Servas at the United Nations

Servas representation at United Nations

Servas International (SI) has since 1973 consultative status as an international non governmental organisation, iNGO, with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations. The consultative status makes it possible for SI to be active at the premises of the United Nations in New York City in USA, Geneva in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria.
This is the entire group of Servas International representatives with the United Nations:
New York City : Jeanne Devine, Fanny Bello, Gopal Rajan, Brita Schmitz and Alison Telsey.
Geneva : Daniela Doenges, Lorette Dubout, Martin Henner, René Steimer, Mauro Pellegrino and Danielle Serres.
Vienna : Angelika Hofmann, Benjamin Zucali and Mauro Pellegrino.
You find individual presentations of the representatives on the Servas website here.

SI at UN in Geneva

Danielle SERRES, Chief Administrative Officer/ Servas International UN coordinator
While I was Servas France National Peace Secretary, I was asked by then SI President Gary Sealey to go and represent Servas at the UN DPI/NGO Conference in Bonn, Germany, in September 2011. That was my first experience at the UN. As a member of various peace movements, and working closely with human rights organizations, I was most interested in developing the role of Servas as a recognized NGO with the UN. Notably in Geneva, the Human Rights Council is a forum for many NGOs to make their voice heard and to network.
After volunteering as SI Peace Secretary for seven years, I am happy to continue as SI UN Coordinator, focusing on Servas representation as an NGO committed to a more peaceful world, supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Danielle Serres, Servas International UN Coordinator and representative in Geneva

Daniela Dönges
Daniela, born 1971 in Germany, has been living in France since 2001. In 2014 she became member of SERVAS France and has served as main representative of SERVAS International to the United Nations in Geneva for several years. In this function she was responsible for the accreditations, the submission of written and oral statements, as well as the reservation of rooms and preparation for side-events. She has been supporting and hosting SERVAS trainees and other SERVAS members who wanted to attend sessions of the HRC. Since May 2018 Daniela is living and working in Bethlehem as developing aid worker for the German Civil Peace Service (CPS), but remains committed to the work at the UN and will regularly come back to Geneva to attend sessions of the UNHRC.


Photo caption: Daniela Dönges, Servas International Representative at the UN in Geneva

 

René Steimer
I have been a member of Servas Switzerland for 15  years. During that time I met Servas members in North and South America, in Europe, in China, Japan and Cambodia.
I am an economist and I work for small businesses and NGOs. For many years I have been engaged as a volunteer with NGOs which are trying to better the living conditions of countries on their ways to development. As a Servas representative to the UN in Geneva, I will focus on the “Substainable Development Goals” of the UN.

 René Steimer, Switzerland, Servas International Representative at the UNOG.

 

Mauro Pellegrino
Servas member since... the last century. At the present is serving as National membership secretary of Servas Italy, with a special attention to every international activity of our association. As a sociologist, the core and research issues have always been: NPO/Third Sector Organizations, Social movements and Human Rights.

 Mauro Pellegrino, Servas International Representative at the UN in Geneva and in Vienna

 

Martin Henner
Martin is a former co-chair of the US Servas Complaint Resolution Committee.
He attended the 2015 SI Triennial Conference in New Zealand, and was elected in 2015 to a 3 year term on the SI Conflict Resolution Committee.
He is a lawyer, and works as an arbitrator and mediator.
He has been active with human rights, civil liberties and peace organizations.

Martin Henner, from Eugene, Oregon, USA, Servas International Representative at the UN in Geneva

 

Lorette DUBOUT
I live in Annecy, near beautifull lakes and mountains.
Now I am retired, but I worked for a long time as a social worker in private and public organizations.
I think we are a peace builder when we encourage meeting, dialogue, and understanding between people.
I like to be a go-between for that purpose. Living near Geneva, I get a permanent accreditation. I enjoy favoring Servas members presence at the United Nations, especially for the Humans Rights Council sessions.
What I seek is always for human to be an "added value".

Lorette DUBOUT from SERVAS FRANCE is a Servas International Representative at the UNOG
 

SI at UN in New York City

Jeanne Devine
I am a retired sociologist and community activist involved in environmental and human rights issues and am fortunate to have the opportunity to promote peace through Servas and the UN.  When I visit my New York family, it is inspiring to attend UN sessions dealing with poverty, sustainability, women’s equality, housing, and to network with people from countries around the world. I first participated in UN civil society discussions in 2014 on implementation and measurement of SDGs.  My background of organizing grassroots educational programs for immigrant families and life experiences of travel from Canada to Argentina, Thailand, Nepal, S. Africa, New Zealand make me appreciate the rich diversity of humanity.   Now at 77, I remain committed to our global potential for peace, social justice, and an environmentally sustainable world. 

Jeanne Devine, Arizona, US Servas, Main Representative for Servas International at the UN in New York.
 

GOPAL K RAJAN 

A host and traveler since 1989 at Washington DC, Paris and New York and currently a Servas interviewer in New York. I am an Indian by birth, American by nationality and a 'live and let live' being by choice. For over 25 years, I worked as an Information Consultant across 5 countries.

I have a serious interest in Climate Change, Inequality and Health whose mitigation are key objectives for the UN and specifically focused in ECOSOC goals for 2030.

 
GOPAL K RAJAN Servas Representative to the UN in NYC
 
 
Fanny Bello
Economist, graduated in the Central University of Venezuela, and Master of Science of the New Mexico State University in the United States of America.
Outstanding professional career in the private and governamental sectors in Venezuela, became Minister of Agriculture during the democratic period.
Regarding Servas, she has been developing important works, the most relevant of them National Secretary for Servas Venezuela for over ten years, and Servas International Representative at the United Nations in New York City, for more than three years.
 
Fanny Bello, Servas International Reresentative at the UN in New York City, USA.

 

Brita SCHMITZ
Growing up in Germany, my family has been a Servas host and traveler as long as I can remember. After moving to the United States my husband and I continued the tradition. We and our three kids love to travel and believe that meeting other people is vital to really get to know another country. I am a high school /college German teacher  and I am very interested in education, women's rights and the sustainability of the UN goals. 

As a new Servas Representative to the UN in NYC this year, I am much looking forward to working with my fellow Servas members!

Brita SCHMITZ, Servas International representative at the UN in New York City, USA

 

Alison TELSEY

I have been a SERVAS traveler and host since the early 1980's. I was introduced to the organization when I decided to take a year off from work and studies to travel the world. For over 40 years I have lived in New York City. I am a Psychologist and have worked in education both nationally and internationally, as a professional staff developer, to maximize opportunities for students with disabilities. Presently I am retired and am delighted to have the opportunity to serve as a UN reresentative for SERVAS. I am particularly passionate about education for all children and preserving the environment for future generations. I believe in the sustainable goals of the UN and look forward to networking with people, advocating for SERVAS and putting forth energy to preserve the beauty of our planet.

Alison TELSEY, SI UN representative in NYC

 

 

SI at UN in Vienna

Angelika HOFFMAN
I am a sociologist, and studied politics at University in Vienna. I worked on topics of Countries of the South and on Living and Working conditions in Austria, especially women.
I am a long-time member of Servas and had the feeling of getting closer to UN-work when I visited the UN-Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1996.
At the UN in Vienna, almost all NGOs work together in thematic Committees: Peace, Women, Sustainable development, Ageing, Drugs, etc.
Servas International is involved mainly in Peace, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee, also in the Women’s NGO Committee, which takes part in the yearly CSW (Commission of the Status of Women) in NY, in form of statements and by visiting it.
The UN Office for Disarmement Affaires (UNODA), made a video including Servas for their internal workshops on Peace Education for Women, who then might be at Peace-negotiations as demanded in Resolution 1325.
Topics at regular side events we might attend are mainly around women’s sexual exploitation, trafficking in general, environmental crime, cyber crimes, sustainable development, etc.
At UN-Vienna, Servas and other NGOs continue our work for a better future.
 
Angelika Hofmann, SI Main Representative at the UN in Vienna
 
 

Benjamin ZUCALI
I was born in 1990 as the youngest of five children and so I always liked to have people around. Furthermore, my family has been involved in Servas longer than I live, so we often had people from many foreign countries at our house, what I enjoyed. Ever since I loved to travel. In my younger years with my parents and since my apprenticeship, as a chemical worker, on my own. My interest in other cultures led me to make my bachelor degree in International Development in Vienna. My passion for the environment is now expressed by my Master-degree in Social Ecology, where I’m currently writing my thesis. Both studies and my personal interests fit perfectly to the UN Committees on Peace and Sustainable Development, that’s why I enjoy to be part of them, as a Servas International Representative at the UN in Vienna.
 

Benjamin Zucali, SI representative at UN Vienna

 

 

Servas International is an international, non-governmental, multicultural peace association run by volunteers in over 100 countries. Founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement, Servas International is a non-profit organization working (NGO) to build understanding, tolerance and world peace, and in 1973 was granted consultative status at ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) at the United Nations.

ECOSOC is the only main UN body with a formal framework for NGO participation. NGOs may contribute to a number of activities, including circulating information, awareness raising, development education, policy advocacy, joint projects, and in the contribution of services and technical expertise.

Our representatives in New York City, Vienna and Geneva attend sessions, help Servas members willing to visit UN venues, give out information about United Nations principles and activities, co-sign joint NGOs statements, and at times are able to deliver written or oral declaration on behalf of Servas.

 

Servas Peace Calendar 2019  “By promoting a culture of peace, Servas members can contribute to make the world a better place!”

SERVAS REPRESENTATIVES AT THE UN IN NYC

“Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”

Servas Representatives at the UN met in NYC on April 27 2018, after several of us were able to attend the high-level meeting on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”, held at the UN on April 24-25. More information: link

During the presentations which identified sustainable peace as a key priority, speakers underscored the value of prevention and mediation, calling for addressing the causes of conflict, rather than investing in « bullets and tanks ». Delegates of countries highlighted the need to tackle poverty and other causes of violence included in the Sustainable Development Goals.

It was agreed there should be a more people-centered approach, more inclusive and integrated, priority being attached to women and youth involvement. It was stressed that human rights are at the core of the efforts towards sustainable peace.

Education of course is a fundamental tool for peace that includes education for non-violence, for social inclusion and the rule of law. Civil society was recognized as having a critical role to play. « Everyone in society must have a strong feeling to a community in order for peace to prevail », said the delegate from Botswana.

In the face of rising intolerance and hate speech, Servas values of non-discrimination, solidarity and cooperation are more precious than ever.

Ahead of SICOGA 2018 to be held in October 2018 in Seoul, recent progress with dialogue on the Korean Peninsula opens hope for lasting peace.

By promoting a culture of peace, Servas members can contribute to make the world a better place!

Servas Representatives at the UN met in New York. From left to right, Sedef Piker, Radha Radhakrishna,
Jeanne Devine, Danielle Serres, Fanny Bello and Earlene Cruz. New York, April 27, 2018.


Servas International 2018 Peace Calendar

Lead by the Servas International Peace Secretary, the project is offering you the third issue of the Peace Calendar, focusing on core Servas values of peace and friendship.

As for the previous calendars, the Peace Calendar 2018 aims to focus on peace activities developed by Servas members around the world in 2017. It highlights key UN dates to inspire Servas members to take part in related peace activities in 2018, and in particular during International Servas Week around September 21 Peace Day.

In 2018, we will celebrate Servas 70th anniversary, since 1948 when first “Seeds of Servas” were planted by Bob Luitweiler.  

This year we thank the contribution of the following Servas countries : Brazil, France, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Rwanda, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. You are invited to send your contributions for next year at peacesecretary@servas.org  

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” – Warsan Shire.

Migration is a form of border crossing, like travelling. However, travelling is seen as a factor of peace promotion, whereas migration is sometimes seen as a challenge for peace. The latest report on migration from the United Nations indicates that there are currently 232 million of migrants worldwide. These migratory flows are due to various reasons, including political, economic, and environmental ones. Numerous challenges arise from the migrant crisis. First, their lives are at risk. In Europe, many migrants arrive by sea, and thousands of them die every year in the Mediterranean. It is urgent to end this grave humanitarian situation. However, the lack of political will hinders the implementation of effective responses. This is why international cooperation is crucial. 

On September 20th, Danielle Serres (Servas International Peace Secretary) and Daniela Dönges, (SI Representative in Geneva) organized a side event on the theme of Migration at the UNOG, where we asked ourselves and the attendees: “To what extent does migration threaten peace, and what solutions exist to respond to the crisis? “.

Several Servas members as well as various NGOs members attending the panel expressed concerns and shared their experiences. The event was moderated by Daniela Dönges. The main speakers were Danielle Serres, Gérard Corpataux (Emmaüs International), Jeanne Devine (Servas US) and Magnus Adams (Servas Germany).

Danielle presented the opening remarks, explaining Servas’ role with regards to the migration issues and presenting volunteer actions of Servas members across the globe. Danielle recalled that in the rise of racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, Servas has submitted several written and oral statements at the Human Rights Council. She reiterated that racism and anti-migrant sentiments are in dire opposition with our goal to facilitate dialogue between nations and promote international understanding. Danielle also mentioned the initiative of Addie Niesthoven, a Servas Netherlands member teaching women refugees how to ride a bicycle. Being able to ride a bicycle increases their self-esteem, and their new cycling skills give them a feeling of independence and freedom in moving around the city.

Gérard presented the initiatives of Emmaüs regarding the issues of migration. He recalled that crucial actions are needed to denounce the tragedies, raise awareness of public opinion, and demand the implementation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Gérard also explained that the crossing of the Gibraltar Strait by swimming and kayaking was organized in memory of the migrants who have died in the Mediterranean Sea.

Jeanne is a community activist and Servas International Representative to the UN in New-York. Her presentation focused on the issue of the undocumented in the US and the DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Jeanne talked about her own experience as a US citizen and witness of the fragile and uncertain future of « Dreamers ». She gave the example of a Mexican family facing the hard reality of US current government policy. “Don’t Destroy Dreamers’ Dreams” Jeanne claims. 

Magnus is a member of Servas Germany and Servas International Representative to the UNOG who addressed the legal aspects of the crisis, with a focus on the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and stateless persons (1951) and its Protocol (1967). Addressing the lack of universal coverage, Magnus presented the idea of a Universal Convention for Refugees, recalling that only a common system of refugee protection can be a guaranty for fully and respectful treatment.

In the exchanges which followed, several problems and questions were raised and various examples of people’s efforts were presented.

From left to right: Manon Yzermans (Servas intern), Magnus Adams, Jeanne Devine, Daniela Dönges, Danielle Serres, Gérard Corpataux (Geneva, Palais des Nations, September 20th, 2017).

 

Servas International 2017 Peace Calendar

This calendar presents activities for peace implemented by Servas members around the world in 2016. It also recalls important dates in the United Nations calendar with the aim to inspire Servas members to engage in peace activities in 2017. Lead by the Servas International Peace Secretary, the project is managed by a Servas Brazilian team. This year we thank the contribution of the following Servas countries: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Guatemala, Israel, Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and the USA. You are invited to send your contributions for next year at peacesecretary@servas.org  

 

‘Travel peacefully and walk lightly on the earth’

In a world facing so many challenges, and where some are more eager to build walls than bridges, and close their borders to the vulnerable, civil society has a key role to play.

As a hosts and travellers network, Servas has the potential to contribute to the protection of the environment and to raise awareness of environmental issues. We promote an ethical way of travelling, compatible with sustainable development. 

Of course in Servas we prefer to call ourselves 'travelers' instead of ‘tourists’, as our main goal is not to head off to tourist sites, but to integrate into our hosts' communities, and share their daily life.

On March 8, Danielle Serres (Servas International Peace Secretary) and Daniela Donges, (SI Representative in Geneva ) organized a side event on the theme at the UNOG, where we asked ourselves and the attendees: “How can we contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Several Servas members as well as various NGOs members attending the panel expressed tourism concerns and shared their experiences as travellers. The main speakers were :

Daniela Donges (Servas France) who spoke of a recent trip to Pakistan and her experiences with a Pakistani family.

Gérard Corpataux (Servas Switzerland), Emmaüs organizer, who talked about the efforts to organize Emmaüs aid in non-European countries.

Margaret Seelig (Servas UK) who discussed the differences between « travellers » and « tourists ».

In the exchanges which followed several problems and questions were raised and various examples of peoples's efforts were presented. One interesting problem was the disappearance of agricultural lands in different countries. For example Hawaï has a population of 1 Million people and 9 Million tourists every year, and farm land is bought immediately for hotel building.

Background to the meeting

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, recognizing “the importance of international tourism […] in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”.

In conclusion to the meeting, we recalled one of the decisions taken in October 2015 at Servas International General Assembly, including this wonderful statement:

"Travel peacefully and walk lightly on the earth"

From left to right: Daniela Dönges, Danielle Serres, Gérard Corpataux and Margaret Seelig.(Geneva, Palais des Nations, March 8, 2017).

 

Human Rights Council (HRC) 33rd Session, September 13 to 30, 2016

Servas International (SI) participated in the HRC 33rd session in Geneva. Representatives attended meetings of the HRC and relevant side events, actively engaging for our peace mission, particularly with regard to the elimination of all forms of racism and xenophobia. To this end SI had submitted a written statement on the topic The urgent need to implement the Durban Declaration and Program of Actions (DDPA), which is part of the official documentation of the UN and can be found under the title A/HRC/33/NGO/144

A special highlight was the possibility for our representatives to attend the 4th Edition of the Geneva Peace Talks, under the theme “Peace Happens!” at the occasion of the International Peace Day on September 21, highlighting that everyone can contribute to peace. Speakers coming from diverse backgrounds shared their personal experiences, stories and ideas to highlight that everyone can contribute to peace – be it at home or in a far-away conflict zone. The Peace Talks symbolically stand for a Geneva spirit to resolve conflict through dialogue and negotiation.

 


In the picture Daniela Doenges, Servas France member and SI Main Representative to the UNOG, Danielle Serres, Servas France member and SI Peace Secretary, and Margaret Seelig, former Servas Britain National Peace Secretary (from left to right).

 

Besides the sessions held in the HRC meeting room (famous Room XX) regarding countries Universal Periodic Review (UPR) where human rights situation are under scrutiny, there were as usual many side-events/panels organized by countries Permanent missions and/or NGOs, including Civicus, Human Rights Watch, ISMUN, FIDH, ect.

Some of the topics included Human Rights Defenders situation in African countries or in the Gulf region, the role of civil society, occupation and humanitarian law/human rights, racism and islamophobia. Regarding the latter Daniela Doenges was invited to hold a presentation during a panel titled “Montée de l’islamophobie politique – quels dangers”, during which she warned about the growing gap between cultures and stressed the urgent need of dialogue and encounter.

As an organization aiming to build peace through understanding among people, Servas International was able to make its voice heard on several occasions. We spread the word about Servas and met many interesting people along the way. Active participation in sessions of the Human Rights Council is a great way to have our message heard. Anybody interested in attending a session and/or supporting our team should write to Danielle Serres, peacesecretary@servas.org

A project is to organize a side-event/panel during next HRC Session in March 2017. It would be good to have a young Servas intern willing to learn more about the UN and human rights while helping for a few weeks to make it happen!

 

The 66th UN DPI/NGO CONFERENCE, Gyeongju, Republic of Korea

 

Each year we aim to have Servas representatives attending the annual UN DPI/NGO conference. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet with other international NGOs recognized by the UN. And of course to link with them and give visibility to Servas on the international scene.

In 2016, Servas Korea members  attend and represent Servas International.

 

Servas Korea members attending the 66th UN DPI/NGO International Conference, held in Asia for the first time! Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together !

 

World Environment Day June 5, 2016

World Environment Day celebrated on June 5 is an important UN day, as pointed out on our Servas International Peace Calendar 2016
Let’s take this opportunity to raise awareness among Servas community about the environment and protection of nature, and give more visibility to Servas as a Peace organization.  Indeed it is part of our philosophy as a global peace organization!

Please see document in English and in Spanish

Servas International at the Human Rights Council 31st Session

At the Human Rights Council 31st session, Servas International has submitted written statement , dealing with the refugee crisis. It takes into account the contribution of Servas members from different countries who went as volunteers at the end of 2015 and early 2016 in Greece and also at the Macedonian border. Servas volunteers from several countries have been on the ground in Lesbos (thanks to donations to purchase much needed items, from children winter gloves and toys to audio system in order to communicate with people within the camp, tables and boxes to sort out donations like clothing, sleeping bags, blankets…). They have been helping the many desperate people fleeing their countries in hope of a safe place to live with their families, many of whom have died along the dangerous journey, including children. Volunteers from Servas Greece, Servas Cyprus and Servas Georgia have stepped in, along with civil society organizations and hundreds of individual volunteers to help manage the influx of people arriving on the Greek Islands. As an organization working towards global lasting peace and understanding through host and traveler programs all over the world, we Servas members are deeply concerned about the human rights situation for those people taking the long, dangerous trail into Europe, as well as about the rising xenophobia, racism and divisions related to the crisis. Servas International will continue to stand strongly against racism and respond to the crisis by pursuing its peace mission of facilitating the coming together of hosts and travelers of any race, creed, sexual orientation, class/caste or nationality.

 
Servas International UN Representatives in Geneva on International Day for Women Rights, March 8 2016

Servas International 2016 Peace Calendar

The Peace Calendar aims to focus on peace activities developed by Servas members around the world and highlight key UN dates to inspire Servas members to take part in related peace activities in 2016. Lead by the Servas International Peace Secretary, the project is managed by a Servas Brazilian team.  Peace Calendar 2016

Servas International UN Involvement - Presentation at SICOGA 2015

At the Servas International Conference (SICOGA) held in New Zealand in October 2015, a team presentation highlighted some of the achievements by Servas volunteers at the United Nations. We believe Servas International involvement at the UN is crucial, as the UN, although perfectible, is the main organization the world has to provide peace and security and prevent war and global environmental degradation. SI UN Involvement presentation

 

UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva on September 25-26, 2014

The President of Servas International, Jonny Sågänger, participated at the UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva on September 25-26, 2014. You will find his contribution at Jonny Sågänger's contribution. See Chapter 59 for his speech.