Welcome to IBVM

UN Update January 2019           

Welcome tour most recent Update from the NGO Office – Update No 35. It offers the opportunity toPhoto Communications remember some of the main initiatives taken during 2018. Watch the very interesting video, A Guideline to the United Nations. Learn about several processes that were finalized recently and some important anniversaries. Some feed-back from the last meeting of Province UN Representatives and Members of the network to Stop Human Trafficking. See the cohesion and interconnection arising in three continents. Find out about ways of becoming engaged in the coming months through the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the Regional Reviews on the SDGs and the High Level Political Forum which will take place in July. 

Highlights of 2018.                                      

Highlights 2018

We are happy to recall the contribution of our section of the Mary Ward Family to justice and peace in a more humane and sustainable world. Watch the Highlights of 2018 from the perspective of the NGO Office at the United Nations. The members of our present team – Cynthia CJ, Genevieve from Canada, Greta from Australia and Cecilia IBVM – have worked diligently  in collaboration with other civil society organizations to bring to the United Nations our values and principles. We appreciate the support of Member States and the staff of UN Departments and their efforts to create humane global policies for the benefit of the most vulnerable members of society and of our planet. The aim of these highlights is to offer you examples of the way your NGO functions. We contribute to Commissions such as the Commission on Social Development (CSoCD) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Regional and Global Review of the Sustainable Development Goals (HLPF). We were also involved in the elaboration of the first ever Global agreement on Migration.  Our Youth Representative at the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum and our present Youth Representatives who are working together on a process to bring the voices of youth and former students from our High Schools and Colleges and Centres, including IBVM and CJ Sisters in the 2019 Forum.  Some of you came and were part of Events or to learn about the United Nations and our work as NGO.


Advent JoysAdvent

At Advent we remember the text from Isaiah 40. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God”. It goes on to say that “   Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain”.  While God promises this, we, humans, work to make it happen. Neither does it happen suddenly. It is a long process. In this sense we can look at some of the efforts being made to comfort god’s people during this Advent.

Hopeful and imperfect agreements were reached recently:

On 10 December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco, 164 countries agreed on adopting the very first effort to address worldwide migration with the Global compact on Safe and Orderly Migration.

On Saturday 15 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland, almost 200 countries agreed on universal transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming.  It is one small step forward together at a time when we see difficulties countries are experiencing when it comes to collaboration for the greater good. A tiny step forward on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

On Monday 17 December 2018, the first Global Compact on Refugees was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York with 181 countries in favor.

These are some of the ways in which our leaders, after years of negotiations and on behalf of the whole human family try, with all our human limitations, to make “rough places plain” and bring comfort to God’s people.

  Know your Rights; Stories Behind Human RightsWEBINARFlyerPhoto

The 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights reminds us above all that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right, as stated in Article 1. That means you, me and everybody. These days we are constantly reminded that it depends on each one of us, as individuals and institutions, if we are to see human rights protected universally, if the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is fully implemented on time, if we have a planet that is habitable and peaceful for future generations. Pope Francis reminds us, The Secretary General of the United Nations and leaders who represent moral authority in our world today constantly challenge us to play our part.  Our team from the NGO Office offer this webinar to the Mary Ward Family around the world. It is our tribute to this anniversary and our offer to celebrate and offer you our contribution. Click here to join the webinar. You will have an overview of Human Rights,  three stories highlighting specific Human Rights and highlights on Human Rights Defenders.

  Knowledge sharing for Human Rights.Lets talk human rights Yes, 70 years have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In many parts of the world it has brought progress in human consciousness of the inherent dignity of the human person. Yet, important work need to be done so that every human being is aware of their rights.  We offer a series of documents which can help refresh our knowledge and can also be used as a tool for sharing with others. UDHR Short- Version, Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Plain language version, UN Booklet on UDHR, Human Rights Defenders, Girls’ Rights are Human Rights , Media Fact Sheet UDHR, International Covenants on Human Rights.  Finally go to the StandUp4HumanRights webpage.  


The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly Greta 4

The Heads of State and Government gathered to address the General Assembly in late September. When they left, their diplomats, in New York, continued the work through Six Main Committees.  The work of the Committees goes on from early October until late November and in some cases into December. Greta has been following the Third Committee which covers a wide spectrum of   social cultural and humanitarian issues. Greta prepared an excellent video on the Third Committee; what it is, what it does and how it operates. Watch it here

  United Nations Alliance of CivilizationsGenevieve

The 8th United Nations Alliance of Civilization Global forum was held in New York on 19 – 20 November 2018. This time it was held in New York. Genevieve Pinnington from Toronto was chosen to participate as a Youth Representative.  UNAOC works to improve understanding and cooperation among people and nations across cultures. With this it aims to reduce polarization and develop more inclusive societies. Genevieve tells us more about the Alliance (UNAOC) itself and the Forum. Do watch her video and consider her conclusions from the forum.

Preparing for COP24COP 24 Preparing COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  It will take place in Katowice, Poland from 2 – 14 December 2018.  As member states prepare, Church leaders urge governments around the world to ramp up their climate action efforts, calling for “ambitious implementation” of the Paris Agreement.  On 26 October 2018, the Presidents of six continental Bishops’ Conferences of the Catholic Church signed a document appealing to government leaders to take immediate action to tackle climate change in an effort to avert catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. Read the document in which they urge “rapid and radical changes while resisting the temptation to look for quick technological fixes.” News from the NGO OfficeFor Communications

We are happy to offer edition No 34 of our Newsletter, Update November 2018 , and to celebrate one year of IBVM and CJ collaboration at the United Nations. Read about aspects of the United Nations such as the General Assembly, its present President and how it works when our Heads of State and Government go back home. Meet our Youth Representatives.  Cynthia CJ had wonderful education and awareness raising opportunities in India in September and October. See the Mary Ward Family interfaith contributions to the Parliament of World Religions held in Toronto. Note recent steps taken on Human Trafficking at the United Nations and please pay attention to the proposal made by our own Network to Stop Human Trafficking. ” Demystifying the other” provides us with insights that are essential to bring tolerance and peace to our world. And, read about the inter-faith advocacy on behalf of Asylum seekers.  Let this be an opportunity to consider yourself a part of the United Nations and of the efforts of the Mary Ward Family through the NGO Office and our worldwide network

Gender Dimensions of Contemporary Forms of Slavery and Trafficking in PersonsPresentationWith Special Rapporteurs

Reports of the Special Rapporteurs on Trafficking in Persons and on Contemporary Forms of Slavery formed the basis of a conversation in which knowledge and experience are shared to help progress in the many areas of life and culture where change and improvement is necessary if we are to overcome this assault on the dignity of girls, women, boys and men caught up in modern day slavery. Genevieve and Greta, Youth Representatives attended the session with Cecilia. Read the report on “Trafficking on persons especially women and children” here .And, read the Report on contemporary forms of slavery including its causes and consequences here   Both documents  provide valuable information for a good understanding of the situation.

Third Committee Meeting


Today, we hear of numerous cases of torture and other inhumane acts arise around the world. It has been reported by the Palestinian Prisoners Club that sixty percent of Palestinian children who are arrested by Israeli occupation are verbally, physically or psychologically tortured. Other parts of the world see migra

nts and refugees tortured in detainment and left to suffer away in detention centres where they are subjected to all kinds of abuse. These alarming facts lead me to the Third Committee meeting at the United Nations Headquarters, where member states come together to discuss agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world.

Statements were heard from the Chair of the Committee against Torture, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, followed by responses to  questions from member states. The overall sentiment of the meeting focused on what preventative measures, policies and actions are being taken to addressed the existence of torture globally. The conversation surrounding torture exists within the backdrop of human rights. Torture is the ultimate violation of a person’s inherent dignity. While unprecedented action has been taken to eradicate torture, it still continues to be practised with impunity throughout the world as we can see in light of recent events. The statements made by the Chairmen and Rapporteur highlighted the responsibility shared by all to uphold the promise of human dignity to all through addressing and abolishing this dehumanising act.

The importance of prevention mechanisms was brought to the attention of member states, with a need to implement the strategies proposed by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture as a vital catalyst of change. The Chair of SPT emphasised that more focus needs to be given to practical implementations of recommendations made across the United Nations system, with particular attention targeted to prevention policy so there is less opportunity for torture and other inhumane acts to take place. In his report, the Rapporteur emphasised the need for states to ratify legislation that meets international laws against torture. Through this, he reminded member states that they have a duty to establish national prevention mechanisms and protocols across all dimensions of society. The most important recommendation he made was that states need to develop safe, sustainable pathways for regular migration so that they are protected from being treated inhumanely, forced into illegal routes and consequently fall prey to criminal networks. In light of the current migrant and refugee crisis, it was stressed that prolonged detainment of migrants should not occur as these conditions are vulnerable to torture treatment environments. Human dignity of the migrant is essential. It was clear in their responses that overall there was a huge support for the fight against torture and an agreed notion that it is an impermissible act.

Greta Hunt, Youth Representative 

The World Population is Ageing fullsizeoutput_80

In the context of world ageing population, we celebrate the 28thanniversary of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons. Celebrating the theme ‘We are the Champions’; this day recognises the Human Rights of Older Persons and those who help defend them as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In an aging population, this day reaffirms the commitment to promoting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by Older Persons. The 2018 theme aims to raise world awareness and opportunities for the ageing population. As the world is getting older, the need for the inclusion, attention and protection of Older Persons rights is vital. Greater attention is needed to the specific challenges of this demographic to ensure Older Persons are made visible and their concerns are addressed. Creating a cohesive and inclusive society is fundamental to ensure the aging population is safe from discrimination and exclusion, where they can participate across all social pillars. With one person turning 50 years of age every seven seconds, this age group will outnumber youth by the year 2020, and so it is time to realise the important contributions Older Persons offer to society to create a world for all ages. 

UN Update August 2018Photo 33

Welcome to Update August 2018  Several important meetings all focusing on creating a more peaceful and sustainable world for all its inhabitants are recorded in this Update. The 2018 High Level Political Forum where we reviewed progress on the sustainable development goals aimed at creating a more peaceful and sustainable world where we leave no one behind. We witnessed and participated in the final stages of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration process. The UN NGO/ DPI Conference on We the Peoples… Together Finding Global Solutions for Global Problems was held on 22 – 24 August 2018.  Read about the people from our NGO who took part in those events and those who visited our office and the United Nations recently. It was also an important time for the future of the migrant children, women and men throughout the world.

Reflection on Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11)cities

Progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals will be measured at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) which  takes place from 9 – 19 July 2018.  This year Goal 11 is one of the goals on which the revision will focus.  The aim of Goal 11 is to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.  Read the reflections on Sustainable Development Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities of Sisters in the Congregation of Jesus (CJ) and Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) who have contributed to our deeper understanding of SDG 11. We wish to thank Una Coogan, IBVM; Theodora Hawskley, CJ; Rachel McLoughlin, IBVM; Sandra Perrett, IBVM and those in Sydney, Austrailia who contributed to the response; Eunice Njeri Ndabih, IBVM and Clemenciah Nyakambi, IBVM and all from Kenya and Ghana who contributed to the Eastern Africa response; Priyanka Topno, IBVM; and Ursula Witkowska, IBVM.

  HLPF 2018HLPF 1

Preparations for the 2018 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) are almost complete and representatives from member states and NGOs are beginning to gather in New York.  The IBVM NGO will have a wonderful representation this year including youth representatives and a group from Canada. The first week will include numerous panel and roundtables on the theme and on the SDGs under review. 47 countries will carry out Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) during the second week. Read more about HLPF 2018

Justice Coalition of Religious (JCoR) Press ReleaseImage for facebook etc

The Justice Coalition of Religious (JCoR) is a new coalition of 18 UN-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) run by Catholic Religious. JCoR aims to strengthen the capacity of Religious working at the grassroots and those representing them at the United Nations to: advocate internationally, nationally and regionally for people living in poverty; address the root causes of unsustainable development; and promote equitable and rights based development via a just implementation of the SDGs. Read the  JCoR office press release of 1 June 2018.

Towards Global Citizenship No 4.Global Citizenship No 4

It is almost a year since some 60 representatives of IBVM and CJ schools met in Pretoria, for that engaging Conference which delivered the “Mary Ward Schools Compass”.  And, two years ago a smaller group met in South Korea for a UN Conference on Education for Global Citizenship.  The NGO Office celebrates these milestones with Towards Global Citizenship No 4. It includes wonderful contributions from Australia, Canada, Kenya, India, Italy, Mauritius, Nepal, South Africa and Spain.  We have a reflection on Global Citizenship, information on school policy and ongoing teacher learning.  Then we see ways in which the present curriculum contributes to educating for global citizenship. We are using the SDGs, Model United Nations and our present JPIC as tools.  We have an example of some cutting -edge work and of collaboration with a UNESCO project, with the World’s Largest Lesson and with Millennium Kids.  And, in case you have not noticed yet, we have the invitation to take part in the process leading up to the 2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum – an opportunity to allow youth between 16 and 35 make their voice heard.

Webinar for World Environment Day 2018Photo 2

On 5 June we will celebrate World Environment Day 2018. Recently representatives of five religious congregations, concerned about the devastation taking place, joined in a webinar with the title: Is it still possible to save the future?  You can watch it on our YouTube channel here where you will find lots of information and encouragement to join in the global effort to create a healthy planet for all its inhabitants.

 We represent our congregations at the United Nations where we work as part of civil society. An important aspect of our work here is to make the voice and concerns of vulnerable people  around the world  and our mistreatment of the  planet  we inhabit present in the discussions and the policy making for the global community, which is what happens at the United Nations.  We know that among the many huge global concerns, we have climate change and the devastation of our ecosystems and in this respect World Environment Day offers us a good opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we need to go.


UN Update May 2018Un Update may 2018

Welcome to Update May 2018 where you will find lots of information and stories. Three years after a ground-breaking commitment, we ask: Why bother with the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs)? We were part of national and regional meetings to review the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). Note how energy (SDG 7) relates to other aspects of our lives like poverty, inequality, education, health and others.  “Leave no one behind” is still at the centre of this development agenda. We work directly with those who are left behind. Students shine in various endeavors – future citizens and leaders. Our schools collaborate with movements to help achieve their rights for people in poverty or make our environment sustainable. Decent work or lack of it is a driving factor to fulfilling lives or la source of conflict. 

Just Show Up


Just Show Up! This is what Libby Rogerson ibvm did for the civil society preparatory sessions on the review of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda for her country. ”This year,” she writes, “Australia, and a number of other countries, will be reporting on the theme, Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies with specific focus on: water and sanitation (Goal 6), affordable, sustainable energy (Goal 7), safe, resilient cities (Goal 11), sustainable consumption and production (Goal 12), sustainable ecosystems, biodiversity, land and forest management (Goal 15) and the underpinning goal of developing partnerships (Goal 17). It is regrettable that there has been little discussion in Australia about our progress on these goals.” Read Australia Reviews SDGs, her evaluation of the implementation as Australia prepares for its national voluntary review which will take place in July 2018 during the High Level Political Forum to be held at UN Headquarters New York.

UN Update March 2018

UN Update

Welcome to another edition of UN Update March 2018. This time it is No 31 and has a lot of information on the ways that we, at the office and you around the world, have been engaging with United Nations processes recently. You can follow our Youth Representative, our efforts to eliminate poverty through Universal Social Protection and our contribution to the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). You may want to return to the video created give an overview of the ways in which IBVM/CJ do and can engage with the United Nations bringing our  General Congregation commitments and shared heritage to the task. Note some of the ways our network contributes. We engage with governments in Australia, Canada, Peru and Spain, to ensure the implementation of the 203 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). There are many efforts to support women and girls and ensure they are not left behind, this time from Romania, Australia, Ireland.  It includes protest and a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations from South Africa. We have examples of awareness raising and action to celebrate United Nations Days from Nepal and Patna.

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62)Our CSW

This year the NGO Office contributed to the Commission with individual and group statements and by co-sponsoring 4 parallel and side events.  Our statements can be read here.   The two side events focused on Human Trafficking from different perspectives.   One, with the Holy See Mission as chief sponsor, drew attention to the work of Religious sisters in the prevention of Human Trafficking and the rescue and empowerment of survivors.  Another event with the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons focused on the use of technology.  While the internet is used in the most despicable ways to traffic young girls and women for the sex trade, huge efforts are under way to prevent this happening and to address other aspects of human trafficking.   We co-sponsored an event on Rural Women as Change Makers with stories of empowerment from India and South East Asia.  Sr. Cynthia CJ was one of the panelists. Finally we initiated a discussion on the economic empowerment of rural women through innovative financing and effective partnerships with the NGO Committee on Financing for Development.

Thank You for Joining Us!Thank You

Thanks to all who joined our webinar, held to celebrate a new step in collaboration for the Congregation of Jesus (CJ) and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), Saturday 17 February 2018  We hope it was helpful and gave you further insight into our work with the United Nations. Thank you for your feed-back. In case you could not join us, you will find a recording of the webinar at HERE. Since we began our journey more than 400 years ago there has been a significant evolution in governance in our world. The power of absolute rulers has weakened, decision-making processes have extended to a wider section of society and to the ideal that every member of society has a say in decision making process. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote. Conflicts led us to rethink modes of organizing ourselves until we developed the notion of nation states. At this point we recognize that the many global concerns affecting our world need a global body to address them. The United Nations offers a space where member states take decisions pertaining to the whole human family, our planet and our cosmos. We are privileged to be able to bring our voice and concerns to this conversation of civil society and the United Nations.

UN Updateupdate facebooketc

Read Update January 2018.  In this edition No. 30 you will hear about some of the important world concerns being discussed at the United Nations during the coming months. Migration, the ongoing implementation of The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Take note of the Webinar on 17 February and don’t forget to send your questions. Read about the reform of the United Nations System. Note the many ways in which CJ/IBVM Network contributes to creating a life of dignity and peace for all through art, media, formal and informal education and many other interesting endeavours.

Webinar for IBVM/CJ Worldwide Network

On Saturday 17 February 2018 we will hold a webinar on the United Webinar 2Nations and our involvement as members of civil society. We welcome the collaboration of Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Congregation of Jesus.  Cecilia O’Dwyer ibvm and Cynthia Mathew CJ at the IBVM NGO Office, New York will host a webinar to include all Asia and Australia and a second webinar for North and South America, Africa, Europe and Middle-East. Click here for more information on times and background. 

What to Watch Out For in 2018  2018 a During 2018, the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will continue and hopefully advance decisively towards its completion. We commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The campaign which accompanies us this year has three core objectives: to promote, engage and reflect -  to engage a broad base of audiences the world over; to help promote understanding of how the Universal Declaration empowers us all; and to encourage further reflection on the ways that each of us can stand up for rights, every day. By September 2018 we hope to have a Global compact on Migration which will address the global and local dimensions of present day migration. Towards Global Citizenship Towards Globalcitizenship We are delighted to have this opportunity to help build up the Mary Ward Worldwide Network’ s engagement with the United Nations. The aim of  ”Towards Global Citizenship” is to  share knowledge, reflection and initiatives on our efforts to be and to educate global citizens both in formal and non- formal education systems. We have valuable knowledge and experience to share which will be helpful, not only for all educators worldwide, but for our work with the United Nations. So, let’s hope it will be a learning tool for all who wish to avail of it.  The third edition of the publication “Towards Global Citizenship”  brings contributions from Australia, Ghana, India, Mauritius, Peru, South Africa and Tanzania. It contains topics such as the personal integration of the concept of Global Citizenship, actions taken as  a result of the conferences, programs and experiences aimed at the empowerment of global citizens, a response to issues we would like to see covered in this publication and resources for education in Global Citizenship.  There are many links and to a video to complete the information.  You can also see the photos sent in for this edition. Enjoy it and make the most of the possibilities contained. UNITE to End Violence Against WomenPhotos 16 days On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25) and during the next 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, NGO CSTIP, is calling special attention to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. We join the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE to end Violence against Women campaign’s call to “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls.” As groups raise awareness about the pandemic of gender-based violence affecting 1 in 3 women in their lifetime, we cannot forget that sex trafficking is one of the most deplorable forms of violence against women and a crime that targets the most marginalized among us. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, women and girls make up 71% of all detected trafficking victims and 96% of all sex trafficking victims. Further, women and girls trafficked for forced labor also frequently face sexual violence and exploitation. No matter how you look at the issue, women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to sex trafficking and sexual exp

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