Pilgrims at the UN

EREA A group of teachers and administrators from Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) are visiting Geneva as part of a pilgrimage to Ireland following in the footsteps of Edmund Rice. The Geneva segment of the pilgrimage aims to acquaint participants with the new expression of Edmund’s charism – the advocacy work of ERI. Here is an account of their visit:-

September 15th began with presentations by Brother Peter Harney and Brother Moy Hitchen at their Geneva office.

Peter’s offering focused on the importance of using the language of Human Rights; that Human Rights are legislated entitlements which includes the capacity for redress. Importantly, we all have Human Rights on our account of being human – the distinction is that we don’t all enjoy them. Some other key wisdom included :-

–  Human Rights defending and advocating operates over the long term and it is a work of progressive realisation

– advocating to change conditions that lead to the violation of rights requires the capacity to think creatively and to approach situations by constantly adjusting your position. (the ceiling of room 20 at the UN Office in Geneva symbolises this idea).

– we must work with those whose rights have been denied and within the system to change the system

Our time in the ERI office concluded with Moy leading a session on Human Rights Education and the variety of resources that are available for educators.

Our next adventure lead us inside the walls of the UN office – a place buzzing with all peoples of the world. Some of the sessions that were offered included: – Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

– Preventing Religious Violence in India: Challenges and Prospects of Managing Diversity (a side event convened by Franciscans International, who work alongside ERI)

– Human Rights in Education

– Human Rights in Ukraine

– Human Rights in Iraq

– Children in Syria

– Women in conflict zones

A significant event that occurred within the day was the presentation of a joint oral statement made by Franciscans International and Edmund Rice International to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. This statement brought to the attention of this Working Group and members of the Human Rights Council, three particular cases concerning the detention of asylum seekers who aimed to arrive in Australia.

In bringing to the attention of those present to the tragedy taking place within her home country where 17000 children have been killed, Vice President of the Syrian National Opposition Coalition, Noura Al-Ameer, pleaded with the world to act – “In the name of Syrian children, save us, save us before it is too late.”

– Luke Edwards EREA

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