UN Releases ShareTheMeal App to Help Feed Syrian Refugee Children

KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie, Intern in SNDatUN Office

Smartphone users outnumber hungry children by 20 to 1, while 1 in 7 children do not have enough food to live a healthy, active life. To leverage these statistics, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has recently released an iOS/Android app called ShareTheMeal.

share-the-meal-1ShareTheMeal makes it possible to virtually “share” a meal with just the tap of a button. For just 50 cents, anyone around the world can provide a full day’s worth of food to a hungry child. The app also gives the option of donating larger amounts – $3.50 to feed one child for one week, $15 for one month, $45 for three months, $90 for six months, or $182.50 for one year. Currently all donations are benefiting Syrian refugee children in Jordan, with the goal of providing school meals to 20,000 Syrian children for an entire year. This will help with both reducing hunger and improving access to education. Once this goal has been met, the WFP plans to expand this program to other areas in need.

This app has enormous potential to help reach Goal 2 (“Zero Hunger”) of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also serves as a great example of incorporating technology to make donating seamless and social (by connecting it to your Facebook account), while attracting the millennial crowd in particular. So next time you’re sitting down for a meal or waiting in line for your coffee, give the app a try!

share-the-meal-2For More Information:



AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On November 5, 2015, H.E. Ronny Abraham, President of the International Court of Justice, presented his report to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. As he stated, over the period of one judicial year, from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015, the Court has held hearings in three out of 14 pending contentious cases. The mentioned cases concern disputes between Costa Rica v. Nicaragua on Certain Activities Carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area and the Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica), the Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)[1], and Alleged Violation of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia). Currently, the cases are in the process of deliberation.

Abraham ICJIn his speech, H.E. Abraham primarily focused his attention on presenting a report on the Court’s Judgment on the merits in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia). According to Mr. Abraham, the Court has announced the main findings in the dispute between Croatia v. Serbia started on 2 July 1999, and ultimately brought the case to a close on 3 February 2015. In its application, Croatia claimed that the Serb forces and Yugoslav National Army (JNA)[2] committed an act of genocide against the ethnical Croat group between 1991-1995. The Petitioner accused Serbia of breaching Article IX of the Genocide Convention. For its part, Serbia argued the inadmissibility of the case due to the fact that it referred to the events before Croatia and Serbia’s independence on 8 October 1991 and 27 April 1992 accordingly. In addition, Serbia filed a counter-claim alleging Croatia’s perpetration of genocide against Croatian Serbs during the Operation “Storm” in the summer of 1995.

ICJ logo

Logo of the International          Court of Justice 

The Court examined the questions of admissibility of the Parties’ respective claims, the applicability of law in the case (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide), and consideration of “fully conclusive” evidence provided by both sides, including documents from the ICTY and written statements of witnesses. Based on the solid analysis of the evidence, the Court affirmed that the genocide committed by the Serb and JNA forces took place in the regions of Eastern and Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia. However, the Croatian claim was rejected in the absence of direct evidence of physical destruction (actus reus) or “genocidal intent” of the crimes, which the Court considered as the “forced displacement” of Croats from the above-mentioned regions. As for the Serbian Logo argument, similarly, the Court alleged to lack sufficient proof of the Genocide Convention violations by Croatia, and rejected Serbia’s counter-claim in its entirety.

He concluded his speech by briefly reviewing the new cases placed on the List before the ICJ (Somalia v. Kenya, Congo v. Uganda).

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the International Court of Justice makes a great contribution to the development of rules and norms of international law. As the principle judicial organ of the United Nations, the Court has been playing a vital role in international conflict resolutions, the peaceful settlement of legal disputes between the States, and, particularly, maintaining peace and security in the world.



[1] On 24 September 2015, the Court delivered its second Judgment on the merits of the case in order to establish the admissibility of the Court’s jurisdiction to the case brought before it by Bolivia.

[2] Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1943-1992
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1992-2003
State Union of Serbia and Montenegro 2003-2006


Eucharia OkoyeBy Eucharia Ngozi Okoye, SNDdeN

During my visit to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Office at the United Nations (UN), I had the opportunity to attend some of the events and committee meetings that our Office at the UN participates in. One such meeting was the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons. I was also able to visit and reflectively read through the exhibition on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the third floor of the United Nations. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 to provide a global understanding of how to treat individuals. Among the numerous human rights outlined in the declaration, one that especially struck me was Article four. It reads: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” It is quite disheartening that this Human Rights declaration of: “NO SLAVERY-PAST AND PRESENT. NOBODY HAS ANY RIGHT TO MAKE US A SLAVE. WE CANNOT MAKE ANYONE OUR SLAVE”, has been infringed and still being infringed on in various ways and means with names like slave labor, sex slaves, kidnapping, trafficking, etc.

Gift Box frontLastly, I visited what is termed a “UN GIFT Box” (www.ungift.org). This was an exhibition by the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons to portray the scam used by human traffickers in luring unsuspecting victims into their heinous web. GIFT Box is a unique way to raise awareness about human trafficking and to gather knowledge on the issue. The large walk-in street sculpture invites you inside with promises and offers, but once inside you are presented with a different reality.

Gift Box insideGIFT Box for me is a life in a cage, a scam, and a modernized way of exploitation. It is a modern way of trafficking and modern-day slavery in the 21st century. People are promised heaven on earth contained in the GIFT Box which includes quality education, employment, food, good health, earn more money and support your family, life in abundance, etc. Once inside, visitors are exposed to the reality of false promises that can result in human trafficking. It involves exploitation which comes in many forms like child soldiers, forced child labor, compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography, forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude. It is a viable means of making illicit money and amassing wealth to the detriment of other peoples’ right and freedom which in turns jeopardize and ruin their future. There are 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children (U.S Department of State).


  • To look out for the “fair trade” logo when you purchasing products like coffee, chocolate and others. Fair trade products are items produced with raw materials not sourced using child labor, slave labor or the exploitation of the local people from where the raw materials are produced.
  • “Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others. Some of us…close our eyes to this. Others, however, decide to do something about it …” – Pope Francis
  • To speak up, using different modes of communication like tweets, blogs, Facebook, and other modes of electronic communication, against the evils of human trafficking, child labor and slave labor.
  • Creating awareness on issues of human trafficking in our schools, parishes and youth groups.

Pope Francis Addresses General Assembly: A Bright Day at the UN

pope-new-york-un_3453388b    A Bright Day at the UN

In his address to the UN, Pope Francis’ reminded member states that they must “set aside partisan and ideological interests and sincerely strive to serve the common good”. His challenge applies to nations, regions, localities and individuals as well.

Pope Francis’ inspiration resonates beyond the Catholic Church. At the closing of recent intergovernmental negotiations, Ambassador Kamau of Kenya remarked: “I want to send a message to the Holy Father Pope Francis… not because we are Catholics, we are not, but because he has continuously prodded us on over the last few days and weeks to maintain a very high level of ambition and a true dedication to the very issues central to this agenda – on poverty, on the suffering and the forgotten  –  and of Sustainable Development.”


KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie, Intern in the SNDatUN Office

The 2015 Trafficking In Persons Report defines human trafficking as the “act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” In many areas of the world, sex trafficking is the most common form of trafficking in persons, followed by labor trafficking and organ trafficking.

As technology continues to advance, trafficking offenders are finding new, creative ways to expand their businesses. They are now using the Internet to recruit victims and reach larger audiences, and this strategy will only continue to spread as technology improves globally.

Emily Kennedy, a young woman with a passion for combating human trafficking, realized that law enforcement agencies aren’t taking advantage of this trend. While studying at Carnegie Mellon University, Kennedy developed a software program called Traffic Stop. This program scans and analyzes publicly available online data to reveal hidden patterns. By grouping similar posts together using artificial intelligence tools, the program can provide important clues such as the location of offenders and victims, or the relationships between the many people involved. So far, her innovative software has helped rescue over 120 victims of sex trafficking in the US.


Kennedy speaking at an event. Photo by Erika Gidley.

While this software has been adopted only by law enforcement agencies within the US, it has the potential to spread much farther. The United Nations has already made significant progress with preventing trafficking in persons, protecting victims of human trafficking, and prosecuting trafficking offenders (through the Palermo Protocol). But there is always more to be done. The UN should take advantage of these advances in technology and learn from the work Emily Kennedy has done at the intersection of human trafficking and digital technology. I hope the UN will do research into this trend, and possibly even bring Ms. Kennedy in to speak and share her knowledge with an international audience.

For More Information:


2015 Trafficking in Persons Report – www.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf


Spotlight on Global Issues: Participate in UN Meetings in 2016

UN session

Through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur NGO Office, interested persons are able to participate in major UN meetings. There is no fee to attend these UN sessions, but participants are responsible for their housing, food, and transportation while attending the meeting. Funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you are interested in attending a major UN meeting in New York in 2016, contact Jean Stoner as soon as possible at SNDatUN@sndden.org.   You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at http://webtv.un

  • February 3 – 12, 2016: 54th Commission on Social Development (New York)

Theme: Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world                                                                    undesadspd.org/CommissionforSocialDevelopment/Sessions/2016.aspx

  • March 14 – 24, 2016: 60th Commission on the Status of Women  (New York)

Theme: Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.


  • May 9 – 20, 2016: 15th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues  (New York)

Theme: Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples



AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office

The 33rd meeting of the 70th session of the General Assembly Third Committee was focused on the reports presented by the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Belarus, and Eritrea. The speakers delivered informative statements on a range of human rights issues.

Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman opened the meeting with his report on human rights situation in the DPRK as the follow-up work to the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, based on the Human Rights Council Resolution 25/25[1]. In December 2014, the General Assembly submitted the Commission report to the Security Council, encouraging the latter to consider targeted sanctions against persons, committed crimes against humanity, and a possible referral of the issue to the International Criminal Court. Ultimately, the Security Council resolved to add the human rights situation of the DPRK on its agenda[2]. Six months later, the Commission of Inquiry of OHCHR was established in Seoul, and is now fully engaged in carrying out its mandate: consolidate monitoring and documentation of human rights situation in the DPRK, enhance engagement and capacity-building with the governments of all states concerned, civil society, and other stakeholders, and maintain the visibility of the DPRK human rights situation.

darusmanIn his speech, Mr. Darusman condemned the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and abuses committed in the DPRK, including arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, forced labor of estimated 50,000 workers (sent primarily to China and Russia), institutionalized discrimination based on “the songbun principle” that classifies people according to their loyalty to the Kim dynasty. Furthermore, Rapporteur Darusman devoted special attention to the matters of international abductions and forced disappearances, and appealed to the Supreme Leader of the DPRK to grant a chance for reunion of families separated by two Korean countries. Lastly, Mr. Darusman expressed the hope that the government of the DPRK would accept the Rapporteur’s requests for meeting, technical cooperation and engagement with the international community in a meaningful manner for the sake of its own people. “Demands for justice and accountability cannot go unheeded”, he concluded.

Proceeding to the human rights situation in Belarus, the report provided by the Special Rapporteur Miklos Haraszti was particularly focused on the right of freedom of expression. According to Mr. Haraszti, the government of Belarus has taken a primary responsibility of regulating the country’s media market: permission-based system of registration, arbitrary rules of revocation of licenses, tight control of registration of independent activities, criminalization of content deemed “harmful for the state”, criminal defamations, routine harassment of journalists and media professionals. Moreover, Mr. Haraszti was utterly concerned with the adoption of the amendments on the Law of Mass Media in December 2014 that placed Internet, social media and free publishing (as in case of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich) under strict government’s control. He emphasized that the findings of the 2015 report showed no improvements of human rights situation in Belarus. In conclusion, Mr. Haraszti presented a wide range of recommendations aimed at protecting the right to freedom of expression, and reiterated the readiness to cooperate with the government of Belarus to implement relevant recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review, treaty bodies, and recommendations of previous reports in 2013, 2014[3].

UNOHCHRwebAs for the human rights matters in Eritrea, Mr. Mike Smith, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), asserted that the findings of the CoI report confirmed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations committed by the authorities of Eritrea, including Eritrean Defense Forces, Ministry of Justice, and the Office of the President, and the President himself. Arbitrary arrests, absence of due process and trials of detained, forced labor, torture (including sexual torture), extrajudicial executions were reported to be among the most persistent human rights violations in Eritrea that also greatly contributed to the refugee exodus in Europe. Mr. Smith was deeply concerned with the ongoing human rights situation in Eritrea and called for the Eritrean government to respond positively to the Special Rapporteur’s request to visit the country. Mr. Smith concluded by stating that the protection of human rights represents “the bedrock for successful development”, and expressed his hope that the government of Eritrea would engage in cooperation with the international community to provide the opportunities for its citizens to participate in the process of building a strong economy in Eritrea.

All in all, the excellent work of the Special Rapporteurs on informing the Third Committee members was addressed by the world delegates that were divided into two distinct camps: those who opposed the statements and who were thankful for detailed reports. The strong adversarial reaction by the former reflects the quality work committed by the Special Rapporteurs for finding facts about human rights abuses in targeted countries. In my opinion, the reports of Special Rapporteurs along with the Universal Periodic Review play an important role in pressuring repressive states and influencing governments to change their policy towards adopting internationally accepted human rights norms and practices.

[1] Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights,  25th session, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ResDecStat.aspx

[2] Security Council, in Divided Vote, Puts Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Situation on Agenda following Findings of Unspeakable Human Rights Abuses http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/sc11720.doc.htm

[3] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus – 2013, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23-52_en.pdf



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