Category Archives: Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Let the circle begin

Intl Day Solidarity Palestinian PeopleToday is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The UN Calendar of Observances app says this about the day:

More than eight million Palestinian people live in territory occupied by Israel, in Israel, in neighbouring Arab States, and in regional refugee camps. International Day of Solidarity provides an opportunity to remind the international community that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people have not yet attained their inalienable rights as defined by the UN General Assembly, including the right to self-determination and national independence.

On the official page for the day, the UN provides this description:

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B ). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine(resolution 181 (II))

In resolution 60/37  of 1 December 2005, the Assembly requested the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November, to continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN.

The observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People also encouraged Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity.

In 2014, the Day, which is normally observed on 29 November, will be commemorated at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, 24 November.

I had the privilege to speak on behalf of the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the UN for the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We called for the UN and international community to increase their engagement and efforts to support Palestinians and Israelis in the search for just, sustainable peace.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke. He concluded:

On this International Day of Solidarity, I call on the parties to step back from the brink.  The mindless cycle of destruction must end.  The virtuous circle of peace must begin.

May the circle begin!

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Orange Your Neighbourhood – End Violence against Women and Girls Now


adapted from an email sent by UN Women’s Civil Society Section and originally published on Swords into Plowshares

November 25 is the International Day to End Violence against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign! As you may know, this year’s UN celebrations will take place under the theme “Orange Your Neighbourhood – End Violence against Women and Girls Now“. The initiative led by the Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign focuses on local actions towards ending violence against women and girls, while using orange as the uniting colour of all advocacy efforts.

As part of  the online campaign for the 16 Days, UN Women’s Civil Society invites everyone to join in the effort and orange their social media accounts. It’s quite simple – you can show your support and orange your Twitter and Facebook profile pictures by adding an orange Twibbon filter.

Could consider adding the Twibbon filter to your organization’s and/or personal profile picture any time between 25 November and 10 December to raise awareness on ending violence against women and girls. We can join the conversation on social media through the hashtags #orangeurhood and #16days, and are welcome to use any of the suggested messages and images available in UN Women’s social media package.

Learn more about the PC(USA)’s initiative to end violence against women and girls.

Presbyterians against Domestic Violence provides a number of liturgical and resources to address domestic violence.

Presbyterian Women offers suggestions for actions to end violence against women and girls year round.

See you along the Trail

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

Wars Leave Devastating Impact on Environment

Here is an article “Wars Leave Devastating Impact on Environment” co-written with Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

Check for more articles, videos and news.

November 6 is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Ancient words from Deuteronomy remind us of the relationship between conflict and the environment created by God.”If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)Conflict claims human lives, maims human bodies and scars human souls – combatant and non-combatant alike. Conflict also exacts a cost on God’s creation.The United Nations General Assembly echoed these words when it declared Nov. 6 the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, “From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” observes, “Environmental factors are rarely, if ever, the sole cause of violent conflict. Ethnicity, adverse economic conditions, low levels of international trade and conflict in neighboring countries are all significantly correlated as well.”

“The exploitation of natural resources and related environmental stresses can be implicated in all phases of the conflict cycle, from contributing to the outbreak and perpetuation of violence to undermining prospects for peace,” the report added.

War impacts the environment, particularly when parties in a conflict have deliberately targeted natural resources. For example:

  • During World War I, the British sabotaged Romania’s oilfields to deny them to the Central Powers.
  • From 1962 to 1971, the United States sprayed some 20 million gallons of herbicides, Agent Orange foremost among them, on rural areas of South Vietnam in an effort to deny cover and food to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.
  • As they retreated from Kuwait in 1991, Iraqi forces blew up oil wells and set fire to oilfields.

Conflict disrupts land use, water supply, air quality and ecosystems. Conflict creates refugees whose struggle for survival may lead to depletion of resources or other stresses on ecosystems. Environmental impacts may remain long after conflict ends.

People in Japan, the United States and various Pacific islands continue to suffer the effects of the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines reminds us that “some 60 countries around the world are contaminated by landmines and thousands of people continue living with this daily threat of losing their life or limb.”

In the past, conflicts occurred between nation states. Today, conflict more often takes place within a nation state, although it may involve people from beyond national borders.

The UNEP report said, “Civil wars such as those in Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have centered on ‘high value’ resources like timber, diamonds, gold, minerals and oil.”

The environment suffers as military exercises use fuel. The production of weapons consumes natural and financial resources that could have been used to promote human welfare and environmental protection.

International law offers one way to protect the environment in times of conflict.

However, the UNEP report concluded that “the existing international legal framework contains many provisions that either directly or indirectly protect the environment and govern the use of natural resources during armed conflict. In practice, however, these provisions have not always been effectively implemented or enforced.”

Strengthening and expanding international law in relation to environmental protection in conflict is crucial.

Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP from 1998 to 2006, called for “safeguards to protect the environment” in which “using the environment as a weapon” would be “denounced as an international crime against human-kind, against nature.”

Environmental remediation provides directions for responses after conflict.

Remediation may involve rapid responses, as occurred in extinguishing the fires and cleaning the spills in Kuwait.

It may involve long-term environmental sustainability plans such as reforestation and paying careful attention to environmental concerns in post-conflict situations.

International law may reduce the environmental impacts of conflict and preparations for conflict. Environmental remediation may help in a conflict’s aftermath.

Conflict prevention remains the most effective way to protect the environment. This includes demilitarization.

Diplomatic negotiation, people power, addressing poverty, strengthening human rights and the rule of law, building democratic institutions, controlling small arms, teaching nonviolence and other strategies may help prevent intrastate conflict.

Recognizing that the human family shares one planet and has no other place to live should inspire environmentalists to become peacemakers and peacemakers to become environmentalists.

Christians are called to environmental peacemaking work. God has made all that exists; God has made us.

All people are God’s children; all people are our brothers and sisters. The earth, and all that is therein, belong to God.

God entrusts this earth to us for a time, to exercise care on behalf of the created order, our sisters and brothers, generations as yet unborn, and God.

Addressing the environmental impact of conflict is a way we live our faith.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim is a visiting researcher at Georgetown University and the author of six books and numerous articles. Jamie Yen Tan provided research assistance on this project.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

It’s United Nations Day

It’s United Nations Day! Why not celebrate by learning more about the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN!

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

The Things that Make for Peace

Larissa Kwong Abazia, Vice-Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) visited the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, where I work, for a celebration of the International Day of Peace. Check out what she had to say about her experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

A Season of Peace

sop_logo_blueThe Presbyterian Peacemaking Program invites us to participate in A Season of Peace from September 7 through October 5. As well as supporting the Peace & Global Witness Offering, there are a number of ways to mark the season:

A Season of Peace is a four-week pilgrimage designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families, and individuals. Through daily peace reflections, family activities, Bible studies, youth activities, an exciting Intergenerational Peace Fair and our new PEACE CARDS for children and families, you will be invited to enhance and expand your focus on your calling as a peacemaker. Expect encouragement, challenge, inspiration, and education.

The themes for A Season of Peace are based on the Presbyterian resource The Biblical Witness to Peacemaking, a 365-day walk through the Bible focusing on peace and justice passages.

Path of Peace Daily Reflections

Subscribe to the daily “Path of Peace” reflections and prayers written by participants and leaders of the 2014 Mosaic of Peace Conference.   Subscribe here

Adult Bible Study – The Things That Make for Peace

The Things That Make for Peace is a five-week adult study for small or large groups to be used during A Season of Peace or any time of the year. It focuses on the inner and outer path to peace as foundational to faithful discipleship. Each session has a “dig deeper” section for study through the week.  Download the study here.

Peace Cards

This set of 30 reproducible cards can be used by children and their families and is suitable for mealtime or any time of the day for a brief time of reflecting about peace.  Each includes a question, action and prayer for the day.  Download the cards now.


Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

To – 13 June 2014

IMG_1795 (640x480)

1 February 2014
Sending text and photos
the church and world
Interfaith Dialogue between
Sikh Coalition
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Manhattan, New York


Leave a comment

Filed under New York, Photo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations