New York, USA. The Congregation has held associate status as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations – Department of Public Information (UN-DPI) for more than a year.
At Easter time, Fr. Miguel Ángel Velasco, General Prefect of Apostolate and Br. Robert Omondi, JPIC General Secretariat, met with Fr.’s, Eddie De León, Tom Joyce, and Heherson Balabbo of the USA Province along with Bro. Arnel Alcober of the Philippines to discuss setting up our UN presence. The team met with other religious representatives to learn from their experience and organization, and also visited the United Nations building.
For now, we will work as a team, with the first task being to draw up a plan for the next few years. We had a long discussion on the focus of the Claretian presence and chose as the broad focus of our work “Human Rights”; first, basic civil and political rights, then the developmental (social and economic) rights and finally a special concern for the “rights of peoples”. Specifically, we thought of these as the rights of the indigenous peoples with whom our missionaries work.
We realize it will take time to establish ourselves at the U.N., but we already have the example of other religious NGO’s united in RUN – Religious at the United Nations. We hope to engage the entire congregation and our friends and collaborators. We welcome other CMF’s to assist us on a regional basis, e.g., participating in specific regional meetings, by bringing urgent issues to the office’s attention, and by disseminating information on issues urgent to our missionaries and their people.
We intend to set up a webpage and to communicate through NUNC to keep the congregation updated on the office’s activities and alert our missionaries to urgent issues.