Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015

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The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

To accomplish this, individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal are invited and welcomed. Over 10,000 people from all walks of life and faiths will gather in spirited community in Salt Lake City from October 15-19, 2015.

This year, the Unitarian Universalist Association will be represented by a number of people including Rev. Eric Cherry of the International Office.  Eric will be participating in several workshops and present at the UUA’s booth in the exhibit hall#567. Stop by and say hello! (here’s a quick map)

If you’ll be attending this year’s Parliament, please consider yourself warmly welcomed to an informal, BYOB (bring your own bagged lunch) UU lunch gathering on Saturday October 17th from 12pm-2pm in Ballroom G: RSVP here!


Remembering Dr. Albert Schweitzer

schweitzermemeOn September 4, 1965, the world lost an incredible polymath: Humanitarian, theologian, philosopher, organist, musicologist, physician, and scholar, Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

A lifelong Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular and traditional Christian views of Jesus, observing in his historiographical research of depictions of Jesus dating back to the late 18th century—1906’s Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung (eventually translated and published in English as The Quest of the Historical Jesus in 1910)—that the image and understanding of “the historical Jesus” evolved with the times and outlooks of the various authors who wrote about him, ultimately concluding that the life of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ own convictions.

It was his ethical interpretation of Christianity that led him on a search for a universal concept of ethics. While on a boat trip through French Equatorial Guinea (now Gabon) in the early 1900’s, the phrase “Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben” (in English, Reverence for Life) came to him in an epiphany, forming the basis for his ethical philosophy of the same name, which he developed and put into practice through written word and humanitarian action for the rest of his life.

A letter from Dr. Schweitzer adorns the walls of the offices of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Click here for a transcription & translation.

In 1923’s Civilization and Ethics he concluded that ethics was synonymous with reverence for life: “Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil.”

A bust of Dr. Schweitzer at UUA Headquarters.
In 1952 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his Reverence for Life philosophy, expressed most famously in his founding and sustaining of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, French Equatorial Guinea, where philosophy was put into healing practice. It was his hope that Reverence for Life would catch on worldwide; it is no coincidence that Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), widely credited as sparking the environmental movement, is dedicated to him. In fact, innumerable ethical & charitable organizations formed since the ’50s align with and revere his core philosophy.

Between his theological seeking, reverence for life, and humanitarian work in Lambaréné, Unitarians were among the first Americans to respond to his simpatico philosophy. In 1947, Dr. Charles Joy, an administrator of relief programs, and Melvin Arnold, the editor in chief of Beacon Press, donated $4,000 to Schweitzer’s hospital in Lambaréné. Numerous articles on Schweitzer were published in The Christian Register applauding his numerous contributions to world community.

In 1962, Schweitzer graciously accepted honorary membership into the Church of the Larger Fellowship:

From The Unitarian Register and the Universalist Leader, February 1962:

Dr. Albert Schweitzer Accepts Membership in UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship


Dr. Albert Schweitzer, noted for his work as a physician in Lambaréné, French Equatorial Africa, and as winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, has become a life member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship. A certificate of life membership in the CLF has been sent to him.


Dr. Schweitzer accepted an invitation extended to him by the Rev. George N. Marshall, CLF minister, “to receive our materials and become an honored member,” issued “because of your broad sympathy and understanding of the liberal religious position.”


Dr. Schweitzer replied: “I thank you cordially for your offer….I accept with pleasure. Even as a student I worked on the problem and history of the Unitarian Church and developed sympathy for your affirmation of Christian freedom at a time when it resulted in persecution. Gradually I established closer contact with Unitarian communities and became familiar with their faith-in-action. Therefore I thank you that through you I have been made an honored member of this church.”


Time magazine, reporting Dr. Schweitzer’s acceptance, said: “By the time he became a Lutheran preacher at 24, Albert Schweitzer had already begun to question orthodox Christian doctrine and to hedge on the divinity of Christ….Was Schweitzer renouncing Lutheranism? His own eclectic exegesis: ‘For a long time now I have had connections with the Unitarian Church. Yet there is no question of my breaking with the Lutheran Church. I am a Protestant, but above all I am a scientist, and as such I can be on good terms with all of the Protestant churches.’ As for the matter of the Trinity, which Lutherans affirm and Unitarians deny, Schweitzer wondered rhetorically: ‘Did Christ or Saint Paul believe in it?'”

On occasion, our admiration of “le Grand Docteur” has led us to claim Dr. Schweitzer as one of our own.

In honor of his 90th birthday, the January 1965 issue of “The Unitarian Universalist Register-Leader” commemorates Schweitzer’s incredible legend, reality, and humanity through a series of pieces written by several that had the privilege of knowing him. Then-UUA President Rev. Dana McLean Greeley astutely notes in the issue’s editorial column:

“We who are religious liberals are honored that Albert Schweitzer on several occasions has chosen to associate himself with us. We have tried to repay that honor in part by interpreting his life and work. We must not exploit Schweitzer’s association with liberal religion, for we know that he is above partisan labels. …Because of the power of his example, our own lives are richer and he makes us want to devote an ever-greater portion of our lives to service.”

We invite you to dig into the full issue of “Albert Schweitzer – an Evaluation at Ninety” in remembrance of an extraordinary life whose philosophy and accomplishments continue to reverberate and resonate today.

Shared here with permission, you’ll find reflections from Rev. Homer A. Jack, Robert M. Goldwyn, Jack Mendelsohn, Charles R. Joy, and George N. Marshall.

Click the image to view this issue of “The Leader”


The Albert Schweitzer Visiting Ministries program seeks to connect Unitarian Universalist Association ministers with Deutsche Unitarier Religiongemeinschaft (DU) congregations in Germany.

Ministers in Final Fellowship with the UUA and in good standing with the UU Ministers Association, with considerable fluency in German and an interest in providing short-term professional services to DU congregations in Germany are invited to explore this opportunity.

Did You Know

In recognition of UU Church of the Philippines’ founder Toribio Quimada’s outstanding service to liberal religion and the people of the Philippines, the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) presented Quimada with the Albert Schweitzer Award for Distinguished Service in 1984.

Faithful International Partnering – Proceeding Carefully and Intentionally

Here’s an important reminder as the new ‘church year’ begins for many of our congregations.

International engagement is important ministry, and more transformative when its collaborative.  Our organizations look forward to supporting your hopes and dreams.  And, we urge you to be thoughtful and careful even in the midst of exciting opportunities.

A Memo: Connecting with Unitarians and UU’s Around the World, CAREFULLY

To: UUA Ministers and Religious Leaders

From:  Eric Cherry, UUA International Office
Cathy Cordes, UU Partner Church Council
Jill McAllister and Steve Dick, International Council of Unitarians and Universalists

Date: September 14, 2012

Dear Friends,

It is so exciting to see the many ways that our UU faith is connecting around the world – so many congregations and ministers are now making a variety of international connections! We are thrilled that UUA churches and individuals are looking beyond their own doors and even beyond their own geographic communities and connecting. The UUA, ICUU, the UUPCC and other organizations stand ready to support your outreach in a variety of ways. We invite you to contact us at any point where we can be helpful. We are writing today to offer some advice based on our joint experience working with UUs here and in other countries.

Much of this new activity is aided with new communication tools that make contact easier and keeping in touch possible. Social media programs such as Skype and Facebook make it easy to learn of possibilities and to meet people over the internet.

Our UU global community is growing both bigger and smaller! Bigger in the sense that people around the world continue to discover our liberal tradition and establish it in their own countries and regions, and smaller in the sense that it is so easy to connect with each other around the world. This gives us reason to both celebrate and pay close attention, for there are good ways to connect, not-so-good ways to connect, and ways to connect which can cause huge problems.

BE VERY CAREFUL when making connections via Facebook and other social media. Before you respond to a Facebook request from someone claiming to be a UU, or a UU minister, contact one of the offices or organizations listed below which specializes in international UU connections, to get more information! Social media enables one to present information in ways that may not be false but also may not be a complete description of reality. (Anyone can take a picture of themselves with a stole on, or lighting a chalice.) Be careful not to assume that you’ve been contacted because you are special, or especially knowledgeable or gifted or whatever. In general, this kind of “Facebooking” is a process of “blanketing” a target audience, or of fishing, hoping to get someone to bite. Do not consider the list of other colleagues who may be listed as friends as references for or as an endorsement of the person. Many of us respond casually to friend requests without verifying or confirming information about a prospective friend.

FIRST, FIND OUT MORE before you proceed. Definitely consult with one of the following:
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU)
The UUA International Resources Office
The UU Partner Church Council

BE ESPECIALLY CAREFUL ABOUT MONEY Don’t send money unless you have some history of relationship and interactions. We suggest not sending money to any individual, group or organization that is not part of some kind of judicatory or governance structure. You can find this out from one of the organizations listed above. Unless you are working with a group or organization in which there is some kind of shared leadership and decision-making, your support and gifts are almost certainly going to lead to triangulating folks in these countries, and may even stimulate real conflict. (This has happened more than once.) It may be possible to send funds through one of the UU international organizations or to help support existing or new projects sponsored by these organizations. Contact us for information about such possibilities.

LEARN MORE! International relations among U-U’s around the world are more than 100 years old. The UUA, ICUU, and UUPCC have been specifically working in this area together for more than 20 years, and many lessons have been learned along the way. We are only just beginning to understand how much cultural differences affect all of us, and truly, we have done our share of “connecting” which has not only been problematic, but which has been both damaging and destructive. We have also established and been part of many beautiful new relationships which are beneficial all around. It takes time and experience to know the difference.

THERE ARE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES We have much to learn, and it is very exciting. You and your congregation can be enlightened and invigorated through international connections. There are significant differences among Unitarians and UU’s around the world – everyone is not in the UUA, nor is Unitarianism the same as our UUA traditions, all around the world. Many newly emerging U-U groups have very different religious histories and very different social and cultural realities. For some of them, daily survival is a huge challenge.

THERE ARE VIABLE AND SUSTAINABLE WAYS TO CONNECT Some of the groups most in need of support and cooperation may not be reaching out via Facebook – you may never hear about some of these places where you can make the most difference if you don’t ask. There are opportunities to meet international UU’s at conferences and events – this is a great first step. You can be work with and help support emerging UU groups around the world as part of a team or coalition, without needing to manage a relationship wholly on your own.

DO SOME HOMEWORK FIRST The Joint Working Group of the UUA International Office, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, and the UU Partner Church Council can help you learn about good ways to connect. Together, we are aiming toward global connections which achieve and model the ideals of our faith community. Please join us in aiming for these ideals and practices, by contacting us before you go forward with new international connections. Begin by reading the aims we have agreed to, listed below.

“Five Guiding Principles of UU International Engagement”

I. Our international engagement must emerge from a place of deep humility and intentionally seek relationships based on equality and mutuality.

Do: Risk for the sake of shared goals that have been established carefully.
Don’t: Assume that you or your partner have all the answers or can predict the future.

II. Our international engagement is most effective when it comprehends the abundance and variety of resources our congregations and international partners already have.

Do: Look within and without your congregation and its partners for resources that are present but perhaps not obvious.
Don’t: Establish a relationship that relies on or creates unhealthy dependency for yourself or your partner.

III. Our international engagement is most transformative when it is grounded in faithful reflection, including understanding the history of our international engagement.

Do: Explore the theological grounding of international relationship and engagement.
Don’t: Repeat common mistakes.

IV. Our international engagement is truest to our highest values when it responds with wisdom and passion to institutional oppression and injustice.

Do: Support partners as they seek to find fish for a day, fishing poles for tomorrow, and establish access to the pond for a lifetime.
Don’t: Ignore long-term justice strategies because they seem harder to achieve than short-term charitable ideas.

V. The Unitarian Universalist universe of international programs is incredibly diverse and highly decentralized. Our international engagement is most comprehensive when we understand and utilize partner organizations well.

Do: Contact an institutional UU partner organization for consultation before agreeing to a project with an international partner, especially if the international partner is UU.
Don’t: Assume a request you receive from an international partner is endorsed by the UUA, ICUU, UUPCC or other UU organization.

We look forward to working with you.
Jill, Cathy, Steve and Eric

International Council of Unitarians and Universalists:
Rev. Jill McAllister, Program Coordinator –;
Rev. Steve Dick, Executive Secretary –

UU Partner Church Council:
Cathy Cordes, Executive Director –

UUA International Office:
Rev. Eric Cherry, Director –

Unitarian Day 2015


September 18th marks the 128th anniversary of the birth of Khasi Unitarianism. On this day in1887, Hajjom Kissor Singh started the journey of organized Unitarianism in North East India.

According to The Shillong Times, this year’s celebration was marked with a day-long program which included morning prayers at 9 am, a worship service at 2 pm, sports for children at 4 pm and a torch procession at 5.30 pm. Religious heads of different denominations attended a candle lighting. The theme of the celebration is ‘Religious Tolerance and Liberalism – the Need of the Hour’.

From The Times of India:

Unitarianism is a unique movement in the realms of spiritualism which draws its theology largely from the indigenous Khasi religion.


Meghalaya perhaps is the only state in the country where there is a state holiday on this day.


As with traditional Khasi faith, the major emphasis of Khasi unitarianism is to carry out one’s duty towards God and fellow humans. Unitarians stress on the unity of God as opposed to trinity…


In the Khasi-Jaintia Hills, the movement was founded by Babu Hajom Kissor Singh (June 15, 1865-November 13, 1923). He came from a Christian family, but was dissatisfied with the orthodox Christian doctrine of his time.


With the help of Khasi Brahmos and American Unitarians, in 1887 he began the Unitarian movement at Jowai with three companions. He called his faith “Ka Niam Untarian’ (The Unitarian Religion.) On September 18, 1887, an anniversary date Khasi Unitarians celebrate, Singh led the first real church service at his home in Jowai.


A bright student, Singh became a “questioning member” of the Methodist Church, doubting orthodox Christianity. Singh observed that the Welsh missionaries had done away with the fear of demons only to replace it with fear of hell. He concluded from his studies that he would have to leave their church to seek “the true religion of Jesus, the love of God.”


Adapting some of the traditional values of Khasi culture, Singh defined Khasi unitarianism in terms of duty to God, to fellow humans and to oneself.

A warm congratulations to our Khasi Brothers & Sisters on this year’s anniversary! TO NANGROI 128!

Enjoy the following videos, which commemorate past Unitarian Day celebrations:

From East Shore Unitarian & their partner churches in Smit & Kharang:

From the 125th celebration:

Hungarian Unitarian Church Refugee Appeal

Image courtesy Hungarian Interchurch Aid
Refugees crossing the Hungarian border. Image courtesy Hungarian Interchurch Aid.

In response to the global refugee crisis, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association announced the launch of two new initiatives in a joint statement:

  • A special UUSC-UUA Refugee Crisis Fund, with the goal of raising $250,000 over the next 15 days and
  • petition drive to pressure the Obama administration to substantially raise the number of refugees admitted into the United States to 200,000.

Donations to the UUSC-UUA Refugee Crisis Fund will go directly to our partners operating on the ground in countries receiving refugees. A portion of the funds will also be channeled through the Hungarian Unitarian Church to Hungarian Interchurch Aid.

Here’s the official appeal from the Hungarian Unitarian Church:

New HUC banner 2012[3]Budapest 10th September 2015


Dear Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist Friends all over the World!


Many of you are aware of the fact that European Union and especially Hungary is facing an extraordinary migration flow. We, as leaders of the District in Hungary of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, consider that is an urgent task to help all those refugees in need.


We are a relatively small religious organization with limited volunteers capacity and financial resources, therefore we cannot create and organize our charity program by ourselves. We were, however, one of the founders of Hungarian Interchurch Aid 25 years ago, and we support and participate in their projects ever since.


The Hungarian Interchurch Aid is a professional aid agency of Protestant background, with several national and international projects. According to their description they participate in the following relief work: psychosocial services for children, provide assistance to reception centers in the form of children’s clothing and toys, diapers, baby food, blankets, towels, non-perishable food and hygienic items, etc. – including to make migrants’ conditions more humane. You can find more information on their website.


If you are able or willing to support these charity services, please send your donations to the bank account of the Unitarians in Hungary – we have set a special agreement with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid to transfer this help to their refugee projects.


Thank you for your consideration, and for any help you may be able to provide.


May blessings be with us all!

Botond Elekes, Lay President

Rev. Jozsef Kászoni, Deputy Bishop

Youth Civic Engagement for a Sustainable Tomorrow

UU-UNO interns Audrey Carleton and Jen Caplan at the International Youth Day event at the UN Headquarters in NYC.

UU-UNO interns Audrey Carleton and Jen Caplan at the International Youth Day event at the UN Headquarters in NYC.

On Wednesday, August 12th, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) interns participated in the United Nations’ International Youth Day. The theme of this year’s event was Youth Civic Engagement, where youth engagement vis a vis the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was both championed and celebrated.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began the opening session with a call to action for youth worldwide. Referring to the current 15- to 24-year-old demographic as the “SDG generation,” he implored youth to become “torchbearers of sustainable development.” Mr. Ban acknowledged that today’s youth are impacted by all of the new SDGs, speaking about the importance of utilizing them both within and as partners to the UN in advancing these goals to create a better world. (more…)

Climate Change Conference Roundup: Commit2Respond NOW to Mitigate Climate Change

Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Director Bruce Knotts at Star Island
Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Director Bruce Knotts at Star Island

I had the privilege of speaking at, leading discussions, and participating in two amazing meetings on Climate Change. The first was the week-long International Affairs Conference on Climate Change on Star Island, NH, featuring several amazing leaders in this field of climate change. The second meeting, “Our Children, Climate, Faith Symposium,” took place the weekend of August 8-9 in Strafford, Vermont.

It is clear from all these speakers and more that participated in the two conferences, that there is much we can do. We need global agreements to lower greenhouse gas emissions, carbon and other pollutants in the atmosphere of our planet.  Learn more at Commit2Respond. (more…)

Potential Government Shut Down Due to Funding Dispute Over Planned Parenthood


Over the past two weeks, two videos have been released showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue after abortions and even negotiating the prices charged for that tissue. Planned Parenthood condemned the scam for deceptively characterizing its handling fees to cover expenses, which are legal, as illegal profiteering.

The release of these videos has stirred a renewed argument from Republican and Conservative parties who are aiming to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood. The argument for defunding is that tax dollars should not go towards an organization that engages in criminal activity. The opposing argument is that Planned Parenthood has not engaged in any criminal activity, nor does it receive federal money for performing abortions.

The videos’ time of release coincides with Congress’ final work on developing the spending budget for the next fiscal year. Conservative members, led by Senator Ted Cruz, are calling this a “line in the sand” issue. They are willing to do whatever it takes to not have this organization be funded, including having the government shut down. However, all Republican members do not support this idea.

Rand Paul, a republican presidential candidate, stated, “”I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government.” There are several consequences for a government shutdown. The last time the government faced this issue, in fall of 2013, the following occurred:

  • Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days – At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed
  • The shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars – The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion.
  • The shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy – The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October.
  • The shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services – Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health, almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed, and critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold.

As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our principles to affirm and promote justice, equality, and compassion, especially for those in our communities who are voiceless and vulnerable. With the UU United Nations Office’s focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), the Planned Parenthood debate is an extremely important one.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave a lot of women without access to proper healthcare and human rights to their own bodies. Our office is creating a multi-faith coalition to fight for these exact rights. The coalition will focus on advocating for women’s human rights to SRHR, and educating on the benefit this has for society.

While it does not seem likely that Congress will shut down the government this time, it is clear that the funding of Planned Parenthood and their practices are a highly controversial issue. This will be of great importance during the 2016 presidential election.

Women in a Changing Cuba: a discussion with Reverend Dr. Ofelia Ortega Suárez

IMG_0958“Vivir en la esparanza; Live in Hope”. This quote comes from Reverend Dr. Ofelia Ortega Suárez. She spoke at the UN Church Center Friday, July 17, 2015, on the topic of “Women in a Changing Cuba”. You could not ask for a better person to speak on this topic than Dr. Suárez. She was the first woman to be ordained in a reform church in Latin America. Furthermore, she has worked closely with Christian Institute for Gender Studies, as well as been extremely active on the World Council of Churches at the UN. She was able to give some background information on the situation in Cuba, and how it is a growing and changing country.

The discussion began by providing some background on the history of Cuba, then engaged in focusing on the issues surrounding Cuban women. Listed below are some major points shared during the conversation.

  • Unfavorable demographics: Since people are living longer, and having fewer children, there is a growing population. This means that there are fewer people in the workforce, as well as fewer people to take care of the elderly.
  • Migration: A lot of young women are leaving the country, which leaves this population lacking.
  • The Glass Ceiling: As an issue that women all over the world face, the glass ceiling can be described as, ‘unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.’
  • A Disadvantage in the Church Setting: They are often kept from holding positions, and being ordained: a topic that Dr. Suárez is clearly well versed in.

Following the lecture and discussion, a question and answer portion began. Many of the questions shared are written below.

  • Question: What does Cuba do to address issues with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?

Answer: There is preventative work done within the country in regards to AIDS- they have officially stopped the transference of AIDS from women to their children. They have also partnered with UNICEF to help with children development. Finally, they have done a lot of work to take care of people with disabilities.

  •  Question: How does a patriarchal society negatively affect men?

Answer: Dr. Suárez’s church has been teaching that expectations of masculinity oppress men. They use Jesus as an example of masculinity that embraces tenderness and love. She cited that they are not aiming for a matriarchal society, but instead a community of people that work together.

  • Question: How can you use your religious background to educate on SRHR?

Answer: There is an issue with a high abortion rate in their country. They choose to combat this issue with education on family planning, in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. She also discussed domestic violence, and that through giving women education, they can work and support themselves in order to escape a bad situation.

When asked what she learned from the revolution, she responded, “dignity. The ability to look at someone else and say, you are, but I am. Ubunto: I am because you are.” Reverend Dr. Ofelia Ortega Suárez is truly an inspirational woman. She works to better the society in which she lives, and embodies the idea that women empowerment needs to be a priority in any society that wishes to progress.

Human Rights Roundtable: Civil Society Engages with Permanent Mission of China for the First Time

On Thursday, July 2nd, the Non-Governmental Organization’s (NGO) Committee on Human Rights hosted a roundtable discussion with the Permanent Mission of People’s Republic of China to the United Nations. With the help of keynote guest speaker Yao Shaojun, counsellor of the Chinese Permanent Mission, representatives from various NGOs engaged in constructive dialogue with the Chinese Mission, as a first step of many in a developing relationship between the Chinese mission and civil society.

Counsellor Shaojun has an extensive history of defending human rights at the UN.  In keeping with these values, Shaojun introduced himself at the roundtable by stating the importance China, as a nation, and its position on human rights. Shaojun also urged that NGOs play a key role in mobilizing human rights issues at the UN. We were excited by this opportunity to work with him because our Unitarian Universalist faith urges us to fight for universal human rights, in keeping with the view of Counsellor Shaojun.

Representatives of UN NGOs brought up queries ranging from the freedom to form social groups in China, and the hardships NGOs in many countries face in prioritizing human rights, without consultative status at the UN. Other topics discussed include Chinese NGO presence at the UN, and LGBT rights activism in China and at the UN.

Shaojun highlighted the pillars of development that China has undertaken over the past several decades. The Chinese Permanent Mission has created initiatives to develop its Economic, Social, Cultural, Environmental, and Political sectors. Through these actions, the People’s Republic of China hopes to embody civil society into its mission to the UN as well as inviting Chinese NGOs to be accredited at the UN.

Thank you to Counsellor Shaojun and the Chinese Permanent Mission for joining us in a conversation with civil society. We look forward to work with him and furthering our human rights activism at the UN.

To support our continued access to the highest levels of the United Nations and to the Canadian and American governments, please donate generously to the UU-UNO.