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Seeing Far and Near



Internationality in the Geneva community

15/02/2014: Switzerland - Photo gallery

The time I spent with the community in Geneva reminded me of one of the challenges of our world and of our Institute, namely the challenge of integration, unity or communion. I feel that the community is responding to that wider view of the Marist mission, a long view, that also allows one to appreciate the details. The novelty of the universal work for the rights of children is integrated with daily life, lived with the same density and commitment. It is the progressive view that allows one to see both near and far. 

The extensive  view of the community is what the 21st General Chapter pointed out when it exhorted all Marists tobecome experts in and defenders of the rights of children and young people in a brave and prophetic was in public forums. We feel driven to challenge the religious, cultural, economic, and social policies that oppress children and youth”. 

Attention to details is what demonstrates the spirit of the community, where brotherhood is built from the provincial, cultural and linguistic diversity of the Brothers: Evaristus Kasambwe from Southern Africa, Manel Mendoza from the Hermitage, as community leader and office organizer, Vicente Falchetto from Brasil Centro-Norte and Jean-Claude Christe, from the Hermitage.  A brotherhood that presently includes Joseph McDonald, Marist old boy from Sydney and a university student and volunteer. 

The seeing near and far of the community of Moëns transmits integration and harmony. It becomes a challenge to unity in diversity. It is a message of communion for the pluralism of our world. What is expressed if not the experience of work of the Marists at the side of Franciscans International, of Edmund Rice International, with whom they share offices and projects in Geneva? What other thing shows the move without trauma from Geneva, Switzerland to Moëns, France? In the community countries come together (Brazil, Malawi, Switzerland, Spain, Australia), as well as languages (French, Portuguese, Spanish, English) and generations (from 21 to 65). The community experience is made up equally of Brothers and laity.

Exercising harmony is being able to share presence in the meetings of the United Nations, with suit and tie and official identification, with the daily tasks of cooking, house cleaning, caring for and maintaining the property, where the suit becomes an apron and work clothes.  And exercising integration is the ceremonial presence in the great halls of the UN with the rural location of the house, where one enjoys the beautiful view of the snow-clad mountains, as well as the wild animals, the beautiful fields and the deep silence of the countryside.

The community's experience of internationality is proximity to the culinary diversity of the cooks who take turns at the stove, to the variety of idiomatic expressions while playing Scrabble, to learning typical expressions in each of the various languages, and even to how to use a fork or peel an orange. These are all new learning experiences from other cultures, which is certainly enriching and complementary. The community of Moëns makes possible Marist simplicity in the midst of a work context related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the development of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the analysis of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN. Its world view is also a view attentive to the details of community life with a Marist flavor. 

Br. Javier Espinosa
Moëns, 2 February 2014

The person responsible for the Defense of the Rights of the Child located in Geneva is a member of the staff of FMSI. His function is centered particularly in two areas:

• To plead in favor of childhood in the different subjects of concern that are presented before the United Nations, its agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, above all in Geneva (such as the Committee of the Rights of the Child); and

• To educate and animate, within the Institute so its members collaborators might be more actively aware of and committed to the problems of national and international justice as regards children. Also a part of his job is designing formation courses for the provinces or regions.

It was evident that in order to continue advancing, we would need to request accreditation as a “consultative entity with special competence” before ESCUN (Economic and Social Council of the United Nations) the same accreditation as Franciscans International have. But to do this, we had to be a juridical body recognized by civil society. BIS did not have this recognition, and so we filed the petition to obtain recognition as a juridical entity recognized in Italy. This recognition was obtained in April 2008. And so BIS ceased to exist and a new juridical body was born, the Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale – onlus (FMSI).

Now we could begin getting accreditation before ECOSOC. When it was received, FMSI would be able to participate in the meetings of the UN, as for example the Council of Human Rights based in Geneva, and to speak in its own right. Meanwhile, we did this by means of our collaboration with Franciscans International.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which is a new mechanism of the United Nations that carries out a review of the compliance of the 192 countries with Human Rights, offers an excellent opportunity for FMSI to defend the rights of children in the international forum. This is done in cooperation with the administrative units of the Institute in the country which is being audited. This year FMSI hopes to participate in the UPR of the United States and Malawi.

Besides his work at FMSI he directs training courses on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the development of the Convention of the Rights of Children (CRC), as well as the analysis of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN.

The creation of the Declaration of Human Rights and the subsequent Convention of the Rights of the Child. Up to now 193 countries have signed the Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Council for Human Rights, directed by the Commissioner of Human Rights, supervises and monitors human rights. This committee is made up of 47 states that rotate periodically - each state is analyzed every 4½ years by means of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and a group of three different states verifies the process.

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