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Franciscans International (FI) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with general Consultative Status at the United Nations. The organization operates under the sponsorship of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) and serves all members of the Franciscan family, as well as the global community by ''bringing spiritual, ethical, and Franciscan values to the United Nations and international organizations". The organization has headquarters in New York, Geneva, and Bangkok.

FI closely follows the tradition of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, attempting to put Franciscan ideals into practice at the international level. The organization is guided by the Saints' proclaimed concern for the poor, care of creation, and peacemaking.

Franciscans around the world run schools, hospitals, Justice and Peace offices, shelters, and specialise in many services for the poor. The programmes at FI bring grassroots Franciscans to the United Nations forums in New York and Geneva, influencing international human rights standards and bringing witness to human rights violations.

Franciscans International is supported by the freewill offerings of Franciscan communities and their partners. A large part of the organization`s funding comes from individuals who support Franciscan work for human rights, care for creation, and peacemaking. FI's advocacy programmes are designed in response to Franciscan needs worldwide.

Vision Statement

"We are men and women who are committed to the ideals of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. As St. Francis once addressed the social leaders of his time with the challenge of peace, so today we are called to engage policy makers and world leaders at the United Nations for the work of justice, peace, the care of creation, and the promotion of human rights."

History

1982 – Two Franciscans, a sister from the United States and a friar from Malta, suggest to their respective Justice and Peace Committees the possibilities of having a Franciscan presence at the United Nations.

1984-1988 – The idea of Franciscans at the UN grows into a common project for members of the Franciscan Family and an interfamilial Preparatory Committee is organized for this future ministry within the United Nations. The Committee prepares a Vision Statement, focusing on three areas of Franciscan work: peacemaking, concern for the poor, and care of creation. The Vision Statement is circulated among major superiors in Rome for their endorsement.

1989 – The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) officially recognizes Franciscans International as an NGO.

1990 – Franciscans International (FI) opens an office in New York and the Committee further develops FI statutes, an organizational structure and a plan for membership. back to top

1991 – The Preparatory Committee now serves as the Executive Committee for FI and it begins the process of application for consultative status (Category 1) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.

1995 – FI is approved for NGO Category 1 Status (later called General Consultative Status) with ECOSOC, allowing it to participate through oral interventions and written statements in the activities of ECOSOC. These include: UN World Conferences and their Preparatory Committees, General Assembly special sessions, the UN Commission and Sub-Commission on Human Rights and the committees that monitor states’ compliance with specific international treaties. This status gives FI the responsibility to serve as technical experts, advisors and consultants to governments and the UN Secretariat.

1996 – To clarify the structures, membership and fundraising of FI, the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) in Rome, including the Ministers General of Friar Minors, Capuchins, Conventuals, Third Order Regular and Secular Franciscan Order and the President of the Inter-Franciscan Conference Third Order Regular, appoints a Working Group to prepare a new organizational “Charter” for FI. back to top

1997 – FI, with Dominicans for Justice and Peace, opens an office at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to focus on the promotion and protection of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

1999 – The Conference of the Franciscan Family approves the new “FI Charter” and assumes its role as Sponsor. The CFF appoints thirteen men and women to the new FI Board of Directors.

2000 – The FI Board meets twice, in January and November, and it begins to align FI with its new “FI Charter."

2001 – The CFF writes a letter to the international Franciscan Family, asking them to participate in and to contribute to the support of FI.

2004 – In November, John Quigley, OFM is appointed Executive Director with Michael Joyce as Chief Financial Officer. The two offices in New York and Geneva are thus brought under a single management structure.

2005 – FI establishes an Africa Desk, working under the direction of Mike Perry, OFM with Yao Agbetse of Togo, to address issues of HIV and AIDS, peacemaking and conflict resolution.

A partnership with the Marist Brothers is established, and the First and Third Order Anglican Franciscans formally join the CFF as FI sponsors.

References

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