Churches lobby United Nations members on Horn of Africa tragedy

By staff writers
October 31, 2007

Leaders from the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and independent member churches are lobbying the United Nations and member states as part of their concerted ongoing advocacy efforts for Africa and other causes.

On Thursday 1 November 2007, some 80 church leaders, policy and advocacy officers of churches and ecumenical organizations from all over the world will visit a number of member state permanent missions to the United Nations at the UN headquarters in New York to advocate around the situation in the Greater Horn of Africa.

The visits are the culmination of the WCC's United Nations Advocacy Week taking place in New York from 29 October to 2 November 2007. The week long meeting is intended to explore ways in which the voice of the churches may have more impact at the United Nations in their ongoing advocacy work.

On the week's opening day, the WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia met the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters. Both top officials reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate on pursuing a number of shared objectives.

Also on its first day, the gathering was addressed by the UN deputy secretary general Asha-Rose Migiro, who spoke about the critical challenges and opportunities facing the UN. "Civil society organizations like the World Council of Churches are essential partners and natural allies of the United Nations," said Migiro, who added: "Today, we need your support more than ever."

In regard to the situation in the greater Horn of Africa, the meeting will be addressed on Wednesday, 31 October by Sir John Holmes, the UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, and Rev. Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former special humanitarian envoy of the UN secretary general for the Horn of Africa and currently the moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

This is the third edition of this annual gathering which enables ecumenical players to advance co-operation and advocacy on strategic issues in the current international political environment at the UN. The meeting is organized by the UN Liaison Office of the WCC in New York.

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