2022 Assembly


First global survey depicting experiences of violence and harassment at work


The International Labour Organisation has collaborated with Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup to produce the first globally-reaching survey documenting experiences of harassment and violence at work.

The report bases its findings on interviews with 74,364 people, in 121 countries, during 2021.

The figures indicate that violence and harassment at work is sadly an endemic problem in workplaces all over the world.


Based on the sample,

  • 1 in 10 persons in employment worldwide have experienced physical violence and harassment at work during their working life, with men more likely to report than women.
  • 1 in 5 persons has experienced psychological violence and harassment at work, Such as insults, threats, bullying or intimidation.
  • 1 in 15 experienced sexual violence and harassment, or to divide the results by gender, 8.2 percent of women and 5 percent of men.
  • 3 in 5 who reported experiencing the above, said it has happened multiple times. For most, the most recent incident occurred within the last 5 years.


Vulnerable groups


The report provides further insight on the groups of people most vulnerable to violence at work by breaking down the data; it examines differences in the rates of violence and harassment as distinguished by region, income, gender, age and immigration status.

For example, it was found that in Europe and Central Asia, women are more likely than men to have experienced psychological harassment and violence at work, while in Africa and Southern and Eastern Asia, men reported higher rates of experiencing psychological harassment and violence at work.

Young, migrant and wage & salaried people are more vulnerable to violence and harassment at work, with women being more likely to face violence and harassment out of these groups.

Young women are twice as likely as young men to report incidents of sexual violence and harassment, and young migrant women are twice as likely as non-migrant women to report sexual violence and harassment.


Difficult to Share

54.4 percent of victims have shared their experience with someone, often only after repeated occurrences

Respondents cited fears for their reputation and for wasting time as reasons for not disclosing incidents

Those who did share were more likely to do so with family or friends rather than use informal or formal channels at work or to an official organisation 

More detail can be gleaned from reading the full report here a greatly instructive document for policy makers and aid organisations.

Research Project Shows Companies Are Not Complying With Australian Modern Slavery Act.


The Human Rights Law Centre has found a poor level of compliance among companies with Australia’s anti-modern slavery law in a recent study.

The research paper, titled ‘Broken Promises: Two years of corporate reporting under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act’ was published assessing the progress of 92 companies in their anti-modern slavery measures, based on their annual statements published in accordance with Australia’s 2018 Modern Slavery Act.


Since many of the companies affected are global brands, operating equally global supply chains, it is reasonable to say that the Australian Modern Slavery Act could directly and substantially impact against labour exploitation in Europe and all other continents.

However, the research also presents important warnings to policy makers and legislators in any part of the world. It demonstrates the danger that inadequately enforced laws may only produce ineffective ‘paper promises’ from corporations who are otherwise continuing to neglect real opportunities to make their supply chains more ethical and improve conditions for workers.

The assessment revealed that two in three of companies were not meeting the legal reporting requirements, and that many statements made by those companies amounted to mere ‘paper promises’, with no evidence of effective action being taken to improve conditions for workers.

It was found only 1 in 3 of the companies were taking some form of effective action, with only 26% taking simple human rights due diligence checks when taking on new suppliers.

This comes one year after a previous set of statements attracted the very same assessment. Over half of commitments made by companies a year ago to bolster their response to modern slavery were yet to be fulfilled when the second round of reporting was made. The report accuses companies of treating the reporting regime as a ‘tick-box’ exercise, absent of any genuine changes to corporate behaviour when it comes to the treatment of workers.

The implications of these findings are that the Modern Slavery Act is dogged by a lack of compliance, and that the Act has generated only a lip-service level response from corporations.

In response, the Human Rights Law Centre has made recommendations that the law should be bolstered with penalties for failure to comply, and that human rights due diligence checks should be a mandatory requirement. An independent regulating body should be created with powers of investigation and enforcement, and a new cause of action created for exploited workers to seek legal redress, where exploitation has occurred because of a company’s failure to perform due diligence on their supply chains.

The full publication ‘Broken Promises: Two years of corporate reporting under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act’ can be viewed here with further details and infographics about the findings, methodology and industries assessed.







At the centre of the UN development system, we conduct cutting-edge analysis, agree on  global norms and advocate for progress. Our collective solutions advance sustainable  development. The NGO Committee for Social Development is a branch of ECOSOC. Below  is an example of the way our NGO is working within ECOSOC through the Civil Society Forum.

Cynthia Matthew CJ, one of our representatives at the UN, is the Secretary of this Civil Society Forum. Below is her brief Curriculum Vitae:

Before moving to New York in 2017 to take up her role as NGO Representative, Cynthia practiced law and was a member of advocates Association at Patna High Court, India. She was also a member of Buxar District Bar Association where she practiced in the District Court. Closely connected with this aspect of her work was that of Director of the NGO – Chirag Education, Culture and Health Awareness Center, working with Dalit women, children and youth in the State of Bihar and a member of Prison Ministry India (PMI,) a voluntary organization working for the welfare of the prisoners. She is a member of the Religious Forum for Justice and Peace, India, where she has also acted as secretary. She has been the social action coordination for her organization Congregation of Jesus (CJ) Patna, India, and a member of Asian Movement of Women Religious against Human Trafficking (AMRAT). She recently worked with the local District Consumer Protection Council and District Vigilant Committee for inspecting Cable & Television Channel operators. Cynthia holds Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Bachelor of Law (LLB), degrees.

Civil Society Forum 2023

The Commission for Social Development has been the key UN body in charge of the follow-up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.

The 61st session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD61) will take place from 7th to 16th February 2023 in a hybrid (in-person and digital) format and will address the following Priority Theme: Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihood, well-being, and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 agenda.

About the Civil Society Forum

During the UN Commission for Social Development, the NGO Committee is dedicated to raising awareness on the Priority Theme and bringing the voices, experiences, and recommendations from the grassroots. The NGO Committee holds a Civil Society Forum and other capacity-building and network events on the occasion of the Commission. The NGO Committee runs on a full volunteering program and all events, website & social media platforms are voluntarily managed. Below are Five Action Plans the group hopes to present at this year’s Forum.


Commission on Social Development Advocacy Priorities for full and  productive employment and Decent Work:  


1. Address growing economic and social inequality through universal   protections, wage policies and formalisation of work  

We call upon member states of the United Nations to: 

Recognize, redistribute and support unpaid care work with social protection  systems and floors and reaffirm that care work is a collective responsibility to be  equally shared among men and women, and across society. 

Promote formalization of work so that all workers’ rights are protected both in  the informal economy and self-employment. 

Insist on equal pay for work of equal value between men and women,and  establish non-discriminatory livable wages. 

Create “Decent Work” by legislation and regulations assuring safe and secure  work environments free from abuse, harassment and violence. 

Commit to the global implementation of Universal Social Protection Systems and  floors, recognized as a way to reduce inequalities, alleviate poverty and honor  social inclusion. 

Increase sustainable employment opportunities and productivity of labor for low  income groups in rural and agricultural areas. 

Maximize the benefits of labor migration for origin and destination countries and  protect and promote labor rights for all migrant workers, and in particular women migrant workers. 

Promote and facilitate the unionization of workers to ensure their protection  and rights. 


2. Enact inclusive, people centred and gender-sensitive policies and  programs  

We call upon member states of the United Nations to: 

Increase participation of people living in poverty, seeking employment, or  needing education and up-skilling in the development of policies and programs  to affirm human dignity and eliminate all discriminations. 

Encourage transparency and accountability in a rights based approach evaluating  gender sensitivity, sustainability, and inclusivity of all program development. Strengthen trust and reliability through accountability mechanisms between  communities, institutions, and other stakeholders, and create safe spaces to  empower all members of society to be part of a social dialogue on the ongoing  process of sustainable development.


3. Provide Education, skilling, upskilling and digital training for all. 

We call upon member states of the United Nations to 

Ensure affordable access to quality and life-long education so that all people can  reach their potential as individuals and contribute to the transformation of a  peaceful, prosperous, and human-rights based society. 

Ensure a safe working environment and decent pay for educators, and a safe,  equitable, inclusive, and healthy learning environment for students. 

Promote universal access to the internet and digital technology, as a public good  and a right for all. 

Provide digital training and mobile technology for all, including persons with  disabilities, women and girls, and older adults to eliminate the digital divide. 


4. Invest in initiatives and policies for human capital creation and  redistribution  

We call upon member states of the United Nations to: 

Invest in human capital through universal health care, education, job training,  housing, universal social protections, and in sustainable resilient infrastructure  and technology 

Extend debt relief and forgiveness for the least developed countries based on values of justice and solidarity 

Establish “A Global Fund for Social Protections” to support the least developed  countries through official development assistance, increased international  cooperation on taxation, and contributions from international financial  



5. Highlight and energize the movement towards a renewed social contract  at the World Summit in 2025  


We call upon member states of the United Nations to: 

Forge a “Renewed” Social Contract anchored in human rights for a new era in  which people, states and other actors work together to foster trust, increase  participation and inclusion, and redefine human progress and development. 

Fully support the call of the Secretary-General’s proposal to hold a World Social  Summit at the highest political level in 2025 on the occasion of the 30th  anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration 

From Janet and Cynthia: We would also like to remind you that you will be able to follow  the 61st Session of the Commission on Social Development (CSocD) and the 67th Session of  the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on UN WebTV


 Who else is at the United Nations?

Loreto Convent Msongari Students Visit the UN 


Loreto Msongari students, Ms. Velma Muyela, Janet Palafox ibvm with Kenya Deputy Ambassador Kiboino, Mr. Buop and other Mission staff.

Eight students and their teacher from Loreto Convent Msongari visited the UN NGO office  after participating at the World Scholar’s Cup Tournament of Champions at Yale University  in November. Loreto Convent Msongari has been participating in this event since 2017. The  World Scholar’s Cup is an annual international team academic program with students  participating from over 65 countries. Forty students participated at the regional level out of which eight students proceeded to the Global Round in Bangkok, Thailand. With dedicated  support from the parents and the school, the team qualified to participate in the final level:  the Tournament of Champions from 11 – 16 November 2022. 

They came to New York on their final day to visit the UN and our office. We organised for the  students and their teacher to visit the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations and  to have a tour of the UN headquarters. They met with the Deputy Ambassador Michael  Kiboino, Education Attaché Andrew Buop and other Mission staff. The students had a lively conversation with the Deputy Ambassador and other staff about their work at the UN and  how they could be part of this work. 

The students appreciated this UN experience that complemented the skills they gained from  the academic activity of the World Scholars Cup that included writing, research, analytical,  evaluation, oral and debating skills. The same skills that are required in advocating at the UN.  Two of the students in the group have since joined the Mary Ward Youth Advocacy Program  with one facilitating a group that are writing the oral statement that will be delivered at the  67th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women in March 2023.


Who else is in the News? 

Irish Times 28th December 2022 sent by Brian O’Toole from the International  Presentation Justice Desk in Dublin 

Sr. Orla Treacy has spent 17 years running schools and a health centre in South Sudan, and is  slowly seeing a change in a country that likes to marry off girls fast. This interesting article  shows the courage and leadership of religious congregations as they work to improve the lives  of women and girls in Africa in line with our International Presentation Association (IPA)  commitments. 

“In South Sudan, cows are often worth more than women, but young girls there, helped by  Irish Loreto Sisters nuns, are changing attitudes slowly. “It’s the cows,” says Sr Orla Treacy,  “When a girl gets married she is married in exchange for cows. It is still a daily challenge.  There are still issues around families not wanting their daughters to be educated.” 

In a culture where cows are worth more than women, an Irish nun has dedicated herself  to educating girls.

Article: Patsy McGarry who is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

Orla Treacy has spent 17 years running schools and a health centre in South Sudan, and is  slowly seeing a change in a country that likes to marry off girls fast. In South Sudan, cows  are often worth more than women, but young girls there, helped by Irish Loreto Sisters  nuns, are changing attitudes slowly. “It’s the cows,” says Sr Orla Treacy, “When a girl gets married she is married in exchange for cows. It is still a daily challenge. There are still  issues around families not wanting their daughters to be educated.” 

Just over half of all South Sudanese girls are in arranged marriages by the time they reach  18. A 10th of all girls are married off when they are just 15. And the pressure comes not just  from men. Aunts and elders often believe that a daughter needs a good marriage early. “If  she’s 23 years of age and she’s still studying, she is already past it,” says the Irish nun. 

Today, 49-year-old Sr Orla is the director of a primary and secondary school and a healthcare  centre, in Rumbek, northwest of the capital, Juba: “We have been threatened at gunpoint,  we have been insulted, all number of problems because [they are women] and should be  sacrificed for the sake of the greater good. Technically it’s a boarding school, but I call it a  women’s refuge.” 

In the beginning, the Loreto nuns encouraged local fathers to pledge that they would let  their daughters finish school, says Sr Orla, who has served in Rumbek for over 17 years.  However, extended family members such as uncles would often turn up at the gates of the  school demanding that their teenage niece be released for marriage. 

She sees hope, though. Now, it is the girls themselves who are demanding the right to be  educated: “In the early years, we were the ones having to push it a bit, but less and less now  do we have to. We support them, we walk beside them, but they generally can do it  themselves now,” the nun, who is from Bray, Co. Wicklow, tells The Irish Times. 

In an effort to help newly arrived students to stay the course, the nuns pair a new girl with  a second-year student who minds her during her first year. In turn, the second-year  “mother” student is paired with a third year “grandmother” student. If the new student  faces pressure to quit, then her school ‘family” will sit and talk to her about whether she  wants to marry or stay in school. “They become a huge panel of support,” Sr Orla says. 

In recent months, the South Sudanese civil authorities have published legislation to stop  early forced marriages: “They want all boys and girls in school. They want to build up  education. That is huge for us,” says Sr Orla, who has had to reject heavy criticism that  education is taking young women away from traditional Sudanese culture. 

Three Irish nuns, including Sr Orla, were invited in 2005 to set up the Rumbek school by an  Italian bishop who was then in charge of the diocese, who wanted to empower young  women: “He was very clear: he had the plans, he had the donor, he just needed the  congregation to come and do it,” she recalls. Today, it has 360 girls from all over South  Sudan. 

On to university 

Locals were unhappy because their own daughters were not able to go to the school as  they had no primary education, so in 2010 the sisters started a primary school. Today, it  has 1,400 boys and girls and is also a teacher training school. In 2016, the nuns added a  

health centre, staffed by Kenyan nuns. Today, it has two clinical officers, one midwife, and  three nurses. In August, they served 5,000 patients.

Secondary school graduates have gone on to university – often up to 12 per year – and  come back as teachers, or nurses. However, many graduates are now “getting good jobs  with NGOs. NGOs are always looking for young women to work with them. 

When she got there, she found an empty field, not the buildings promised  by the bishop. It took two years to get the buildings up 

There is no lack of employment when they qualify. One of the clinic’s nurses is now her  family’s main breadwinner: “No one is now forcing her into an arranged marriage,” says the  Irish nun. 

Sr Orla never imagined then she would end up in charge of a school in a war-torn state in  east Africa. When she first told friends and siblings that she wanted to become a nun, they  told her she was crazy: “I thought I was crazy too. I realised it wasn’t fashionable or popular  to become a nun at that time. I talked to one of my [four] brothers and he told me to travel  the world and then see how I felt.” 

So she did. She studied to become a religion teacher at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin.  Following her final year there, she worked with the Loreto Sisters in Calcutta in India, where  she was appalled by the poverty. Having returned to Ireland, she taught religion in the  Presentation Brothers in Cork City, but two years on she “realised that life wasn’t for me”  and instead became a nun. 

Having accepted the invitation to come to Rumbek in 2005, Sr Orla set off telling her family  she would be home by the end of the year. When she got there, she found an empty field,  not the buildings promised by the bishop. It took two years to get the buildings up. Four  years later, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. Four years after that, the  country was ravaged by civil war that left two million people displaced. 

Hunger remains a huge problem: “When we started the primary school we used to feed the  kids, but now we feed everybody,” she says, though famine is not “an immediate” concern.  Next month, though, will bring challenges: “We are still within a war mentality, so insecurity  is still a big reality for us. When we harvest, we only harvest enough for a few months and  by January everything is gone. That’s when the hunger comes.” 

Right now, she thinks she is probably the youngest of the 150 Irish Loreto sisters, who have  an average age in the early 70s. Honoured frequently for her work, notably by President  Michael D. Higgins, who gave her a Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad, Sr Orla  stays sanguine about awards: “I’m not big into that kind of thing, but we’ve a great team. 

“If this is going to help to promote the mission in terms of donors, then do it and keep  smiling.” That’s the mantra, she says, adding that Rumbek is “an incredible story” and  “extraordinary journey. So, to be part of that and to be able to be a face for it at the  moment, to ensure that we can continue the work, is an important thing for us.”

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Who has the last word ?

Pope Benedict XVI and the United Nations


On April 18, 2008, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visited the United Nations  Headquarters in New York, where he met with then-Secretary-General Mr. Ban  Ki-moon and the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Srgjan Kerim. The Holy  Father addressed the General Assembly and the Staff of the United Nations: 

“The founding principles of the Organization – the desire for peace,  the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person,  humanitarian cooperation and assistance – express the just  aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which  should underpin international relations.” 

Pope Francis January 2023 

To usher in the New Year, The Holy Father, Pope Francis, delivered the address  on the 56th World Day of Peace. He reflected on lessons learned from the  pandemic and our ability to solve interconnected moral, social, political, and  economic problems with a sense of responsibility and compassion for others. 

“Only by responding generously to these situations, with an altruism  inspired by God’s infinite and merciful love, will we be able to build  a new world and contribute to the extension of his kingdom, which  is a kingdom of love, justice and peace.”


And let us not forget………