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Kobia: UN reform is urgent task for new UN head

16 October 2006

In a letter congratulating South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-Moon on his election 13 October as United Nations secretary-general, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia notes the Korean's "rich experience" as international diplomat and civil servant, assures him of the Council's prayers and support, and emphasizes that reform of the United Nations is an "important task" facing the new UN head.

The international community is concerned about "the urgency of carrying out these reforms" that will "no doubt receive your urgent attention and action," Kobia says in his 16 October letter. 

The WCC general secretary reports that, at its meeting in Brazil last February, the WCC's principal governing body, its Assembly, called for "the ongoing participation of civil society organizations and faith communities in the work of the UN […] as a means of encouraging transparency and accountability as well as of availing itself of essential expertise and information". 

Religions and religious organizations play an important role "in addressing issues of security, human rights, development," and there is a "growing interplay between religion and politics," Kobia notes. 

Kobia concludes his letter by evoking the possibility of an early meeting with the new UN head so as to be able to congratulate him in person, and also to "exchange views about how the WCC and its more than 340 member churches can assist and support you in your new responsibilities". 

Both the UN and the WCC were created in the immediate post-World War II period. The WCC-in-formation helped to shape the UN Charter; the Council has been closely involved with the UN ever since its inception and, through its Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), was among the first non-governmental organizations to be granted consultative status with the UN. 

Full text of Kobia's letter to Ban Ki-Moon

WCC 9th Assembly's statement on UN reform

Information on the history of WCC relations with the UN