(PNS) On October 24, 1948, the founding members of the United Nations ratified a document that officially created the organization with 51 member states. Seventy-one years later, the UN boasts a membership of 193.
Each year, October 24th is remembered as United Nations Day to commemorate the historic beginning and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been there from the beginning.
“We have access to ambassadors on the Security Council. We have the opportunity as a denomination to provide written and oral statements in and on the grounds of the UN among the community of nations,” said Ryan Smith, Presbyterian representative at the UN for the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. “There are things the PC(USA) can do at the UN that individual congregations cannot. We can bring the voices of our partners as well as congregations into the international community.”
The UN community is commemorating the day by asking the world to showcase UN blue. Buildings, statues, bridges and landmarks across the world will be lit up in the UN color.
“It would be great if Presbyterian congregations can participate by highlighting the color blue either inside or outside of their church,” Smith said. “The Church has supported the work of the UN since before the UN was around. For us, it would be an expression of our support.”
For some countries, the 24th is considered a national holiday and celebrate with a showcase of cultural events. Many activities are planned by the UN in New York as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Kenya.
Meanwhile, applications are now being accepted for the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The annual gathering is scheduled for March 13-24, 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Presbyterians will arrive early to receive training and build relationships with our ecumenical colleagues. Representatives from member states, UN entities and approved non-governmental organizations from around the world are invited to attend.
Smith says the Church’s participation with the commission will be a bit different in 2017.
“The commission caps participation at 20 women per organization. What we’ve done in the past is offer activities and opportunities outside of UN grounds in parallel with the commission, allowing us to accept a larger number of participants,” he said. “This year, we hope our entire delegation will be able to participate directly with the Commission.”
Smith says the delegation will focus on UN processes and mechanisms, adding that everyone who participates will get a pass into the facilities.
“The PC(USA) will likely make a statement to the commission as in years past,” said Smith. “There’s an opportunity to worship together and be trained in UN advocacy. The group will also work to advocate Presbyterian positions on the outcome document for the commission, an official UN document that sets the global standard on gender policy.”
The priority theme for the session is “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.”
While he agrees the commission has accomplished a great deal for women worldwide, Smith believes much more should be done.
“The commission was designed to achieve gender equality worldwide,” said Smith. “Yes, nations of the world meet each year to talk about gender equality, yet here we are 61 years later and we are still working on it.”
Click here for more information about the commission and to download an application.
by Rick Jones, Presbyterian News Service