The United Nations and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate at a meeting between the general secretaries of both organizations held on 29 October 207 at the UN headquarters in New York.
"As the UN faces the 21st century highlighting the interrelatedness of development, security and human rights, the WCC strongly believes multilateralism is the only way to respond to the challenges of today," said WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia at the meeting. That is why the WCC is committed "to the principles and purposes of the UN".
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep appreciation for the work of the WCC". He said the Council is a key member of the UN constituency, given not only what it means in terms of worldwide church representation, but also the common objectives shared by the two organizations and the "significant contribution made by the WCC in the areas of democracy and human rights".
"It was a good and constructive first meeting as both leaders expressed their desire to continue strong and close collaboration," said the Rev Christopher Ferguson, WCC representative to the United Nations in New York.
The meeting took place at the beginning of the WCC's United Nations Advocacy Week taking place 29 October - 2 November 2007 at the Church Center to the UN, in New York. Kobia thanked Ban for the participation of several UN officials who are contributing to the week-long discussions attended by some 80 church leaders, policy and advocacy officers of churches and ecumenical organizations from all over the world.
Among the issues on the organizations' common agenda, the two general secretaries discussed climate change, "one of the most critical challenges the world faces today," as Kobia put it. He shared with Ban the concern of the Council's member churches in the Pacific, which are "already preparing for the evacuation of entire populations" from some small islands to the bigger ones.
Affirming the interrelatedness of the concerns about the integrity of creation, justice and peace, Kobia brought to the attention of the UN secretary general some of the issues on the churches' advocacy agenda, namely the situation in the greater Horn of Africa, nuclear disarmament, the struggle for peace in the Middle East, as well as the work to overcome poverty and economic injustice, closely related to the UN Millennium Development Goals.
In view of the conviction that "religion has a big, positive role to play in the search for global peace and harmony," the WCC general secretary announced the Council's intention to propose that the UN declare a "Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace". The proposal would be submitted to the UN together with an international consultative group in the course of the coming year.
The WCC general secretary was accompanied by ambassador Dr Park Kyung Seo, director of the North East Asia Peace Institute; the Rev Elenora Giddings Ivory, recently appointed WCC director of Public Witness; and WCC staff members Dr Guillermo Kerber, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, and Rev. Christopher Ferguson.
The WCC is a global fellowship of Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and indigenous churches - including many conciliar Evangelicals and Pentecostals. The Roman Catholic Church is a member of two of its main commissions, but not of the body as a whole.
More information on WCC advocacy work is available at: