INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: “TOGETHER FOR PEACE, RESPECT, SAFETY AND DIGNITY FOR ALL”

5September 21 of every year is observed as the International Day of Peace.  World Peace Day which was established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution is designed to provide a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. The theme for the 2017 World Peace Day is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. This theme reflects the spirit of the TOGETHER campaign, a global initiative launched during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016 by the United Nations system in partnership with its 193 Member States and all the stakeholders ‘in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.

Below is the UN Secretary General’s message on the 2017 World Peace Day;

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Children in Zataari camp, Jordan.  Couresty; UN/Rababah

“On the International Day of Peace, we reflect on the cruel price of war.  Ruined schools. Bombed hospitals.  Broken families.  Refugees searching for hope.  Countries in crisis.  The United Nations was born from a terrible World War.  Our mission is to work for peace — every day and everywhere.  No group interest, national ambition or political difference should be allowed to put peace at risk.   

On this International Day, we call for a global ceasefire.  We must never — ever — stop pressing for an end to armed conflict.  Peace is the right and desire of all people.  It is the foundation for progress and well-being – happy children, thriving communities, and peaceful, prosperous countries.  Let us pledge to work together – today and every day – for the peace we all yearn for and deserve.”

Watch the UNSG Message on 2017 World Peace Day: http://bit.ly/2x2eDsY

Watch the PeaceChannel: http://bit.ly/2cRy3Zj

 

 

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THE UNITED NATIONS OCEAN CONFERENCE: “SAVE OUR OCEAN”

#1The impact of human activities on the health of oceans and seas, and the urgent need for action to protect this part of our planet, were the focus of discussion during the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference, which took place in New York from June 6 to 9. In his opening remarks at the conference, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, appealed to governments and other stakeholders for increased collaboration to protect the oceans. According to Mr. Guterres, “improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail.” He urged governments to allocate funds towards pledges for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Mr. Guterres also called for improved data collection and the sharing of best experiences.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Peter Thomson, also lent his voice to the #2call to protect the oceans. He appealed to participants at the conference in these imparting words, stating; “We are here on behalf of humanity; to restore sustainability, balance, and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the ocean.” Mr. Thomson described as “inexcusable” actions such as dumping the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute of every day, which is said to be driving fish stocks to the points of collapse, and destroying marine life through acidification and deoxygenation.

The ocean plays an integral role in the health and wellbeing of humans and other species because it generates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, human activities such as dumping of waste products into the oceans and seas threaten the health of global water sources (and as a result, our health too). The need to protect the ocean has never been more urgent, as we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change.

Below are some basic facts you need to know about the ocean and sea. Courtesy of Sea Change Project (www.seachangeproject.eu)

*The Ocean is Planet Earth’s Life Support System: The Ocean plays a fundamental role in supporting life on Earth by regulating our climate. It does this by storing and transporting huge amounts of heat, water and greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide). By absorbing heat as well as large amounts of carbon dioxide, the ocean lessens the effects of climate change experienced on land. However, this comes at a cost to ocean health and therefore human health. We can reduce the stress we put on the ocean and limit further climate change by decreasing our carbon footprint (a measure of environmental impact in units of carbon dioxide).

 *Seafood and Human Health: From ancient times, fisheries and aquaculture (the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants) have been an important source of food. These activities also provide economic benefits to millions of people engaged in harvesting, culturing, processing and trading along the world’s seashores and waterways. Today, we are facing the challenge of growing demand for seafood together with declining catches from the world’s marine fisheries. Therefore, well-managed fisheries are essential to continue providing food into the future.

 *Marine Pollution and Human Health: Many of our waste products end up in the sea. This includes visible as well as invisible waste such as chemicals from personal care product and pharmaceuticals that we flush down our toilets and drains. Once in the sea, these pollutants can move through the ocean, endangering marine life through entanglement, ingestion and intoxication.

 * The Ocean – A Treasure Trove for Human Medicine: The Ocean is home to a vast variety of organisms, diverse in their adaptations to the marine environment. Marine organisms produce an abundance of natural products to defend themselves against predators, to locate mates, to communicate and to compete for space and food. Many of these compounds have no terrestrial equivalents and are unique in terms of chemical structure and biological activity. There are 7 marine-derived medicines in clinical use; Trabectedin, Eribulin Mesylate, Cytarabine, Brentuximab, Ziconotide Vidarabine, Omeg-3- acid ethyl esters.                                                                                                                                                                                                  *The Sea and our Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Spending time by the sea has long been associated with health benefits and a sense of wellbeing. Acknowledging the importance of the sea’s influence on our mental and physical health, the Blue Gym concept refers to using the coastal environment specifically to promote health and wellbeing by increasing physical activity, reducing stress and building stronger communities.

 Read more: UN Ocean Conference; http://bit.ly/2lGShXP

THE UNITED NATIONS: BRINGING PEOPLE AND ISSUES TOGETHER TO PROMOTE COLLECTIVE ACTION FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD

Picture 1Leonore Coan, SNDdeN; SNDatUN Delegate for the 55th Commission for Social Development: Early February (1-10, 2017), the United Nations hosted the 55th session of the Commission on Social Development. Priority theme for the 2017-2018 review and policy cycle of the Commission for Social Development would be “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all” The aggressive goal for the Commission is to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030.

The Commission plenary sessions and side events planned by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in collaboration with members of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) presented information to effect policy development for the Sustainable Development Goals and suggested strategies for implementation by UN member states.

Having an opportunity to attend sessions of the Commission for the first few days of the meeting was a privilege.  I was honored to attend a few of the side events and two plenary sessions addressing the issues of youth and people with disabilities.

 The meetings I attended during my few days addressed the inclusion of youth especially Picture 2
girls in planning programs and strategy sessions. Including youth in development programs will impact continued future development. I interpreted this to suggest that women attending planning sessions and program developments in their respective communities to bring youth, especially girls, to the meetings. They are not too young to learn. This concept was promoted at a side event on “Women as agents of change in building a shared society” sponsored by Club de Madrid/UN Women/ UNDESA/DSPD.

On Friday morning I observed the plenary session where representatives from several countries presented prepared statements committing their respective member states to inclusion of persons with disabilities into the mainstream of decision making for the development of good solid communities.  At the end of the scheduled presentations, a member of the CSO asked to speak.  This individual was observably disabled. His oral presentation was hesitant because of limited verbal articulation. What he asked of the Member States was “a place at the table” for these planning sessions for inclusion. In all Member States presentations, he heard the promise of fiscal and humanitarian inclusion through budget and programming but no mention of physical inclusion in decision making. His statement was clearly heard.

Picture 3My time was limited but the Agenda of the 55th session of the Commission was and is extensive.  As time passes the Agenda expands.  Addressing the issues presented with the 17 Sustainable Goals is a lifetime work for everyone.  In promoting the work of the Goals, the UN is hoping to achieve successful implementation by the year 2030.

Read more:  55th Commission on Social Development; http://bit.ly/2j9xFIM                        Civil Society Declaration: Social Protection Floors as the Preeminent Strategy for eradicating poverty.

INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY: MIGRATION ISSUES GETTING NEW ATTENTION AT THE UN ____________________________

newsletter-6The United Nations (UN) celebrates International Migrants Day on December 18. Issues related to migration are currently receiving greater attention at the UN than in the past. On September 19, the UN General Assembly made up of the 193 Member States, adopted the landmark New York Declaration on Migration and Refugees. As part of this initiative, a very intensive process involving Member States, as well as the active participation of the private sector, civil society, migrants and diaspora, has begun with the intent of producing a Global Compact on Migration. The process will be very rigorous, and will span throughout 2017 to the early part of 2018. The main objective of the initiative is to have the Global Compact on Migration document ready for adoption by the UN Member States in 2018.

In his speech at the adoption of the New York Declaration on September 19, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, indicated that the event represents a breakthrough in the collective efforts of Member States of the UN to address the challenges of human mobility.  The Global Compact on Migration will only increase in its impact once adopted.

Read more: Migration issue getting new attention at UN: migration-issues-worlds-refugees

 

GOOD NEWS FOR THE PEOPLE AND PLANET: PARIS AGREEMENT ENTERS INTO FORCE

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The threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was reached on October 6, 2016. To date, 76 of the 197 Parties have ratified the agreements of the Convention. The current status for the Agreement stands at 191 Signatories and 81 Parties. With the required 55% of total global emissions reached, the Paris Agreement will now enter into effect on November 4, 2016.

This motion will mark the beginning of a long journey and the collective commitment of the international community towards saving our planet. Click here to see the countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement. Read more: http://bit.ly/245GrVi

SPOTLIGHT ON GLOBAL ISSUES: PARTICIPATE IN UN MEETINGS IN 2017

11-16Through 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 2017, contact Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at SNDatUN@sndden.org.   You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at http://webtv.un.org/

  •  February 1 – 10, 2017: 56th Commission on Social Development (New York)
    Theme: “Strategies for the Eradication of Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals
  •  March 13 – 24 March, 2017: 61st Commission on the Status of Women (New York) Theme: Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work http://www.unwomen.org/csw/csw61-2017
  • April 24th – May 5th: 16th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)
    Theme: “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peoples:
    Measures taken to implement the Declaration.”