Comprehensive Digest of Social Witness at the 220th PC(USA) General Assembly


International Issues & Human Rights

Item 14-01: On Supporting the United Nations

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. Affirming the church’s historic support of the United Nations as an instrument of peacemaking and of guaranteeing human and legal rights, this item encourages Presbyterians to engage with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. It urges seminaries, colleges, universities, and campus ministries to provide faculty and students the opportunity to learn about the purposes and mission of the UN. It encourages the U.S. government to pursue multilateral diplomacy over unilateral force; to meet its financial obligations to the UN; to overturn laws that mandate an automatic cut-off of U.S. support to UN agencies that allow Palestine as a member; and to ratify major international treaties still pending, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Item 14-02: Support for the People of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Approved with amendment by the Assembly. This overture addresses the sources of political instability, human rights abuses, and truncated development in the DRC. It offers recommendations to review election processes in the DRC and institute measures to reduce violence and criminal corruption in mineral mining. It also proposes expanded education, support for its efforts as a democracy, and the use of the DRC’s resources for the benefit of its own people. The amendment asserts the important role of Congolese women and children in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all decision-making.

The ACSWP Advice and Counsel noted that Congo’s per capita income of $199 makes it one of the poorest countries in the world. A long-term climate of violence has produced nearly six million deaths since 1998 and displaced more than 300,000 persons. The DRC is ranked in the bottom 10 percent of the world’s countries on the 2011 Index of Perceived Corruption.

Item 14-03: Movements for Democratic Change in the Arab World (from ACSWP)

Approved by the Assembly. In this item, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy responds to the wave of democratic changes in the Arab world begun in 2011. It affirms the courageous witness of millions of Tunisian, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Bahrainis, Palestinians and others; the continued differentiation between the church’s mission and the work of the U.S. military and other governmental agencies; opposition to U.S. policies that support dictatorships, repress populations, and enable discrimination; the significant role of women in movements for democratic change; objection to the United States’ refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court; and the need for extensive public debate and greater transparency on decisions to use military force. Based on those affirmations, the item recommends that Presbyterians consider the justice implications of travel; that we examine what this awakening may mean for the United States; and that the appropriate ministries advocate on issues such as the reduction of influence of private contractors on military policy and operation and the development of public guidelines on the use of drone aircraft in targeted killings. ACSWP invites Presbyterians to share their responses to this resolution and other reflections.

Download the finished document (a PDF) as approved by the Assembly.

Item 14-04: Human Rights Update (from ACSWP)

Approved as amended by the Assembly. Through this report, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy recommends attention to trends and developments in human rights, particularly in the areas of women’s reproductive health care, workers’ rights, and domestic civil liberties. This item requested that Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) be included in the PC(USA) program calendar, liturgical resources, web-postings, and public witness activities. These updates are available in the table of contents of this issue of Unbound. The Assembly amendment instructs ACSWP “to include forced abortions, gender and disability selection based abortions, and infanticide within its next Human Rights Update study.”

Download the finished document (a PDF) as approved by the Assembly.

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