I ran across this on a United Methodist Church Website. I thought others might be interested in the UMC's "take" on being a UN NGO. The WTS quotes the UDHR so frequently, I'd be surprised if Ciro missed this session.
Annan Calls for NGO-UN Partnership
hailing the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in shaping UN policy, the United Nations Secretary-General on Sept. 14 called for the international agency and civil society to enter into a partnership to coordinate their efforts to monitor human rights violations worldwide and to hold member governments responsible for signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
"We need partnerships, partnerships that will allow democratic participation in decision-making; that will enable governments to back down from their mistakes; and that will enable United Nations fact-finding missions and other mechanisms to operate with integrity," said Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General.
Annan said a partnership is necessary because there are no limits to what a strong civil society can achieve in partnership with governments. "There is no turning back in the revolution of human rights," he emphasized. "There is no turning back from the global NGO revolution. So let us move ahead in partnership."
The Secretary-General made these remarks in an address to more than two thousand NGO representatives at the 51st Annual DPI/NGO Conference commemorating the 50thAnniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration is an international framework of rights and fundamental freedoms.
The conference was attended by Liberato Bautista, GBCS UN representative and Assistant General Secretary, and staffers of the United Methodist Office for the UN. Some 35 United Methodists from the New York Annual Conference also attended the conference's opening session.
NGOs must have the freedom of expression to transmit information about human rights abuses around the world, reiterated Claretta Nesbitt, chair of the Planning Committee for the 51stAnnual DPI/NGO Conference. Nesbitt, a staff person of the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, pointed out that NGOs can complement the work of the United Nations. "That's our goal," she said of the partnership.
She urged NGO representatives to strive for the elimination, not just alleviation of all forms of discrimination and suggested that the issue of racism should not be "glossed over."
In a video message, Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, insisted that the UDHR's anniversary is a time not only to celebrate, but to "recommit ourselves" to its principles.
Robinson stressed that since people throughout the world are still denied food and health care, the Declaration should be promoted for human dignity.
Following the opening UN conference session, UMOUN staffers and church leaders from the New York Annual Conference attended a luncheon, seminar and worship on the significance of the UDHR at the Church Center for the UN.
The tenets of human rights are biblical concepts, said David Wildman, seminar designer for the United Methodist Seminars on National and International Affairs in New York.
Wildman related the role of NGOs of the United Nations to the prophets in the Bible. "The prophets were the independent monitors," said Wildman. "They said, 'You guys are messing up and we are not going to leave it to you to fix it. . . '"
He stated that NGOs hold UN member
governments' "feet to the fire," which forces the governments to stop and listen.
Bautista, the GBCS representative to the UN, noted that church leaders were instrumental in the drafting and later the promotion of the UDHR. In celebration of the UDHR's 50th anniversary, he encouraged United Methodists to continue witnessing and promoting the Declaration.
The ecumenical service for human rights and the UN highlighted human rights abuses against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, particular the massive rapes of women.
ACTION: Celebrate UN Day Sunday on October 25. For information contact Liberato Bautista at the GBCS UN Office, 212/682-3633.