By patience-mpelaPatience Mpela, SNDdeN  I was pleased to be present at the United Nations (UN) for the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of the forum, which took place from July 11-22, was “Ensuring that No One is Left Behind.” The HLPF, I learned, is a platform for review geared toward the implementation of the SDGs by Member States. Twenty-two countries voluntarily reviewed their progress in the implementation of the SDGs during the forum.

It is imperative that African leaders, within their respective countries, take the implementation of the SDGs by 2030 very seriously. Illiteracy, inadequate healthcare services, gender inequality, lack of clean water, lack of energy, and many other challenges, are still prevalent in many African countries. Leaders must be held accountable to their qcommitment to achieve the 17 SDGS by 2030. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be well advised to engage in monitoring the levels of advancement made by respective governments, in the implementation of the SDGs, while educating the citizens on the goals so that they also may become informed. In the implementation of the SDGs, governments must not focus solely on cities. Every corner of the society and every single individual must be included to “ensure that no one is left behind.”



Leaders of the 193 Members States of the United Nations gathered in New York for the 71st General Assembly (GA) of the organization from September 19-21.  Their deliberations focused mainly on the following: Refugees and Migrants, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants, held on September 19, was the first of its kind. The General Assembly called on the Heads of State and Government to arbitrate on the large movement of Refugees and Migrants. The aim of the assembly was to establish a blueprint for an improved international response to refugee and migrants’ issues, and to strengthen the governance of international migration. You may download the outcome document from the Summit, known as the “New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.” United States President Barack Obama also hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on September 20. The objective of this summit was to appeal to governments to pledge significant new commitments regarding refugees.


September 20, was dedicated to the Sustainable Development GoaYear 1: Event to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda 
and the Sustainable Development Goalsls, which the MemberStates adopted about this time last year. Lastly, deliberations on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change took place on September 21. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Member States to ratify, accept, or commit publicly to ratifying the agreement. Sixty countries have so far ratified the agreement. These 60 countries account for 47.76% of global gas emissions. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention (accounting for estimated 55% of the total global emissions) have ratified the instrument.  Key objectives of this agreement include limiting the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and allocating US $100 billion yearly in climate finance for developing countries by 2020.

Learn more: Climate Agreement: http://bit.ly/1ngi4nw



The glRefugees summit page en.pngobal scale of migrants and refugees currently witnessed is unprecedented. According to the United Nations (UN) 2015 data, the number of refugees and migrants around the world was over 244 million, (a 41% increase compared to 2000). Migration is a very complex global issue that will require concerted efforts from the international community to find lasting and sustainable solutions. The UN has taken on the responsibility to galvanize the Member States for global action on this phenomenon. On September 19, 2016, the UN General Assembly will host a High-Level Summit, the first ever called for Heads of State and Governments on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Major tasks of the summit will include considerations regarding to best means for the international community to respond to the growing issue of refugees and migrants, and to formulate a blueprint for improved international, regional, and national responses.
Ban Ki-moon refugees.png
As a lead up to the September 19 Summit, the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, released a report in May 2016, titled: “In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.” This report provides background for the September Summit. It also calls for a comprehensive framework for addressing the large movements of migrants and refugees, root causes of such movements, and the need to protect the human rights of those compelled to embark on such often perilous journeys.

Learn more:

  •  “I was waiting for recess. Diary of a child in detention” wins the first edition of the “Justice for Children” Award: defenceforchildren.org
  •  Interactive map showing origins and destinations of migration 1990-2015 allows one to select a country and a year and then click on another country to see how many of its people that year immigrated into or emigrated from the first country.


International Day of Peace is observed on September 21 every year. poster- Peace Day 2016 SDGs Eng.jpgPeace is not just the absence of war. Positive peace is only possible when the rights of individuals in any given society to access their basic needs and their well being are guaranteed. Poverty breeds violence. As 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus poignantly points out,

      Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility           and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building             stable peace, we must find ways to provide opportunity for people to live decent lives.

Almost one year into the life cycle of the 2030 Global Agenda, the UN Secretary General has chosen “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” as the theme for this year’s International Day of Peace. What better way to build a just and peaceful world than for governments to honor the commitment they made to their citizens this time last year; to end poverty, hunger, provide quality healthcare, education, … by 2030.

Learn more about the first year of the SDGs. Click on any goal for more details; click on report to see what countries have done this first year: http://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016


Ezeonu 2016 finalI thank Jean Stoner, SNDdeN, for the tremendous work she did at the United Nations (UN), and for her mentorship. I begin my new job with great sense of enthusiasm as I move into the future with hope, faith and courage. Though I am aware of my inadequacies and the fear of the unknown, I dare into the future with confidence knowing that I have a multitude of good people behind me. Efforts to effect systemic change at the global level often compares to hauling a huge rock up a steep hill on a rainy day. Therefore, I would heed this wise advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” Thank you all in anticipation for your future support. I look forward to any suggestions you may have on how the SNDdeN at UN Office can be of better service. Remember, we are all in this together!


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 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.