“Learning about the instruments of advocacy for human rights increased my ability to articulate international laws, declarations and conventions that support causes that I’m very passionate to address,” he said. “A highlight for me was my presentations to the Working Group for People of African Descent and the deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights detailing specific examples of my own experience of racism in the United States and sharing the voices and narratives of many others that I gathered in my work on the ground in Ferguson, Louisville, New York, Atlanta, and across the entire Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”
Organized in the framework of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, the fellowship programme is a three-week intensive training that requires fellows to actively engage in training sessions to deepen knowledge of the international human rights system and the international anti-racism architecture; participate in practical activities to strengthen and develop a range of skills, including advocacy, fundraising and engaging with human rights mechanisms; and attend meetings with the members of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.
“As the only ordained Protestant minister in the cohort, I became keenly aware of the many international concerns that are being neglected by governments everywhere but also the complicity of faith institutions perpetuating discrimination through silence and inaction in multiple ways,” he said. “In the next year, I intend to organize several action plans to promote the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and expand its implementing resolutions to explore intersectionalities that are often not addressed.
“There is so much to do and the greatest gift is that I don’t have to do it alone,” he added. “In fact, I can not.”
He believes that, together, humanity shall overcome many hinderances to a global wellness.
"I am more deeply connected to the spirit of my ancestors and my siblings in the struggles for liberation and healing for this world,” he said, adding that the fellowship was a valuable opportunity for learning and networking. “It brought to light ways to organize and advocate for various issues in a diplomatic and far reaching ways using the various mechanisms and instruments.”
He spoke to the Working Group for People of African Descent in their session, bringing up US issues of police brutality, economic disparities, reparations, religious intolerance and racism. “At the closing ceremony, I was the fellow chosen to address the deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights,” he said.
The WCC connection
Wells’ work is also connected with the World Council of Churches’ work on overcoming racism. Wells, in 2018, attended a meeting organized by the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs between church leaders from North America and United Nations experts on racial justice issues in New York City.
The purpose of the meetings was to give an opportunity for UN experts to hear about the issues that churches both in Canada and in the USA are wrestling with in terms of racism, xenophobia and afrophobia.
The meetings were also an opportunity to discuss the intersectionality between racism and sexism, migration and populist discourse, mass incarceration and mass criminalization, poverty and limited access to education and healthcare, #BlackLivesMatter, police profiling as well as police brutality, the legacy of slave trade, and many more issues.
WCC programme executive Segma Asfaw said that, since 2018, the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has made sure to provide for the churches a platform to know about and connect with different United Nations processes dealing with ensuring racial justice, such as the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. “We hope that more members from our constituency will be encouraged by Rev. Lamont’s experience and will try to participate in future opportunities provided by our UN colleagues,” she said.