Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, spoke via a video recording about the importance of the church in global advocacy and engagement with the United Nations, highlighting the role of the WCC.
Prove explained the commission’s role, particularly in the context of today’s challenges. “Its responsibilities include maintaining contacts with the United Nations and its agencies, representing the WCC at the UN and other international bodies, and facilitating and helping coordinate the representation of member churches and ecumenical partners before such bodies,” he said.
“On top of the longstanding fundamental challenges of poverty and inequality between and within nations, discrimination based on race and gender, armed conflict (including the threat of nuclear conflagration), and environmental protection, today we also face the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, and the vastly greater threat of global climate change.”
Never before has global cooperation in addressing these challenges been more obviously needed, said Prove. “And yet never before since the founding of the United Nations has such cooperation been more contested and fragile,” he said. "I think it is for us as churches, a global community joined in faith, to continue make the case for multilateralism at a time when it has become unfashionable.”
For all its failings, the UN remains a vehicle through which churches can articulate their vision for justice, peace and care for God’s creation, Prove reflected. “The many and diverse policy forums and processes of the UN are open to our presence and our voices,” he said. “Indeed, in recent years, we have noted an increasing openness and desire on the part of UN counterparts for engagement with faith-based partners.”
Prove's message was followed by Ryan Smith, WCC programme Executive for the Ecumenical Office to the United Nations.
“The voice of members and the global ecumenical community change the way governments see the needs of their people. The role of faith within government systems is not only appropriate but necessary”, said Smith.