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The fall months seemingly flew by, highlighted by a string of special days of commemoration, and events hosted and sponsored by the Loretto at the UN office.
Late September brought the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to New York. At the “Rights of Nature” event, we heard indigenous panelists from all over the Americas speak about Mother Earth as a rights-bearing entity that the UN must consider when developing policies related to climate change and development. They stressed the importance of the holistic Earth system, and the dangers of commoditization and ownership of Earth’s resources.
Loretto played an active role in the Working Group on Girls’ celebration of the third annual International Day of the Girl Child. On October 10th, we helped to put on the “Girls Speak Out,” a multimedia event featuring stories, poetry, songs and videos shared by girls from all over the world, and performed by girls from the New York area. The girls bravely shared emotional stories relating to family and relationships, education, sexual violence, confidence and body image, poverty, child marriage and empowerment. Click here to read more, or to watch the entire event.
Later in the month, Loretto at the UN and the 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows invited author Rebecca Gordon to speak about her book, “Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in The Post-9/11 United States.” Dr. Gordon spoke and facilitated a discussion about how torture in the U.S. is embedded in a system of social practices that is fostered by society as a whole.
In November, Loretto invited sociologist Paula Palmer from the Boulder Friends Meeting to share her experiential workshop on the effects of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples.” Workshop participants enacted a script and then shared their responses in a “talking circle,” in an effort to raise awareness of the historic and ongoing injustices committed against native peoples. The event urged participants to reflect on what more just relationship with Native Americans would look like, in accord with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Later in the month we attended an event on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women about some of the best policies and laws created and implemented by local and national governments around the world.
Also this fall, we were busy preparing for the Commission on the Status of Women on March 9-20, 2015. This year we are expecting a record number of Loretto participants. We are looking forward to this great event dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
November 2014 marked 25 years since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – a pact that changed the way children are viewed and treated around the planet. The convention, the fastest and most widely adopted human rights accord in history, marked the first time children were recognized as rights holders in an international treaty. Since it was adopted in November 1989, it has significantly advanced the interests of children, including an increase in infant survival and a notable rise in school enrollment worldwide.
To commemorate the anniversary, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a call to children to send in short stories, poems, pictures, and videos. The UN Committee also spoke with children and teens from 14 different countries through Google+ Hangouts throughout the day on 24 September 2014. Visit this website to view the children’s contributions, plus videos of the four September Hangout sessions.
But of course, we still have a long way to go in recognizing the rights of all the world’s children, who are too often subjected to lives of poverty and violence, and trafficked at alarming rates. And it must be noted that, inexplicably, the U.S. is the only member state that has not ratified this important human rights convention.
We would like to share this wonderful statement by Teyise Dlamini, child representative from Swaziland, at the high-level meeting on the occasion of the treaty’s 25th anniversary in November. Here is a quote from her powerful speech:
“Excellencies, my message to you today is you have done well, but for some children. You must do well for all children—all of us. Millions are still crying for help even 25 years after this convention. As you look to the next 25 years and plan a post-2015 road, you have in your hands the opportunity to enable us children to realize our dreams in a peaceful and prosperous world. The foundation of that world is safe, healthy, educated children and empowered girls—registered at birth and enrolled in school, inspired by mentors and thriving in leadership roles.”
Watch Teyise address the UN General Assembly:
In fall of 2014, I participated in a variety of migration-related events and meetings in New York, Washington D.C. and Georgia. In the NGO Committee on Migration, I was one of the authors of the civil society recommendation document for the High Commission for Refugee’s Dialogue on Protection Issues, which this year relates to Protection at Sea. The document will be presented at the Dialogue in Geneva next week.
In September, I attended a one-day conference hosted by the Center for Migration Studies that focused on data accessibility and promoting regularization of immigrants in the United States.
In October, for the second year in a row, I attended the annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference in Washington D.C., hosted by CMS, Georgetown Law, CLINIC and the Migration Policy Institute. This conference focused current U.S. policy issues, including the role of states and cities in pursuing immigrant inclusion and integration policies in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the political and policy implications of executive action, the treatment of unaccompanied children coming from Central America, and challenges in adjudication, including accelerated court cases, non-court removals and the debate over government-funded legal counsel.
In late fall, I joined the rest of the Loretto Volunteers and 9 Loretto community members at the annual protest at Fort Benning, Georgia for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. In addition to the rally and vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, we spent time at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, where I attended a workshop about the negative effects of mining on communities in Guatemala, an issue tied closely to the work we do at the UN with the Mining Working Group. Mary Ann McGivern, SL, a member of the Loretto Latin America/Caribbean Committee, wrote a reflection on our trip to Georgia.