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We are remembering today the significant event that had happened last December 10, 1948. The day of the adoption by the United Nations (UN) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The international human rights day is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity. This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

We are blessed and privilege that as a Franciscan family we have a voice in the United Nation through the Franciscans International. The core business of Franciscans International is human rights advocacy. Advocacy means a set of actions that seek to influence decision-makers at UN and national levels. Thanks to its General Consultative status with the UN, FI uses advocacy as a tool to combat human rights abuses. FI strongly believes that advocacy is one of the most powerful means to ensure sustainable solutions and real change. Whenever significant changes in policy are needed, advocacy has a role to play in influencing key leaders to make decisions that will improve the lives of millions of people over the long-term, through structural changes. Thanks to FI’s long experience at the UN, it operates through multifaceted advocacy strategy in order to maximize efforts and ensure consistency in various lobby actions.

Do you know that there are Franciscans working in the United Nations? Yes, they are working through the Franciscans International as advocates at the United Nations for the protection of human dignity and environmental justice. Let us listen to Sandra Epal Ratjen and Ulises Quero as they tell us more about Franciscans International and its work in the UN as we all celebrate the International Human Rights Day.

FI is built around its 31 years of collaboration with its partners at the grassroots specially with the friars working in the JPIC Commission of every entity and the people they are journeying with who experience human rights violations every day. They are in contact with national and local authorities and, at the same time, close to the most disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups. They are collaborating with Fra. Angelito A. Cortez, OFM of the Philippines who is working hand in hand with the families of victims of Extra Judicial Killings on the war on drugs of their government. They are supporting Fra. Rodrigo Peret, OFM of Brazil who is into Anti-Mining advocacy campaigns and dealing with the community impacted by mining.  To support them, FI organizes capacity building workshops at national, regional and international levels. It also encourages and enables its grassroots partners to build partnerships at national level with the view to strengthen national lobbying.