20 October 2004

Methodist Church voices support for UN ahead of anniversary

The United Nations will celebrate the 58th anniversary of its inception this Sunday 24th October.

The UN has been under great scrutiny since the beginning of the Iraq war, but Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Church Secretary for International Affairs, said:

"We need the UN today as much as ever. In 1946 the first General Assembly of the UN was held in Methodist Central Hall Westminster. The aims of the UN arise from faith in equal rights for men and women and nations large and small. It is committed to maintain international peace and security and establish the conditions under which justice can be exercised.

Today's conflicts are more complex than ever and the UN has not stood still.  The UN is not without criticism but in today's world only an international body such as the UN can hope to command the respect of diverse cultures, languages groups and faith communities. It needs the support and respect of all to be able to work effectively.

We are concerned that the UK defence White Paper 'Delivering Security in a Changing World' published in December 2003, makes too little reference to the UN.  We are concerned too about the expressed need for the flexibility to build 'coalitions of the willing' to deal with specific threats when necessary.  Such coalitions should not be allowed to weaken the peace-keeping mandate of the UN and must be in harmony with the spirit as well as the letter of international law."

Martin Dent, Chairman of Religious Advisory Committee of the UN, said recently: "If disunity and the 'scourge of war' are to be defeated, the principles and potential of the UN need active and informed support. We believe, therefore, that religious communities have a role to play in ensuring that the governments of UN member-states act in good faith in meeting their obligations under the UN Charter in matters of war and peace, disarmament, human rights, economic and social justice, environmental protection and all aspects of multilateral co-operation."

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