I learned today that one of the interns here is “just now beginning” to understand how things work at the United Nations–and she has been here for four months. After our first day I can understand why it takes so long! During our orientation session my head began filling with inititals and acronyms: UNDP, UNEP, UNHCR, ILO,FAO, IFAD, UNIFEM…well, you get the idea. And our schedule for the next two weeks includes meetings with subcommittees and committees and working groups and briefings and forums…well, you get the idea!

Yesterday we braved bitter cold to go to the U.N. Building to register for our U.N. passes that will get us in the building without the airport-type security screening that visitors undergo each time. And we actually had a bit of real work to do: to write a prayer service for a series of Lenten reflections on global food insecurity, which will be published as an online calendar by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance in Geneva, Switzerland. Today we navigated icy and slush-filled streets to get to work at the UNANIMA office, where we sat in on a meeting of the Working Group on Trafficking and Migration. Nine different religious communities (orders of sisters, brothers, and priests) were represented at that meeting, not counting the other UNANIMA communities represented by Catherine Ferguson. The main topic on the agenda was to plan a “site event” scheduled for February 14…it will include testimony from individuals who have been trafficked or who have some special expertise in the relationship between trafficking and migration.
NGOs primarily seek to educate U.N. members on issues of concern to them, and to influence the wording of policy statements–even the wording of the Secretary General’s annual report! I am so impressed with the quality and power of the networking that religious communities bring to this good work…


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