Anglican Communion contributes to 55th UN Human Rights Council

Posted Apr 17, 2024

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. Glen Ruffle is the Anglican Communion’s assistant permanent representative to the United Nations. He writes about the recent 55th U.N. Human Rights Council and the Anglican Communion’s contribution.

The 55th session of the Human Rights Council took place Feb. 26 to April 5 in Geneva, with the Anglican Communion working with partners to co-sponsor statements and observe proceedings.

We co-sponsored a side-event, “Empowering responses to religious hatred,” led by ADF International at which Archbishop Balestrero of the Holy See spoke. He shared that love for God cannot be separated from love for other people, noting that 1 in 7 Christians experience persecution – with hostility notably growing in the West.

Other speakers noted how human dignity needs to be the starting point for laws on rights and freedoms, and that in legislating we must always ask, “How might a law be used against human dignity?” The need to target root causes of hatred was also mentioned: empowering those most vulnerable to hate messaging and dealing with the struggles in their lives is a key strategy.

A speaker from Pakistan spoke on how blasphemy laws tend to embed the religious majority, fuel vigilantism, rarely demand evidence beyond an accusation, often affect the relatives and friends of the accused person as much as the accused person, work against the promotion of freedom to hold one’s own opinion, and tend to lead to social apartheid.

The event ended with the call to educate and counter misinformation with facts; build communities and meet the other person, learning to see their humanity; and in cases of violence, be bold in litigation and diligent in documenting evidence.

The Communion also co-sponsored a statement led by the Quakers on the need to fundamentally reform global economic structures and systems to protect the planet and human rights.

In the Council sessions, disturbing information was presented on many situations ranging from the horrors of Gaza, the rising rate of suicides in Afghanistan, and the oppression in Nicaragua. The latter case shows how divided the world is at the moment, as states either condemned the dictatorship and its attacks on churches and civil society, or claimed the real problem was western sanctions, politicization of the Council, and that the Council had no right to talk about Nicaragua’s internal affairs.

There is much work needed to bring about change in what is a dysfunctional world, but the Anglican Communion’s U.N. team is working to build relations with states and the U.N. and to speak out where there is injustice. We work to encourage states to move toward a world where the principles of the Kingdom of God are influential, and to demonstrate to the world the work of our Communion around the world in bringing peace, caring for refugees, healing the sick, and pointing toward Jesus.