by Madeline Labriola, Head UN Delegate for Pax Christi International
(The following is a report from the Pax Christi International Delegation to the United Nations.)
On November 1, 2011 a luncheon was held for the members of Pax Christi International’s UN delegation. All 5 delegates were present to participate in the discussion of goals and objectives for the coming year. They were Madleine Labriola, Elizabeth Begley, Mary McDonald, Cheryl Morrissey and Patrick Ryan.
Each delegate had an opportunity to describe the work they have been doing at the UN in the past year. The following is a summary of their reports.
Cheryl Morrissey has been a member of the team for less than one year and she has already become active in a number of ways. She immediately joined the Financing for Development Committee and was elected as a member-at-large of the Executive Committee. One of the goals of this Committee is to be a watchdog for the G-20 and hold them more accountable. She attends the 2nd Committee meetings on a rotating basis with other members. She has visited the mission of Norway to discuss the Millenium Development Goals and social protection floor. She is also interested in the human rights committee since she studied international law in Dublin, Ireland and has an advanced degree in human rights law.
She is planning to attend the Commission on Social Development conference in Feb. 2012 and the Commission on the Status of Women in the Spring.
Elizabeth Begley is serving her 7th year as a delegate. She has been very involved in the issue of Disarmament. She has attended the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations and will attend the prep com in February and the final negotiations in July 2012. Beth is participating in the Control Arms Campaign to raise awareness and coordinate advocacy for a robust and effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The Non ProliferationTreaty (NPT) prep com will commence in 2012 and Beth will again participate.
She has attended a number of meetings of interfaith groups and noted that there is more of a presence of faith-based nongovernmental organizations (NGO) meeting now. She will begin a 2 year term as a member of the board of the International Catholic Organization (Catholic-inspired NGO’s) which has recently re-organized.
She also is also interested in the issue of human rights, especially the Right to Protect (R2P).
Beth tracks disarmament issues and tries to attend the Commission meetings during the year including the Commissions on Social Development, Women, Indigenous and Sustainable Development.
Patrick Ryan is the newest member of the delegation, receiving his UN badge in March 2011. He found his niche right away in the Committee on Sustainable Development and will attend the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa in late November 2011. His interest in climate change and the role that the UN needs to play in this serious issue has inspired his work and direction.
He attended some NGO Thursday Briefings and the orientation program to learn about the working of the UN. He will register for the meetings of the Commissions as the year progresses.
Mary McDonald is the Senior member of the team and has been representing PCI for over 10 years. Her background in anthropology brings her a multi-cultural perspective that naturally led her to join the Committee on Indigenous Issues. As an active member of this committee, she has helped coordinate the Permanent Forum of Indigenous People for several years. She took part in making presentations to missions to lobby for recognition of indigenous peoples rights.
She is very interested in the issue of mining rights as it deals with the land rights of the indigenous people. The sub-committee on mining has presented many programs for other NGO’s and UN officials about mining.
She also attends the Thursday NGO briefings frequently.
Madeline Labriola has been a member of the team for almost 10 years and the Head Delegate for the last 3 years. She is interested in many aspects of the UN NGO community. She is most active on the Committee on Sustainable Development and the sub-committee on Climate Change. She has been a member of the Human Rights Committee.
She often attends meetings of interest to Pax Christi as part of the Thursday briefings which include women’s issues, interreligious dialogue, peacekeeping, poverty reduction, disarmament, Africa, etc.
Projected Goals for 2011-12
After each person’s report, discussion continued on the priorities of PCI and how we could best focus on them. Each delegate will remain working on their current issues but will make every effort to develop in some new areas. Of particular interest are the topics of Israel and Palestine, Africa, mining, interreligious dialogue and peace-building.
Beth Begley was chosen as the Head Delgate for a 2 year term. Madeline Labriola will continue to accept the responsibility for the budget.
In fostering better communications it was decided that each delegate would write an article about their work and submit it to the Pax Christi regional, national and international newsletters for publication.
Each delegate travels into UN headquarters about once a week for various committee meetings or to attend Thursday briefings or special events. The delegates expressed their desire to continue to volunteer their time to make PCI an important and valued part of the NGO community. It is hoped that their efforts will contribute to a more peaceful and just world.