In our engagements with the United Nations human rights bodies in Geneva, the diplomatic circles and global forums we represent the voice of our Evangelical Alliances. As their advocates in our many countries, we take up their issues of concern and human rights violations and relay to relevant UN institutions. During the past year, we submitted over 50 reports and made 20 statements at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of our members in more than 25 countries. We listed a few of our reports and statements further below.
Speaking up on behalf of believers who face discrimination, persecution or other forms of injustice is a long-term effort that requires coordination, commitment and perseverance to be able to reap its fruits. We are grateful for the tangible progress that God has allowed in 2020, including in countries like Libya, Spain and Nepal:
– In December 2020, based on our reporting the UN Human Rights Committee for the first time referred to the issue of religious freedom inLibya, explicitly mentioning Christians, when reviewing Libya’s compliance with its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This is an important development raising the profile of persecution and mistreatment of Christians against the background of broader political instability and neglect for the human rights in Libya.
– DuringSpain’s Universal Periodic Review in January 2020, the States brought up with the Spanish government the two issues raised exclusively in our report. These were threats of Evangelical churches closures in Catalonia due to drastic safety regulations targeting all non-Catholic congregations and the situation of retired pastors deprived of pension scheme. We were joyful to find out that our reporting led to the Spanish government decision to sort the situation with non-payment of pensions to retired pastors. And local authorities of Catalonia decided to soften the safety regulations, so that local Evangelical churches would no longer fear closure.
– In November 2020, jointly with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Salvation Army, we held a virtual meeting on Religious Freedom and on Human Trafficking inNepal,where church and ministries leaders from Nepal briefed with diplomats from 7 countries. In January 2021, our reporting, advocacy and the virtual meeting led several countries to relay WEA human rights recommendations to Nepal during the Universal Periodic Review. In addition to raising awareness on the situation in Nepal, our efforts sent an unequivocal message to Nepalese authorities that harassment and detention of pastors needs to stop.
We live in a world where challenges to human rights and freedoms are entrenched and long-standing. Oftentimes, these challenges are invisible from an outsider’s view due to the intimidating environment on the ground or to ignorance of global advocacy opportunities, which prevent local voices from being heard. We are sensitive to the confidentiality that needs be observed in most of such cases and nurture the trust we have been able to develop with our local alliances and partner organizations that raise with us the acute human rights violations and security challenges they face. We are grateful for the opportunity to positively affect lives and to assist the local churches in their public witness through our daily work in Geneva and beyond, which is confirmed by the feedback we receive from our member Alliances and believers on the ground. For instance, the Secretary General of one of WEA member Alliance’s shared recently:“Our government projects a military and authoritarian image inside the country, and a civil and republican image outside of our country. Know my brother that if it were not for the international pressure that has been exerted on this regime for a long time, especially since the closure of the most important evangelical churches, today we would all be in prison!”
Indeed, for many of our members, our presence and voice in Geneva and in international circles provides them with a level of protection. In cases where Christians are imprisoned and ask us to speak up on their behalf, we have met with their respective ambassadors in Geneva, briefed in private the UN and other countries’ ambassadors on these cases of imprisonment, and, if cases remained unresolved, we have spoken up publicly at the Human Rights Council and in other forums.
Furthermore, our work has broader inter-denominational impact when providing support to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed, who is an independent expert with the UN mandate to promote religious freedom across the globe. Here is what Mr. Shaheed said about our team’s contribution in one of his recent interviews: “I am a one-man operation, and I rely on civil society to be the eyes and ears for my mandate and to help communicate with people on the ground. [WEA’s Geneva team members] add value to my work and increase my capacity.”
We are grateful for your ongoing prayers and support that allow us to play this important role on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you feel called to partner with us, support our engagement with the United Nations and strengthen Evangelical unity, please contact us at[email protected].
Permanent Representative at the UN in Geneva
World Evangelical Alliance
Our UN Geneva team in the field
Our Advocacy with the UN Human Rights Bodies in October 2020 – May 2021 included:
Syria| Joint oral statement on unilateral coercive measures hampering the ability of NGOs and Church-based organizations to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, submitted with Caritas Internationalis, the World Council of Churches, and other Christian organizations, 15 March, 2021.Watch the video
North Korea|Report on the situation of human rights,such as the right to life, religious freedom, freedom of movement, liberty and security of person, discrimination, the right to fair trial, treatment of prisoners and other detainees and prohibition of torture and degrading treatment, 5 January, 2021
The WEA Geneva Liaison Office needs to increase capacity to respond to the requests for advocacy from our constituency. In 2022-2024, we are aiming to recruit two more staff, an information and communication officer, and a research and advocacy officer. Whether it’s a gift of $20, $200, $2,000 or more – your gift will allow us to pursue our work with greater impact and sustainability. Make a donation here.