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-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 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.


sapling from Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Gingko treeOn May 2, Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, along with Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), presented to the United Nations Office at Geneva a sapling from an A-bomb Survivor Gingko tree in Hiroshima. In the fall the sapling will be planted by the UN Secretary-General in the Ariana Park of the Palais des Nations in Geneva as part of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative. Jointly sponsored by UNITAR and the NGO Asian Network of Trust-Hiroshima, the initiative aims to safeguard and spread worldwide the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s A-bomb Survivor trees.


Cheryl Morrissey, NGO Representative for Pax Christi International at the UN, shares why she works for peace: 

Cheryl M cropMy father had multiple myeloma and then quadriplegia as a direct result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. A career US Army Officer—an elite Army Ranger (similar to Navy Seals) and part of the celebrated 173rd Airborne Brigade, “The Sky Soldiers”—he was exactly the gung-ho strong and young hero-type the rest of us look to when “we” want to go to war—but just not actually go ourselves, or let anyone we love go. The sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, and pilots like him around the world in all countries—the lifelong physical and spiritual burdens we pack onto them without much thought but LOTS of braggadocio—are an important motivation to do anything I can at the UN that increases peace and justice. We have to keep pushing for a better way to coexist.


  • Peace needed off-planet too: E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, speaks on prevention of an arms race in outer space
  • World Radio Day was celebrated on 13 February with the theme “Radio in times of war and conflict”
  • Join the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict:
  • Notre Dame student represents USA at peace meeting in Japan:


You can’t win a war any more than you can win an earthquake.
Jeannette Rankin

DPI/NGO Conference: Education for Global Citizenship

The sixty-sixth Department of Public Information (DPI)/Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Conference will take place in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, from 30 May to 1 June 2016. Organised by the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, NGO community, Government of the Republic of Korea, and National Organizing Committee of Korea, this year’s Conference will focus on Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together.

Participants will consider three pillars of education:
1. Formal Education
2. Informal Education and Training
3. Advocacy and Public Information

According to Conference organizers, “The Conference aims at harnessing expertise across a wide spectrum of civil society organizations to unleash a range of education initiatives that ensure equitable quality education as well as lifelong learning opportunities for all.”   

For more information:


Process for new UN Secretary General – get involved

In 2016, the UN will appoint a new Secretary-General (SG)

The President of the General Assembly (PGA) is organizing informal dialogues between UN Member States and Secretary General candidates starting in April 2016.

The Office of the PGA has requested UN-NGLS to facilitate a process with civil society to provide questions that can be asked to candidates during these dialogues.

Submit your questions in writing, video, or audio by March 20: (choose your language)