Date: Thursday, 15 February
Time: 3 - 4:30 p.m.
Location: Conference Room 3, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Department of Public Information
Jeff Brez is Chief of NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events in the Department of Public Information. In this capacity he oversees relations with Non-Governmental Organizations, the Messengers of Peace Programme, the Creative Community Outreach Initiative (partnerships with television and film) and Special Events. His work in international humanitarian aid and development assistance has spanned more than a decade and covered a range of issues including anti-corruption, education and public health.
Chair, NGO/DPI Executive Committee
Bruce Knotts is co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, a member of the NGO UN Security Council Working Group, serves on the Board of the NGO UN Committee on Sustainable Development and he chairs the NGO/DPI Executive Committee which represents 1,400 DPI affiliated NGOs at the UN. He founded faith-based advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights at the United Nations and continues to advocate for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and for sustainable development in moral terms of faith and values.
Baha'i International Community’s UN Office in New York
Saphira Rameshfar is a Representative of the Baha'i International Community’s UN Office in New York. Saphira currently serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in New York, as Secretary of the Working Group on Girls to the UN and on the DPI NGO Youth Steering Committee to the United Nations Department of Public of Information. In 2016, Saphira was the Cochair of the Conference Planning Youth Sub-committee to the 66th UN DPI/NGO Conference in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea.
Shamina de Gonzaga
Executive Director, World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN)
Shamina de Gonzaga is the Executive Director of World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), Editor-in-Chief of Centerpoint Now; and an independent consultant for academic and cultural institutions internationally. She presently serves as a coFacilitator for North America in the global civil society network, Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD). She was Chairperson of the 61st Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNESCO, Paris).
On 15 February, 2018 DPI NGO Relations hosted a town hall to discuss past conferences and to give NGOs an opportunity to provide feedback and thoughts regarding the next conference. Panelists at the town hall included the Chief of NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Jeff Brez and the Chair of the NGO DPI Executive Committee, Bruce Knotts. The panel also featured two women who have helped in the planning process of past conferences. These women were Saphira Rameshfar who was the Co-chair of the Conference Planning Youth Sub-committee at the 66th Conference and Shamina de Gonzaga who was the chair of the 61st conference.
The panelists briefly discussed reflections from past conferences and then opened the floor to the audience and allowed them to ask questions and provide feedback. Some of the main themes that came up were allowing more time to plan the conference, incorporating online participation and diversifying the location of the conference. Some of the audience members advocated for Africa as a conference location and the panelists encouraged NGOs to work with their governments to make such international locations a possibility for future locations.
NGOs also pitched potential topics for the conference which included technology, women and human rights. The majority of the audience advocated for an increased role of youth in both the planning process and the conference itself.
Overall, the town hall allowed for a variety of people to share their opinions and it led to a positive dialogue between panelists and NGOs. This feedback will be taken into account during the conference planning process and we are asking people to please take our survey which will provide us with greater insight into how to structure the next conference.