Exploring Human Rights and Advocacy with the Edmund Rice Network

Over 250 participants, from a wide array of Edmund Rice ministries and beyond, engaged in various segments of a five-week awareness raising and training programme conducted by Edmund Rice International on 5 consecutive Thursdays between 15 April and 13 May 2021. Participants linked via Zoom with ERI in Geneva, Switzerland, with the same session being offered twice in two convenient time frames, to enable participants from more than 20 nations on six continents to join.

The opening presentation of this series on ‘A Basic Understanding of Human Rights and Advocacy’ conducted by Brian Bond introduced Edmund Rice International, examined the meaning of advocacy and human rights, compared charity and advocacy approaches to ministry and introduced the human right mechanisms of the  United Nations.

The presentation on Spirituality of Advocacy, by Philip Pinto, looked at the motivation behind involvement in advocacy and human rights and invited participants to examine their view of  the world and its inequalities by hearing the cry of the poor and of the earth and the call of Pope Francis “to wake up the world”.

The third presentation conducted by Kevin Mullan focussed on the Universal Periodic Review of the UN, on how this mechanism operates and how ERI engages directly with it in collaboration with ERI Advocacy Coordinators based in different countries as they come up for review.

The Sustainable Development Goals and their links with Laudato Si were examined in detail by Kevin Cawley in the fourth presentation with an emphasis on a See, Judge, Act approach at both a personal and community level.

In the final session participants were invited to share some of their learnings from the earlier presentations and in small groups explored possibilities for introducing advocacy and human rights into their current ministries.

A cross-section of participant comments: ‘The training has given a fresh perspective to my development work ministry in Sierra Leone and provided me with a global understanding of issues affecting our ‘common home’. Abu Kargbo, CB Development Office, Freetown
‘Listening to Br. Philip Pinto speak reminded me that I am not alone and part of a larger Edmund Rice community and that our advocacy mission is a spiritual one.Patricia Gray, Iona Prep, New Rochelle
‘The training has provided me another set of “eyes” to “feed my heart” to think of appropriate mission programs that will address the many social ills needing development interventions.’ Betta Socorro Salera, ERMF Philippines
‘Estamos conscientes que educando sobre los derechos humanos es la mejor forma de que todos los defendamos’ (We are aware that educating about human rights is the best way for all of us to defend them)Oscana Tupano, Colegio la Salle de Tienda Honda,Caracas
‘I took part in the training with other colleagues from my school and we have already begun to plan how to incorporate the learnings into our classes and into the work of the Peace and Justice group.’Aoife Denton, Ardscoil na Mara, Waterford
‘This webinar has awoken the dormant zeal of a social worker that I used to have…Iarisa Dorphang, St. Edmund’s College, Shillong
‘Pope Francis reminds us to “go wake-up the world”. Advocacy is the ideal tool to do just that.‘  Denis Claivaz, Presentation Brother, Toronto

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