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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THE UNITED NATIONS: “A COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE

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From the left are: Sisters Mary Akinyi (K), Patricia Shanahan (US), Adele Ndona (DRC), JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador (Peru), Fidelia Chukwu (N) Christiana Sidi (N), Florette Mbonzi (DRC), and Praxides Awino (K)

July 2018, was an especially busy month at the SNDatUN office in New York. The United Nations (UN) hosted several significant conferences, including the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals. The HLPF was attended by eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from the United States, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sisters were in the US to participate in the congregation Networking for Mission conference which took place in Boston with over 300 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates, and co-workers from different parts of the world in attendance.  As part of the experience of the global mission of the congregation, some Sisters came to New York for a UN orientation and to attend the second half of the HLPF. I felt very privileged to host our Sisters in New York for five days and to acquaint them with some of the works of the United Nations, and the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as an accredited non-governmental organization to the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

Below are short reflections from some of the Sisters on their UN experience:

 Praxides Awino and Mary Akinyi, SNDdeN – Kenya: It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals and its global agenda for change which focuses on the environmental, social and economic impact on people in the different continents. After listening to different presentations, it came to our understanding that the UN as an international organization was founded to meet the objectives of the SDGs by promoting the rights and well- being of individuals.

 As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we can relate to what the UN does because we promote justice and peace, and the well-being of the people we serve in ministry.

 Vision 2030, with its slogan of ‘leaving no one behind’ was clear from the reports of all the countries gathered from the different regions of the world for the HLPF voluntary national reviews of the SDGs. But the question is whether “they preach water and drink wine.” It makes a difference when leaders walk the talk!

 It was evident that young people were not left out as ‘Youth Skills Day 2018’ was 2celebrated. As present and future leaders in a fast-changing world, young people gathered at the event shared their hopes, challenges and frustrations. One such hope was the need to support the youth with adequate digital skills necessary to transition into the future global market.

 We thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the opportunity given to us to attend the conference and Sr. Amarachi for inviting us to the UN forum where we will never be the same as we first came. We hope to put what we have learned and heard into action. As Nelson Mandela says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

 Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN – Nigeria “Attending a few sessions of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, particularly listening to reports on the SDGs, challenged me to take a step further. I realized more than ever the need to spread words among Sisters in my unit, staff and students in our Notre Dame schools back in Nigeria on the call to action in promoting and achieving the 2030 Global Agenda in our countries.

3 I was struck by reports from countries in similar economic and socio-political situations as my country. It was very clear that we are all struggling with same or similar issues, irrespective of the geographical location, race or ideology. As the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of pollution.” We all therefore, must make efforts to eradicate poverty and ignorance from our world. People have a responsibility to hold their governments accountable to their commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

 My experience at the UN also affirms my belief in the interconnectedness of the human race. Every person is impacted positively and/or negatively by the actions or inactions of the other. As I left the UN, I am resolved to inculcate the ideals of the UN in my work and everyday life henceforth.

 I thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu for this wonderful opportunity at the UN. We are indeed a global community!”

SNDdeN JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador – Peru. “It was a great experience to learn 4more about all the work done at the UN. My heart shuddered repeatedly as I toured the United Nations, because I felt the MEMORIES there are kept alive in our great and fragile world by the actions of mankind. I perceived the force of action emerging from the United Nations the world, especially to the countries that make up the organization. The work of the United Nations is arduous and essential, and I want to continue working from home to contribute to this GREAT COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE. “

 Read more: Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 HLPF: https://bit.ly/2B1tKZ4

MOTHER EARTH DAY: “END PLASTIC POLLUTION!”

1April 22nd is International Mother Earth Day. The theme for the 2018 earth day is: “End Plastic Pollution.” International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance, and our responsibility to care for the earth. Earth Day also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports. The theme for this year’s celebration is very timely. Plastic waste has become so pervasive that Mother Earth is almost “drowning in the ocean of plastic pollution.” Take a look around your environment, and you will be amazed at the number of items within your view that are made of plastic. It is estimated that there are over 150 million tons of plastic in the ocean. Plastic pollution is not just limited to the ocean, the land is also heavily polluted.  They say, it takes an average of 450 years for plastic to decompose!

ACTIONS: Say NO to, or at least resolve to minimize the use of plastic materials such as shopping bags, bottled water, straws, cups, etc. Plant a tree, if possible. Plant something organic!!!

Related Sustainable Development Goals:  Picture1

 

Learn more:

United Nations Environment Programme: https://bit.ly/2vvDIza

Religions for Peace Leaders Call for Action to Protect the Earth: https://bit.ly/2qOIsdt (video)

International Mother Earth Day – Animated: https://bit.ly/2FNeZLk (video)

Plastic pollution primer and action toolkit: https://bit.ly/2IWbvo3

“HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE AND EDUCATION: OUR SHARED RESPONSIBILITY”

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

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

THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: 72ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSIONS

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/

THE NINTH UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: MR. ANTONIO GUTERRES ASSUMES NEW ROLE

Mr. Antonipic-3o Guterres began his new mandate as the ninth United Nations Secretary General on January 1st.  Speaking shortly after he took the oath of office on December 12, 2016, Mr. Guterres commended his immediate predecessor, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his leadership in charting out the future of the UN with the Sustainable Development Goals. He also highlighted the strategic priorities of the UN as; working for peace, supporting sustainable development, and reforming its internal management. Mr. Guterres stressed among other things, his desire to work with Member States on structural, legal, and operational measures to make the zero-tolerance policy a reality as he pledged to make human dignity the core of his work as the UN Secretary General.

On December 15, Mr. Guterres fulfilled one of his pledges; “to respect gender parity and geographical diversity,” by appointing three women as core members of his team. These team members and their respective appointments are; Ms. Amina Mohammed of Nigeria who is the deputy Secretary General, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil and Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea as his Chef de Cabinet and Special Advisor on Policy.

As he assumed office on January 1, Mr. Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.

Watch Mr. Guterres: https://youtu.be/fIErDYzxfps

 

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Amina Mohammed of Nigeria.  UN Photo

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Enter a captionMaria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil

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Kyung-wha Kang of the Rep. of Korea.  UN Photo