2016 June

May 29, 2016
Category: UN-INT-EN
New intern, CSW, Children's Corner, and more...


From our newest member congregation, the Sisters of Notre Dame!   S. Nonata A. Bezerra SND, from Brazil, has been working at the grassroots most of her life, and was the coordinator for the Brazilian government education programs in the rural area of Acre State in the Amazon. She presently lives in their international community in Rome, preparing for the position of JPIC Coordinator for their congregation. Later this year she will also serve as her congregation’s UNANIMA’s board member.

In her own words, “I wanted to learn how UNANIMA and the U.N. are speaking for the SNDs; I have been here for two weeks, and in this short time, my experience has been very intense, immense and challenging. I feel very welcomed by the UNANIMA staff and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, with whom I am staying.”

“The meetings I have attended were very interesting, completely connected with JPIC issues. I have also had the opportunity to participate in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a huge and significant event which shows the concerns, challenges and also achievements for indigenous people all over the world. In addition, I am looking forward to learning from other organizations and seeing how they are addressing the issues of women and children, immigrants and refugees, anti-trafficking, and the welfare of the planet. I thank my congregation and UNANIMA for this possibility of learning how to help this world be better.”                 --Nonata Bezerra SND


We promised you the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in comic book form, thanks to UNICEF (the UN’s children’s education fund).

See the “Children’s Corner” section!


Rosemarie Nassif SSND from the Hilton Foundation recently spoke to the UISG (Superiors General) in Rome. She could have been speaking to the members of UNANIMA, when she said: “Sisters have always been engaged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before they were recognized by the UN (e.g. issues of poverty, education, gender equality, peace and justice). How can we intentionally drive our global sisterhood--the source of vitality for religious life today? You are a dynamic global force like none other. You are stronger than the UN. The global sisterhood is growing on its own—but what if we really paid attention? There is a charism alive within our global sisterhood. We can achieve so much more as a whole, by collaboration, communication, and communion, while respecting our individual charisms.”

Doesn’t this sound like a vision statement for UNANIMA?


At the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this year, over 4,000 civil society representatives gave voice to issues crucial to women and girls through meetings, in over 600 educational events, and in many other activities. The CSW was particularly important this year not only for celebrating its sixtieth session, but also for focusing the historic “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” toward gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and the full realization of their human rights.

The Agreed Conclusions of the CSW showed a strong commitment of member states to connect the gender equality compact in the 2030 Agenda with the Beijing Platform for Action, and to proceed with their full implementation. Most importantly, it identified concrete ways to increase progress, and it defined a plan to achieve gender equality by 2030.  There was a specific commitment to address the needs of the most vulnerable women and girls. There was a specific call for greater collaboration between national governments and women's organizations, feminist groups and youth-led organizations, faith-based organizations, employer organizations, trade unions, the media, the UN system, international and regional organizations, and socially-responsible private sector. Finally, it established ground-breaking parameters for engaging men and boys as allies in the gender- responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

This year UN Women organized the first ever Youth CSW Forum, and launched a Global Coalition on Equal Pay initiative.  The Secretary General had the first meeting of a High level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment with CSW participants. As the 2030 Agenda is implemented country by country, region by region, and at the global level, UN Women will work with civil society and member states to advocate, teach, and build partnerships to advance this agenda.


“I defend the land, defend the water because that is life. I’m not afraid (of) power

companies. Keep fighting,” said Maxima Acuña, UNANIMA’s Woman of Courage for 2015, as she received the Goldman Prize—one of the world’s most important environmental awards. This tiny illiterate woman is described by some as the successor to the martyred Honduran activist Berta Caceres, who received the same award in 2015. Acuña, who lives in the Peruvian mountains, maintains a constant fight for her human rights against Yanacocha mining consortium, which is ruining her land and threatening her home and water. (from BBC World)


We are accepting nominations for Woman of Courage 2017! Our past recipients have been from Mexico (2), India (2), Kenya / Ireland, Canada (2) / Sri Lanka, Ghana, D R of Congo, and Peru. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone from the Middle East, Asia, the Philippines, or Oceania? Please send your nominations to morek.michele@gmail.com . Here are the criteria to consider and to use in your letter of nomination:

  • That the awardee be a women, but not a member of the member congregations
  • That  she have displayed courage through her actions in the face of adversity: government, popular opinion, leaders
  • That her actions reflect and support the values and principles promoted by the UN
  • That they relate to one of the major areas of concern for UNANIMA International
  • That they be proposed by one or more of the  member congregations
  • That there be geographical diversity


In May, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a briefing on Migration, Environment & Climate Change. The rights of migrants were integrated into the Paris climate change agreement in the preamble. There is no legal definition for “climate / environmental refugee” (did you know that?) so they are using the term “human mobility.”  Looking at climate change through the concept of human mobility focuses on people and their rights, helps governments understand how climate change increases vulnerabilities, and suggests ways to change it.

IOM has created a Geneva-based Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division (MECC). Excellent publications from MECC and IOM can be found at their sites on the internet, and there is information and resources in English, French and Spanish at http://environmentalmigration.iom.int  

The Atlas of Environmental Migration is also an excellent resource – Right now it is available in French, at - http://www.environmentalmigration.iom.int/sites/default/files/01-AtlasMigration-ta%CC%80p-18MARS-WEB.pdf   It will be available in English in June.   --Ces Martin, NDS


The day before the April 22 signing of the Paris climate change agreement, the heads of governments gathered for an event focused on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The President of the General Assembly reminded them of the day six months earlier when the 2030 Agenda for Social Development was signed—a moment of genuine hope in a world of crises, a hope that grew brighter in Paris at the incredible breakthrough on climate change. He said that together, the two agreements deliver a clear message to the world – transformation has begun which will ensure both shared prosperity and the vitality of our planet.

Over the course of the day member states examined key areas like:

  • How countries are responding to the SDGs
  • How to move money and markets to support the SDGs
  • How to transition from partnerships for the MDGs to partnerships for the SDGs
  • How climate change action can help deliver on the entire SDGs

In other events, there were lively debates; Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University emphasized the need to invest more in children, education, and low carbon energy, and less in military. He called for mobilizing resources from rich countries which have “let the rich people off the hook.” Government leaders updated the UN on what their countries are doing in relation to the 2030 Agenda: Bolivian President Evo Morales, Calderon of Colombia, and the presidents of Gabon, Naru, Peru, Hungary, Croatia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe spoke of issues close to their hearts. --Jean Quinn, DW


The UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), charged with overseeing the implementation of the Sustainable Goals (SDGs), have suggested a method for the follow-up and review of the SDGs. They want to set a theme each year, to use as a lens though which they will view all 17 goals in a four year cycle. For example, for 2017 the theme will be “Ensuring Food Security on a Safe Planet” and will review goals #1, 2, 6, 13, 14, 15, 17. They are going to call on the rest of the UN to align their departmental goals with those themes. (Good luck with that!)


The Pulitzer Prize for 2016 was given to the Associated Press for a series of stories on forced labor in the seafood industry.


Latin American organizations are hoping for a stronger accountability for Canadian mining companies overseas. Several groups sent a letter to the new Prime Minister Trudeau (see letter in our four languages here): https://www.devp.org/en/pressroom/2016/comm2016-04-25


Mercy Global Action at the UN introduced a four-page brief on fracking and human rights, which defines both fracking and human rights law and briefly explores fracking’s impacts on key components of the human rights to health, water, food, housing, access to information, and to public participation as outlined by international law. The issue brief summarizes the longer Guide to Rights-Based Advocacy: International Human Rights Law and Fracking. For a more in-depth analysis of fracking’s impacts on human rights, you can download the full guide from the Mercy World website. The documents are available in English and Spanish here:


   …and for the

      YOUNG AT









COMICS UNITED NATIONS:                         

This one has all 17 of the SDGs in comic form, but in English only (we hope for more translations soon!)



THE SDGS – video in English with French & Spanish subtitles

English: The Road to the SDGs: A discussion with students

French: Le chemin vers les objectifs de developpement durable

Spanish: El camino hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible


Alan Atkisson wrote a song and made a music video about the SDGs. We could only find it in English, but the energy is universal! Watch the video


     Board Members Margaret Scott ACI and Barbara Spears SNJM attended the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Margaret stayed an extra week to work on her doctoral thesis, which is related to NGOs at the UN. She is pictured here in front of the UN.

     The European region of the Notre Dame of Sion sisters are finding many ways to help refugees. They have given household items to refugee families, made contributions to a French organization (Habitat et Humanisme) and to parishes who adopt families. The contemplative community at “The Solitude” in Grandbourg, France welcomed an Iraqi family of four Chaldean Christians, who are now living in the former chaplain’s house. And everyone prays!

     S. Sara K. Proctor DW has been involved in a project to lower barriers of access to health care, especially for migrant agricultural workers in the South Florida USA area who cannot get to clinics during the day, have little money, and no transportation. She was hired to set up, organize and run the project. The clinics are located near where the people are, the hours are evenings and weekends, and services are completely free. They provide some free medicine and always make sure the patient has the capacity to pay for other medicine. In the 16 years of the project they have added specialty services, and their data shows they have saved the health care system over $100,000 per year by keeping patients out of the emergency rooms and hospital.

     Nonata Bezerra SND networked at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and brought some new friends to the office, where we talked about the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Brazil. 




“God laughs at those who complain about the consequences while cherishing the causes.”

--overheard at the United Nations


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