Category Archives: United Nations

Human Rights Day, Seventy Years On

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This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The Declaration, and the commitment of UN Member States to affirm and implement its principles, has resulted in the dignity of people uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid in the treaty regime built upon the Declaration. It is both an aspirational, visionary document and a set of standards that permeates international law.

The Declaration articulates a vision that has been built upon and used to extend rights and protect people around the globe. In a world where exploitation and violation are so strong, we can be grateful for the many ways in which the Declaration has had an impact. Its successes are many.

At the same time, violations of international law and human dignity are perpetrated in many countries. In a report released on Friday, a team of experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council noted that:

Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.

The report expressed concern that an “upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration” is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

UN News notes that :In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”.

One way to do that is to  choose a place in the world where human rights are abused (including in the United States of America) and become informed. Take one action today that affirms and celebrates the worth and dignity and rights of others.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Death Penalty, Human Rights, United Nations

Purple flowers – United Nations 1

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22 August 2016
United Nations General Assembly Building
New York, New York 

The wreath was placed on 19 August 2016 in honor of those killed in 2003 bombing of the Canal Hotel Bombing in Baghdad, Iraq that targeted the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.

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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 22 August 2016, part 1

Inspired by an idea for a present, the Until We Meet Again Tour made a quick trip to the United Nations gift shop, pausing to check out the view along the way.

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Filed under New York, Photo, United Nations

The Until We Meet Again Tour – 20 August 2016

UN Ministry New LogoThe Until We Meet Again Tour for today saw most of my time spent at the Shire packing, cleaning, and walking packages to the U.S. Post Office. The tour included finishing the appraisal for the final Princeton Theological Seminary field education student who served at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

He was the 36th.

36 field education students, volunteers, and volunteer interns who worked at the ministry from 2011 through this summer when I left.

36.

36 unique individuals.

Each with gifts and skills; each with challenges; each with faith and grace.

Each served Jesus Christ.

Each touched my life.

Each is remembered.

To each, I say thanks.

36.

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

The Until We Meet Again Tour – 7 August 2016, part 3

The Until We Meet Again Tour took a walk through Central Park and then rode the tram to Roosevelt Island. There it visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park (the photos from the park did not turn out well, but others did).

There were great views of the United Nations complex. In the background, one can see the Church Center for the United Nations.

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See you along the Trail.

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Move the stone

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations hosted a seminar for a group from the University of Baltimore Law School. One of the speakers was Shulamith Koenig no relation although interestingly her husband’s family and my father’s family both appear to have lived in what is now Austria and at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, founding president of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning. In her presentation, Shulamith said:

IMG_1791I walk down the street and
fall over a stone.
Everyone picks me up.
No one moves the stone.
By all means pick me up.
But someone
please move the stone.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Photo, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

Choose welcome

Here’s a piece written by Ryan Smith, my colleague at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations about responding to the call of the Rev. Gradye Parsons to “chose welcome” in relation to refugees. 

Our Stated Clerk, the Reverend Gradye Parsons invited Presbyterians to take a selfie with a banner saying “We Choose Welcome,” responding to fear of Syrian refugees. This week, my colleagues at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville joined together in the chapel to choose welcome themselves.

As I sat in my office in New York, across the street from the United Nations, I thought about welcome. I thought, as Rev. Parsons reminded us of the innkeeper not welcoming Mary and Joseph. I thought about our recognition of World AIDS Day and was reminded that it wasn’t until 2009 that HIV/AIDS status was no longer something that could block entry or green card status here in the United States.

I watch the flags float in front of the United Nations and am reminded that the UN, an intergovernmental body’s own Charter begins with “We the peoples…”

I am reminded that we are all “we the peoples.” No matter where you are born, where you live, what faith you practice, who you love, what race you are, or so much more. We the peoples are determined (as the United Nations Charter reminds us) “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…” “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours…”

So we choose welcome!

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations joins others in the faith community in advocating justice and peace within the United Nations system, including with governments from across the globe. The United Nations Charter sets the goal to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetimes has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”

While we have not seen a third World War, the succeeding generations of the authors of the United Nations Charter have seen war, conflict, strife. We know that right now, the UN estimates that more than 60 million people are displaced by violence and conflict. Presbyterians join ecumenical, interfaith and secular partners in advocating here at the United Nations, the one global roundtable.

A refugee himself, John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion said, “We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.” We should love and embrace all, no matter who they are or where they are from.

In this Advent season of anticipation and hope, I am thankful to be part of a community who today, across the street from the United Nations, joined Presbyterians in affirming “We Choose Welcome!”

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