What are human beings that you think about them;
what are human beings that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
crowning them with glory and grandeur.
Human rights are what make us human. They are the principles by which we create the sacred home for human dignity. Human rights are what reason requires and conscience commands.
—Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
Our Globalized World
In an age of globalization, the recognition of human dignity and the struggle to protect human rights has become even more complex and challenging. While protections for human rights are increasingly enacted by governments and international bodies like the United Nations, grave threats to and gross violations of human rights are also on the rise.
The world’s financial capital is ever more integrated, and wealth is ever more centralized in the hands of financial elites and corporate institutions. Realizing social and economic rights, especially eradicating hunger and reducing unemployment, is becoming increasingly difficult. Bringing conflicts to a just and durable resolution is more daunting with the increased capacity of individuals, governments and their military forces, and other entities, including paramilitary and extremist groups, to organize and unleash violence. These groups have access to more sophisticated communications technology and more deadly instruments of war than ever before.
Ending violence and wars, and checking impunity and disregard for international human rights and humanitarian laws will require more than political will and moral courage. Concrete programs and mechanisms are needed to realize the totality of human rights: civil, political, social, economic, and cultural. We must offer peace by advocating for its concrete manifestations in the availability of nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink, for decent work and living wage for everyone, and health, housing and education for all.
Our Christian tradition shows us an alternative to globalization. It is a “counter-globalization” that empowers God’s people to “do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8b). What must be globalized is a culture of peace that institutes peace with justice in ways that are visible and tangible in the lives of peoples and communities. We are challenged to globalize an ethos that respects and protects human life with human rights so that all “could have life—indeed, . . . live life to the fullest” (John 10:10b) as God intends.
Biblical and Theological Grounding
The psalmist exclaims: “What are human beings / that you think about them; / what are human beings / that you pay attention to them? / You’ve made them only slightly less than divine [divine beings, or angels], / crowning them with glory and grandeur” (Psalm 8:4-5). Every human being bears the likeness of our just, gracious, and loving God: “God created human beings, in the image of God they were created; male and female were created” (Genesis 1:27, adapted).
Human dignity is the foundation of all human rights. It is inherent and inborn. We do not legislate human dignity; we only need to recognize and affirm each human being who bears it. Human dignity is the image of God in each human being. Human dignity is the sum total of all human rights.
We protect human dignity with human rights. Human rights are the building blocks of human dignity. They are indivisible and interdependent. It is God’s gift of love for everyone. Human rights, being the expression of the wholeness and fullness of human dignity, are indivisible and interdependent.
Human rights, expressed in affirmations and declarations, treaties and conventions, laws and statutes, are products of struggles to affirm and fulfill the wholeness and fullness of life. As peoples and governments increase the catalogue of rights that are recognized and protected, protections not only increase, but so do our approximation of and striving for human dignity. To be engaged in the human rights struggle is to accept God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ who has come to affirm all God’s people as they are: as individuals and people in community together.
But human rights do not affect humanity alone. The integrity of God’s creation is possible only with the affirmation of both the dignity of all persons and the integrity of the whole ecological order. Human rights cannot be enjoyed in an environment of pillage and decay. The health of human beings is intricately connected to the health of the planet and the entire cosmos.
Human dignity is the common bond that affirms the individuality of each human being while celebrating the plurality and variety of communities to which each belongs, including the diverse social economic, civic, political, religious, ideological, racial, class, gender, and ethnic identities each represents.
The United Methodist Church and Human Rights
The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles provide foundational understanding of rights and freedoms. These principles affirm both the sovereignty of God over all of creation and the duties and responsibilities of each person for the natural and nurturing world, and the social, economic, political, and world communities. At their spring 1998 meeting, and on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Council of Bishops called on “United Methodists across the connection worldwide [to] join in . . . safeguarding the worth and dignity of peoples and the integrity and sacredness of all of God’s creation.”
“As Christians,” the bishops said, “loving our God and loving our neighbor together advance the imperatives of human rights. Human rights enable us to express in concrete ways our love for one another by assuring that each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened.” Human rights are safeguards of peoples and communities against violations of their rights and infringements on their freedoms. To this end, the General Conference called on all governments to accept their obligation to uphold human rights by refraining from repression, torture, and violence against any person and to ratify and implement international conventions, covenants, and protocols addressing human rights in the context of justice and peace.
Today’s global context is ever more complex, not in the least through the institutions and agents that mark an unprecedented globalization that we are experiencing, if not, participating in. At the same time that we witness the rapid change in local and global processes, we also see the rise and increasing participation of peoples’ and citizens’ organizations in leading the establishment of just, participatory, and sustainable communities. These are communities that will prosper a culture of peace and human rights as a way of life. Through the work and presence of nongovernmental organizations and other civic community formations, in all levels of governance—local, national, regional, global—globalization is challenged in multiple ways. Human-rights monitors, themselves a threatened group of defenders, have increased in the ranks of civil society. Their work must be protected and safeguarded.
We lift the following arenas for human-rights work to all United Methodists worldwide, and to the attention of all general agencies, particularly the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. We also support the work of the Pan-Methodist Commission and their work with children.
A. Children’s Rights and Well-Being: Receiving the Reign of God as a Little Child
“‘Allow the children to come to me,’ Jesus said. ‘Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children’” (Matthew 19:14).
The Social Principles strongly support children and children’s rights. It says: “Once considered the property of their parents, children are now acknowledged to be full human beings in their own right, but beings to whom adults and society in general have special obligations. . . . All children have the right to quality education. . . . Moreover, children have the rights to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and emotional well-being as do adults, and these rights we affirm as theirs regardless of actions or inactions of their parents or guardians. In particular, children must be protected from economic, physical, and sexual exploitation and abuse” (¶ 162C).
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child expresses this same concern for all the children of the world. United Methodists celebrate the ratification of this convention by 195 nations even as it urges the United States to ratify it soonest. The convention extends the basic concept of protection to the level of human rights. The convention affirms that the rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are rights that belong also to children. Children’s rights are human rights. United Methodists worldwide must continue to urge their governments to implement the convention, and its related protocols.
The proliferation of and easy access to small arms have a devastating effect on our children. Children must never have access to or opportunity to use guns. Both the children killed and those wounded by small arms are victims of a culture of violence that denies human rights, snuffs out precious human life, and debases human dignity.
The United Methodist Church is called to join the international campaign to prevent the proliferation and unlawful use of small arms. The campaign raises our awareness of the need for emergency measures to save the lives of children, in our schools, in inner cities, and in many parts of the world, particularly those countries and communities that are highly militarized and governed by national security laws.
Children in situations of conflict and war test our commitment to the future. There is something wrong in our sense of the moral when children are put in harm’s way. No boy or girl must be sent to the front lines of war, battles, and conflict. The field of play must not be replaced with the field of combat. War games are not child games. Playgrounds are for children; battlegrounds are not.
The United Methodist Church must oppose the recruitment and use of child soldiers. We must support the call of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Resolution 1999/80) to raise the current minimum age limit set by Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the recruitment into the armed forces or participation of any person in armed conflicts from 15 to 18. The General Conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO), through Convention 182 (1999), prohibits forced or compulsory recruitment of children under the age of 18 for use in armed conflict. ILO also recommends (Recommendation 190) that governments prohibit the use, procuring or offering of a child for activities that involve the unlawful carrying or use of firearms or other weapons.
Human trafficking involves the illegal trade in human beings for purposes that include commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. Children must be especially protected from the ills that a growing global sex industry peddles. The recruitment and trafficking of girls and boys for child labor, prostitution, sexual slavery, forced marriage, as child soldiers, and even for organ trading are predatory and must be condemned. We must actively seek the ratification by all countries of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which includes the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol).
B. Migrant Workers: Entertaining Angels Unawares
“Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge” (Deuteronomy 24:17 NIV).
“Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1-2).
A complex of factors—civil conflicts, human rights abuse, extreme poverty, environmental degradation, militarization, political persecution and misguided development schemes—have produced in many countries around the world an unprecedented number of people in situations of forced and enforced movement, including migrants and migrant workers looking for jobs and security beyond their national borders.
While globalization heralded the swift movement of capital across national borders, the movement of laborers seeking work in richer countries of the world while steadily growing has been increasingly restricted, securitized, racialized, gendered and sexualized. Transnational corporations have moved to poor countries where labor is much cheaper and workers’ organizing is either weak, suppressed, or altogether banned.
Regional and international collaborators of Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM), including the General Board of Church and Society, assert in their Advocacy Paper (dated October 1 and 2, 2013, and referred to below) that “the well-being, safety and sustainability of migrants becomes as urgent as their fight for justice.” CWWM asserts that “(b)ilateral and multilateral negotiations all too often focus on the management of migration for the maintenance of economic prosperity and security of destination countries. These conditions have resulted in restrictive migration and immigration legislations, including job and wage conditions that are far from decent and sustainable, thus violating migrants’ rights.”
“Managing migration for development perpetuates global and structural inequalities and obscures the unjust international trade, investment and financial regime set by the advanced countries. This regime leads to the destruction of livelihoods and forms the basis for unsustainable development in poor countries, forcing millions of working people to seek economic opportunities in foreign lands. The negotiations largely ignore centuries of colonial and neo-colonial exploitation and plunder that have consigned countries to perpetual bouts of extreme poverty internally and economic dependence externally.”
Migrant workers continue to be discriminated against and abused, especially those who are undocumented in their host countries. Women migrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation especially when they work in gender-specific jobs that consign them to various forms of sexual, domestic, and menial work. Studies show that the majority of migrants are uprooted because of the lack of jobs at home, or because jobs pay extremely low wages. While globalization has spawned more capital and spurred greater production, workers’ wages have been kept low and below a livable wage even in those countries whose governments have a prescribed minimum wage.
Migrants’ rights are human rights. It is tragic when migrants, whose rights have already been violated in their home countries, find their human rights also violated in their foreign host countries. Invoking host-country laws rarely works in their favor. United Methodists should urge their governments to ratify and implement the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (also called International Migration Convention). This Convention is designed to protect, secure, and ensure the human rights of migrant workers and their families.
As a worldwide presence and structure, The United Methodist Church plays an important and influential role in prospering the human rights of migrants and migrant workers among whom are its members and many who collaborate in its global mission work. The worldwide church has a special opportunity in its work with and among migrants to make visible a theology, mission and church structure that is migrant-inclusive and sensitive.
The church must advocate in all economic, social, and political arenas for justice, human rights, and hospitality. Such advocacy is about the abundance of life and of God’s grace: lived in plenitude, never in scarcity. In this regard, our advocacy may take these into consideration (These considerations are adopted from the Advocacy Paper and Stockholm Affirmations of Churches Witnessing With Migrants [CWWM], an international platform for common advocacy of migrants, migrant advocates, churches and ecumenical bodies. The General Board of Church and Society participates actively in CWWM. CWWM believes that migrants are human beings who cannot be reduced to mere commodities to be traded and exchanged in the global market. It affirms that freedom of movement of peoples is a human right and that forced migration is a violation of that right. It works for development justice as a general framework for advocacy. The pillars of development justice—redistributive justice, economic justice, social justice, environmental justice and accountability to the people—are co-constitutive and indivisible and form part of CWWM advocacadvocacy work. These pillars are simultaneously global and local in character.):
• the development of a protocol of how migrants, migrants organizations, and church and ecumenical institutions, respond to urgent situations of life and death facing migrant communities today;
• the facilitation with like-minded groups of a collective shadow report to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review and to the Committee on Migrant Workers monitoring implementation of the International Migration Convention;
• the continuation of collective analysis of the root causes of forced migration, and the churches’ role in seeking development justice; and the articulation and advancement of an alternative narrative informed by faith-based perspectives based on the understanding that “migrants are truly the ones who speak best about their hopes and aspirations and about how to advance and protect their rights and interests.”
C. Indigenous Peoples: Toward Self-Determination
“All will sit underneath their own grapevines, / under their own fig trees. / There will be no one to terrify them; / for the mouth of the LORD of heavenly forces has spoken” (Micah 4:4).
Globalization threatens the human rights of indigenous peoples, including their aspirations for self-determination. Exploration and colonization have led to rapid appropriation of indigenous peoples’ lands and natural resources, and the destruction of their sciences, ideas, arts, and cultures.
Indigenous peoples struggle against the industries encroaching on their sacred lands. They are fighting for sovereignty over their ancestral lands in the face of systematic campaigns of extermination. They face population transfers, forced relocation, and assimilation, often because of the aggressive development interests of big business.
Indigenous peoples demand respect of their right to their culture, spirituality, language, tradition, forms of organization, ways of knowing and doing, and their intellectual properties. Indeed, it will be hard for indigenous peoples all over the world to exercise their fundamental human rights as distinct nations, societies, and peoples without the ability to control the knowledge and resources they have inherited from their ancestors and reside in their ancestral domains.
The 1992 General Conference urged The United Methodist Church to “place itself at the vanguard of the efforts to undo and correct the injustices and the misunderstandings of the last 500 years” of colonialism. It raised the church’s awareness of “the shameful stealing of the Native’s land and other goods and the cruel destruction of their culture, arts, religion, the environment, and other living things on which their lives depended.”
In the 2012 General Conference, our worldwide church demonstrated its commitment to indigenous peoples through an Act of Repentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Its significance for the church is described in this manner: “The Act of Repentance not only addresses the communities and tribal nations of Native Americans in the United States. It encompasses the indigenous communities and tribal/nation entities of the various countries around the world where The United Methodist Church has spread its blanket. Taken together, the similarities are real and palpable. They reflect issues of self-determination, sovereignty, cultural integrity and how Native and indigenous peoples embrace The United Methodist Church as truth carriers of the Good News, declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ with no other allegiances.” (The Rev. Dr. Thom White Wolf Fassett on the Act of Repentance of The United Methodist Church, published by the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships of the Council of Bishops)
Religious intolerance is one form of human-rights violation perpetrated on indigenous peoples around the world. The experience of forced relocation by the Dineh (Navajo) of Black Mesa in Arizona is an example of religious intolerance. The Dineh consider their ancestral lands as sacred. For them, to be uprooted is to be exterminated as a people. In this light, we must continue support for the work and mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance as well as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Big mining companies have been responsible in the destruction of livelihood, sacred sites, and ancestral homelands of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples’ rights are human rights. Extractive mining, a form of development aggression, is opposed by indigenous peoples for destroying their lands and resources and wreaks havoc on the unity and health of their peoples and communities. United Methodists are urged to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP, as it is commonly called, was adopted on September 7, 2007, by the General Assembly of the United Nations, with the overwhelming support of 143 countries. Troubling, however, were the abstentions by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, homes of many indigenous peoples.
We must call as a worldwide church for the universal adoption of this important instrument that the United Nations Human Rights Council hails as “a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.” The Council asserts: “The Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; rights to education, health, employment, language, and others. It outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. It also ensures their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social, and cultural development. The Declaration explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between States and indigenous peoples.”
United Methodists must support the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues. This Forum, established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2000, formally integrated indigenous peoples into the U.N. system and was mandated to “address indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.” We remain in support of the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Populations within the aegis of the United Nations.
Indigenous peoples’ self-determination, sovereignty, and spirituality are at the core of our support for their historic claim to their cultures, histories, and spiritual traditions, and to their historic rights to specific lands, territories, and resources. Colonialism eroded these claims and extinguished their rights. The process of decolonization is an unfinished business at the United Nations and in many social institutions. The role of religion and the church in the colonization of peoples and nations, including Native nations and indigenous peoples, is part of this hard and painful process of decolonization. It is part of an act of repentance that truly honors what indigenous people feel about how they have been wronged and where the restitution and forgiveness might come from, and what it will look like and entail.
D. Impunity: The Case for an International Criminal Court
“You must not act unjustly in a legal case. Do not show favoritism to the poor or deference to the great; you must judge your fellow Israelites fairly” (Leviticus 19:15).
A culture of peace must be globalized today. The prevailing culture of repression, oppression, and exploitation has no place in this culture of peace. Only the pursuit of a just peace, which includes the search for truth and justice for victims, will bring about forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing in many rural villages, towns, cities, nations, and regions of the world that are scarred by conflict and war.
The establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC), as provided for in a treaty adopted in Rome in June 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, provides an important step in ending impunity. This court, whose charter called the Rome Statute was adopted in July 1998, and entered into force in July 2002 with the 60th country ratification, continues today to hear cases against war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression.
Faith-based and religious groups, working together with the Coalition for an International Criminal Court (CICC), identified several moral and ethical imperatives for the importance of the ICC. These imperatives remain true and urgent today: “Desirous that the quest for justice includes retributive justice whose purpose is the prosecution and punishment of offenders while insuring the rights of the accused to fair trials, restorative justice whose purpose is that of reparation, restitution and rehabilitation for the victims, and redemptive justice which must be seen as the enablement of communities to deal with the truths of the past in ways which will allow and enable social reconstruction and reconciliation, and the ending of cycles of violence;
“Recognizing that adjudication of crimes of international concerns that have transcended national boundaries are often beyond the scope of national criminal-justice systems, and that crimes whose immediate victims have occurred within national contexts are often beyond the competence or ability of national judicial systems;
“Noting the basic principles of justice for victims of crime and the abuse of power approved by the United Nations General Assembly;
“Therefore, establish the International Criminal Court.”
United Methodists all over the world must urge all governments to sign and ratify the treaty to establish the court. As of today, there are at least 123 parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. These parties do not yet include countries like the United States, Israel, Kuwait, Mozambique, Russian Federation, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, Yemen, Zimbabwe, and a few more which have signed the statute but have not ratified it. The work of the CICC and the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court, which focuses on getting the US to ratify the treaty, must be supported. In their support, United Methodists must preserve and strengthen the unprecedented provisions of the Rome Statute calling for an end to impunity for crimes committed against women and children.
E. Religious Liberty: The Case Against Intolerance
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2 NKJV).
Religious liberty forms part of the pantheon of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion: this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance” (Art. 18).
The United Methodist Church maintains that “religious persecution has been common in the history of civilization” and therefore urges for “policies and practices that ensure the right of every religious group to exercise its faith free from legal, political or economic restrictions.” The Church also asserts that “all overt and covert forms of religious intolerance” must be condemned (2012 Social Principles, ¶ 162B).
Religious liberty continues to be denied and violated in many parts of the world. Concerns about religious persecution have been raised by almost every religious group, especially in places where one particular religion or belief is in a minority position. Religious intolerance, of both the established as well as “nontraditional” religions, is growing both in new and established democracies. The rise in religious extremism of all sorts and from all of the established and nontraditional religions has been convenient pretext for the curtailment of the exercise of religious liberty by many governments around the world.
The United Methodist Church must continue to foster further cooperation among spiritual, religious, and ecumenical bodies for the protection of religious freedom and belief. It must enter into healthy dialogues with peoples of differing faiths and ideologies, including Native and indigenous peoples, in the search for shared spiritual, social, and ethical principles that engender peace and justice.
The United Methodist Church is committed to uphold the minimum standards of the right of belief that are contained in the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. This declaration enunciates that “freedom of religion and belief should also contribute to the attainment of the goals of world peace, social justice and friendship between peoples and to the elimination of ideologies or practices of colonialism and racial discrimination.”
United Methodists must urge their governments and encourage civil society to enter into dialogues about racism and discrimination and resolve to address especially those concerns that have institutionalized religious bases. The United Methodist Church urges global support for the Durban Declaration and Program of Action Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
F. Peace and Peacebuilding: Support for the United Nations and the Case for a Culture of Peace
“God will judge between the nations / and settle disputes of mighty nations, which are far away. / They will beat their swords into iron plows / and their spears into pruning tools. / Nation will not take up sword against nation; / they will no longer learn how to make war” (Micah 4:3).
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14 NIV).
In this era of globalization, the icons of war are more prominent and the arsenal of killing machines is more lethal than ever before. Our images of peace and the implements that make for a just peace most often are stymied by these icons and arsenals.
The resolution of conflicts and the establishment of a just and durable peace proceed from a just and liberating practice of governance on all levels of life: local and global. Just governance thrives not on wars and rumors of wars, but in the advancement of a world order that protects human rights, develops sustainable communities, cultivates a culture of peace, empowers people and their associations, and promotes a just and participatory democracy. It is imperative for human rights to be the foundational principle for a just and durable peace. The United Methodist Church must participate in building communities that prioritize the eradication of poverty and the elimination of hunger; the ending of wars and the resolution of conflicts, and the overcoming of ignorance, curing of diseases, and healing of enmities.
The United Nations remains the single most important international institution to achieve these ends. The United Methodist Church must continue to support the United Nations (¶ 165D). Our participation in its many activities allows us to participate in making it a responsible and effective global force in peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding, and in the recognition of human dignity and the protection of human rights.
The resolve to stem the increasing forms, acts and agents of extremism and terrorism, including rooting out the drivers and causes for such, must be located within the bounds of multilateral mechanisms and transnational institutions, under the leadership of the United Nations. Our Social Principles guides us in this resolve: “We advocate the extension and strengthening of international treaties and institutions that provide a framework within the rule of law for responding to aggression, terrorism and genocide” (¶ 165C).
The United Methodist Church supports The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century which it joined in shaping. This agenda, produced by a historic conference in The Hague in May of 1999, encompasses fifty areas of concern highlighting the: 1) root causes of war and the culture of peace; 2) international humanitarian and human rights law and institutions; 3) the prevention, resolution, and transformation of violent conflict; and 4) disarmament and human security.
The United Methodist Church understanding of a culture of peace and the importance of multilateral cooperation in advancing peace, justice, and security based on human rights and sustainable development issues stems from its support for the Pillars of Peace for the 21st Century, a policy statement in support of the United Nations for the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. The seven pillars state that peace rooted in justice requires:
1. increased political collaboration and accountability among governments within the United Nations system, among regional bodies, governments, local authorities, people’s organizations, and global economic structures to seek the common good and equality for all;
2. increased moral, ethical, and legal accountability at all levels from governments, financial institutions, multilateral organizations, transnational corporations, and all other economic actors to seek a just, participatory, and sustainable economic order for the welfare and well-being of all people and all creation;
3. a comprehensive international legal system, capable of change as conditions require, in order to prevent and resolve conflicts, to protect rights, to hold accountable those who disturb peace and violate international law, and to provide fair and effective review and enforcement mechanisms;
4. the participation of vulnerable and marginalized groups, seeking to promote justice and peace, in those mechanisms capable of redressing the causes and consequences of injustice and oppression;
5. the nurturing of a culture of peace in homes, communities, religious institutions, and nations across the world, including the use of nonviolent means of resolving conflict, appropriate systems of common security, and the end of the unrestrained production, sale, and use of weapons worldwide;
6. respect for the inherent dignity of all persons and the recognition, protection, and implementation of the principles of the International Bill of Human Rights, so that communities and individuals may claim and enjoy their universal, indivisible, and inalienable rights; and
7. a commitment to the long-term sustainability of the means of life, and profound reorientation of economic systems and individual lifestyles to support ecological justice for human communities in harmony with the whole of creation.
The United Methodist Church must also continue its support for the campaign to ban landmines by urging all governments to ratify and implement the landmine-ban treaty that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel land mines. This treaty also calls on parties to increase landmine clearance and victim assistance efforts around the world.
United Methodists must also urge their governments to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Counter globalization happens when we ban landmines, abolish nuclear weapons, and prevent wars from continuing to fester or being waged.
G. Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: That the Hungry May Be Filled
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind” (Luke 14:13).
The Lord our God commanded us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8 NRSV).
Justice, kindness, and humility underscore society’s obligations to its people. But even with the indivisibility of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, global hunger and poverty challenge our priorities. It is a challenge that confronts and addresses our concern for lifting the poor and marginalized among us.
In this era of globalization, poverty is defined as the inability of a human being to take advantage of global and market opportunities that are supposed to be booming and soaring. This globalization process deifies the market even as it commodifies the earth and its resources, if not even people themselves, who become pawns to economic production. One’s worth and dignity in this globalization process is measured by one’s ability to contribute to the gains of the market.
But gain or loss, in this era of globalization, it is the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable who suffer from price increases, reductions in government support for needed social and environmental programs, business disruptions, higher unemployment levels, and increased human rights violations.
The indivisibility of human rights underscores the understanding that freedom is hollow without food, that justice without jobs is like a clanging cymbal, and that liberty is a sham when people do not have land to inhabit and farm. The right to food and the right to employment are fundamental economic human rights. Societies become peaceful when the demands of justice are met. Justice becomes not only a dream but also a reality when implements of war give way to implements of peace. Food and jobs, also, are implements of peace. Would that indeed, at the end of the day, no child, no woman, and no one, goes to bed with an empty stomach.
United Methodists must continue to urge their governments to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and for these governments to make these rights a reality.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which we have supported as a church, we now deem to have largely faltered, especially because human rights was abandoned as a core principle. The economic challenges of unbridled globalization, especially widespread economic recession, coupled with indecisive action on climate change, did not help to attain the lofty goals of this millennial initiative. The inadequate attention to inequality, discrimination and exclusion of marginalized groups doomed the MDGs, whose targets were not fully achieved before they expired in 2015.
Another chance at targeting the root causes of development problems, not the least extreme poverty and hunger, is presented to the world community through another listing of sustainable development goals (SDGs) negotiated again under the auspices of the United Nations. Human rights, which affirms sacred and human worth at their core, must be foundational to any development agenda, always and in any timeline, post-2015 and beyond.
Our support for a new set of SDGs is predicated on the recognition of God-given human dignity and the protection of human rights. It recognizes the health and wholeness of human beings as much as that of the planet and the cosmos. It also includes the recognition of the requirements of development justice that addresses historic inequalities brought about by slavery and colonialism, as well as modern forms of pillage and plunder brought about by unbridled globalization and historic degradation of planet earth.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put the sustainable development challenge thus: “Our globalized world is marked by extraordinary progress alongside unacceptable and unsustainable levels of want, fear, discrimination, exploitation, injustice and environmental folly at all levels. We also know, however, that these problems are not accidents of nature or the results of phenomena beyond our control. They result from actions and omissions of people, public institutions, the private sector and others charged with protecting human rights and upholding human dignity.”
In this era of globalization, where profit and profit making at the expense of the needs and welfare of the poor and the vulnerable and where unbridled pursuit of wealth and power have trampled upon and denied human rights of peoples, peace rooted in God’s justice will bring about the true globalization that will heal the wounds and scars of wars and conflict that peoples and nations have waged against each other. Peace rooted in God’s justice will help bring about forgiveness and wholeness for all God’s people and the whole of creation. Peace rooted in God’s justice will provide sustenance for God’s people and sustainability for God’s earth. God’s reign on earth, as it is in heaven, is, in the end, the true globalization we must long and work for.
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2004
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2016
RESOLUTION #6025, 2008, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #309, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #289, 2000 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 165.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.