Human Dignity and Rights

Ecumenical Advocacy in the UN Human Rights System, affirming our commitment to human rights, to the dignity and worth of the human person created in God’s image and infinitely precious in God’s sight, and to the equal rights of women and men, of young and old, of all nations and peoples.

Since the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, to which the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs contributed language on freedom of religion or belief, the WCC has played an ongoing role  in developing and protecting the rights of all individuals. 

Through ecumenical advocacy, the WCC human rights programme encourages and supports engagement of member churches and their partners in the reporting mechanisms of the UN human rights system, speaking out against injustice and discrimination, being a voice for the voiceless, and amplifying unheard voices. 

The WCC also works to defend human dignity by addressing human rights from an ethical and theological perspective. It responds to requests from churches to support their work when human dignity is threatened. The programme accompanies churches and strengthens their advocacy work for human rights. This requires a holistic approach, in which civil and political rights, economic, cultural and social rights are addressed in an integrated way.

Project priorities include developing the inter-religious dimension of rights; focusing on victims' and minority rights, impunity, and religious freedom; and providing churches with a space in which they can discuss the relationship between justice and human rights. 

The WCC participates in the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), through a range of activities, including presenting written and oral submissions and hosting events about thematic and country-specific human rights concerns. The WCC supports churches to engage with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the HRC, which examines the situation of human rights in every UN member state once every five years, as well as other key human rights mechanisms.

In addition, the WCC facilitates access for victims of human rights abuses as well as human rights defenders to the mechanisms of the HRC through the provision of their testimonies, via the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Cooperation with other ecumenical actors, exchanging information and arranging regular meetings during the HRC sessions are part of the effort to build and strengthen the capacity of the churches to ensure respect for the full range of human rights.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:8

What concerns are you facing in your country?

We can advise you how to use the UN system to seek change

When will your country come up for review by the mechanisms of the human rights system?

We can guide you through the process of engagement

Jennifer Philpot-Nissen, Programme Executive for Human Rights and Disarmament

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +41 22 791 6313