I am happy to share with you some of the activity of our Salesian involvement at the UN. Recently, I had a conversation with Fr. Thomas Pallithanam, SDB, the Salesian representative to the United Nations in New York (NY). I share with you a summary of our conversation.
Fr. Thomas is preparing for a few busy weeks in July, when the UN will organize the high-level political forum (HLPF). The HLPF is under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC), the UN Office which has granted the Salesians of Don Bosco a special consultative status through Salesian Missions. During the first two weeks of July each year, governments, non-government organizations and other agencies meet to review the 17 SustainableDevelopmentGoals(SDGs). Each year there is a focus on a few select goals, with goal 17: partnerships for the goals, being reviewed each year. This July, the focus will be on SDG 4: quality education, SDG 5: gender equality, SDB14: life below water and SDG 15: life on land. The sustainable development goals encompass all programs by governments or agencies. The HLPF reviews progress being made in implementing the goals.
This year, Fr. Thomas, as the Salesian representative at the UN in NY, will be sponsoring a side event during the HLPF. The topic for discussion will be SDG 4.7: education to human rights and a culture of peace. Collaborating agencies for this side event include the Claretian Missionaries, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, and the Society of the Sacred Heart among others. Panelists include Paulina Tandiono, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Lily Gray from UNESCO NY, Henry Tiphagne from the Institute for Human Rights of India, Sampath Kumar Nizamian from the Don Bosco Yar Center, India, and Marianna Knirsch from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. This side event will be Monday, July 11, 7:30 am – 9:00 am EST. Save the date! As soon as the details are finalized, you will be able to register on-line. This side event will be virtual, using Zoom, so people from around the world can participate. The event is free. Once the registration is made available, please share it with your Salesian colleagues.
In addition to the numerous side events being held during the HLPF, governments and civil society also participate in the Voluntary National Review (VNR). This year, 45 governments conduct a self- assessment of the progress made in implementing the sustainable development goals. They make a report during the HLPF at the UN in July. Civil society (non-government organizations) also can be involved in the process of the national review, and they can offer an alternate report during the HLPF. Fr. Thomas has been in contact with Salesian presences in several countries where the VNR is underway, encouraging them to participate in this process. Salesian organizations in at least five countries participated in the VNR: Argentina, Ghana, Italy, Philippines, Switzerland. Representatives of the Salesians from these countries will be coming to the UN in July to continue their involvement in the VNR. From Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS) in Italy will come Barbara Terenzi, who has been invited to be the official presenter of the response of the Italian civil society. This is a great honor. From the planning and development office (PDO) of the Salesian province of Buenos Aires will come Maria Pearson. From the PDO of the Salesian province of Cebu- Talamban (Philippines south) will come Leah Samson. Representing the Salesians in Ghana will be Abigail Gyabaa and Philip Agyei; both have been involved in UN side events before the pandemic. Representing RASS (the Network of Salesian Social Services of America) will be Lina Varon. She is coming from Quito, Ecuador.
Thanks to Fr. Thomas for this great work. For more information about the Salesian representation at the UN in NY, or for a copy of the latest digital Salesians at the UN Newsletter, please contact Fr. Thomas Pallithanam, SDB email@example.com.
Wishing you all a Happy Canada Day (Friday, July 1) and USA Independence Day (Monday, July 4).
Fr. Tim Zak