3As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, recommended a scaled-down, shortened session of the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women, with the participation of only New York-based delegation. All parallel and side events scheduled to take place during the commission were cancelled. The cancellation was quite understandable, yet disappointing for the over 12,000 people who registered to attend the event from different parts of the world. New York-based Member States delegates convened on 9 March and adopted a political declaration on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women entitled; “Women 2000: Gender equality, development, and peace for the twenty-first century.” Some civil society representatives were also present.

Click HERE to read the political declaration.





The United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution 73/23 on 3 December 2018, designating 24 January the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education in promoting peace and sustainable development.


Though progress has been made in the past decades in providing access to education for more children, especially children from less-developed economies, a lot more still needs to be done. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), over 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school.” This is unacceptable. “Education is a human right, a public good, and a public responsibility.” Therefore, it must not become a tool for reinforcing inequality. Providing “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all” by 2030 is goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by Member States of the UN in 2015. Governments must be held accountable to deliver these goals. Education is key to achieving the SDGs. And as rightly pointed out by the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Ms. Amina Mohammed, “failure to attain the educational needs of the population, equals failure to achieve the SDGs.”

SDG 4: Facts and Figures

  • Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent, 4but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An estimated 50 percent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.

Read more:

Ten targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4: https://bit.ly/36hC5lG

International Day of Education: https://bit.ly/36jCVhW


2In September each year, heads of states and governments of the 193 member countries of the United Nations gather in New York for the UN General Assembly. As one of the six principal organs of the UN, the General Assembly (GA), draws equal representation from all Member States of the organization. The GA is led by the president who is elected on a rotational basis from among the Member States every year. In early June 2019, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Mr. Tijani Muhammad Bande was elected president of the 74th General Assembly. In his inaugural speech at the opening of the 74th Session of the GA, Mr. Bande outlined his priorities in the coming year as the GA president. These include; peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action, and inclusion.

Alongside the traditional General Debate (when heads of states and governments deliver


Un General Assembly Hall:  UN Photo

their speeches), the UN Secretary-General (UNSG), Antonio Guterres, also convened five meetings covering critical global issues from 24-27 September. These meetings were; the Climate Action Summit, high-level conference on Universal Health Coverage, and the high-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Others were the high-level dialogue on Financing for Development, and the high-level Review of Progress made in Addressing the Priorities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.

Read more:

The 74th UNGA Session: https://bit.ly/2TTMmzT


1The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, welcomed the new year with fresh optimism. In his new year message, Mr. Guterres emphasized how the on-going reforms of the UN system will transform the works of the organization. According to him, “the aims of reform are clear: To focus more on people and less on the process. To become nimbler and more effective. And to build a workplace of equality, diversity, and integrity.” Mr. Guterres noted that 2018 was a year of critical decision, however, 2019 is going to be a year of action!

Click HERE to watch the full video footage of Mr. Guterres’ new year message.



5In her opening remarks during the first multi-stakeholders dialogue held at the margin of the first intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, made the following plea: “Over the long-term the evidence is clear: the benefits of migration vastly outweigh the challenges. And without a clear understanding of migration, negative narratives surround migrants. “We must not allow xenophobic political narratives about migration distort our objective to enhance international cooperation on migration.” She further stressed that “it is only with facts and context that we can have a respectful and realistic discussion about migration, one that pushes back on the many inaccurate and negative narratives being touted for short-term political gains and misguided policies.”

The large influx of refugees/migrants from some middle east and African countries into Europe between 2014 – 2016, following the escalation of conflicts and the socio-political and economic challenges in these regions raised a huge global concern, as well as socio-political backlash from some European countries. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) responded to the situation by convening a high-level summit to address the large movements of refugees and migrants in September 2016. At the end of the summit, UNGA adopted a resolution 71/1, also known as the New York Declaration (NYD). According to the UNGA, the New York Declaration “expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.” Explicit in the NYD was a commitment by the Member States to negotiate and adopt separate global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees by 2018.

While work on the Global Compact for refugees was largely coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, the process for negotiating the


UN General Assembly

global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was strictly state-led, and facilitated by the Permanent Representative of Switzerland and Mexico to the United Nations. After an extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and six intense months of intergovernmental negotiations, Member States came up with an agreed document on 13th July 2018. The agreed negotiated documents for both the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees, will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in early December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco. When adopted, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration will be the first-ever global framework on migration governance.

In her remarks at the end of the negotiations, the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, commended Member States for staying in the process despite as she noted, “some profound issues that migration raises such as sovereignty of states and human rights; what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion.” Ms. Mohammed pointed out that, “this compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.” All Member States of the UN was part of the intergovernmental negotiations for safe, orderly and regular migration except for the United States of America and Hungary.

Read more:  Intergovernmental negotiated and agreed outcome document of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; https://bit.ly/2LP0ycL

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 2016: https://bit.ly/2bqPpvC

The New York Declaration: https://bit.ly/2o9ItXe




5The transatlantic slave trade era which spanned from about 1501 to 1803, marked one of the darkest chapters in the history of humanity. Over 15 million children, women, and men were taken from the African continent and were enslaved in Europe and the Americas, to work mostly in plantations. The transatlantic slave trade became the largest forced migration in history. On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 61/122 declared 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in commemoration of the victims of this horrendous act against humanity. The theme for the 2018 commemoration is: “Triumphs and Struggles for Freedom and Equality.”  Additionally, in 2014 The UN General Assembly declared 2015 – 2024, as the International Decade for the People of African Descent. Some of the main objectives of the International Decade according to the UN are to uphold the following:

Although, the transatlantic slave trade was formally abolished in the 19th century, modern day slavery continues to thrive till this day. In his remarks at the occasion of the unveiling of the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the UN Headquarters in 2015, the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, expressed his hope that “The Ark of Return will also serve as a call to action against the many contemporary manifestations of slavery, from human trafficking and sexual enslavement to debt bondage.”


Read more: Brazil: The Story of Slavery; http://bit.ly/2I3xzfM

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade: http://bit.ly/15e9sGC

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the International Decade for the People of African Descent: http://bit.ly/2ocpCOc



04The United Nations General Assembly on 1 November 2005 adopted a resolution A/RES/60/7 designating 27 January, as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The General Assembly adopted the above resolution by “consensus condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.” The theme for the 2018 Holocaust Remembrance Day is “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility.” This theme, according to the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme highlights the importance of education on the tragedy of holocaust in order to encourage the future generation to reject all forms of racism, violence and extremism. “To build a future, you have to know the past.” (Otto Frank)

Hatred, intolerance, discrimination and demonization of an entire population simply on the basis of their race, ethnicity, sexuality or religious beliefs could potentially be the first step to inciting a genocide.  As the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres warns, “It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism.”

Read more:

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: http://bit.ly/MjAbc4

Resolution A/RES/60/7: http://bit.ly/2mQkbBW

Unforgettable; Holocaust Survivors speak; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVqmUtWBy8E


3Through 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 2018, contact Sister Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at SNDatUN@sndden.org.  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at http://webtv.un.org/. Below are some of the major UN sessions taking place in from January – April, 2018.


  • January 29 – February 7, 2018: 56th Commission on Social Development (New York). “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All” is  the priority theme for the 2018 policy cycle. http://bit.ly/2iJixzV
  • March 12 – 23, 2018: 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Theme: Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.” http://bit.ly/2AEUBoN
  • April 16 – 27, 2018: 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)  Theme: “Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources. http://bit.ly/2yXQtEa


1Every year, heads of government of all 193 Member States of the United Nations (UN) gather at the Headquarters of the organization in New York for the General Assembly (GA). The General Assembly (one of the six organs of the UN) is the only occasion that brings together leaders of all Member States annually. The 2017 Session of the GA, which was also the 72nd since the inception of the UN, was held from September 12-28.

What is the General Assembly? Below are some basic facts about the General Assembly. (Culled from the UN website).

Created in 1945, the General Assembly is the democratic heart of the UN. The General Assembly comprises of 193 Member States. Each has an equal voice in decision-making.It debates pressing issues that affects millions of people; Peace and Security, Human Rights, 2Development, and many more …It appoints the UN Secretary General.  And elects the non-permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly is where key decisions affecting all Member States are made. More than 500 Treaties have been created under the General Assembly auspices. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was agreed upon back in 1948. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were approved by the General Assembly, as a path to eradicate poverty and address climate change by 2030

 The 72nd General Assembly featured a signing ceremony of the new Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, and general debate on the following; UN reform, Climate Change Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse and Women’s economic empowerment.

 A number of global hotspots from Central African Republic, South Sudan and Yemen also took center stage during the 72nd General Assembly. 

 Read more: General Assembly of the United Nation; http://www.un.org/en/ga/


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.