Ecumenical leader meets UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Published 24 January 2013

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has heard concerns about religious freedom during a meeting with the head of the World Council of Churches.

During the meeting this week at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Dr Navanethem Pillay said justice should not be secondary to peace.

She also acknowledged the role of WCC in promoting human rights and in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - the WCC international affairs commission contributed to the drafting of Article 18 of the declaration, guaranteeing religious freedom.

WCC general secretary Dr Olav Fykse Tveit spoke of the WCC's ongoing commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.

In particular, he highlighted the WCC's recent work on religious freedom, including advocacy on the misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan and the response to growing religious intolerance in Nigeria, where churches have been targeted by militant group Boko Haram.

"The issue of freedom of religion and rights of religious minorities has been a prime concern of the WCC. On behalf of our member churches, we speak for the rights of all religions irrespective of their affiliations," Dr Tveit said during the meeting.

"While engaged in advocacy on religious freedom and the rights of all human beings, the WCC also uses an interfaith framework for addressing the human rights concerns rather than limiting them to the interests of Christians alone."

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