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Franciscans International (FI) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with general Consultative Status at the United Nations. The organization operates under the sponsorship of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) and serves all members of the Franciscan family, as well as the global community by bringing spiritual, ethical, and Franciscan values to the United Nations and international organizations". The organization has headquarters in New York City, Geneva, and Bangkok.
Non-governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, or nongovernment organizations, commonly referred to as NGOs, are usually non-profit and sometimes international organizations independent of governments and international governmental organizations that are active in humanitarian, educational, health care, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to effect changes according to their objectives. They are thus a subgroup of all organizations founded by citizens, which include clubs and other associations that provide services, benefits, and premises only to members. Sometimes the term is used as a synonym of "civil society organization" to refer to any association founded by citizens, but this is not how the term is normally used in the media or everyday language, as recorded by major dictionaries. The explanation of the term by NGO.org is ambivalent. It first says an NGO is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level, but then goes on to restrict the meaning in the sense used by most English speakers and the media: Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and in the U.S. state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
FI closely follows the tradition of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, attempting to put Franciscan ideals into practice at the international level. The organization is guided by the Saints' proclaimed concern for the poor, care of creation, and peacemaking.
Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Franciscans around the world run schools, hospitals, Justice and Peace offices, shelters, and specialise in many services for the poor. The programmes at FI bring grassroots Franciscans to the United Nations forums in New York and Geneva, influencing international human rights standards and bringing witness to human rights violations.
Human rights are "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, freedom of expression, pursuit of happiness and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in science and culture, the right to work, and the right to education.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Franciscans International is supported by the freewill offerings of Franciscan communities and their partners. A large part of the organization's funding comes from individuals who support Franciscan work for human rights, care for creation, and peacemaking. FI's advocacy programmes are designed in response to Franciscan needs worldwide.
Vision: A global community built on Franciscan values, in which the dignity of every person is respected; resources are shared equitably; the environment is sustained; and nations and peoples live in peace.
Mission: We are a Franciscan voice at the United Nations protecting the vulnerable, the forgotten, and our wounded earth.
Advocacy Focus: The ministry of Franciscans International at the United Nations flows from its Vision. Our priority areas are: Extreme poverty, Environment, Peace-building. FI addresses these issues from an integrated rights-based approach. To do this FI uses the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as the primary mechanism for advocacy work at the UN. As part of the UPR process, FI solicits issues of concern from Franciscans working at the grassroots, voices these concerns at the UN, and reports back to the Franciscan Family on progress made at the UN, who then in turn monitor these developments at the national level. FI further supports the Franciscan Family with issue and country-specific workshops relevant to these issues.
1982: The seedlings of Franciscans International (FI) sprout when two Franciscans, Fr. Dionysius Mintoff OFM from Malta and Sr. Elizabeth Cameron OSF (RIP) from the United States write to the Franciscan Family in the US, suggesting the possibility of having a Franciscan presence at the United Nations.
1984 - 1988: The idea quickly grows into a common project of the Franciscan Family (FF) and an interfamilial Preparatory Committee is organised in the US for this future ministry. This Committee prepares the FI Vision Statement based on three main goals:Raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation, and thus stressing the need to care for creation – both human and environmental; Promote peace; Voice concern for the world’s poor.
1989: The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) officially recognises Franciscans International as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
1990: FI opens an office in New York. At this stage the organisation is one based on ‘membership’ with each member paying annual dues.
1991: The Preparatory Committee serves as the Executive Committee for FI and begins the process of applying for Consultative Status (Category 1) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.
1995: FI receives General Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the UN. This allows FI to participate through oral interventions and written statements in the activities of ECOSOC. There are two directors: Br. Ignacio Harding OFM and Sr. Kathie Uhler OSF
1996: The Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) in Rome, which includes the Ministers General of Friar Minors, Capuchins, Conventuals;, Third Order Regular and Secular Franciscan Order and the President of the Inter-Franciscan Conference Third Order Regular, appoints a Working Group to prepare a new organizational ‘Charter’ for FI.
1997: FI, with Dominicans for Justice and Peace, opens an office in Geneva, Switzerland, where the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of the UN is located. Its focus is on the promotion and protection of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social. Br. John Quigley OFM is the Director and Alessandra Aula the first Advocacy Officer.
1999: The Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) approves the new “FI Charter” and assumes its role as sponsor. The CFF appoints 13 men and women to the new FI International Board of Directors (IBD). The CFF abolish ‘membership dues’ stating that ALL Franciscans belong to FI and that each branch of the FF should contribute to the running costs of the organization.
2000: The FI Board meets annually and aligns FI with its new ‘FI Charter’ under the direction of Fr. David B. Couturier OFM Cap, who was elected President of the first IBD.
2001: The CFF writes a letter to the international Franciscan Family, asking for their participation and support for the work of FI.
2003: The CFF appoints a second International Board of Directors, at their first meeting in Maryknoll Seminary in New York, Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm, is elected President.
2004, November: Fr. John Quigley OFM is appointed Executive Director for a three-year term with responsibility for the New York and Geneva offices.
2005: Through a generous grant from the OFM Capuchins Conference of the United States, FI establishes an Africa Desk to address issues of HIV and AIDS, peacemaking and conflict resolution. Br. Mike Perry, OFM is given responsibility for the implementation of the Africa Desk programme out of the New York office. The Anglican First and Third Order Franciscans formally join the CFF as FI sponsors. A partnership is established with the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI); who will work with FI out of the Geneva office.
2006: The CFF appoints a third International Board of Directors. Fr. John Celichowski OFM Cap is elected President
2008: FI opens its third office in Bangkok, Thailand, under the direction of Ms Julie Morgan, the first Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Programme. The primary role of the office is to bring the services of FI closer to the Franciscan Family and the most vulnerable in the Asia Pacific region. FI will simultaneously work with the regional arm of the UN, known as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), located in Bangkok.
2008: Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm is appointed the new Executive Director by the IBD after an international employment search, with responsibility for the FI programme including the three regional offices in Bangkok, Geneva and New York.
2009: The CFF appoints a fourth International Board of Directors. Fr. John Doctor OFM is elected the President. FI begins preparatory work for its first 3-year strategic plan holding consultations with principle stakeholders, the Franciscan Family, funding agencies, donors and service providers.
2010: Regional Directors in place in each of the FI offices: Fr. Markus Heinze OFM in Geneva (Germany); Fr. Mike Lasky OFM Conv. in New York (USA); and Mr. Mateusz Tuniewicz in Bangkok, (Poland).
2010: First FI ‘Human Rights Award’ is presented to Fr. Dionysius Mintoff OFM, Malta, for his significant role in encouraging Franciscans to get involved in the UN specifically for their international work on JPIC. In New York, Sr. Mary Teresa Plante and Sr. Bernadette Sullivan receive the first ‘Outstanding Achievement Awards’ for their service to FI from its very inception.
2011: The International Board of Directors renews contract of Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm as Executive Director, for another three-year term to April 2014.
2010-2012: FI implements its 2010-2012 Strategic Plan detailing a revised vision and mission statement, which better suits the current advocacy work of FI, as requested by the Franciscan Family worldwide.
2011 August: Mateusz Tuniewicz drowns in Bali (RIP) on his way home from an FI workshop in Indonesia. Sanjay Gathia is appointed the ‘Interim Regional Director’ till a new director is appointed.
2012, March: Fr. Elias Manuel OFM, Bangalore, India is appointed the new Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Programme after an international employment search.
2012: A new International Board of Directors is appointed by the CFF, with four members from the previous IBD and seven new members. Their first meeting is in Geneva in April, where Doug Clorey OFS, was elected President.
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