ARS Inc., Participates in United Nations DPI/NGO Conference

WATERTOWN, Mass.The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) was among 540 registered non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and 1,879 representatives attending the 59th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference at the United Nations in New York from Sept. 6-8. ARS Inc. representatives Valentine Berberian, Harriet Kazarian, Carol Jaffarian, Lalai Manjikian, Odeh Kraskian, and Sossi Essajanian attended the conference which was entitled, "Unfinished Business: Effective Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development." The conference afforded the group the opportunity to meet with representatives from other NGOs and present the ARS’s work in Armenia and abroad. The ARS representatives attended sessions centering on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and how countries can achieve financial and ecological sustainability. The ARS representatives divided into subgroups in order to attend as many competing sessions and workshops as possible. On Sept. 6, ARS representatives attended a workshop entitled, "United Nations Effective Partnerships with Civil Society" sponsored by the UN’s DPI/NGO section. Representatives from various UN departmen’s, agencies and programs such as the UNEP, UNODC, UNU, and ECOSOC, discussed their work and collaboration with NGOs and civil society, emphasizing the practices and strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the constructive engagement between civil society and UN NGOs necessary to promote and implement those goals. The ARS representatives also attended a workshop, "Mobilizing Youth About the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: An Innovative Health Communication Partnership." The event presented the International Organization for Migration-commissioned Art Center College of Design that collaborated on a public awareness campaign. The project aimed at empowering affected communities and NGOs to facilitate behavior change. On the evening of Sept. 6, the ARS representatives attended the conference reception hosted by the NGO/DPI Executive Committee where they networked with other NGO representatives in a more informal setting. The reception took place on the fourth floor of the United Nations building with an imposing view over the Hudson River. A jazz ensemble set the tone for a relaxing ambiance while delegates from all over the world conversed and exchanged information related to their respective NGOs. On Sept. 7, ARS representatives attended a workshop entitled, "Forgiveness: Partnering with the Enemy," presented by the American Psychological Association. The workshop centered on forgiveness and reconciliation after violence in such cases as the South African apartheid, the Rwandan genocide, and the Armenian Genocide. Many speakers gave specific instances of people coming to terms with their aggressors. Panelist Dr. Saths Cooper, a former prisoner of Robben Island, described his experience going from victim to advocate. The ARS representatives also attended a Sept. 7 afternoon roundtable session entitled, "Human Security: Responsibility to Protect and Peacebuilding Commission." In light of the 2005 World Summit that established an international responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, governmen’s have accepted that they must act earlier in response to crises in their own countries. Speakers addressed how partnerships between civil society and the State must be reinforced to achieve the set goals. The panelists provided examples to ensure that the security development goals are met. The emphasis was on the following three aspects linked to human’security related to conflict: to prevent, to react/respond, and to rebuild. The speakers included Juan Mendez, special advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and Eugenie Mukeshimana, a Rwanda genocide survivor. "Attending the UN/DPI conference has only reinforced my belief that the ARS has an important role to play on the world stage," said ARS representative Lalai Manjikian. "By being an active presence at this conference and other UN activities, the ARS can ensure its involvement and contribution to the humanitarian arena internationally." The ARS Inc. has been an active NGO at the United Nations for many years, having achieved been recognized as a non-governmental organization nearly 30 years ago. The ARS, Inc. is a member of UN DPI and has roster status with the UN Economic and Social Council. The ARS is also actively involved in various important UN committees, including the NGO committee on UNICEF, the NGO Committee on HIV/AIDS, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women and WANGO. The 59th Annual DPI/NGO conference addressed a number of pressing issues related to human’security and sustainable economic development. This year, once again, the ARS Inc. was represented at the conference, engaging in the important issues faced by civil society and establishing contacts with other NGOs so important to advancing the ARS’s voice as an important UN NGO participant. The ARS, Inc. was established in 1910 and is a non-profit organization with 18,000 members in 23 countries around the world. For more information about the ARS, Inc. visit www.ars1910.org or call (617) 926-5892.

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