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My experience at UN as NGO 

By Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, CSJ

The premises of the United Nations (UN) embodies a world without borders, symbolizing unity and fraternity. Being at UN broadens our horizons and makes us feel that we are ONE people of this beautiful planet, our common home where we share a common destiny.

I see the UN as the heart of the world and crown of consciousness. At its origin after World War II, this biggest organization on the planet was not built with bricks and cement but with the wisdom of our founding fathers to save the succeeding generations from the scourges of wars with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1945 as ethos and guiding principles for the international community to be vigilant and human cognizant.

The years 2015 and 2016 mark the historical landmarks. On September 25, 2015, as many as 193 member states stood together for transforming our world through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on. On April 22, 2016, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Both the Global Goals set and stimulate worldwide action for the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet with clarion call “Leaving No One Behind.”

The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the UN system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental as one of the six main organs of UN. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up of Major UN Conferences and Summits.

The League of Nations during its existence had accepted and consulted NGOs known as Civil Society Organizations. These groups participated in the League’s meetings and committees. This paved the way for NGO participation in the UN (Charter Article 71, Chapter 10) from its inception. Now as many as 3,287 NGOs enjoy consultative status with the UN. Among them is my organization with 11,000 committed women who serve in 52 countries of the world.

CONGREGATIONS OF ST. JOSEPH is our official name at UN, having General Consultative Status with ECOSOC. We are one of the major religious NGOs based at New York, representing their own congregations known as Religious at UN (RUN).

We together with the other NGO Committees engage with on Women and Girls, Migration/Refugees, Mining, Water, Poverty eradication, Education, Freedom of Religion, Indigenous Peoples and other thematic issues through the submission of the written and oral statements to UN as collaborative efforts for international policy change initiatives.

I do collaborate with different national NGOs for Universal Periodic Review through UN Mechanisms and attend the Human Rights Councils at Geneva, Switzerland.

This position offers me an opportunity for international travels and visits. I had interactions with the members and youth (universities and schools) as part of my UN educative programs in Latin America, Europe and Asia and work as link between UN and our grassroots initiatives.

I understand the enormity of the issues because I come from one of the world’s poorest region, known as Kandhamal district, Odisha, eastern India. According to the UNDP Odisha Human Development Report 2004, Adivasi (indigenous) and Dalit people in the region live Below Poverty Line with the percentage as high as 92.4 and 88.90.

Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, CSJ

Kandhamal had witnessed the terrible anti-Christian violence in 2007 and 2008 that displaced 75, 000 people and killed 100. It also saw physical assaults of nuns; one of them whom I met just a few days after her rape. My only brother was fortunate to escape death but remained traumatized for months. This attack was one the biggest attacks on the Christian community in 300 years of India.

As Sisters of St. Joseph, serving the ‘Dear Neighbour’ is our Charism and people are the center of our mission.

The core values and the international characters of UN always draw me as I serve in it but challenge me to be a connector, always representing the global face of my organization. I am humbled to be in it at this critical time of human history and feel indebted to God for belonging to this global gamily of Joseph as well as UN.

(Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, an Indian national based in New York, is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. Since 2014 she serves at UNO as a member of NGO for the Congregations of St. Joseph that includes 30 Independent congregations as Main Global Representatives.)

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8 Responses to My experience at UN as NGO

  1. Justine Gitanjali Senapati csj

    Thank you very much Ann
    Yes we all need to put into practice the Catholic Social Teachings through our ministries

  2. Ann Marshall

    Thank you for this wealth of information. The stories of survival at a great cost and for your commitment to peace working at the UN as a Sister of St. Joseph. Your report urges me to greater efforts in prayer and spreading news of the work and mission of the UN

    Blessings on your evangelizing work on behalf of the Joseph family

  3. Fr. Jaison Kollannur

    Hearty Congratulations dear Rev. Sr Justine. Glad to hear that you have been doing a lot for the welfare of the global community. It gives me more pleasure and inspiration to read your sharing since i had a golden opportunity to attend a program in UN secretariat hall in NY as well as right now i also have been involving in some common projects for the homeless people especially in South India. Along with that i am doing my Masters in Social Work (MSW) here in Trichy, TN. So hearty congrats and God’s Blessings….. glad to hear from you more, Thanking you
    Fr Jaison

  4. Sr.Martha Thomas

    Congrats dear Justine, I do appreciate your sharing which gives a lot information too. Since I have visited UN office when Sr. Carole Zin from USA was in office I could locate the place very well. As I was a staff at le Puy international centre I was in the know of its developments.So now I am happy to hear from UN and very specially from an Indian. I am proud of you Justine. All the best for you..
    Sent. Martha SJL.

  5. lambodar singh

    I congratulate and appreciate for sharing your bitter and better experience in internationally.its great to know that u represent internationally but feel annoyed and upset to know while u represent the anti christian communal violence which was taken place in 2007 and 2008..may the almighty strengthen your spirit to do the best for the society ahead in a globe.

  6. kulakanta dandasena

    Fr. Kulakanta
    I congralulate Sr. Justine for the experience she shared. This is a chance to create a global community which allows freedom dignity and promotion of life.

  7. Fr.Joseph Anithottam

    Congrats to Sr.Justine. I wish that as a member of the U.N. make use of your good office to include and bring in many genuine and sincere NGOs under U.N. which will help them to orient their programs with a world perspective. Many church related NGOs are doing very good social activities for the downtrodden. Let them also get a chance to highlight their work in international forum. I wish you every success in all your endavour as a member of the U.N for the poor and the needy.

  8. Sudhir

    Congratulations to you. As you nagge yourself with this huge responsibility social justice I wish you all the best in your undertaking. May your work be uplifting and life giving to others . Keep doing what have been entrusted to you . I am proud of you.