Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur is an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations since 2001. In 2007, the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld chose to work for systemic change on an international level at the United Nations and were welcomed by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The two groups collaborate on social and sustainable development issues with special attention to the rights of women and girls.
  • Sister Jean Stoner represents the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the United Nations, working primarily on issues related to poverty eradication, sustainable development, financing for development, education, and human trafficking.
  • Sister Mary Jo Toll represents the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld at the United Nations, working principally in the areas of education, migration, human trafficking, sustainable development, and girls' rights.
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GFMD logo“Migrants whose human rights are duly promoted and respected, who are well integrated in the countries where they live, and who are able to exercise their talents and energy in productive employment and decent work can contribute mightily to the development of their countries of origin and destination.” [Global Forum on Migration and Development, 12-16 October 2015, Istanbul, Turkey]      http://bit.ly/1U6F7Sr

View a graphic display of migration patterns:  http://nyti.ms/1BDsXrS



RNGO planning committee for World Interfaith Harmony Week at UN General Assembly

In a world where conflict is often precipitated in the name of religion, NGOs are working hard to foster mutual respect among people of differing faith traditions. The Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations (RNGO) is composed of the representatives of national and international organizations which define their work as religious, spiritual or ethical in nature and are accredited to the UN. RNGO meets regularly to share information and insights about complex issues and events at the UN.

The Committee’s focus is two fold: it serves as a forum to inform and educate our constituencies about the global challenges of our time and the constructive role that the UN can play in addressing those issues, and to exchange and promote shared religious and ethical values in the deliberations of the world organization.            rngos.wordpress.com


XiuhtezcatlWatch Xiuhtezcatl, an impressive indigenous climate activist and Youth Director of Earth Guardians, address the UN General Assembly on the issue of Climate Change (29 June 2015).  http://bit.ly/1HKh1Hg

“Youth are standing up all over the planet to find solutions,” he said. “We need you to take action. We are all indigenous to this earth.”


There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.
Marshall McLuhan


By Fatima Peregrino Brimah, SNDatUN Intern

Fatima EidMuslims observe Ramadan (holy month) as a strict fasting period when Muslims are to restrain from any sexual activities and instead participate in charitable events. This is part of the five pillars of Islam known as the “Zakat”, meaning giving alms to the poor. During this time there are intense prayers throughout the thirty days. Muslims use this period to ask for forgiveness and also for long life and good tidings. At the last quarter of Ramadan, to do well Muslims give donations like rice, oil, chicken, etc., to the needy in order for them to be able to celebrate Eid al-Fitr like everyone else. This donation is known as the “Saddaqah al-Fitr”. Eid al-Fitr is a very important Islamic holiday. On the day of Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning to perform a mass prayer, a special prayer which consists of two rakats (units). It could be in a mosque or an outdoor area. Many Muslims dress in their best outfits on this day. There is a lot of feasting among family and friends on this day. Gifts and greetings are exchanged among family and friends also.

Fatima Eid 2

Years back, Eid in New York was quite boring due to the fact that Muslim holidays were not public holidays. After years went by, with the help of former mayor Bloomberg Muslim communities are now able to pray in public parks with full NYPD security on duty. New mayor de Blasio made it easier for Muslim kids by making both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha official public school holidays. Ever since, Eid in New York has never been the same. It feels like home away from home. We get to pray and have a picnic after. This involves a lot of merry-making.

Eid GhanaSincerely, “Home is where the heart lies”. Back home in Ghana, after Eid prayers we have a durbar with chiefs in attendance and a lot of horse riding on the streets. This is when chiefs from all tribes meet and pay homage to each other and most importantly pray and wish for better years full of good tidings and good harvest.

[Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are also United Nations official holidays.]


Alla BaranovskayaBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is not a very common topic for discussion for United Nations headquarters. However, it was very interesting to hear what organizations and governments had to share about the situation in the country. The piracy problem might remind us primarily of older times, stories that we have read in books and have seen in historical movies. For developing countries, taking Somalia as an example, the problem is still present nowadays. An important topic was discussed during a recent UN meeting: Somalia’s government needs to enforce the laws regarding fishing and sailing on the water territories of the country. While there are no strict laws in the country, whatever happens on a water territory can not be controlled. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Trust Fund, and other panel participants mentioned that Somalia needs some support from the governments of more developed countries who have already overcome that piracy problem. There are a lot of ways to control the majority of boats in the open sea. FAO shared an example of transparent boats that helped to solve a piracy problem in Italy. Another way of controlling the boats can be implemented if all the fishing partners in Somalia and surrounding countries report their boats so that most of the activities in the water can be tracked by high forces.

PiracyAnother great and powerful thought I have is that piracy is a crime and yet it is easy to commit. It only requires a few things: a boat, weapons, and a group of people. Young kids of Somalia who do not have a proper education can and will consider this type of income if their country’s conditions allow. Therefore, Somalia’s goal should be focused on not letting the conditions actually arise. Young kids are very vulnerable and they adjust quickly. Besides parents’ influence, a big part of their life knowledge will depend on what they see around themselves outside of their homes. If the rules are strict enough, most likely those kids will not want to give it a chance trying to cross legal boundaries. If piracy is, however, not controlled by strict government regulations, kids will not see a bad outcome of these actions, and, consequently, will most likely get involved in giving it a try to become pirates.

Watch a press conference by the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia:  http://bit.ly/1DD9Lvd


2015 time for global actionOn September 27, the United Nations will adopt an ambitious 15-year agenda for people, planet and prosperity. As the UN document states, “All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”   http://bit.ly/1ThChUM

  • Watch a talented 15-year-old girl explain the global Sustainable Development Goals and why people around the world should care. linkis.com/3HR7g
  • Helpful Guide to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: Guide to SGDs


Fatima BrimahBy Fatima Brimah, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On 9-10 July 2015, an international conference on Ebola recovery was held at the United Nations. In attendance were representatives from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. They enlightened us about the effects of the outbreak and their journey to recovery. Most importantly, they pleaded with all private sectors, NGOs, and humanitarian sectors to help with funds to help them fully recover from the Ebola crisis.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has become one of the largest global health crisis in recent history with over 27,000 cases and 11,000 plus lives lost in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, impacting individuals,  families, and communities. The majority of Ebola victims are between the ages of 15 and 45, so basically most households have lost one or more members of working age.

Ever since the start of the Ebola outbreak, the World Food Program and other partners have been of great help to the affected countries. They continue to support health efforts to all affected countries to enable them reach zero Ebola cases. The World Food Program also helped to expand school meals to all children in need and supported vulnerable rural communities by delivering food to them to overcome hard times.

Ebola2Due to the Ebola outbreak, schools in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone remained closed for months, depriving the children of education. Education is very important to the World Food Program, as they are eager to continue their School Meal programme as soon as school reopens. As of now, schools in all three countries have resumed and the school children are enjoying their hot meals from the School Meal programme.

During the meeting, the representative of Sierra Leone mentioned debt relief. She asked for additional support on behalf of her country in the form of debt relief and direct budget support. She also showed us a power point of the cases of Ebola by the sexes that were affected in all three West African countries. She spoke bitterly about how the outbreak has impacted economic sectors. For example:

  • Small scale farmers were mainly affected during the Ebola outbreak; the virus prevented them from fully accessing their fields to plant or harvest or going to the market place to sell their crops
  • Reduction in mining, especially small scale mining
  • International trade is severely affected
  • Tourism and hospitality are severely affected as many exports left the region
  • Air and sea transport have been negatively affected

Ebola1The World Food Program also manages the UN humanitarian air service operating within and between the affected areas. UNICEF (UN Fund for Children) and their partners also helped by initiating a “house to house family sensitization on Ebola campaign” to educate them mainly on hygiene. At each house visit, a health professional was available to discuss with the families about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the source and means of spread of the disease, and the behaviors required to stop the disease. Their goals were to get the community to participate in the EVD response, engage them in tracing the transmission risk, and also lay a foundation for health sector recovery.  UNICEF’s campaign objectives were to reach 100% of the households in the country with correct information on EVD, increase community acceptance, promote hand washing, rebuild public confidence, install neighborhood watch structures, and continue providing food and logistical services to the affected communities to reach zero Ebola cases. According to records, WFP requires US $56 million by the end of 2015. So far, WFP has received US $329 million for its Ebola response. Looking on the bright side, the World Health Organization declared Liberia “Ebola free” on May 9th. We look forward to hearing more good news from the World Health Organization.



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