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.