It’s been nine months since I arrived in New York City to take on the position of UN Representative for the Dominican Leadership Conference. Just as I was beginning to understand some of the workings at the UN everything shut down due to the Coronavirus.
I have learned a lot in these first months, my learning began with a wonderful four day orientation from Margaret Mayce in September, 2019.
When I first came to minister at the UN I lived in Montclair, NJ, for three months with Pat Daly, OP. Pat was most hospitable. However, I decided that the almost two hour travel one way was not the best use of my time as I was going to the office every day. It was a beautiful environment.
I now live in New York City on the Upper East Side with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary an International Congregation. I live on the 14th floor with two other sisters in two adjoining apartments. In 1977 they decided to take the wall out between the two apartments that made for a more spacious living area. There are six of us who share meals four nights a week and prayer five days a week. Two of the sisters live on the third floor and one on the second floor in a single apartment.
These first few months at the UN have been a huge learning for me. It is a whole new system as well as approach to advocacy. This year I followed several different working groups in order to get a feel for the UN work as well as a way to meet more people. The Religious at the UN have a monthly meeting sharing the work they are about as well as tapping into our spiritual wellbeing. I’m grateful for this gathering of folks. We each take turns rotating the chair and goodies for the monthly meetings.
The working groups I have been a part of this year are: Working Group on Girls, CSW (Commission on the Status of Women), Mining Working Group: subcommittee on the Amazon, Working Group to end Homelessness, Commission for Social Development, Migration Working Group and Peacebuilding. Each of these working groups as they are called is made of civil society persons as well as many of the faith based NGO’s. In the next months I will talk about the goals of these organizations and their work.
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. It is a turning point in the evolution of the UN in New York. Civil Society folks from around the world held three very important zoom calls that encouraged the participation of over 700 people in each call. Some very creative suggestions were offered to the UN as it moves into its next phase of work.
A UN75 Peoples Declaration and Plan for Global Action was written and submitted to the UN for consideration. Some of the recommendations are:
- Continue the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement
- Adopt a whole-of-ecosystem approach by linking climate governance to other environmental agreements, protocols, conventions and innovations.
- Improve the credibility, efficacy, vitality, and legitimacy of the international human rights architecture
- Create a more coordinated, comprehensive and resilient global health system.
- Increase institutional effectiveness for leaving no one and no nation behind.
- Implement more representative global governance
- Increase the universal acceptance of international justice institutions, in particular the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Upgrade the Peacebuilding Commission into a UN Peacebuilding Council and entrust it with a conflict-prevention and reconciliation/transitional justice mandate.
- A more integrated and coherent framework for the organizations efforts to restore peace and security