From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WCC UPDATE: WCC advocacy week opens at UN in New York
"WCC Media" <Media@wcc-coe.org>
Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:46:06 +0100
World Council of Churches - Update
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 email@example.com
For immediate release - 16/11/2004
ECONOMIC JUSTICE: "NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY KEY TO ACHIEVING MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS"
Photos available free of charge, see below
Cf . WCC press release PR-04-56 of 11 November 2004
From Sweden to Kenya, churches should take responsibility for mobilizing locally and advocating for economic justice at their national government level. This was one of the main messages from a public seminar on "The role of the churches in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals" taking place in New York City during a World Council of Churches (WCC) International Affairs and Advocacy Week at the United Nations.
Based on a vision of justice and a radical change in economic ethics as the
ultimate goal of church advocacy, the focus for the14-19 November Advocacy
Week's first session was on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as one
step towards a more just society. The MDGs were agreed by the UN, and aim to
reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
Speakers at the seminar, representing a variety of WCC partners, agreed that
the power to achieve the MDGs and debt cancellation lies with the national
governments in the South as well as the North, and that churches should focus
their advocacy work on these governments. Mobilizing at the grassroots,
local, level on economic issues, and advocacy on good governance and
anti-corruption campaigns at the national level, are important ways that
churches can work towards more just economic systems, they suggested.
"The hope of humanity is in the churches. Churches need to challenge the
neoliberal policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund when
they undermine the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals, and also need
to keep national governments in the South accountable to rational and honest
use of their national resources," said Polycarp Omolo Ochilo, director of
international affairs, service and witness with the All Africa Council of
Salil Shetty, the executive director of the UN MDGs Campaign, suggested that
churches can be critically engaged in unifying and mobilizing people. He
offered many positive examples of creative MDG campaigns across the globe,
from Italy to Brazil, showing how mobilization of civil society can call
attention to issues of poverty and call for government integrity and
Chien Yen Goh from the Third World Network highlighted the inequitable trade
policies that make it very difficult to achieve the goal of "creating an
international partnership for development". According to Goh, trade is a
crucial part of global society, and trade policies should ideally serve the
needs of development within a government's overall policy. Current economic
systems and patterns of liberalization critically weaken necessary structures
and widen the gap between poor and wealthy countries.
"It is impossible to meet the MDGs without 100% debt cancellation for the
poorest countries," said Neil Watkins of the Jubilee USA network. Interest
payments are crippling many countries, to the extent that Zambia is paying
20% of their national budget on debt interest and repayment, and only 3% of
their budget on health care. This is happening while their country suffers
from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and life expectancy has gone from 50 years in
1980 to 38 today. Watkins also pointed out that there is no evidence that
debt relief has contributed to corruption and increased military spending; he
suggested that in fact, all the evidence shows that debt relief has freed
funds for poverty reduction.
Like many churches around the world, the Church of Sweden has been active in
the Jubilee campaigns, and Margareta Grape, the church's director of
international affairs, said that they "will continue to rally around the
Millennium Development Goals as one tool for advocacy towards a more just
2005 will be a critical year for work on issues of economic justice. This
year offers a new opportunity to put poverty and human rights back on the
agenda and to show critical links with the current overarching security
concerns. Discussions on 100% debt reduction are actually happening within
many governments, and there will be a review of the MDGs as well as other
major economic policies.
Speakers at the public seminar were the moderator, John Langmore, former
director of the International Labour Organization liaison office at the UN,
and keynote speaker Salil Shetty, executive director of the UN MDG campaign.
Responding to them were Chien Yen Goh of the Third World Network, and Neil
Watkins of Jubilee USA
By the year 2015, all 189 United Nations member states have agreed to meet
the following goals:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by half
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
For more detailed information on the goals and the background of the goals,
see the UN website
Media contact person: Dr Laurence Konmla Bropleh, permanent representative,
WCC UN Liaison Office, tel: 212- 867 5891, Mobile: 1 202 258 4166 email:
Information on the 2004 WCC Advocacy Week is available at:
More information on the work of the WCC UN Liaison Office (UNLO) in New York
is available at
Photos from the 14-19 November International Advocacy Week are available on
our website at:
Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more
than 120 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions.
The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with
the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets
approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Samuel Kobia
from the Methodist church in Kenya.
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