18 May 2011
As part of its mandated work at the UN headquarters in New York, CI serves as a member of the Security CouncilWorking Group, coordinated by the Global Policy Forum.
An ecumenical delegation from Sudan to the UN in September 2010 includes Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur and CI representative Joseph Donnelly.
Caritas serves on several NGOWorking Groups at the UN which work to provide visibility to various crises around the world, including those that receive little attention. These include working groups on Israel and Palestine, the Great Lakes in Africa, the Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Haiti and India.
Caritas Internationalis has an active role at the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) at principals level in Geneva and operations in New York.
The New York delegation has also been involved in advocacy on the protection of women and children in armed conflict, meeting with key Security Council member states and calling for urgent action to prevent violence against innocent women in conflicts, notably in the Democratic Republic of Congo. CI serves on the NGO advisory board of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict.
Delegations from numerous Caritas organisations have been received in New York. An intern partnership programme with the Catholic universities since 2005 enables Caritas Internationalis to do more and expand work with the Holy See Mission to the UN.
The active involvement of faith-based organisations working for peace continues to make a difference in the midst of major conflicts, both new and old. CI collaborates with many other global actors, including theWorld Conference of Religions for Peace, contributing Catholic perspectives at their symposiums where several Caritas directors, bishops and experts have been key speakers. CI is also a member of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, based out of the Kroc Centre for Peace and Conflict resolution at Notre Dame University in the USA.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
A sustained advocacy focus on the DRC followed the elections in 2007. Caritas continues to challenge the Security Council and all stakeholders at the UN for action, resources and accountability systems to comprehensively improve the quality of life and achieve justice for Congolese communities. Priorities identified by the DRC Episcopal Conference and Caritas Congo included gender-based violence against women and exploitation of natural resources.
Working with the Church in Sudan and several CIDSE organisations, CI is engaged in peacebuilding programmes involving local communities. CI contributes to the work carried out by the Sudan Ecumenical Forum (SEF), which is the appropriate civil society platform for advocacy efforts regarding Sudan. Under CI leadership, 2010 saw intense activity in Sudan in the run-up to the referendum on self-determination, including meetings with bishops, ecumenical partners and their assistants promoted by the General Secretariat and CI NewYork Delegation offices including the UN Secretary General and the Holy See Mission. Caritas Internationalis was part of a “101 Days of Peace” campaign for Sudan with local churches, Caritas members worldwide and various religious orders.
CI is committed to a negotiated solution to the internal conflict that has afflicted Colombia for over forty years. The Catholic Church in Colombia believes that for a lasting solution to be achieved, the victims of paramilitary, guerrilla, state and other violence must actively participate in dialogue. Caritas has worked towards this through an international advocacy and information campaign called“Peace is Possible in Colombia”.
The campaign calls for:
The 2009 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in response to repeated militant rocket attacks affected the entire Palestinian population of 1.5 million. Access for humanitarian experts and relief supplies was extremely limited and subject to constantly changing rules and procedures.
A programme building on existing Caritas health facilities within the Gaza Strip as well as the local church volunteers was launched with a budget of €1.5 million to ensure emergency medicines, medical supplies, and ambulances to four hospitals, six Caritasoperated medical points and a medical centre, as well as emergency food packs, hygiene kits, blankets and cash support to 10,600 families.
During the Gaza conflict in early 2009, CI’s Head of Delegation in New York travelled to the region to coordinate the confederation’s response. He liaised with the UN and diplomatic community to assess opportunities for support and dialogue and met Israeli and Palestinian representatives in New York and Jerusalem. Caritas Jerusalem was supported with communications and advocacy while CI actively engaged with the Jerusalem-based Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), the Latin Patriarchate staff and seminary, and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries for the Holy Land, as well as the local Palestinian and Israeli Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
CI’s UN delegate in NewYork served on a high-level panel hosted by Seton Hall University and the US State Department with a delegation of nine imams and mayors from Iraq. Other panellists included Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars. Discussions covered the separation of church and state; core values of individual freedom of conviction, expression and worship; the role of faith-based organisations; and the importance of dialogue in communities recovering from conflicts. Caritas was acknowledged for its vital humanitarian role on the ground in Iraq and for its leadership in global advocacy and peacebuilding with diplomats and civil society. Caritas continues to facilitate visits by Iraqis to the UN and the NGO community, in coordination with CI Member Organisations and other partners.
Central African Republic
At the request of the Belgian government, Caritas was invited to address a session of the UN Peacebuilding Commission on the Central African Republic (CAR). The CI presentation was put together in consultation with Caritas experts in CAR, the General Secretariat and other Member Organisations. The contribution made by Caritas in CAR in terms of peacebuilding and advocacy, as well as humanitarian work, was noted by the African country's ambassador to the UN during the closing remarks. The CI delegate to the UN in NewYork and the CI International Liaison Officer visited Caritas CAR and the Episcopal Conference in 2010.
Alongside its emergency response operations during and after the Sri Lanka conflict, CI's NewYork delegation has been involved in discreet second-track diplomacy at the UN, concerned with the safety of Sri Lankan colleagues. Regular meetings were held with the UN Secretary General’s office, Security Council members, neighbouring states, as well as UN experts on rights, displacement, protection, emergencies, food, health, shelter and children.
Presentations highlighted Caritas Sri Lanka’s unconditional commitment to protecting civilians, accompanying the poorest and most vulnerable, while advocating respect, responsibility and reconciliation.
Website supports world’s peace builders
Caritas launched its web-based peacebuilding toolkit in 2009. The attractive, easy-to-use, interactive website – peacebuilding.caritas.org – received 7,000 visits in its first two weeks and was described as an innovative, unique and excellent resource.
The launch was supported by communications materials featuring stories on peacebuilding activities across the network, photographs and interviews with key Caritas figures, including video clips of the CI President, Cardinal Rodríguez, and quotes from Cardinal Renato Martino, then President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
CI’s Peacebuilding Manual has become a seminal text for practitioners, notably in the Philippines, Colombia and Africa. The online version has provided a valuable extension of the community of peacebuilders, researchers and students. It is primarily a teaching and playing resource for the staff and members of the Catholic peacebuilding network, which is strengthened and sustained in its mission through the support of Caritas experts from the confederation.
The website had 45,000 visitors over the last 12 months with 75 percent of users returning. This included 2,000 visitors a day from former Soviet bloc countries during August 2010 when conflict in Kyrgyzstan was in the headlines. The site is now available in French and Spanish (translated by Caritas Uruguay), as well as English.