Global Actors, the Environment, and People Living on the Margins
From October 1-6, 2023, the International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace (IDCJP) held its annual meeting in Nairobi Kenya with the theme: Global Actors, the Environment, and People Living on the Margins. The meeting brought together regional promoters of the friars, delegates of the sisters, lay fraternities and the Dominican Youth Movement from the five continents, the General Promoter for Justice and Peace, fr. Aniedi Okure, OP and Dominican Sisters Conference representative at the United Nations sr. Durstyne Farnan.
In his letter to the Commission members, the Master of the Order, fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, urged members “to find effective ways on how to communicate to the entire Order the on-going Justice and Peace programs and projects from [the] respective regions.” This, the Master noted, “will help to affirm what is being done so that those responsible may be encouraged to continue their good work.”
Representatives of the Dominican Family in Kenya came and welcomed Commission members during the opening ceremony. Following the welcome and interaction with the local Dominican Family, the Commission welcomed nine new members with orientation to IDCJP by sr. Durstyne.
To set the grounds for the meeting, the General Promoter, fr. Aniedi, led a reflection on “some challenges of justice and peace in the present complex world and the role of the IDCJP.” He gave particular attention to the African continent, the place of our gathering. Commission members presented reports from the regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and Latin America. The reports shows active engagements in diverse projects of Commission members across the regions.
The third day was devoted to reflections on wars and conflicts, our interconnectedness and the need to see conflicts, exploitations of humans and the environment, not as isolated cases but as having global implications. In this context, the Dominican Family in Latin America presented material for the Month of Peace on the Amazon – December 2023.
The afternoon was devoted to a reflection on the major challenges of justice and peace in the different regions and the ways in which the Dominican Family can respond. A key point in this regard was the importance of networking and coalition building. While we serve as leading persons in the response, we make greater impact by bringing others who share the same values on board.
On the fourth day the Commission devoted to identifying its forthcoming commitments goals and work, followed by a report on the Mosaiko, a project for the promotion of human rights in Angola. The commission identified two key focus areas in the coming year; environmental and climate issues, and immigration. In addition, the Commission will gather information on Dominican Family Projects across the Dominican Family worldwide. The Commission needs the collaboration of the Dominican Family in this regard. It was noted that in some regions, members of the Commission have difficulties gathering information as communities do not readily respond to calls about documenting Dominican projects.
On the fifth day, the Commission participated in a working session at the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi dealing with environmental issues (United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP). Coincidentally, the discussions at UNEP highlighted the same issues the Commission reflected on, namely, nature solution, pollution, and climate induced migration, which prompted the General Promoter, while introducing the seventeen member delegation of the IDCJP, to extend gratitude to UNEP for their dedicated efforts in addressing the very same challenges that the IDCJP is committed to tackling.
After a visit to the Dominican parish of St. Catherine, the Commission held an evaluation session and concluded the meeting. This annual gathering provided a valuable opportunity to exchange knowledge about the commitment of the Order across its entities worldwide and gain insights into situations of injustice and suffering. Additionally, it highlighted the ongoing actions and projects underway by the Dominican Family to promote justice, peace and care for creation.
This year, the Month of Peace, dedicated to Amazonia with a focus on Puerto Maldonado Peru, will be an opportunity to promote moments of prayer, knowledge and solidarity with the Dominican Family in Amazonia, and also to promote Pope Francis’ call for an ecological conversion and commitment to integral ecology. A webinar to highlight the situation in Amazonia is scheduled for December 9, 2023. Details will be sent out later.