11-16-3The United Nations General Assembly, on October 13, 2016, appointed Mr. Antonio Guterres as the new Secretary General. Mr. Guterres’ appointment was made by acclamation by the Security Council’s recommendation following the resolution’s adoption in a private meeting.

Many observers described the process for the election of Mr. Guterres as the most transparent and open process in the history of the UN’s election of any Secretary General. The process included a town hall debate at the General Assembly in July, where candidates for the position took questions from diplomats and members of the civil society. There were also several straw polls conducted by the Security Council. Many who had hoped for a woman Secretary General were a little disappointed.

Mr. Ban ki-Moon welcomed the appointment of Mr. Guterres, and described it as “an 11-16-4excellent choice.” Mr. Guterres brings his experience, as a former Prime Minister of Portugal and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to his new role. He will assume his new position as the UN Chief on January, 1 2017, after Mr. Ban ki-Moon ends his tenure on December 31.


Day of the GirlOctober 11 will mark the third UN International Day of the Girl. Some of our schools are already preparing. “To help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives and providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential” is the aim of young women at Notre Dame Academy, Toledo, Ohio. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is providing leadership to a project which will not only fulfill requirements for a culminating project for the IB Diploma, but it will “raise awareness of the hardships girls around the world face solely based on their gender”.

NDA Toledo OH studentsTwo young women, with the support of their IB director, Ms. Angela Joseph, recognize that many girls living in poverty lack basic necessities, among them feminine materials and care. This situation results in girls’ inability to attend school on a regular basis. Carra Gibson and Isabel Abu-Absi are planning a multi-media education segment for the Day of the Girl, in their words, “to spread awareness about these issues and not only inform NDA girls about the needs that are commonly present, but to engage them and finally, empower them to do something about it”. Carra and Isabel are in touch with Sr. Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SND de Namur. Sister works at Notre Dame Family Center in Les Cayes, Haiti, to provide rudimentary education, health services, and job training skills to women and children. NDA will assist with funds for feminine care products and in the process get to know local culture and members of the local youth center, along with their volunteers.


General Assembly 2Each September, after summer holidays, the United Nations becomes a hub of activity again with the meetings surrounding the opening of the General Assembly which this year takes place on September 16. The new president of the Assembly, Sam Kahamba Kutesa, comes from Uganda and is currently Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. He proposed as the theme of the 69th session: ‘Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.’ He said this underscores the need to agree on the post-2015 agenda and also ensure its implementation. He emphasized the need “to address the means of implementation, in terms of financial resources, technology development, transfer and capacity-building,” including a strengthened global partnership. Kutesa also expressed commitment to reaching a global agreement on climate change, and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Each year another region has the opportunity to choose a candidate for presiding over the General Assembly. Then the 193 member states draw lots to see which delegation will occupy the first seat. This year it will be Cuba. Other states will follow in English alphabetical order.

Monday, 22 – Tuesday, 23 September High-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
Monday, 22 September
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Special session of the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
Tuesday, 23 September “Climate Summit 2014” convened by the Secretary-General
Wednesday, 24 September “General Debate” (statements from any of the 193 members who wish)

General Assembly Committees, at which NGOs are present and active, begin on October 7.


At UNThrough the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur NGO Office, interested persons are able to participate in major UN meetings in New York City. There is no fee to attend these sessions, but participants are responsible for their own transportation, room, and board. Some funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you would like to attend a major UN meeting in New York in 2014, contact Jean Stoner as soon as possible at You can also follow these UN meetings by webcast at

**65th DPI NGO Annual Conference — August 27-29, 2014
UN Department of Public Information (DPI) with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Theme — 2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda   (English only)

**World Conference on Indigenous Peoples September 22-23, 2014
UN General Assembly High Level Plenary Meeting
Themes — Indigenous peoples’ lands, territories and resources; UN action for the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples; indigenous peoples’ priorities for development  (English, Español, Français)

**UN Climate Change Summit — September 23, 2014
UN General Assembly High Level Meeting
Theme — Catalyzing action by governments, business, finance, industry, and civil society  (English only)



MWG logo

The Mining Working Group at the United Nations, a coalition of NGOs with members in 27 mining countries, presented an intervention at a recent Thematic Debate convened by the President of the General Assembly on the topic of water, sanitation, and sustainable energy. The group made the following important points about the connection between mining (extractive industry) and water:

“Our members report extractive industry takeovers of freshwater lakes and vital ecosystems; rivers sold to the highest bidder for profit rather than public good; government agreements with international companies for hydraulic fracturing without consultation with the people; adverse impacts on indigenous peoples that violate rights and increase poverty; and local communities in constant resistance to corporate takeover of the community’s scarce water sources. The global community needs to:

  • Shift from commodification and privatization of water to a human rights-based approach, promoting the global commons, inter-generational equity, and the sustainability of our planet;
  • Measure resource allocation in terms of economic, social and cultural rights and ecological sustainability criteria;
  • Prioritize water for human consumption, food production, protection of watersheds, care of vital ecosystems – rather than for industrial consumption or unsustainable energy production;
  • Focus on root causes of global energy and water issues, including inequitable use, overconsumption, and contamination.”

Water drop cropWhat you can do:

Pray the UN environmental sabbath prayers

Learn more about the rights of nature

Follow this issue at the UN 

Support peaceful environmental resistance in Brazil and Peru



Be as water is — without friction.
Flow around the edges of those within your path.


Efforts of NGOs are pointed toward concrete actions and benchmarks to measure them during the annual global forum on migration. Areas of concentration this year will include labor mobility, migrant protection, and development of migrants as they share and improve their skill levels. Work is also underway for the 2013 High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development. The HLD will take place either before or after the meeting of the heads of state at the 2013 opening of the General Assembly. The NGOs, including the NGO Committee on Migration, are responding to requests of the organizers in regard to the themes and also possibilities of civil society participation. It would be very helpful if Sisters working with migrants would e-mail in order that I can speak with you on the practical issues in your area of the world.


UN Photos

Each September with the opening of the new session of the General Assembly, the 193 member states elect a new president of that UN body. The countries rotate by regions, and for the 67th session the GA President will be Vuc Jeremic, former foreign minister of Serbia. The General Assembly holds its sessions from September to December working in six committees. Our work tends to focus on the Second Committee, which handles economic and financial matters, and the Third Committee, which focuses on resolutions relating to social, humanitarian, and cultural issues. The Working Group on Girls, for example, will contribute to the resolution on the Rights of the Child (focus on Indigenous Children), and the resolution on Trafficking of women and children. Also, the NGO Committee on Migration will be working with the Office of the President of the General Assembly to prepare for the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in the fall of 2013 and the preparatory civil society meetings in late spring of 2012.