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Sri Lankan to represent Claretians at United Nations


HONG KONG (SE): Father Rohan Dominic, the former regional superior of the Claretian Missionaries in Sri Lanka, is the new head the Claretian Missionaries delegation to the United Nations (UN).
Father Dominic took charge of the office on April 11 this year. The Claretians have been associating with the UN since 2009 and the Claretian Team is recognised as an associate non-government organisation by the UN Department of Public Information.
Responding to the assignment, Father Dominic explained the areas of action for the Claretians at the UN as being human rights, rights of indigenous peoples and the rights of migrants—and generally siding with the poor in their struggles for human development.
The Claretians do not believe that human rights are can be considered solely as political and civil rights, but must also embrace economic, social and cultural rights, since some nations have the appearance of a political democracy, but at the same time, repress their own people.
Father Dominic says that the mission to the UN appears to be a staggering enterprise. The work is so broad, encompassing the whole range of peace and justice issues.
The Claretian UN team, in focussing primarily on human rights, has added the concept of peoples’ rights. This refers to the political, economic, cultural and social rights as related to indigenous, minority or migrant peoples.
From the experience of ministry to the migrants and the refugees, the worldwide society knows how they aspire to self-determination and respect for their cultures, yet too often suffer great criminal neglect and oppression—the theft of their lands, the destruction of their cultural heritage, enslavement for hard labour, religious or ethnic discrimination among other things.
Much of the actual work over the next few years for the Claretian team will be familiarising itself and networking with the other religious communities at the UN (Religious at the United Nations—RUN).
Father Dominic reports that the purpose of joining forces “has groped to influence the world body’s policies. I believe that the UN must work together to unite the tragedies and successes of the nations of the world. Here we can find a new answer to Jesus’ question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’”
Like most enterprises at this stage, the Claretian team is taking its first steps.
It envisions, as expertise and resources develop, to expand the Claretian presence at other UN sites, to facilitate involvement in regional and special issues, through organisations like the UN Office in Nairobi and UN Environment Programme in Nairobi for Africa, UNESCO and UNICEF in Paris, the International Labour Organisation and UNHRC in Geneva.
To this end the team hopes to form an advisory group that would bring its experience and expertise to providing advice and direction, as well as channelling urgent issues to the team’s attention.
Also the Claretians would be recruited to represent the congregation at regional and international meetings. A highly ambitious goal!
Hailing from Sri Lanka, Father Dominic also hopes to draw world attention to the problems facing Sri Lanka: the pacification of the country, the eradication of poverty, the rights of women and children, trafficking of human beings, problems of the missing persons and the displaced, the environment and health issues.


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