UN Conference Hall.  UN Photo

One of the merits of our accreditation to the United Nations is that it avails Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and our affiliates opportunities for participating in many of the UN forums, commissions, and conferences. Three of such major UN conferences usually takes place in the first quarter of each year. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates of Notre Dame or our other affiliates can apply through the SNDatUN NGO office to attend any of these UN meetings. There is no fee to attend these sessions, but participants are responsible for their housing, food, and transportation. Funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you are interested in attending any of the major UN meetings in New York in 2019, contact Sister Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at Below are some of the major UN sessions taking place between February and April 2019.


  • 11 – 21 February, 2019: 57th Session of the Commission on Social Development (New York).                                                                                                                          Priority theme: Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.”
  • 11 – 22 March 2019: 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Priority theme: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
  • 22 April – 3 May 2019: 18th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)                                                                                   Theme: “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission, and protection.”




1The Commission for Social Development concluded its 56th session on February 7 with the adoption of four draft resolutions by consensus. The draft resolutions, which were recommended to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for further actions, included ageing, future-working methods of the commission, strategies for eradicating poverty, and Africa’s development. The Commission on Social Development is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development. The draft resolutions are measures created by government officials and civil society leaders to help lift millions of people still living in poverty, especially those in vulnerable situations. In her opening remarks at the commission, the UN deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, stated that, “at the global level, we have experienced impressive reductions in extreme poverty. Significant progress has also been made in improving access to schooling and healthcare, promoting the empowerment of women, youth, and persons with disabilities, older persons and indigenous populations; however, the drop in extreme poverty remains uneven across regions, within countries and between various social groups.”

The Commission for Social Development was also actively partaken by members of Civil2 Society organizations. Many NGOs submitted written or oral statements to contribute to the work of the Commission. Additionally, many of the participants co-sponsored side events on relevant issues. Members of the Civil Society held their Forum on February 2, under the theme, Social Protection, Including Floors: A preeminent strategy to eradicate poverty and achieve social development for all.” The Civil Society Forum provides a space for members of Civil Society Organizations to gather for orientations, discussions, and collaboration on the themes and deliberations of the Commission for Social Development. The group submitted a joint statement on the theme of their Forum to the Commission.

In his closing remarks, the chairperson for the 56th Session of the Commission, Mr. Nikulas Hannigan of Iceland, commended efforts by the Secretariat, the Vice‑Chairs, keynote speakers, and a range of other participants for contributing to the smooth and successful conclusion of the eight-day commission.  He also affirmed what he described as the “unprecedented robust level of participation by civil society.

Read more: 56th Commission Social Development:


By Sister Nathanael Lee, LSHF, Missionary Oblates’ Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) 2015–2017 Intern/Fellow. She is from South Korea and a member of the Little Servants of the Holy Family.)

Sr. Nathanael Lee in UN   General Assembly Hall

Sr. Nathanael Lee in UN General Assembly Hall

A major part of my two-year internship with the Justice and Peace ministry at Missionary Oblates – US Province is understanding the workings of the United Nations. For my local congregation back in Seoul, Korea, the UN is considered beyond our scope of work. It is a distant institution and far away from our daily apostolate life. I can hear colleagues from my Order, Little Servants of the Holy Family, saying, “Why in the world would a Catholic Sister need to go to the United Nations?” Needless to say, my colleagues are always ready to serve the poor and keen on caring for those most abandoned right in our neighborhood. We as an Order have no problem with a ‘so-called’ grassroots level approach to human problems.

Before this recent visit to the United Nations, my knowledge of indigenous people was confined to images from the 1986 British film ‘Mission’ and 1990 American film ‘Dances with Wolves’. From my perspective they both present a stereotypical view of indigenous people. South Korea ethnically is a pretty homogeneous society, so I have very little knowledge of indigenous issues. It may be surprising to some people to know that this was the first time I heard about “rights” for Indigenous people. I was not only ignorant as a global citizen, but I also had a narrow perception of the concept of minority. So recently participating in the UN Indigenous Forum simultaneously exposed me to two new things: the UN system and the issue of indigenous rights.

The 15th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place in New York City from May 9-20, 2016. I was amazed to see a large number of indigenous people proudly wearing their traditional attire in the General Assembly hall and raising their voice. Their stories were equally fascinating and agonizing – homicide, massacres, evacuation, and displacement, etc. These were stories I never hear about through the mainstream media. I wondered “why”, considering a resolution on the rights of indigenous peoples was declared and adopted by the UN in 2007. For me, the UN was the perfect place to begin absorbing this totally new subject matter. I was learning by listening to real indigenous people in their own voices, reading through official conference documents, and participating in side-events.

Here in Washington, D.C., through the Oblate JPIC office, I have learned how to approach global and national issues that begin at the grassroots level. The link from grassroots to national then international promotes a “no one left behind” strategy. It is like the Good Shepherd who goes after one-lost sheep until he finds it among the hundred. (Cf. Luke 15:4) In my case, ‘a woman religious from a small local congregation goes to the United Nations’ sounds unrealistic somehow at the beginning. Having said that, I am confident now about persuading my Little Servants of the Holy Family Sisters on just how appropriate it is for us to engage with the UN on behalf of voiceless people in desperate need. It was a tremendous privilege to participate in the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I am grateful to VIVAT International, an accredited member of the UN, for bringing me as part of their delegation. I appreciate all people who strive and search for one lost sheep until they find it.

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By Veronica Mwangangi, IBVM, SNDatUN delegate to UNCTAD 14:

At the UNCTAD 14 Conference I will interact and share ideas with people of different nationalities on the economic challenges that affect trade and development. I hope, by the end of the conference, that it will be clear what action plans we need to put in place to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Sébastien Nkoa, OP, SNDatUN delegate to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (
UNCTAD): I am interested to know how the international community and UNCTAD in particular will work to implement both the Sustainable Development Goals and Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the financing road map to achieve the SDGs. We are the ones to make our future bright or dark. I hope through my UN conference participation to shed my contribution of light to make our world a better place.

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Celine CheronoBy Celine Cherono, IBVM, SNDatUN delegate to UNCTAD 14Inspired by Nelson Mandela, I have a dream to campaign relentlessly for an end to extreme poverty. UNCTAD 14 is my golden opportunity. Indeed many people have been trapped in the prison of man-made poverty and their freedom depends on my actions. I really want human persons to live in a world free from poverty, for as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. Therefore I want to gain more skills so that my dream can blossom.

My motivation is this sad reality. You find young girls from age 9 giving birth! A child giving birth to a child! She is not even aware of what motherhood entails… It’s so painful… I have witnessed this even from my close relatives and my own sister and I know the pain. The mother of an immature mother takes responsibility. In most cases, they are rejected and for them to survive, they get other men who cheat on them, impregnate them and dump them. So, as they look for money to raise their kids through the dirty means of prostitution, another child arrives and another one and another one. All because of poverty.

With this harsh and painful reality, my dream is to reach out to at least one in 2017, educate her on life issues, then begin a small business for her. I am already sacrificing part of my personal funds towards this so that she may enjoy the freedom of human dignity. I have come to realize that the world is eager for actions not words. Therefore I am acting with courage and vision.

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Wamuyu WachiraBy Wamuyu Wachira, IBVM, SNDatUN delegate to UNCTAD 14: As a lecturer in Peace and Conflict studies, I have been lecturing on topics such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the deliberations of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Hyogo Conference, Japan on Disaster Management, peace and economic development and women, peace and development, and the role of the Civil Society in sustainable peacebuilding. Therefore, when I heard about the UNCTAD 14 conference I was very interested and was very grateful when I was invited and selected as a delegate.

During this meeting I will be interested in discussions on the following issues among others: Economic and political empowerment of women especially in the African continent. Topics such as the perception of women’s role and how to improve women’s bargaining positions, promoting gender equality, affirmative actions especially for girls, and marginalised and women’s access to productive resources will be of interest to me.

The other area of interest is on youth, especially in the African continent. I will be interested in discussions especially in the area of their contribution to socio-economic and political development. Areas of interest will therefore be youth unemployment and underemployment. These issues are of essence to me because if they are not addressed they could suffocate the potential of youth as transforming and agents of change. Hence, through this conference I hope the deliberations made will be actualized and harnessed. I am hopeful that there will be discussions on some of the ways of doing this; for instance, through training, new technology and education.

Care of our common mother earth is also an area of interest for me. I am therefore looking forward to discussions on food security, trade, and the impact of new wars, especially the ‘war on terror’, and which if not addressed could hamper the actualization of the sustainable development goals.

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