Today, more than 300 million Christians around the world live in places where they face persecution. This includes harassment, detention, legal restrictions, violence, and even death for their faith in Jesus. As a part of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Advocacy Department, our Geneva Liaison Office exists to give voice to those who cannot always speak for themselves.
Since the last update in May 2021, our Geneva advocacy team has continued to raise issues of concern and human rights violations on behalf of our Evangelical Alliances from across the globe with the United Nations human rights bodies and diplomatic missions.
Between June and November 2021, our advocacy efforts covered over thirteen countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East regions.
Our team’s video statements during the Human Rights Council’s 48th session. More reports and statements are available at un.worldea.org
- Giving voice and visibility to our Evangelical constituency, we urged the UN human rights bodies and international community to rethink and broaden their approach to the protection of minorities to include Christians and other religious groups not only as the vulnerable ones, but also potent civil society actors.
- We urgently responded to Afghanistan crisis speaking up for the protection of local Christians and other religious minorities at the UN in Geneva and through non-public international advocacy.
- We made the voices of Evangelical Christians in France and Turkey heard at the UN in Geneva and have their concerns raised with their governments in the UN Human Rights Committee’s reports.
In August, we responded to the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan with a statement at the UN Human Rights Council’s urgently convened special session. We affirmed the presence of “Afghans who changed their religion” and the need for protection of Christian and other religious minorities in the Council’s resolution on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. We also pursued non-public advocacy efforts to address the refugee crisis and ensure protection to local Christians.
Another issue of concern that our team has been consistently raising at the UN Human Rights Council, is the detrimental impact of international sanctions on civilians in Syria that has broader implications inside the Middle East region and beyond. Together with Caritas Internationalis, we co-hosted on the margins of the Human Rights Council a virtual discussion on this issue that assembled over 70 representatives from the diplomatic missions and civil society organizations. We also contributed to informing the public discourse on the subject in the media.
WEA and Caritas joint virtual event on humanitarian impact of international sanctions assembled over 70 representatives of diplomatic missions and NGOs
For the Africa region, we raised the issues of the freedom of religion or belief and spoke at the Human Rights Council against the forcible closure of 16 Protestant churches and sentencing of Christians in Algeria. Our broader advocacy efforts were aimed to furhter raise these concerns internationally and prevent aggravation of the situation on the ground.
Together with Caritas Internationalis, we have been consistently calling to action against impunity, injustice and for peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic and appealing to the authorities to engage local religious leaders in the peacemaking process.
UN Independent Expert (IE) on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic Yao Agbetse stressed the importance of our work: “The relevance of WEA’s interventions at the Human Rights Council as part of the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Central African Republic testifies its commitment to the people on the ground. These [WEA] statements give much hope to these people, whose concerns are thus relayed to the international community, and for the IE, who can therefore rely on experiences and testimonies from reliable sources. The actions and statements of WEA are proof that the population should not despair.”
WEA Geneva Permanent Representative at the UN Michael Mutzner (third on the right) moderating public event on Central African Republic (CAR); other panelists from left to right: H.E. Léopold Ismaël Samba, CAR Ambassador in Geneva; H.E. Imam Abdoulaye Ouassalegue, President of the Islamic Conference of CAR; H.E. Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, President of Caritas CAR; Yao Agbetse, UN Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in CAR; Aloysius John, General Secretary of Caritas Internationalis
We advocated for the protection of religious minorities in Sudan and made specific recommendations on freedom of conscience and women’s rights to the Sudanese government during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Similarly, together with The Salvation Army we raised issues of human trafficking of adults and children in Uganda and provided our recommendations ahead of the country’s UPR scheduled for early 2022.
For the European region, in cooperation with regional and national Evangelical Alliances, we raised the issues of human trafficking in Austria, specifically providing recommendations on the protection of trafficking victims from Nigeria. The Austrian government accepted all recommendations by other states that echoed ours and reiterated commitment to implement them during the country’s Universal Periodic Review in July.
We raised the issues of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Greece, France, and Turkey referring to their governments’ international commitments in our reports. During the informal consultations of the UN Human Rights Committee experts with the civil society, we took the opportunity to directly update them on the situation with the entry bans and expulsions of more than 70 Christians from Turkey and the worrisome developments in France concerning a new draft law leading to increased surveillance and control over all faith groups. The first fruits of these advocacy efforts manifested in the Committee’s including in their report our suggestions on the issues to be raised with the governments of France and Turkey.
For the Asia-Pacific region, we reported on multiple occasions on the discrimination and inciting hatred against religious minorities in India and Nepal, both in written reports and when speaking at the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th and 48th sessions. Similarly, we raised the issues of shrinking space for the freedom of religion or belief and religious minorities in Sri Lanka in our private advocacy with diplomatic missions in Geneva and when speaking at the Human Rights Council’s sessions. We also used the UPR mechanism to speak up in defense of religious freedom in Nepal and for the protection of indigenous people, children rights and freedom of expression in Australia.
We are grateful for your support and prayers that allow our Geneva advocacy team to serve our global Evangelical community. If you feel called to partner with us, support our engagement with the United Nations, and strengthen the global unity of Evangelicals, please contact us at [email protected].
Research and Advocacy Officer, World Evangelical Alliance’s Geneva Liaison Office