Amid the flurry of news of war, forced migration and suffering, we trust that our Lord is building His Church.
And while we weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn, we recognize that those who are suffering from injustice, religious persecution, and war are not forsaken, nor hopeless, nor without agency.
The WEA Geneva Office, New York Office, and the broader Advocacy Department, are partnering with those suffering persecution and injustice, as members of one body, to advocate for justice, bring about healing, and secure the freedom to proclaim Christ.
This partnership takes the form of relaying the voices of local churches to the United Nations and to diplomatic circles, including during Human Rights Council sessions.
We share with you some of our visible efforts hereafter, and ask you to support us in prayer when we speak up publicly, as well as when we pursue backroom diplomacy and appeals.
Working with the Human Rights Council
Ethiopia | Oral statement by the Secretary General of the WEA, Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, calling on all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia for an immediate ceasefire and to initiate negotiations to bring lasting peace, December 17, 2021.
Sri Lanka | Oral statement urging the government of Sri Lanka to desist from mandating any form of registration of places of worship, and to achieve justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, which killed 270 people, March 7 2022.
Afghanistan | Oral statement calling for monitoring the situation of religious minorities, women, children and refugees during the Human Rights Council interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on Afghanistan, March 7, 2022.
Anti-conversion laws | Oral statement to the Human Rights Council expressing concerns over Russian attack on Ukraine, and appealing against anti-conversion laws in Nepal, India, Myanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, March 8, 2022.
Evangelical engagement for peace | Oral statement sharing examples of Evangelical engagement for peace and reconciliation in Central African Republic, Lebanon and Colombia, during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, March 10, 2022.
Algeria | Oral statement calling on Algerian authorities to end their persecution of Protestant and Evangelical Christians, rescind the unjust court sentences, and allow the churches forcibly closed to reopen, March 22, 2022.
Greece | Oral statement calling on Greece to take measures to guarantee that options available for religious classes include all the country’s major religious denominations, and to amend or annul the legal provisions prohibiting proselytism, March 23, 2022.
Working with the Human Rights Committee
Iraq | Pursuant to WEA reporting, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern in March 2022 that Iraq “has refused to recognize some religious groups, resulting in places of worship, in particular evangelical churches, not being able to legally register themselves.” The Committee called on Iraq to ensure that registration of religious organizations is based on clear and objective criteria that are compatible with the State party’s obligations under the Covenant. Read our report to Human Rights Committee.
Contributing to the Universal Periodic Review
Algeria | On 30 March 2022, the World Evangelical Alliance, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), and Middle East Concern submitted a joint report to the Human Rights Council ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Algeria scheduled for November 2022 during the UPR 41st session. Our joint submission reported on violations of the right to Freedom of religion or Belief in Algeria, focusing on violations against the Protestant Christian community and the failure of authorities to grant registration of EPA churches and to re-open all forcibly closed churches.
In March 2022, the Human Rights Council in-person 49th session, and the meeting in Geneva of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, were two valuable opportunities for the Geneva Office to re-connect with diplomats.
We are grateful for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, upon the request of several organizations, for raising the situation of religious minorities in India in her statement at the Human Rights Council in March. The High Commissioner stated that “Rising violence against the Christian community is also deeply concerning. Faith-based organizations recorded over 305 cases of attacks on Christians from January to November 2021, many involving Hindu-supremacist groups. Over the past year, problematic laws banning religious conversions have been enacted or proposed in several States.”
In addition, on the margins of the Human Rights Council 49th session, the WEA co-sponsored two online events organized by Jubilee Campaign:
On April 6th, Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the WEA met with António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, in New York City. He was accompanied by Matthias Boehning, Director Sustainability Center in Bonn & John Girgis, Permanent Representative of WEA to the United Nations in New York. Their conversation centered on religious freedoms and the collaboration between the WEA and the UN in the promotion & protection of these human rights. Bp. Shirrmacher expressed the importance of engaging the United Nations to address the global challenges including the refugee’s crisis & climate change and its effects.
During his visit to New York, Bp. Shirrmacher met H.E. Mr. Ronaldo Costa Filho, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations and H.E. Mr. Hoang Giang Dang, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations. He also met with H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations.
These meetings focused collaborative relationship between their countries and the WEA.
More pictures here.
On April 26th, the WEA, Religions for Peace & UN-Habitat co-hosted an interfaith dialogue on Multi-Religious & Multi-stakeholder collaboration for the advancement of new urban agenda. The event was organized on the sidelines of the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
Dr. Chris Elisara, Executive Director of the Creation Care Task Force at the WEA, spoke of the importance of multi-religious collaboration to achieve environmental sustainability and resilience in line with the UN New Urban Agenda.
In the Media
IDEA | Weltallianz kritisiert Verletzungen der Religionsfreiheit weltweit, March 19, 2022.
Évangéliques.info | Conseil des Droits de l’homme: L’Alliance évangélique mondiale défend les libertés fondamentales des minorités religieuses, March 21, 2022.
Evangelical Focus | Since summer 2021, “thousands of Afghans who espoused the Christian faith are hiding in fear”, March 23, 2022.
Evangelical Focus | WEA urges Greece to change the legislation prohibiting proselytism, March 30, 2022.
Évangéliques.info | Grèce: L’Alliance évangélique mondiale épingle la loi interdisant le prosélytisme, March 31, 2022.
Evangelical Focus | WEA concerned for 12 Algerian Christians sentenced “for the peaceful exercise of their beliefs”, April 1, 2022.
News from Our Offices
Geneva | In February 2022, we had the pleasure to welcome Markus Hofer as our Communication and Outreach Officer. Markus is a member of the Salvation Army. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations as well as a Complementary Certificate in Visual Studies, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Journalism and Communication. Markus is driven by the love of God to serve others and to use his talents and gifts to the advancement of God’s Kingdom, for a more righteous and peaceful world.
New York | On March 21, Richard Kirenga joined the WEA-New York Office as the Administration and Communication Officer. Richard has worked for the Rwanda Mission to the United Nations in New York as the Executive Assistant & Communications Advisor to the Ambassador and Permanent Representative. Prior to moving to New York, Richard worked with the Ministry of Refugees as a Communication Officer bringing to light UNHCR’s and Rwanda’s support to Burundian refugees living in Rwanda. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Public Relations. He enjoys playing badminton, travelling & swimming. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Nadia.
Nominate a Candidate for the Geneva
Human Rights Experience!
The Geneva Office has the pleasure to invite national Evangelical alliances to nominate candidates to volunteer with our office in February and March 2023. The two-months program includes one month remote preparation, and one month all expenses paid internship in Geneva during the Human Rights Council session in March 2023. This exciting opportunity will allow a young man or woman affiliated with a WEA member to engage in human rights advocacy and contribute to a Human Rights Council session. The Geneva Human Rights Experience is a partnership between the Geneva Office and national Evangelical alliances.
To learn more and to nominate candidates, contact us at [email protected]
Would you like to invest in building the advocacy capacity of Evangelical Alliances? You can support the Geneva Human Rights Experience through a donation to cover the annual costs of CHF 5’000.