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UN NGO Committee Awards Dignitaries for Service Reflecting UN Spirit


New York, USA – The NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-NY  recognized four outstanding individuals for their service to humanity at an awards ceremony on October 23, 2023. The annual Spirit of the UN Awards, held at UN headquarters in New York, celebrated the Foundation Day of the United Nations and its founding vision and spirit.


CSVGC-NY is a committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). Representing CoNGO as co-sponsor was its president, Mr. Levi Bautista. The Universal Peace Federation was one of the NGO co-sponsors of the event.


The conference room, reserved by support of UN Ambassador Rhonda King from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was decorated with multi-colored roses and banners. The venue was beautifully transformed with welcoming flute music by Ms. Junia Flavia d’Affonseca, creating an uplifting atmosphere that inspired extraordinary friendliness among the guests.

The moderator, Ms. Rosleny Ubiñas, secretary of CSVGC-NY and representative of the Baha’i International Community, opened the program with words of welcome and the traditional moment of silence.  

Mr. Danilo Parmegiani, chair of CSVGC-NY and representative of the Legion of Good Will, reviewed the history of the ceremony and shared words of gratitude. He introduced the Spirit of the UN Awards and the honorees, explaining that they were chosen for their exemplary work and the spiritual life principles they model in support of their mission at the United Nations. One awardee was selected from each of four categories: the UN diplomatic corps, the UN Secretariat, NGOs and youth leaders.

In the diplomat category, Amb. Neville Gertze of the Republic of Namibia was recognized for his support of humanitarian causes. Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former UN emissary for the Culture of Peace, introduced Amb. Gertze and presented the award. Amb. Gertze emphasized in his remarks that in his Global Village project, children are raised as one global family.


In the UN Secretariat category, Ms. Laura E. Flores of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations was awarded for her career of service. Amb. Rhonda King introduced Ms. Flores and presented the award. Ms. Flores then shared her passion to serve the global community through her work for human rights, security and sustainable development.


Michelle DellaFave, singer, music composer and actress, then raised the already lively energy in the room with her melodious voice as she sang “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

The award in the NGO Category was given to Ms. Sivan Yaari, founder and CEO of Innovation Africa. Amb. Isaiah Chabala, former UN ambassador of Zambia, introduced Ms. Yaari and spoke about her impressive service through Innovation for Africa, which has assisted 4 million impoverished young people in Africa.  Ms. Yaari resides in Israel and could not be present due to the current extreme circumstances there. However, Amb. Chabala led a moment of silence for the victims of violence, and announced a future presentation of her award.

The youth leader award went to Mr. Steve Chiu, representative of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation at the United Nations. Ms. Hawa Diallo, chief of the Civil Society UN Department of Global Communications, introduced and presented the award. Mr. Chiu then shared about his passion and work for the Sustainable Development Goals in his community and beyond.

Ms. Nina Meyerhof, CSVGC-NY council member and NGO representative of Children of the Earth, gave a congratulatory message for the 78th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. This was followed by a celebratory video, with students from three schools, facilitated by the Legion of Goodwill in Brazil, singing “Happy Birthday, United Nations” in Portuguese, Spanish and English, and cutting a cake. It was an added highlight to the warmth and joy of the occasion.  

BK Sabita Geer, vice chair of  CSVGC-NY and representative of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, shared her reflections on the meaning and value of the UN spirit. Michelle DellaFave then sang “We Can Be Kind,” lighting a virtual candle in the heart of each participant.

Finally, Keiko White, treasurer of CSVGC-NY and UPF representative, was joined by volunteers to present each participant with a rose and a bookmark, inscribed with inspirational words by the second UN secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjold. This was accompanied by a serene flute melody by Junia Flavia d’Affonseca.

This memorable afternoon was concluded with closing remarks by Ms. Rosleny Ubiñas. It was an event that touched hearts and transformed lives.

By Genie Kagawa, Chair Emeritus (UPF), CSVGC-NY Executive Council
October 23, 2023


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