News Release

Bishop Caussé Gives Keynote Address at UN Conference in Geneva

Global leaders discuss role of education in displaced populations

“As a person of faith, I believe that all of us living on this beautiful planet share a sacred responsibility to care for all of God’s children and to reach out to others in need, whoever they are and wherever they may be,” said Bishop Gérald Caussé, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Geneva as he delivered a keynote address at a United Nations conference. Nearly 75 people attended the meeting, including diplomats from around the world.

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The event, sponsored by Latter-day Saint Charities, addressed the role of education in displaced populations. Bishop Caussé, who oversees the Church’s welfare and humanitarian programs, was joined in Geneva by Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, one of the largest women’s organizations in the world. 

“I'm happy to be representing the 7 million Relief Society sisters in this kind of a setting,” said Sister Eubank. “This is the first time we've ever sponsored a side event here at the United Nations in Geneva. We're excited to begin, but there's much more to do in the future.”

Bishop Caussé cited a UNHCR report that shows only 61% of refugee children attend primary school, compared to 92% of children globally. As refugee children get older, the gap grows.

“A generation with diminished access to education is a generation with diminished employment opportunities, diminished capacity to provide for themselves and their families, diminished ability to contribute to their communities and a diminished hope for the future,” he said.

The global humanitarian leaders say education is fundamental as displaced people try to rebuild their lives and integrate into new societies.

Bishop Caussé continued, “If we want to support the well-being of host populations, reduce extremism and tensions, and invest in future economic growth — we must work differently and in partnership to achieve our goal of a world where education is accessible to all individuals regardless of their status.”

Other main speakers included representatives of the African Union and International Rescue Committee.

In addition, the speakers said faith-based organizations play a vital role in their partnership with civil society and government organizations in helping those who are forced to leave their homes.

The presiding bishop of the global faith said caring for the poor and needy is one of the core missions of the Church.

“Heroic work under difficult circumstances has already been done to help displaced individuals around the world, but much more needs to be done,” concluded Bishop Caussé.


The Church of Jesus Christ partners with other humanitarian organizations and community members of other faiths in its global efforts to care for those in need.

Sister Eubank led a panel discussion with leaders from UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“There's much greater help when we work and partner together,” she said. “The issue of education for displaced children is important and we need each other.”

“The United Nations is giving added attention to the role of religious-based organizations,” said Ibrahim Salama of the OHCHR. “What you're doing on the ground at the very local level, in hundreds of locations across the globe, is essentially human rights work in the field.”

“The needs remain huge and so that partnership is just becoming more and more important,” emphasized Jennifer Poidatz, vice president for humanitarian response at Catholic Relief Services. “We need to respond faster in terms of ensuring access to education. We often wait too long. Children end up being out of school for [a] certain period of time, and then they have to catch up.”

David Evans, chief of global philanthropy for UNICEF, appreciates his organization’s partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities. “I think part of it is that we understand the DNA of the church itself. … The people of the Church have … an understanding of what it is to be displaced themselves. … The empathy, the understanding … that they can reach out to people in need is truly awesome and inspiring for us.”

Oscar and Carol McConkie have been serving as representatives of Latter-day Saint Charities at the U.N. in Geneva for the past five months.

“One of the most important things we can do is to build relationships,” said Sister McConkie. “The relationships that we have been working on building have been with the ambassadors and permanent representatives of the nations of the world.”

“We’ve visited 70 different country missions, which has been an amazing experience for us to meet with the men and women who represent their governments that are here in Geneva, trying to bring stability in human rights and human dignity,” added Elder McConkie.

This was Sister Eubank’s second visit to Geneva this year. She discussed the protection of refugees and religious minorities at a U.N. summit in April.

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