The devastating economic impact of the COVID pandemic has left many governments struggling to fund critical social programmes such as healthcare, education, housing, etc. However, the financial crunch has had little or no effect on global military spending. According to a report released on 26 April 2021 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the global military expenditure rose to nearly $2 trillion in 2020, an increase of 2.6 percent from 2019.

Ironically, the five largest spenders in military weapons, the US, China, Russia, the UK, and India, are members of the UN Security Council. While the first four countries are among the Permanent Members of the Council, India is currently serving as a non-permanent member. The Director, Arms and Security Programs at the Center for International Policy, William D. Hartung, poignantly points out that, “at a time when a global pandemic, climate change, and racial and economic injustice pose the greatest risks to human lives and livelihood, the increase in global military expenditure in 2020 marks a dismal failure by policymakers across the world to address the most urgent challenges we face.”

Courtesy: SIPRI

Conspicuously stationed close to the visitors’ entrance into the United Nations Headquarters in New York is the iconic “Knotted Gun.”  The “knotted gun,” which symbolizes non-violence, was sculpted by Carl Fredrik Reutersward shortly following the assassination of the famous musician John Lennox in 1980 and donated to the UN by the mission of Luxembourg in 1988.  

There are two kinds of virus currently ravaging the world; the COVID-19 and violence. Regrettably, as many families struggle each day to get by due to the economic impact of the pandemic, governments continue to spend recklessly on weapons of death. The former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said over a decade ago that “the world is over-armed, and peace is underfunded.” This saying continues to ring true. The post-COVID era is the time for governments to knot the guns and redirect all resources to improve their citizens’ wellbeing.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:


1This is a significant year in the history of the United Nations, as the global organization celebrates the 75th anniversary of its foundation.  The UN Charter was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the end of the United Nations Conference on International Organizations. It came into force on 24 October 1945. The signing of the Charter marks the birth of the United Nations. As the foundational Treaty of the UN, the Charter clearly outlines the principles of the UN, which is to foster peace and security among nations, promote social progress and better standards of living for all people, and to ensure the human rights and freedoms of people everywhere.

In his speech to commemorate the UN Charter Day on 26 June, the UN Secretary-General, 2Mr. Antonio Guterres, noted that the principles of the UN ring just as valid today as it was 75 years ago. Even with its flaws, the UN remains a global force for good. The UN Agencies and Programmes continue to provide much-needed medical and humanitarian relief to millions of individuals and communities in low- income and conflict or disaster affected regions of the world at every given time. At this moment, when humanity is experiencing multiple challenges such as the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism, nuclear arms race, and other transnational criminal activities, the UN offers the space for multilateralism required in tackling these global issues.

The preamble to the UN Charter begins with the phrase “We the Peoples of the United Nations …” Therefore, “We the Peoples” must continue to support and challenge the UN to live up to her principles as we move into the future.


On 14-15 May at the UN75 People’s Forum, with participants from 75 countries around the world in attendance online, H.E. Mr. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, President of the UN General Assembly, formally received the UN75 People’s Declaration and Plan for Global Action. The Declaration concludes, “Let the Member States, on this 75th anniversary, join hands with the peoples of the world to inspire the action so urgently needed to realize the vision of the United Nations Charter finally.”


  1. As the UN marks the 75th Anniversary of the UN Charter, we (Civil Society Partnership For the UN We Need) invite you to click on the following link to read endorse the UN75 People’s Declaration in your capacity as an individual and or on behalf of your organization


  1. The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great challenge, including the worst global health crisis in its history. Will it bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust? Your views can make a difference. Click on the link below to have your say on the future you want as a global citizen. Your responses to this survey will inform global priorities now and going forward


Read more: 

The United Nations:

UNSG Message on UN Charter Day:




The UN Headquarters, New York; Un Photo

The year 2020 is a memorable one at the United Nations (UN), as the global organization marks the 75th anniversary of its establishment. The UN was founded in the aftermath of WWII in 1945 to prevent another such war. The initial gathering in San Francisco, USA, consisted of representatives from 50 countries. The UN currently has 193 Member States and two Non-Member States (the Holy See and the State of Palestine). Some of the principal objectives for the founding of the UN as contained in the Charter are; to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among member countries, and to promote social progress and better living standards, human rights, and freedoms. The UN is the only entity that joins 193 Member States for dialogue, planning, and action, especially on issues around human rights, security and development.

The ideals of the UN continue to be relevant, especially in the current global socio-2economic and political climate. The UN, like many human institutions, is not perfect, nonetheless its role in promoting multilateralism in tackling some of the very critical global challenges such as; migration, terrorism, and the threat of climate change, and many more, can never be overemphasized. Global challenges require global solutions. And nowhere is the power of multilateralism in dealing with global problems best demonstrated as at the UN. As the 2nd Secretary-General of the UN, Dag Hammarskjold, rightly remarked, “the United Nations was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.”

As part of the events to mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has launched a global survey on the role of international cooperation in building the future we want. Be part of the conversation on the future you want for yourself and the coming generations. The United Nations is your world. Click HERE to take the survey.

Read more:

The United Nations;

The “World we Want” survey:



Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at UN Conference in July, 2018

Each year, the United Nations hosts several major meetings in which members of civil society organizations accredited to the UN can participate. Through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur NGO Office, Sisters, Associates, co-workers, students, etc. can participate in any of these meetings. There is no fee to attend these UN sessions, but participants are responsible for their room and board and transportation while attending the conference. 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 2020, contact Sister Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at Below are some of the major UN meetings taking place in New York between February and April 2020.

  • 10 – 19 February 2020: 58th Session of the Commission on Social Development (New York).  Priority theme: “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness”
  • 10 – 20 March 2020: 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York).  Priority theme: “Beijing +25: Realizing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls.” Read more:
  • 13 – 24 April 2020: 19th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) (New York):   Theme: “Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16.”  Read more:



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


Ms. M.F.E. Garcés

the UN GA:                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                              Learn more:

Six things to know about the 73rd session of the UN GA:

Do you know what your country said to other world leaders? Watch the UN General Debate:


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  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at 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.
  • 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.”
  • April 16 – 27, 2018: 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)  Theme: “Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources.


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;


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:

Watch the PeaceChannel:




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.


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.