The idea of an “Introduction” program started as it became vital to find new ways to involve the fellowship in the UN work and provide opportunities to come and see.
IFOR has a consultative status since 1979 and engages at the UN in Geneva, New York, Paris and Vienna. The work is carried out by representatives who follow up on issues such as conscientious objection, disarmament, human rights, international solidarity, reconciliation, peace education and so on. These very same issues are also some of the main fields of engagement for IFOR branches, groups and affiliates; it is therefore very sensitive to strengthen links between efforts at local and international level.
Geneva is currently the place where there is a structured work which implies the regular participation to UN bodies program of work.
6 participants applied and participated to the first formal edition of the program which has been carried out this past Spring. Representatives from IFOR fellowship (FOR Germany, FOR US) and partnering NGOs (Africa Unita and World Vision) have been involved and attended to the 40th Human Rights Council and to the 125th Human Rights Committee. IFOR President joined the hosted group together with some activists from Greece and Angola who were engaging in advocacy activities together with IFOR UN reps.
Participants have been able to learn more about UN system and IFOR engagement; they did attend to several events and meetings at Geneva UN headquarter, observed advocacy initiatives and had the possibility to network in person with representatives from other NGOs and diplomats.
It has been an intense week of discovering at the UN; it has been also a great opportunity to learn more about participants’ organizations and exchange on possible common paths. In the end it has been also about connecting people and sharing a learning experience together with other peace concerned activists.
Here an interesting insight about the program through the words of some of the participants:
“I find that the introduction week to UN is a great idea. On the one hand to create awareness for what the UN reps do at UN and for the participants to learn about the connections and opportunities existing. During that week I learned that IFOR cooperates with so many NGO's and is organizing and engaging in a great deal of issues! On the other hand, we/the participants saw and understood what we can bring back to our branches. Sophia and I were very impressed with what IFOR is doing so we decided to talk about IFOR, Sicily and Geneva on this years FOR Germany conference, hoping to create more awareness for IFOR UN and international work and, at best, collect ideas and start action. Furthermore, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to get to know IFOR members from other countries, to learn about their work and to connect. So, I think the Introduction to UN week is a promising idea to engage branches more in IFOR UN work and also to connect branches with each other. “
Juliane, FOR Germany
“Representatives of the WVMEER and WVBiH participated at the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the UN Office in Geneva. WV representatives have been invited, as part of the Peace network of BiH, by partnering international NGO - IFOR (International Fellowship for Reconciliation), some of whose branches have been cooperating with the Peace network for a number of years. During the visit to the UNOG, IFOR has presented its mission to WV, as well as mechanisms of advocating for human rights with UN, and various models for similar international organizations to participate and contribute to protection and promotion of human rights in their respective countries. During a five-day visit, WV staff had an opportunity to take part in various side events, organized by both UN and IFOR, and run conversations on the topics of common interest. In between the sessions, WV staff had an opportunity to learn more about UN mechanisms of protection of human rights, but also about IFOR and other special missions to UN, as well as to get to know and present WV to the missions of other countries where WV serves, Orthodox and Catholic Church missions, and similar international organizations. Besides activities related to the study visit to UNOG, IFOR hosts and WV staff used this opportunity to learn more about each other and our missions globally, as well as to discuss possible future joint initiatives in BiH and the Region, related to human rights protection, child rights and peace building initiatives, and in particular to detect forms and possibilities for future joint or individual initiatives towards UN. This initiative has been an effective way of connecting partners around common causes, in order to expand our efforts and impact through joint actions, and therefore worthwhile for all who participated.”
Nikica, World Vision Bosnia and Herzegovina
The plan is to continue to offer to the Fellowship such a structured opportunity to get to know IFOR UN work on the ground.
IFOR is exploring possibilities to organize a new edition of the program.
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