The World Evangelical Alliance, on behalf of more than 600 million evangelical Christians, is uniquely positioned to represent an evangelical voice at the United Nations. Since the relocation of its Headquarters to New York in 2010, the WEA increased its engagement at the UN, promoting peace and reconciliation, advocating for the poor and needy, and also communicating evangelical beliefs and values.
The WEA holds consultant status in the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC) which serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system. “Consultative status with ECOSOC matters. It gives civil society access to nearly all intergovernmental processes at the UN dealing with economic and social development, gender issues, sustainable development, small arms, and human rights,” the UN writes.
The WEA is allowed to have several representatives in the ECOSOC, among them Deborah Fikes who is directing the activities of the WEA at the UN. “I think it’s very important to connect with entities that are working on an international and regional level to promote human rights and provide protection for the vulnerable, and to promote peace,” she says. “For instance the Refugee Convention, 60 million refugees’ lives have been positively affected because of the Refugee Convention that has been formed after WW II. Millions are sheltered when they are threatened with violence. It’s so much of the work that Jesus commands his disciples to do; to take care of the vulnerable. And the UN really is the leading entity that does that. So I believe it is very important for us as followers of Christ, to be part of any entity that is trying to advance those principles.”
The United Nations also provide unique opportunities to meet with people and voice the concern of Evangelicals on certain issues. Through its presence at the UN, the WEA could not only advocate for peace and reconciliation in various regions of the world, but also engage in discussions addressing issues as the gravity of nuclear proliferation and treatises such as the elimination of chemical weapons and land mines. In addition, the WEA is trying to find more ways how to support and achieve the millennium development goals, facilitating the work of Micah Challenge which has been very involved in this area.
The importance of the WEA’s presence at the UN is not limited to the direct impact at the ECOSOC, but it is also communicating to the member states and other participating NGO’s the identity of Evangelicals. “I think it is important to help people understand a little bit more about who Evangelicals are and what they believe and what’s important to them, which ties in with much of what the United Nations considers as important as well and why they exist,” states Ms. Fikes. “We are educating them about who we are, communicating about our vision for reconciliation and ministering to the needs of the world.”
The WEA encourages Evangelicals to pray for its engagement at the United Nations and the advancement of Kingdom principles, using the opportunities and mechanisms that are offered through the UN structures.
Deborah Fikes shares: “It is my prayer that as Evangelicals and followers of Christ, we will be at the very forefront of engaging society in ways that promote peace and reconciliation, truth, freedom, helping the most vulnerable and the poor, and that we can use all the avenues we have. We have a very important voice.”
For more information about ECOSOC, visit: www.un.org/en/ecosoc/