The work of the UN Commission on Social Development captures the essence of many of our community ministries, dealing as it does with social issues such as education, health, marginalized people, and poverty. Nobody (not even the bureaucrats) could possibly be opposed to this year’s theme, The Eradication of Poverty, right? But ah, “the devil is in the details,” as they say! It was interesting to watch the G-77 (a large group of smaller and/or developing nations plus China) oppose wording about human rights, and the USA oppose any reference to climate change. Can we guess what is going on behind the scenes there?

The meeting opened with a ceremony designed by the NGO Committee on Social Development, featuring a presentation of the petition signed by many of you; UNANIMA’s Catherine Ferguson was the guiding hand behind this project. Besides this banner with hundreds of signatures–being hung here in the UN conference room— we presented several thick books filled with over 15,000 signatures, asking the commission to ensure that a “social protection floor” exists for all people. (Picture thanks to Renaude Gregoire!)

UNANIMA International members Renaude Gregoire (the Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Saint Anne) and Sylvia Obrigewitsch (board member and a Sister of Notre Dame of Sion) attended most of the events, and worked hard at keeping track of what was going on—reading research documents, networking with panelists and presenters, and enjoying the daily NGO briefings/ strategy sessions.

Some of the best parts of a commission meeting are the side events, many sponsored by NGOs. A side event on trafficking made it clear that trafficking may never be eradicated until we deal with the poverty that drives both the traffickers and their victims; and it is obvious that poverty is rooted in injustice… so we know where to start.

If you would like to see copies of the negotiated documents as they come out, go to http:// to access the UN Official Document System (ODS) and do a keyword search, such as “Commission on Social Development 2012.” For example, the document from the part of the meeting that dealt with Mainstreaming Disabilities is already there under number E/CN.5/2012/L.6.