Upon the invitation of the WCC Commission of Churches on International Affairs, EDAN attended the commission’s 53rd meeting that took place in Geneva from 8th – 11th March 2016. The meeting was attended by 32 Commissioners and 22 members of staff/advisors/facilitators.
The meeting started with welcome and opening remarks from the WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and Associate General Secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri. This was followed by a thematic presentation and discussion by Prof. Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on “Trust building and Cross Boundary Communication: Towards preventing violence in the name of religion”
The Meeting was moderated by Dr. Emily Wetly of the Presbyterian Church of USA while the Director for CCIA Mr. Peter Prove took the members through the proceedings. Members had the opportunity to look at the mandate of CCIA which is:
• A revitalized, respected and influential source of information, analysis, advice and leadership on international affairs, for intergovernmental, governmental and civil society partners as well as for churches and FBOs.
• An active agency of the international ecumenical movement in the field of international affairs, accountable to Central Committee and to WCC policies.
• A point of outreach, connection to and active engagement of the experience, expertise and capacity of the global fellowship of churches in a collective ecumenical ministry for justice and peace.
• Addressing a broad spectrum of challenges to justice and peace.
• Timely and effective in responding to emerging developments.
• Facilitating the presence and voice of churches in key policy forums.
• Demonstrable impact and influence in public media and in governmental and intergovernmental policy and practice.
The meeting received reports from the Working Group on Peacebuilding; Human Rights, Children’s, Women’s Rights, Freedom of Religion; Statelessness, Migration; Environmental and Economic Justice; Human dignity, Youth Unemployment, Health & Healing, Diakonia, Decent work. A Report on Japan Pilgrimage for 70th anniversary of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was also shared with the members.
Further, members received a presentation on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and were briefed on the WCC’s 2016 focus on Middle East (Israel-Palestine). Dr. Manoj Kurian and Ms. Francesca Merico made presentations on Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) while Dr. Samuel Kabue made a presentation on EDANs work and how it relates to CCIA.
Members were also updated on The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), preparations for the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther and the preparations for the 8th Pan-Orthodox Council and the WCC Communication Strategy.
During the thematic plenary, communication was seen as key to building trust between religious communities and that could only happen if there was an open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national and international levels to counter religious intolerance.
Members had the opportunity to attend a Session at the UN Human Rights Council on 9th March 2016. The Session received the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief after which it was followed by reactions to the report by NGOs.