was attended by eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from the United States, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sisters were in the US to participate in the congregation Networking for Mission conference which took place in Boston with over 300 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates, and co-workers from different parts of the world in attendance.  As part of the experience of the global mission of the congregation, some Sisters came to New York for a UN orientation and to attend the second half of the HLPF. I felt very privileged to host our Sisters in New York for five days and to acquaint them with some of the works of the United Nations, and the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as an accredited non-governmental organization to the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

Below are short reflections from some of the Sisters on their UN experience:

 Praxides Awino and Mary Akinyi, SNDdeN – Kenya: It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals and its global agenda for change which focuses on the environmental, social and economic impact on people in the different continents. After listening to different presentations, it came to our understanding that the UN as an international organization was founded to meet the objectives of the SDGs by promoting the rights and well- being of individuals.

 As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we can relate to what the UN does because we promote justice and peace, and the well-being of the people we serve in ministry.

 Vision 2030, with its slogan of ‘leaving no one behind’ was clear from the reports of all the countries gathered from the different regions of the world for the HLPF voluntary national reviews of the SDGs. But the question is whether “they preach water and drink wine.” It makes a difference when leaders walk the talk!

 It was evident that young people were not left out as ‘Youth Skills Day 2018’ was 2celebrated. As present and future leaders in a fast-changing world, young people gathered at the event shared their hopes, challenges and frustrations. One such hope was the need to support the youth with adequate digital skills necessary to transition into the future global market.

 We thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the opportunity given to us to attend the conference and Sr. Amarachi for inviting us to the UN forum where we will never be the same as we first came. We hope to put what we have learned and heard into action. As Nelson Mandela says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

 Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN – Nigeria “Attending a few sessions of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, particularly listening to reports on the SDGs, challenged me to take a step further. I realized more than ever the need to spread words among Sisters in my unit, staff and students in our Notre Dame schools back in Nigeria on the call to action in promoting and achieving the 2030 Global Agenda in our countries.

3 I was struck by reports from countries in similar economic and socio-political situations as my country. It was very clear that we are all struggling with same or similar issues, irrespective of the geographical location, race or ideology. As the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of pollution.” We all therefore, must make efforts to eradicate poverty and ignorance from our world. People have a responsibility to hold their governments accountable to their commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

 My experience at the UN also affirms my belief in the interconnectedness of the human race. Every person is impacted positively and/or negatively by the actions or inactions of the other. As I left the UN, I am resolved to inculcate the ideals of the UN in my work and everyday life henceforth.

 I thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu for this wonderful opportunity at the UN. We are indeed a global community!”

SNDdeN JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador – Peru. “It was a great experience to learn 4more about all the work done at the UN. My heart shuddered repeatedly as I toured the United Nations, because I felt the MEMORIES there are kept alive in our great and fragile world by the actions of mankind. I perceived the force of action emerging from the United Nations the world, especially to the countries that make up the organization. The work of the United Nations is arduous and essential, and I want to continue working from home to contribute to this GREAT COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE. “

 Read more: Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 HLPF: https://bit.ly/2B1tKZ4