Dr Michael Thio, president general of the International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul. He is a Singaporean.Dr Michael Thio, president general of the International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul. He is a Singaporean.The International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP) is now an NGO member of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council.

The society gained its Special Consultative Status – with no voting rights – in ECOSOC in late January, SSVP’S president general Michael Thio told CatholicNews.

ECOSOC makes policy recommendations on economic, social and environmental challenges faced by academics, business people and NGOs.

In a letter to all Vincentians, Dr Thio, a Singaporean, said the special status provides NGOs with access to ECOSOC and many other subsidiary bodies, as well as to UN human rights mechanisms.

The special status also allows NGOs to attend UN conferences as well as events organised by the President of the General Assembly.

The process to gain admission started in 2010, Dr Thio told CatholicNews.

SSVP’s entry into ECOSOC unites it with its three other Vincentian branches who had previously been admitted as NGO members – the (Vincentian Fathers) Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity and Association of International Charities.

SSVP’s entry will help “the Vincentian family speak in one united voice and add weight to its presence in the UN”, said Dr Thio.

Through conferences, forums and submission of working papers to the UN, SSVP hopes to alleviate the plight of the poor and marginalised with UN’s poverty programmes and initiatives, Dr Thio explained.

SSVP also hopes to expand its reach to include human rights, social justice, discrimination against women, famine, health care and fair employment issues, Dr Thio said.

The special status will also help SSVP raise funds for the poor, he added.

By Martin See
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