Updates from the United Nations office, issues we are working on and ways that you can join us.

May 2021
  • Concerning the tragic situation in Myanmar, the MCC United Nations office recently joined its voice with 205 other organizations in support of the Global Civil Society Statement on Myanmar, denouncing the violations of human rights and opposing military rule. This statement calls upon the United Nations Security Council and Member States to urgently impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar as the minimum necessary step. We continue to work alongside and pray for our partners in the country. One partner shared, “Thank you all for your love, prayers and support during our very dark and sad days. Situations in Myanmar are still very depressive. I honestly sometimes feel very hopeless. Yet, I am aware and reminded of myself every now and then that we have to live through it and overcome it someday. Arbitrary arrests, burnings, explosions, killings and bloodshed are everyday happenings. Please kindly continue to be with us and support us with your prayers and love.” 

 

  • In June, MCC UN Office is co-sponsoring the upcoming 8th Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia. Facing current conflicts and historical wounds, this annual event provides a transnational platform for leaders from diverse groups – university, seminary, civil society, church, and younger leaders – to forward the ministry of reconciliation in Northeast Asia. Join us in prayer for the upcoming 2021 forum, focused on Divisive Social Media and the Ministry of Reconciliation.

 

  • Prior to the outbreak of widespread violence in Palestine and Israel, MCC UNO has been working with the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group (IPWG) at the United Nations to stop the forced evictions and transfer of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in East Jerusalem, which has been the focus of much of the outrage and violence. The IPWG, which MCC UNO helped found, sent a letter to UN Security Council delegations on April 29th calling for an end to the forcible transfer of Palestinians in occupied territory.  

MCC partners have requested prayers for:
-  Protection over the civilians (especially children) in Palestine and Israel 
-  Justice for Palestinians and lasting peace for all 
-  Calming the hatred-charged atmosphere in the region 
-  Pray against the spirit of evil and death, and pray for the people to have life – and life in abundance 
-  The world to listen to voices of justice and peace that counterbalance the  dehumanization of our people 

March 2021
  • This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the ongoing conflict in Syria. Close to 600,000 people, including 55,000 children, have been killed. Almost 12 million people, half of the population, have been forced from their homes, and a child’s life expectancy has been reduced by 13 years. Throughout the past 10 years, MCC and our partners in the region have advocated for a peaceful resolution to this crisis. See the Washington E-Memo for reflections and resources on Syria here and images from MCC here.

 

  • In response to the February 1, 2021 military coup that deprived the people of Myanmar their right to elect their government, MCC signed on to a joint statement to the UN Security Council and individual UN member states, calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. Of special concern are the ongoing human rights abuses by security forces against peaceful protestors and critics, as well as previous violence against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups.  

 

  • MCC joined alongside the Gavi CSO Constituency (Global Vaccine Alliance) and 218 organizations from across the world, to call for an equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for all countries. The statement calls upon governments, donors, pharmaceutical companies and multilateral agencies to take bold and urgent action to guarantee the equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to all populations based on need. 

 

  • Regarding the crisis in Ethiopia, MCC United Nations Office recently signed on to a joint letter by NGOs to the new Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, Ms. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Since early November 2020, an armed conflict between Ethiopian federal forces against forces affiliated with the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, has forced at least 2.2 million people to flee their homes, with over 61,000 fleeing to Sudan. The letter calls the US Permanent Representative to prioritize the crisis and to hold those responsible for atrocity crimes and human rights abuses accountable.
January 2021
  • The MCC UN Office 2020 Online Student Seminar, “Tackling the Global Inequality Pandemic,” took place over five hours on November 5-6, 2020. Sixty-two students from five U.S. schools and 12 Canadian schools participated, including 17 international students. Presenters included diplomats and experts from the UN, church, and NGO fields. One student said, “The opportunity to hear professionals who are fighting and working for equality share their knowledge and passion gave me not only hope, it made me excited to continue.” Another commented: “I loved hearing from a diverse selection of panelists who are already doing the kinds of things that I dream to do one day. Very inspiring.” Watch a short video about the seminar with key speaker comments here or press play below.

 

  • After decades-long violence in Colombia, in 2016 the government and the country’s once-largest rebel group agreed to a historic peace accord. But the Colombian ecumenical peace initiative DiPaz is now calling attention to a lack of commitment by the national government to peace-building. In September 2020 the MCC UN Office joined a number of Colombian and international organizations to sign on to a DiPaz letter to the UN Security Council, seeking support for peace accords implementation in Colombia. In late October the Mennonite Church Colombia issued a bold statement to churches, government, and civil society against massacres and ongoing violence against the most vulnerable (see story here). “It is in this reality that we find ourselves as a church: a reality of violence and injustice that requires that the church, the body of Christ, respond with faithfulness and wisdom.”

 

  • In October Derek Lee began serving as the new MCC UN Office Program and Communications Coordinator. Derek is a graduate of Wheaton College, has a Masters of Global Affairs from the University of Notre Dame, and served one year as an MCC volunteer in Nepal. Derek has worked most recently with Catholic Relief Services in humanitarian programming in their market-based COVID response, especially supporting forcibly displaced people.
August 2020
  • The divide between Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Republic of Korea (South Korea) is now the longest unresolved separation of a people in modern history. In July, leading up to the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War and decades of unresolved trauma and division of the Korean people, the MCC UN Office helped organize an online gathering of Christian leaders from the Korean diaspora. Korean Americans in the call drafted a statement “Longing for Reconciliation: Lamenting Over 70 years of Division Between North Korea and South Korea,” and more than 200 individuals and faith leaders have signed. See further information here, and a link to sign on (deadline August 30). MCC also joined global church bodies in endorsing a World Council of Churches Joint Ecumenical Peace Message including support for a peace treaty.

 

  • MCC’s UN Office has joined with other concerned agencies at the UN to advocate against any annexation by Israel of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. “If implemented,” Secretary General Antonio Gúterres told the UN Security Council in June, “annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations.” Annexation is widely opposed by church bodies across the world.

 

  • A sign of hope in a divided time in Northeast Asia: On June 5, the 7th annual Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia was held online for the first time: “The Ministry of Reconciliation in a Time of Xenophobia, Rising hostility and COVID-19.” 130 people – practitioners, scholars, church leaders, and students – participated from China mainland, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. Many MCC partners participated, as well as the MCC UN Office. See links to presentations by Bishop Peter Kang of South Korea and New Testament scholar Richard Hays.

 

  • MCC continues to celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2020. A special anniversary issue of Intersections, a quarterly “theory and practice” MCC publication, provides reflections from many countries on peace witness forged through relationships with “the enemy” and how teaching peace emerges from within the communities where violence has been faced and met with nonviolence.

 

  • In deep gratitude for their faithful service, we say goodbye to UN Office service workers Abby Hershberger and Victoria Wiebe, who ended their respective three- and two-year terms in August. Abby will begin theology and peace studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, and Victoria work in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

May 2020

 

 

  • May 5-7 MCC UN Office Director Chris Rice will lead a webinar for 60 MCC Europe and Middle East staff on “Peacebuilding & the Journey of Reconciling All Things.”