By Dr Agnes Abuom
Moderator of the WCC - Central Committee
“But let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream”. Amos 5:24, NRSV
Allow me to express my deep gratitude to all the organizations that have worked tirelessly to make this day a reality. You have taken an historical step as part of the global movement of people committed to create awareness on global inequality, climate injustice, modern slavery; hopeful to act to end inequalities and seek to build just and peaceful human households around the globe. It is a privilege for me to be invited to share my humble thoughts on these major topics and at a pivotal if not kairos moment in the history of homosapiens. Our time is indeed a kairos one for we stand at the cliff and we can either tilt backwards and save humanity or tip over the cliff into oblivion. Hence the Christian clarion calls for justice; is a timely action that all organizations have taken.
This presentation attempts to dissect global inequalities; climate injustices and modern slavery with the purpose of inspiring, igniting and enabling faith-based organizations (FBOs) to deepen their understanding and commitment, and to discern effective ways to continue work towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world. While I share some statistics, what is essential to note is that people’s narratives of pain, suffering, exclusion and death from different forms of injustices are real. All of you have, I bet, come across the state of despair, dislocation, destruction, hopelessness and death of many people in rich and poor countries; what missiologists have termed “the margins”. Yes, the margins are a global phenomenon today and the question before us is what we can do that we are not doing, or enhance to secure the global human and earth communities from perishing. In general, inequality is not natural. Although human beings are endowed with diverse talents at the disposal of use for common good, unfortunately, they have been appropriated for exclusion, discrimination, marginalization and socio-economic inequalities for any reason. Justice is about celebrating the gift of diversity as it enriches the human mosaic and has potential for mutual complementarity and solidarity.
My presentation seeks to underline the fact that inequalities arise due to human greed, systems and policies skewed towards the powerful and a culture of non-sustainable resource extraction and utilization. It thus becomes important for the church to help alleviate and combat injustices, inequalities and forms of behavior that enslave people -modern slavery. Since issues pertaining to inequality, racism and climate injustice are human generated, and even religiously inspired falsely, the challenges of inequality and injustice can be resolved if there is the political will and commitment; the Christian/church is better placed to be the agency for addressing and giving impulse to others to work for a just, peaceful and sustainable society. Christians have resources, experiences both positive and negative regarding inequality, racism and sustainable development to draw from for future strategies and concerted efforts to eliminate forces of evil.
According to the World Social Science Report (2016) on challenging inequalities, the following five concepts provide a useful framework on injustices and inequalities:
- Locating justice and injustices in places. A place does more than describe variations in the lifestyles and landscapes of different locations. It includes a ‘sense of place’ that is basic to people’s feelings of belonging and self-worth in a location of meaning to them.
- Identifying the scales at which processes giving rise to justice and injustices in places occur and intersect.
- Taking up questions of environment as a way to make us conscious that the human world links with the non-human world and must respect it. Recognizing that what we see as ‘nature’ and ‘the environment’ is socially produced, critical social science now understands that markets have caused natural resources to be used in ways that give rise to hunger and poverty in certain places. Climate change is therefore, posing new questions about the just and unjust distribution of resources.
- The concept of mobility gives a different view of the production of justice and injustice, one that treats places as origins and destinations. Justice and injustice can be present in multiple ways as we think about mobility in places, including the institutional settings that give opportunities for mobility or deprive people of them.
- Difference is central to a grounded imagining of justice and injustice. It involves the recognition that any society contains different social groups whose varied interests need to be considered, and the understanding that difference can create politics for unjustly segregating people.
In conclusion, the presentation appreciates the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework referred to as agenda 2030 with the motto “leave no one behind.” The agenda has the potential to harness resources and create spaces for collaboration aimed at ending injustices. By the way, this motto resonates with our call for mission to go to all nations with the good news of liberation from the shackles of poverty and exclusion. The Christian call for justice is to discern approaches that can engage with and contribute to achieve the SDGS including building on ongoing work such as the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP) as well as advocacy and diaconal services.
Disclaimer: The author takes responsibility for any errors.
1. Global inequalities
What is the state of global inequalities? Globalization in today’s world has resulted in increased levels of interconnectedness, creating an environment where capital, goods, services, and ideas are highly mobile and their circulation is facilitated by innovations in information technology. The levels of wealth and income inequalities at national levels are therefore highly interrelated to the income and wealth inequalities at global levels, hence the need for the comparison in order to understand how the global inequality dynamics affect the economic forces at shaping national-level inequalities.
Since 1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America and Asia, grown moderately in Europe (characterized by the top 10% income shares - 45–50% of total incomes), and stabilized at an extremely high level in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Brazil with the top 10% receiving about 55% - in Brazil and over 60% in Sub-Saharan Africa & Middle East of total income (World Inequality Report, 2018).
The substantial variations in the magnitude of rising inequality across regions, suggests that inequality is not just a consequence of globalization but also depends on the existing policies and institutions. They further highlight the importance of political and institutional factors in shaping income dynamics.
Is there any relationship between the current high levels of human migration across the continents to the levels of global and national inequalities?
The current global economic, political and military architecture is such that it is exclusive, insensitive and dehumanizing for many groups of people and nations; including abusive human activity that impacts the environment negatively. Never before has the world experienced such levels of global inequality. It is argued that the top 10 percent of the global population owns about 90 percent of all the world’s resources, while 90% have access to only 10 percent of the earth’s resources. A recent report published shows that world billionaires’ wealth increased 20% in 2017 – US$ 9 trillion). Thus the rich continue to accumulate while the poor continue to suffer. The United Nations’ new 2030 global development agenda, the SDGs’ key message, is about overcoming inequality and ensuring that all have access to basic services. It aims at lifting the 1 billion people living below poverty to basic standard of living, a recognition that the model of development has not delivered as expected.
Global financial institutions, IMF/WB, and leading economists have warned of risking a collapse of the global market should income distribution between (and within) countries of the world continue to be skewed/ uneven.
It is controversial both whether the causes of this global inequality pattern are national or global, and which of these causes can be successfully addressed. The United Nations categorizes inequality into six explicit categories:
- Inequalities in the distribution of income
- Inequalities in the distribution of assets
- Inequalities in the distribution of employment
- Inequalities in access to knowledge
- Political inequalities
- Inequalities in access to medical services, social security, and safety.
1.1 Overview of global inequality status
Inequality is on the rise in most of the world’s regions, but with very different magnitudes. With regard to the evolution of the top 10% income share in Europe, North America, China, India, and Russia the top share has increased in all five.
There are regions—in particular, the Middle East, Brazil (and to some extent Latin America as a whole), and South Africa (and to some extent sub-Saharan Africa as a whole)—where income inequality has remained relatively constant but ascending to extreme high levels in recent decades.
Those at the very bottom of the global income distribution, mainly the poor in the developing world, did less well proportionally but rising incomes delivered by economic growth were still instrumental in substantially reducing extreme global poverty. It is thus notable that global income inequality over the past three decades is becoming modestly more equal but most countries, especially the high-income ones, are becoming less equal.
1.2 Economic inequality as a threat to gender equality
The rapid rise in extreme economic inequality is a direct threat to the fight for gender equality and women’s rights. The capture of the political and economic system by a small elite, policies on labour rights, taxation and privatization all disproportionately impact women and girls. It is sad that many of the institutions that are strongly supportive of women’s economic empowerment are at the same time pursuing policies such as maternity, health insurance or private education which directly undermine it.
Most women remain in “marginal economic” sectors like informal and small scale agriculture. Although governments have gender affirmative policies, many factors continue to prohibit women’s effective participation in socio-economic activities. Here are some facts about the gender pay gap: Income inequality between women and men is usually measured in terms of gender gaps in pay per hour, week, month or year.
The global average gender pay gap is 24 percent. In some countries it is much higher: in India, 32.6 percent; in Ethiopia, 31.5 percent; and in Japan, 28.7 percent. Countries where the gender pay gap is lower than the average include, Mexico, at 17.4 percent; Sweden, at 13.1 percent; and Slovenia, at 4.6 percent. A low gender pay gap does not necessarily mean higher gender equality. Patterns of women’s labour force participation and wider gender relations in society affect how high the gap is. For example, in the Middle East the gender pay gap is below average at 14 percent. However, on average there are fewer women employed due to restrictions on women’s work outside the home, but those who are in employment tend to be highly educated and in better-paid jobs.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence is perhaps the most rampant pest as it increasingly becomes a global phenomenon with very minimum if any serious governmental and nongovernmental action. In conflict spaces, rape remains a weapon of war and a pasttime for the men in military and nonmilitary attire. In general, violence - whether domestic or in the public space - is on the rise. Obviously, this diminishes the productive capacity of women.
1.3. Child Poverty - inequality in children
Current statistics show that half of the world’s poor are children; nearly 700 million face adversity every day (20218 Multidimensional Poverty Index). UNICEF also reports that 2.6 million babies die before they are ONE month old, of these 1 million die a few minutes after birth, prior to this 2.6 million will have died even before they are born. One out of 4 children die in conflict, while 2.5 billion face poverty and violence. What is so sad and painful, is that, according to UNICEF, 80 percent of these deaths are easily preventable.
2. Climate Justice
Climate Change facts
The global mean temperature has risen approximately 0.76°C since 1850 and continues to rise, largely as a result of human activities that increase the concentration of greenhouse gases (IPCC 2007). Increases in global mean temperature of just 1.5 to 2.5°C will provoke major changes in ecosystem structure and function, threatening many species and negatively impacting ecosystem goods and services (i.e. water and food supply). These changes are affecting populations across the globe, whether through direct environmental consequences or economic, social or security ramifications (Barnett 2003).
After the hottest summer in 2018, the many landslides, repeated hurricanes, floods etc. all claiming lives; do we still require arguments in board rooms and conferences about the negative impact human activity has on the environment and on climate change? Global atmospheric processes affect everyone everywhere; global warming has been caused by economic development interventions that benefit a few nations and people. The poor are the worst affected by environmental degradation. They live in poverty. They have the highest exposure to pollution; the world’s highest mortality rates in children are attributed to drinking dirty water. They breathe polluted air. And forest degradation leads to the exacerbation of poverty as the poor cannot get the materials they need for survival. The poor are less equipped for adaptation and coping mechanisms are on decline.
2.1 Climate refugees are on the rise
Whereas refugees were, in the past, often borne from war, political instability and localized disasters, we have now entered the era of climate refugees – people forced to flee homes rendered inhospitable by the effects of global climate change. It has been suggested that climate change will displace 250 million people by 2050, and in 20 years the figures could go up to 500 million. Coastal regions are threatened by rising sea levels especially those in the global south, which is disproportionately affected.
2.2 Ethical dimension of Climate Change
There is an increasing acknowledgement of climate change’s ethical nature and implications at the international policy level with the focus being on the ethical aspects and moral imperative to address the unequal impacts of climate change and tendency of it to harm the poor and least responsible for it.
The efforts towards recognition of the Climate Change as ethical issue included the Buenos Aires declaration on the ethical dimensions of climate change – CoP 11, the White Paper on the ethical dimensions of climate change - UNFCCC-COP12, side event at the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD-15) and the 33rd annual G8 Summit (June 6 to 8, 2007), in Heiligendamm among others.
The current levels of exploitation of natural resources, especially from the continent of Africa, compared to the debt burden and the upsurge of conflicts in the resource rich countries in the African continent should worry us. Countries that pollute more feel the effects less. A recent report showed that the richest 10 percent of the world’s population are responsible for 50 percent of global carbon emissions, while the poorest 50 percent – 3.5 billion people – are responsible for 10 percent of the emissions. As such, what the developed world expects of developing nations doesn’t come across as feasible or fair.
Poor countries and communities have fewer resources to adapt to and mitigate climate impacts. Given the link between poverty and food insecurity, climate change wreaks havoc on agricultural systems when crop failures associated with drought and floods become more frequent. Indigenous peoples’ very existence all over the world is at risk.
2.3 Promising efforts towards climate justice
In the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5C, yet the mitigation pledges on the table at Paris will result in roughly 3C of warming, with insufficient finance to implement those pledges. The Paris Agreement was widely acknowledged to signal the end of the fossil fuel era, yet it does not explicitly use the words ‘fossil fuels’ throughout the entire document, nor does it contain any binding requirements that governments commit to any concrete climate recovery steps. The role of churches and other FBOs was evident!
There is hope as both citizens and governments begin to seek redress in court with ground breaking cases emerging around the world, in a whole new area of litigation, some of which can be compared with the beginnings of - and based on some of the legal precedents set by - legal action against the tobacco industry. Climate litigation is spreading beyond the USA into new jurisdictions throughout Asia, the Pacific and Europe. Claimants are not only targeting the ‘Carbon Majors’, who are the world’s largest producers of oil, coal and gas, but are also targeting the governments around the world that are continuing to support and collude with the Carbon Majors by promoting, subsidizing and approving a fossil-fuel based energy system, with the full knowledge of the catastrophic impacts of climate destabilization and ocean acidification that would result from continuing to burn fossil fuels.
3. Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
The work of God is transformation of lives, affirmation and enrichment of life lived in community – John 10:10. As humans we partake in the process by ensuring that no one goes hungry, marginalized, or discriminated against, that their dignity is not violated, and that people are brought to the Eucharistic table of the Lord to share a meal and fellowship together – as captured in the books of Exodus and John. Therefore the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is a reminder that we are the people on the way; we walk, pray and work together towards a goal of justice for all. We men and women of faith, people of good will, are invited through the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace to restore our relationships with God the creator, with one another and with the environment. The pilgrimage is about recognizing and accepting our wounds, repentance and acknowledgement of our contribution and seeking to heal and be reconciled.
It’s important for the different actors (including the church) to understand the different facets of globalization and transform it from within using their own relevant tools such as our spiritual resources since everyone is a participant in globalization. There is a need, however, to address the structures, policies and other destructive effects of globalization contributing to or worsening the pre-existing and local conditions of inequalities and injustices that contradict the Eucharistic vision of a world of peace, justice, and life in abundance for all.
One approach to realization of the Eucharistic Vision is through incorporation of the spiritual dimension to peace building with justice—indicated by the metaphor of “pilgrimage”. This approach builds upon on the paradigm of “Just Peace” developed during the international Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-2010. Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is a traditionally Christocentric approach that emphasizes the centrality of peace in Jesus’ ministry, and helps in recognizing that peace(making) is a constitutive part of what it means to be the Church.
4. Challenges facing the Church’s efforts against injustices and inequalities today
- Theological concerns – Our historical application of the theology of creation. Our understanding of gender relations. Our theology of the place and voice of children. These are all part of the global approach to dignity from a rights-based perspective. The commitment to social justice and life in fullness for all people has not been easy for many Christians. Churches need to re-read the signs of these times as they discern the gospel message in today’s world of economic injustice and ecological degradation, where the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Our challenge is to respond adequately and relevantly to the problems related to the current global economic crisis: job losses, cuts in funding, drying up of aid, declining space for citizen participation and civil society engagement, etc.
- Church as beneficiaries of oppressive economic and political systems. Many churches get unconsciously co-opted into the neoliberal economic system as its few beneficiaries interrogate the effects of the paradigm. Let us not forget the historical complicity of the churches in building and sustaining empires and benefiting financially from their conquests. The church’s mission among the “uncivilized” was inextricably incorporated into Europe’s economic conquests. Remembering the courageous witness of many Christian missionaries who strove to protect colonized peoples and their cultures against the colonial powers we also recognize the long history of convergence between imperialism and Christianity in many European countries and in the United States. In this light, today, churches’ silence in the face of injustices caused by economic and political powers may also be seen as complicity in the unjust system.
- Synergy problems. Engaging with other key stakeholders such as NGOs and governments is important. However, there are many areas of potential synergy. The influence of religion in areas such as sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, and in situations of conflict and crisis can be both extremely positive and profoundly negative. It is important that in the rush to leverage new coalitions and partnerships, international partners draw on the wisdom and experience that already exists rather than pushing ahead with naïve enthusiasm. Rushing in where angels fear to tread can make sensitive and explosive issues and situations worse. These areas of friction include family planning, child protection (especially child marriage, female genital mutilation, and immunization), harm reduction, violence against women, stigma and discrimination around sexuality and gender identity.
- Signs of hope Global action against multiple forms of injustice, inequality and modern slavery is gradually intensifying with countries stepping up to address the inhumane acts. As Christians, our strong response against any forms of injustice and inequality against others is an essential part of the mission of the church as exemplified by Jesus himself in Luke 4:18-20. It is our duty to discern and to respond to God’s mission of love to the world, and assurance of life for all creation. That activity of God, reconciling the world to God’s own self, generates in Jesus Christ, and through the Spirit, the vision of a world in which human beings live in harmony with, and respecting each other and caring for nature. To successfully achieve the SDGs, especially on economic inequality, poverty, climate injustice, and peace and security, it is imperative that the church and FBOs work to trigger positive action from those in centers of power. It is equally important to ground and contextualize our thinking and analysis of injustices and inequalities in dynamic globalized, pluralistic, multicultural and religious realities. The universal notions of justice and rights need to be situated in space and time, and located in the historical narratives and diverse contexts of people for there to be proper understanding of injustices and inequalities all over the world.
- Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace – peace building, gender justice. Top among the important steps the church and Christians, including people of good will, have taken to end inequality, gender violence and modern slavery is through the the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. The 2013 World Council of Churches Assembly message states, “The call to journey for justice is grounded in God’s mission in the world and the mission of Jesus”; in fact the message continues to remind us that indeed it is a clarion call for us as, “the pilgrimage of justice and peace is a true test of the quality of the ecumenical movement.” And may I add, it is a true test of our humanity and faith. This collaborative way by the World Council of Churches has been successful in responding to the steep challenges presented by today’s world. It invites Christians/churches, and all people of good will everywhere, to journey together in their efforts toward justice and peace, experiencing renewal and transformation while addressing ecology and economy, conflict and human dignity.
- Longer term goal - As Christians we respond to the call to live out the values of the Kingdom of God and embrace a deeper hope in Christ's redemption of the world. Our goal is more than just the absence of extreme material poverty, but for people to discover their true identity as children of God and recover their true vocation as productive stewards faithfully caring for the world and all creation in it.
- Mobilize and build a movement All over the world, history tells us that real progress can only be made if the power of ordinary people in the endeavor to change things for the better is properly harnessed and coordinated. The basic idea is that those who bear the brunt of policy, those who are directly affected, are the ones who should be mobilized to take action in pursuance of their interest. Invariably it is never the policy makers or the powerful elite who bear the burden of their own policies. This is always the cross of ordinary people, of the poor, of the working class, of womenfolk, children, the youth, the elderly, etc. The principle of mass mobilization and organization in the church context means galvanizing into action the millions of Christians and people of faith throughout the world to desire and work for justice and positive social change. In other words, the church needs to build a movement. The Church has a lot of experience in campaigns and the same methods can be used and combined with mass education, activism and action.
- Strike a link between local and global efforts Global problems cannot be resolved at a local level or even at a national level. For example, the problem of global warming requires all the peoples of the world to come together because of the very nature of the problem. It will not help a country to reduce to zero its carbon emissions if other countries continue to pollute. This is what faith leaders did for the Paris Climate Agreement, and the process is continuing.
- Enhance interfaith coalitions Striking a link between local and global efforts is largely a vertical process. There is rising momentum beyond the church into inter-faith, philosophical convictions and social movements, and recognition that no single actor can carry the burden. This requires ideological tolerance, maturity and self-assurance in what one believes. Dialogue and honest dealing with differences is emerging, though slowly.
- Research and strong policy analysis The global movement for eco-justice relies considerably on policy analysis and research conducted by hundreds if not thousands of researchers and scholars. Increasingly the church accepts and practices evidence based advocacy and lobbies on issues of inequality, injustices and modern slavery.
6.0 Way Forward - Agenda 2030 - SDGs
The SDGs platform provides an opportunity to engage with matters of development with a multi-sectorial, rights-based, people-centered approach that knits together diverse global efforts to transform the way development is delivered. Critically, none of the SDGs can be achieved in isolation. We cannot address ending AIDS by 2030 if we do not end gender inequity and violence. Climate change and poverty are inseparable. Wrapped around it all is health—which must be treated as a fundamental human right. Development is about values and meeting the SDG agenda needs an integrated approach. The discussion around the question of whether faith-based institutions mattered in regards to the SDGs allows us to reflect on our own evolving relationship with religion. Religion constitutes an integral and inextricable feature of human development, and that to assume that religion can be separated from development is to fundamentally misunderstand what it means to be human. There is no doubt that most FBOs want to do something about injustices, inequalities and modern slavery. According to the Christian vision, wealth is God’s gift. Christianity is not against private property; it considers private property as integral to human freedom and dignity. However, as already mentioned above, in the Christian vision wealth ultimately is towards the common good - for all human beings; it should be shared in such a way that everyone should have sufficient wealth available for her/his well-being. While respecting and defending the right to private property, Christianity is clear that hoarding of wealth in the hands of a few, denying even the basic rights and needs of others is evil and sinful. Right to private property may naturally imply the possibility of economic inequality.
Partnership with NGOs and governments
Though there are a number of concerns about partnering with NGOs and governments, it is noteworthy that combined efforts will definitely yield better results. Faith partners in the consultation and resulting framework were keen to point out that they too have concerns about partnering with international organizations and governments. Over the past year, we have seen a number of key technical strategies and political declarations adopted by countries and stakeholders that will enable us to move forward with programmatic action to achieve the SDGs. It is clear that FBOs are unique in the ways they contribute to these global efforts, but so are non-governmental organizations and government authorities. It would be a disgrace to not mobilize and utilize all that can be available right now. But to be successful, there are three specific challenges we need to meet:
- Finding a way forward together, rising above ideological differences to eliminate inequalities, slavery and injustices that continue to hinder achievement of SDG Agenda 2030.
- Acknowledging that gender justice remains a challenging set of issues, because of the difficult readings of text and the complexities of cultural practices. Given this reality, rather than walk away from the challenge, there needs to be concerted efforts to work towards the specific areas where there is a confluence of objectives – issue-based strategic alliances – as well as developing methods of “respectful disengagement” which does not harm the objectives of the SDGs.
- Harnessing the positive power of religious faith to turn back the tide of religious extremism and racial discrimination that fuel violent conflicts and drive stigma which in turn hurt SDG efforts.
Finding ways to partner more effectively with the health and educational infrastructure managed by religious bodies and their vast community networks.
Raise awareness and inspire action against injustices
Many faith-based and secular non-profits have been at the forefront of combating injustices and modern-day slavery. However, these efforts have not always been well coordinated, and many religious and non-religious communities remain unaware of the impact and scope the current threats. You’ll be astonished to learn the fact that not many national religious and non-profit leaders are aware of the devastating effect of modern slavery. More needs to be done to raise awareness about what can be done individually and collectively to make a difference. It is also important to share best practices on how local congregations and NGOs can partner to fill the gap in support services for survivors through housing, legal resources, medical care, job training, mental health counseling, food, and moral and spiritual support.
Set up trainings/capacity building/skills development networks
Support broad training of religious and non-profit networks around the world, such as missionaries and international religious leaders, pastors, youth group leaders, social service providers, and others. Victims of injustices and modern slavery are desperately in need of sanctuary, not as an alternative to medical care, legal advice or access to social welfare, but as a breathing space where they can feel safer and as a first step to being freed from their situation. The Freedom Charity provided such sanctuary for the women and it is often the case that it is these kinds of charities which provide sanctuary for those in need. Such charities certainly need our support. Yet surely all Christians should be involved in making it known also that the Church is a place of sanctuary, where people can be helped without conditions being placed on them. In Scripture, trust is built up by the witness of those devoted to God, through acts of generosity, healing, and care. Such witness through loving service is one of the most important marks of mission because it gives those who need our protection the confidence that if asked, we will provide it.
Live out Christian values - show and advocate for humanity
Genesis tells us that human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We can use this powerful idea to underpin our common humanity. God values, desires and loves each person equally. Further, every human being has the right to live in dignity irrespective of class, age, gender, religion and race. It follows that every human person represents sacred life that is unique and has dignity as a right. This dignity is not something acquired by one’s effort, or granted by those in authority, but based on the truth that every person is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). This implies that human development cannot be understood only in terms of economic development, but includes social, cultural, political and spiritual aspects of human person. That is, any government or system dominated by the concern of economic development alone is against authentic human development. The notion of the dignity of every person implies the equality of all human beings. In particular, wealthy nations and wealthy persons have a greater obligation to promote the development of poorer nations and people. Dignity and intrinsic worth of persons cannot be understood in terms of an individualistic right in isolation, but only in the context of the obligations to the human community as a whole.
Preferential option for the poor
Rights of all human beings are to be ensured. At the same time, Christian teachings reveal that the dignity and rights of the poor are often ignored and abused. This preferential option is rooted in the biblical concept of justice, namely, God has a preferential love and concern for the poor, the marginalized and the suffering. The bible also makes us aware of the structures of sin which continue to keep the poor as poor or make their condition worse.
Evidence Based Advocacy
Political advocacy work is as important as assistance for trafficked persons, and should particularly address the root causes of trafficking, with a focus on advocating for alternatives for vulnerable groups. Advocacy in countries of destination and towards international institutions should specifically aim at ensuring that appropriate legislation is in place and is being properly enforced at national and international levels to protect trafficked persons, to punish traffickers and to guarantee the rights of trafficked persons but also towards migration policies and economic policies that reduce vulnerability of people to trafficking. Finally, advocacy should highlight the need for eradication of forced labour and promotion of decent working conditions.
Evidence is awash insofar as global inequality, climate injustice and modern slavery are concerned. The clarion call is for the church to first stop being complicit and to build on historical experiences. Moreover, Christians and church cannot do it alone and should emulate the redwood. While the roots of the redwood are not deep, it lives for thousands of years because it spreads and reaches out to the other, making it strong. Similarly, to overcome inequality and injustice, we require strong partnerships and coalitions with other stakeholders, for Agenda 2030 to be realized especially on economic inequality, climate justice and modern slavery. In the words of the Lutheran World Federation Assembly held in Namibia in 2017, I conclude that our clarion and Christian call is: human beings are not for sale and creation is not for sale.
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