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report on icjw activities at un ny - may 2017

The ICJW team at the UN in New York has reported on a wide range of activities during the first 6 months of 2017.

The NY UN team continues its work by:
• Attending DPI/NGO briefings
• Attending UN Events (Holocaust Remembrance, CSW61, and the UN Campaign: UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, Boycott, Divestment and Section Conference)
• Adding ICJW’s voice to advocacy campaigns
• Supporting the work of NGO Committees based on ICJW’s priority issues

Previously, detailed reports were distributed to the Executive Committee. A more recent event was devoted to the BDS Movement. Here’s the write up.

The 2nd Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference organized by Israel’s UN Permanent Mission and the World Jewish Congress, March 29, 2017
Reported by Joan Lurie Goldberg

• Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said of the conference: "This is a new era at the UN in which we are voicing a clear call in support of Israel. We will gather in the General Assembly Hall and stand against the attempts by the BDS movement to infiltrate the UN and harm Israel.
• Many young people including students actively fighting BDS on their campuses were present.
• The tone was guardedly optimistic this year in spite of the continuing anti-Semitism coming from our universities and the fact that the UN, as a matter of course, passes more resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined. In spite of this, Danny Danon, emphasized progress:
o Since last year’s first conference, many banks are closing accounts of organizations promoting BDS.
o Ambassador Haley is to be congratulated for speaking out against BDS.
o 17 US states now have anti BDS laws • US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who was the first US governor to sign into law anti-BDS legislation, addressed the conference participants at the opening plenary.

DPI/NGO Briefings
Summaries of briefings relating to ICJW’s issues were distributed separately including climate change, women in the changing world of work, the impact of terrorism on sustainable peace and development, Israel’s experience with entrepreneurship and innovation, and education for global citizenship-implementing the sustainable development goals. A more recent briefing on Refugee Assistance is described below.

Finding a New Home: The Role of Faith-based Organizations in Refugee Assistance and Resettlement Work (April 13th)

Reported by Fran Butensky

The Focus on Faith Series was created nine years ago out of demand from the NGO Community. Its primary mission is to explore how faith traditions and faith-based organizations from around the world tie into the mission of the UN.
There was an introductory video launching the UN’s Together Campaign. The Secretary General has appealed for more funds for countries accepting refugees.

The moderator, Caryl Stern the President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, recounted memorable stories from her family’s Holocaust and refugee experiences as well as stories from her travels around the world. Her message and stories about children in camps were so moving that they brought tears to my eyes. She offered the following facts:

• UNICEF works in and for children in need in 190 countries and territories
• 5.8 million children are in hard to reach areas of Syria.
• We must remember that they are children first, not refugees or displaced persons. We need to stop labeling them.
• The panelists consisted of: Jean Bingham . President of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the world’s largest women’s organizations; Barbara Day, the Domestic Resettlement Chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration; Anwar Khan, CEO of Islamic Relief USA; Abdul Saboor, match grant program coordinator at Interfaith Works, and Reverend Canon E. Mark Stevenson, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the resettlement program of the Episcopal Church. Collectively, they reach millions of people around the world and can bring all faiths together in small ways to accomplish long lasting things.
• When members of Latter Day Saints were asked to forgo 2 meals a week and contribute what they would have spent, huge amounts in aggregate were collected.
• Faith-based Organizations at the UN working together improve countless lives of families in need of the basic needs of nutrition, shelter and education.
• Muslims and Christians, Jews, Lutherans, Methodists and Catholic relief agencies are working together to help refugees and displaced persons across the globe.
• Governments’ assistance cover only the basics of what families need to survive; faith-based organizations and houses of worship have stepped in to fill the void.

The NGO Committee on UNICEF
Reported by Judy Mintz

At December’s Membership Meeting we were briefed on UNICEF’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021 that includes a child’s right to education, to protection from violence and exploitation and to live in a safe and clean environment. We also learned that child, early and forced marriage and protection from bullying were part of the UNGA 71 meetings.

UNICEF created a new exciting initiative: #Refugees Welcome to stand in solidarity with the world’s 65 million displaced persons, many of whom are children. On Valentines Day the focus was “Share the Love” and on Passover it was “Break Barriers, Not Tradition” about people who are fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. How meaningful to have the message of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt highlighted by UNICEF for all the nations to see!

The NGO Working Groups on Girls (WGG)
Reported by Judy Mintz

WWG was actively engaged in CSW 61:
• The committee planned and encouraged participation in the Teen Orientation that helped young delegates learn how to advocate for their rights.
• WGG publicized girl-friendly parallel events and encouraged networking with affiliated organizations including ICJW’s presentation: It Starts with Safety: Adding Girls to the Global Agenda.
• WGG invited girls to engage in The Youth Forum/Have Your Say, an on-line consultation that focused on economic empowerment, leadership, partnerships with young men in gender equality, and inter-generational partnerships.
• WGG wrote a Girl Statement emphasizing the importance of inclusion and empowerment of girls in order to fully achieve Women’s Economic Empowerment through the world.
• WGG wrote an advocacy and educational piece about Child Laborers that includes rural work, trafficking and exploitation, and domestic work. Child labor is a violation of fundamental human rights.

The Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons

The Council of Organizations UNA-USA Members Day
Reported by Fran Butensky

This event was co-sponsored by UNA-USA and the Council of Organizations of which ICJW is a member and has representation on their Executive Committee.
The General Assembly was filled to capacity with a very large presence of young students and many high level UN personnel.

The opening remarks were harsh. It was noted that the UN is one way but not the only way to work with the US to deal with global challenges. The relationship with the United States has never been more challenging. Right now, the US budget for contributions to the UN is questionable. The US should treat the UN as a partner not an enemy (citing the UN Palestinian Resolution as one reason). US Ambassador Nikki Haley has been working one-on-one to improve relations with member states.

Since the founding of the UN, the landscape of the world re:conflicts has changed drastically and too quickly to adapt. It has to address the root causes and review the process of peacekeeping and participation of women. Is the UN fit to do our job in human rights and peace? The UN cannot force itself on member states which have to ask for help.

The NGO Committee on Human Rights
Reported by Fran Butensky

Communities of Faith in the Promotion of Human Rights Event
The distinguished panel referred to Resolution 71/249 in which the General Assembly recognized the commitment of all religions to peace and the contributions that interreligious and intercultural organizations can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind. 

Throughout the discussion, it was evident that the commitment of faith-based organizations working together to provide a common platform that promotes a sense of understanding of common values and a shared responsibility to stand up for everyone’s right to free choices, non-discrimination, gender equality, minority rights and to publicly denounce the advocacy of hatred that incites violence, discrimination and hostility was an achievable goal. They have encouraged the UN to work with religious leaders to prevent incitement to violence. 

There have been high-level meetings addressing the role of religious leaders from more than 90 countries. Women and youth have played an important role. The values of working with faith-based organizations have often been given lip service by the UN. It’s time they begin listening to them.

The NGO Committee on Sustainable Development
Reported by Joan Lurie Goldberg

The Impact of Terrorism on Sustainable Development, February 24, 2017 –The theme of this meeting was that, in the face of terrorism, it will not be possible to fully implement the sustainable development goals because people who live in fear will be unable to benefit from new efforts at sustainability. One of the two principal speakers was Ambassador Singh Puri, former ambassador of India to the United Nations. I have long respected him for his outspoken views on terrorism and how terrorists attack the most fundamental human right, the right to life!

The quote of the day: When asked a question about the shortcomings of the Human Rights Council (HRC) Ambassador Puri likened the HRC to putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank. He further debunked the notion that poverty leads to terrorism. In the Middle East, poverty is not the cause – the cause is state sponsorship of terrorism and this is what the UN and its institutions should be working against.

NGO Committee on the Status of Women

Sign Ons

ICJW added its support to:

• The case for the creation of a new NGO Committee on Intergenerational Solidarity

• A petition in Response to UN Anti-Israel Bias: Declaration Opposing Discrimination Against Israel at the United Nations

• A statement calling for UN member states to protect human rights for all with no distinctions (including LGBTQ rights)

• A thank you letter written by Joan Lurie Goldberg on ICJW letterhead to newly appointed US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley-praising her support, moral clarity and leadership in condemning the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) Report that accused Israel of being an “apartheid regime”. Due to her outspoken comments, the report (written by the notorious Richard Falk) was withdrawn. She also worked closely with Secretary General Guterres on the UN’s attitude towards Israel.