73RD SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: “MAKING THE UNITED NATIONS RELEVANT TO ALL PEOPLE: GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PEACEFUL, EQUITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIETIES.”

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UN GA Hall:  UN Photo

The General Assembly (GA,) which is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN,) draws equal representation from all Member States of the organization. Each year, leaders of the 193 Member States of the UN from around the world gather at the Headquarters in New York for the GA. The 2018 General Assembly, also the 73rd session, took place from 18 September to 5 October with the theme; “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.” The General Assembly, which is led by a president, is the main “deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN on matters such as; overseeing the budget, the appointment of the Secretary General and non-permanent members of the security council,” and many more roles. It is worth noting that for the fourth time in the 73-year history of the UN, the GA is being led by a woman, Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés. Ms. Garcés who is currently the Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility was elected the 73rd President of the GA on 5 June 2018. Presidency of the GA rotates regionally among Member States on yearly basis. This is an elective position.

In her opening speech of the 73rd session of the GA, Ms. Garcés pledged to use her office to bring the global organization ‘closer to the people and strengthen their sense of ownership and support for the UN.’

Below were some of the high-level meetings which took place during the 73rd session of

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Ms. M.F.E. Garcés

the UN GA:                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                              Learn more:

Six things to know about the 73rd session of the UN GA: https://bit.ly/2NtsVOD

Do you know what your country said to other world leaders? Watch the UN General Debate: https://bit.ly/2xTRc5K

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SPOTLIGHT ON GLOBAL ISSUES: PARTICIPATE IN UN MEETINGS IN 2018

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

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

 

 

MY FIRST DAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS: AN EXPERIENCE TO BE TREASURED

1By Juliana Maria Marques Boyd, SNDatUN Intern:  April 27, 2017 was my first day at the United Nations (UN) in New York. It was like a dream come true. I have walked many places in my life, but walking into the United Nations Headquarters for the first time filled my heart with hope, love, and happiness. I have always pictured myself being part of the UN. For many years, I have dreamt of making positive difference in the world by helping young people in Latin America have better opportunities in life. This period of my internship with Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the UN is for me, the beginning of the realization of that dream.

On my first day at the UN, my supervisor, Grace Amarachi, SNDdeN showed me round2 the UN and informed me as to how to access the conference rooms, the library and cafeterias. We visited the Department of Disarmament where there was a display of daily military expenditure worldwide. I was shocked to notice how much little money is spent on disarmament and peacebuilding in comparison to military spending. The display shows a circle the size of my kitchen table representing the amount of monies spent on war and then another circle the size of an apple representing what is spent on disarmament and peacebuilding. It is clear to see the purpose of the UN and how the organization strives for a just and peaceful world. This is also the world that many of us desire for ourselves and for our children.

3As we ended our orientation, this beautiful painting of faces of people from different nations, races and religion caught my attention.  I stood before the painting and gave a big smile so a photo could be taken. I was very happy and the photo portrays my feelings. Overall, I would describe the UN as a holistic place which breeds knowledge, history, beauty and peace. It is the only place where all nations come together on a common ground to discuss a better world. After this overwhelming experience, as I exit the UN, I felt like a different person, I knew that I was no longer    just an American or a Brazilian citizen, but a citizen of the world.

SDG 3: MENTAL HEALTH CRUCIAL FOR WELL-BEING OF WOMEN AND GIRLS

KatieBlawie-167-WebBy Katie Blawie: For the first time in history, the UN set of sustainable development goals directly addresses mental health and well-being. Goal 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” and Target 3.4 states that we must “by 2030 reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.” We cannot have sustainable development if we fail to prioritize well-being and health – not just physical, but also mental – with solid, measurable indicators. Mental health policies and programs in all countries are crucial to empowering women and girls. Poor mental health among women is a major threat to sustainable development worldwide.

Women and the mentally ill of any background are two marginalized groups in society. When those two factors are combined, the exclusion becomes even worse. Kofi Annan issued a challenge to us collectively as the peoples of the world to find global leadership and vision on these issues.

E_SDG_Icons-03We call on all governments worldwide to prioritize mental health with specific, measurable indicators and policies to empower women and girls in our global agenda for sustainable development. Let us of course recognize and confirm that providing economic opportunity for our societies, and for women and girls specifically, improves our individual and collective well-being. Embracing mental health for women and girls sustains mental health for all in our world.

 

UN COMMITTEE ON NGOS: GATEWAY TO CONSULTATIVE STATUS

un-charter-enArticle 71 of the UN Charter provides for consultation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The UN Committee on NGOs meets twice a year to consider NGO applications for consultative status and quadrennial reports from those NGOs already accredited to the UN. In May 2016 the committee considered 464 applications, reviewed 426 quadrennial reports, and sent their recommendations to the Economic and Social Council for its approval in July 2016. Unfortunately, many NGO applications and reports were deferred for later consideration, some after many years of repeated delays. Committee members are Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Greece, Guinea, India, Iran, Israel, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD’S VISION FOR THE UN: MAKE ROOM FOR STILLNESS

Dag HammarskjöldDag Hammarskjöld, 2nd UN Secretary General, served from 1953 until his untimely death in 1961. In 1957 he established a Meditation Room at United Nations headquarters in New York because he believed that “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.”

Meditation Room UNSecretary Hammarskjöld created the room to be one of utter simplicity, containing only a spotlight falling on a block of iron ore with a mural on the wall behind. Simple seats allow visitors to rest and ponder the light, iron, and design and their relevance to the UN and their own peace-making efforts. His dedication, displayed outside the Meditation Room, concludes: “There is an ancient saying that the sense of a vessel is not in its shell but in the void. So it is with this room. It is for those who come here to fill the void with what they find in their center of stillness.”

Let us all continue to bring stillness, peace, and understanding to our troubled world.