Assembly calls for peacemaking steps in Arab World, Congo, Sahara

PITTSBURGH, July 7, 2012 – The 220th General Assembly on Saturday approved a wide-ranging call for the advancement of human rights and civic freedoms in the Arab world.

At the recommendation of its Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues, the assembly adopted a resolution affirming the importance of democracy, peace, the separation of government from religious control and respect for women’s rights in Arab countries. The measure also calls for the United States to recognize the advancement of human rights as a vital part of its national interest, and to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The assembly adopted without debate, and with only one minor adjustment to an overture, all six items that the committee brought before it. Laura Phillips, the committee’s moderator and a ruling elder from Newark Presbytery, said the committee votes on all those items had been nearly unanimous.

Jim Allison, a ruling elder from New Covenant Presbytery, said an overture’s call for financial disclosure by companies engaged in extraction or use of the Congo’s minerals and resources would be easier to implement if it omitted reference to one section of the federal Dodd-Frank Act. The assembly approved removal of that reference.

Another of the approved overtures calls for the denomination to study possible actions that could help bring justice to the Western Sahara. The overture says the region is considered by many international jurists to be illegally occupied by Morocco.

Another item adopted by the committee and the assembly urges stronger support for the United Nations and calls for the federal government to ratify several international treaties.

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