The Work of the International Social Justice Commission at the United Nations

UN Representatives: Major Victoria Edmonds, Major Elisabeth Frei-Bühler, Major Sylvette Huguenin-Glayre and Lieut-Colonel Julius Mukonga

Major Victoria Edmonds
New York UN
Major Elisabeth Frei
Vienna UN
Major Sylvette Huguenin
Geneva UN
Lieut-Colonel Mukonga
Nairobi UN

The United Nations (UN) representatives are tasked with representing The Salvation Army internationally at the UN and also informing of activities, engagements and partnerships with the UN and its affiliates that will benefit The Salvation Army.

Involvements in committees and groups at the UN is a considered activity – looking at the opportunities that exist to influence and be influenced and the potential for real interaction with impact.

The Salvation Army has been engaged as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in consultative relationship with the UN since 1947 and has had varying degrees of involvement during that time. Initially one of the 12 original NGO‘s, we are now one of several thousand NGO’s who seek to work within the UN precinct in appropriate partnerships with other NGO’s and in consultative relationship with the UN.

One example of our activities is our very strong role in the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) and our representatives in New York, Vienna, and Geneva all take active roles in committee work within this group.

The NGO Committee on the Status of Women was established in 1972 as a substantive committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status with the UN (CoNGO). The Committee supports the UN Commission on the Status of Women and works to promote womenfs rights and their advancement worldwide through the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, UN Security Resolution 1325 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

We are one of 200+ national and international NGO’s and individuals within this community. Our mandate is to foster dialogue among NGO‘s about current issues being debated at the UN and beyond that to influence government policy through advocacy and partnerships.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an activity of the Economic and Social Council of the UN, established in 1946 and seeks to interact with this UN function to ensure the voice of women is represented and speaks for itself (ie. is not just spoken about).

One of the main involvements and responsibilities as a participant of the NGO committee on the Status of Women is advocacy. By taking advantage of the opportunities for influencing governmental delegates to the Commission (UN), NGO’s introduce into their discourse and decision making process the views of women on the issues under discussion. Through these efforts, the voice of civil society provides an alternative/or complement to the views of governments.

The Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) has been able to move to the highest engagement level at the UN as accredited and in good standing with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). We are currently investigating our potential for an ‘advisor’ status. This would require a far more autonomously engaged perspective than we as The Salvation Army have been able to achieve as yet, and we continue to move forward on this potential.

Our UN representatives are considered in their respective arenas as significant members of Committees and groups. Major Elisabeth Frei is constantly being asked to accept office within the groups committees on which she sits. Major Sylvette Huguenin has represented The Salvation Army in World Health Organization (WHO) meetings after appropriate briefing. Lt. Col. Julius Mukonga seeks to keep us informed of the specific work of the UN undertaken by the Nairobi office. Major Victoria Edmonds is the only full-time Unrepresentative and her venue is New York. Since New York is the largest UN campus and the site of most UN activity her role is vital and demanding.

The UN advocacy activity is generally a partnership activity with other like-minds and it is the role of the ISJC to inform The Salvation Army of potential for these opportunities and top provide a researched base of understanding and implication.