In many countries, a peaceful life is anything but commonplace. Our member churches too are repeatedly affected by violence. We act as an opposing force with projects for peace and with victim advocacy.
Whether in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Sri Lanka, in Indonesia or in the Philippines, violent conflicts and wars are sadly the order of the day in many countries of the world. And often our member churches are directly affected by this violence.
That’s why we support local human rights and peacekeeping projects such as humanitarian aid for the victims of civil wars and expulsions, aid for political prisoners, and help for other victims of grave human rights violations. But we also aim to raise awareness about human rights violations at home in Germany. We therefore publish information brochures and books on the issue, organize seminars, and initiate public relations campaigns to focus attention on certain topics.
One example is the “Action for Human Rights”, in which we focus on a new human rights issue each year. For this campaign, every year on December 10 – International Human Rights Day – we distribute a poster on human rights, an information brochure about projects supported by the UEM, resources for sermons, and general information on the issue.
In the context of the aforementioned global trends and related debates on the role of religion, the UEM collabo-rated with the Rhenish and Westphalian Church and the Catholic office of Justitia et Pax to host a conference ent-itled, “Peace Among the People: Interreligious Action for Peace and Inclusive Communities” in Wuppertal from 14-16 July 2017. Attending the conference were ninety representatives from Christian churches and from Mus-lim, Buddhist, and Hindu communities from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Germany. One of the conference goals was to demonstrate that interfaith ac-tion for peace in different cultural contexts and regions has been happening for many years, in contrast to the international media’s widespread conflation of violence with religion. The message of peace can be downloaded here. The documentation of the Peace Conference can be downloaded here.
Through its International Training Centre and JPIC depart-ment, and with the support of all area and programme departments, the UEM conducted its first summer school for peace, conflict management, and the protection of human rights in Wuppertal from 17-28 July 2017. Twen-ty-five participants from Asia, Africa, and Germany atten-ded the training. The UEM’s summer school curriculum put special emphasis on communicating the interlinkage of peace/mediation and human rights protection. The training empowered participants to get actively involved in conflict prevention and conflict resolution and to pro-tect victims of human rights violations.
In some regions, the human rights situation is particularly difficult. We have set up networks in two of these regions, together with partners in Germany: the West Papua Network and the Ecumenical Network Central Africa.
These networks bring our concerns of our partners in the Southern Hemisphere to the attention of the German Federal Government, the German Bundestag (Parliament), and representatives of the European Union. These issues are then discussed in sessions such as the political talks and events organized by Forum Menschenrechte – a network of German nongovernmental organisations committed to the worldwide recognition of human rights. Together with other ecumenical partners, we also advocate within the United Nations system for our Southern partners at the annual meetings of the UN Human Rights Commission and enable the participation of representatives from UEM member churches in the commission.