As we are about to enter Advent, it is good time to sum up the challenges and achievements of the office of the Anglican Observer at the UN in 2007 and an appropriate time to share with you our plans for the upcoming year 2008. The arrival of Hellen Wangusa, the new Anglican Observer at the UN opened a new chapter in the history of this office. The solemn ceremony of the installation of the new Observer on February 4 at Trinity Church, Wall Street, was attended by a number of diplomats from the UN missions and UN officials, including the Ambassador of Uganda.
Hellen attended the meeting of the Primates on 14-19 February, 2007 in Tanzania. She had the privilege to meet the primates and to address them on the issues of poverty and trade and gave an overview of the MDGs. In March 2007 she was one of the keynote speakers at the TEAM (Towards Effective Anglican Mission) conference in Tanzania. Her presentation generated significant feedback from all over the Communion and numerous invitations.
The Anglican Observer at the UN (AOUN) Office participated in the Sixth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York, May 14-25, 2007). The Ven. Michael Kendall, Archdeacon of the Diocese of New York and Secretary of the AOUN Advisory Board, who has been involved in the area for years, was a part of discussion at numerous sessions on indigenous issues, including food and agriculture. Participation in the forum allowed him to initiate a partnership between his diocese and a group in Massai, Tanzania. This is but one example of how this office facilitates the advocacy and representation of different parts of the Anglican Communion at the level of the UN. Robert Bergner, a long-term AOUN volunteer who works with the Indigenous Communities in Northern Alberta, Canada, was also part of the Forum. He and the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Golliher, the AOUN Consultant on the Environment, made numerous contacts and contributed to the events and activities of the Forum.
This Office strives to voice the concerns of the Communion to the appropriate UN bodies, NGOs, and governments. Thus, recently this Office was offered a prestigious partnership with UNICEF in developing and implementing curricula for church Sunday schools in Africa with a special focus on healthcare issues, such as immunization, parenting, prevention of/ coping with HIV/AIDS. In June 2007, the Observer started work on the HIV/ AIDS toolkit requested by the TEAM Conference. This work is conducted in cooperation with the Episcopal Relief and Development Office.
In August 2007 the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Golliher participated in the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden. As the shortage of water is becoming one of the key issue in the area of the environment and sustainable development, this office is keen to stay involved with the factors that have a severe effect on several parts of the Anglican Communion. In September 2007 Jeffrey Golliher was one of the panelists at the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference “Climate Change: How It Impacts Us All” at the UN. He was a member of an important panel on faith responses to global warming. AOUN staff members and volunteers attended this conference as well and participated in the discussion.
On 11 September 2007 this office organized a prayer service for the UN Community followed by a reception. This event was co-sponsored by the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church who also celebrated the evening prayer. The General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon along with dozens of the UN officials and diplomats attended this service and reception. That was a good way to reach out to the wider UN Community and to promote the significance of this office. On 23 September 2007 the Observer attended the annual celebration of the beginning of the new session of the UN General Assembly at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Dr. Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd General Assembly was the preacher.
In October 2007 the UN Observer presented a paper and was a panelist at the UN High Level Hearings on Financing for Development chaired by the UN General Assembly President Dr. Kerim. She spoke on the issues of debt relief and trade. UN Office staff and volunteers attended this conference as well. Sister Philo Morris, who has been active in the FFD area was one of the round table speakers. This office was able to bring Ms. May Sengendo, a university professor from Uganda to be one of the round table speakers on gender and trade at the High Level Dialogue.
The Office also serves in a diplomatic function relaying the special needs of the various Anglican provinces to the United Nations and also working with the many diplomatic state Missions to the United Nations. The Office has the opportunity to be a voice that can represent so many parts of our Anglican World, many who lack the resources and opportunity to come to the United Nations and speak for themselves.
In the coming year, the Observer’s Office will continue its work of advocacy and diplomacy at the UN. In the areas of Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights, this office will focus on financing for gender equality (2008 UNCSW theme) and the situation of the Girl Child. The latter theme includes such important advocacy issues as prostitution and sex trade, exploitation, harmful traditional practices, but also access to the primary education, and many more. Furthermore, this office looks to add a new dimension to the involvement of the Anglican women at the UN. This office is working on advocacy training project that would include women from most of the provinces of the Communion.
The Rights of the Indigenous Peoples will be an important part of our activities. This field is closely related to the work on the environment and sustainable development conducted by the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Golliher. Corporate environmental ethics and responsibility will be the focus of his work with NGOs and UN organizations.
Economic and Global Security along with Financing for Development is another high priority area for 2008. This office will participate in a number of high profile events leading to the summit on Financing for Development in Doha, Qatar, December 2008. AOUN’s strategic partnership with UNICEF promises to benefit several provinces of the Anglican Communion. UNICEF is interested in working on Early Childhood Development curricula for Sunday schools. This project would deal with such vital issues as good parenting, health education, nutrition, psycho-social support, and safe-play. The Observer will continue to serve on several Boards, such as CEDAW, and to develop partnerships with numerous NGOs, with the representatives of several denominations at the UN and with the UN Agencies and Organizations. She will continue raising awareness about this office and its diverse ministries by visiting congregations and offering lectures and seminars. All these diverse ministries are enabled by the contribution of our supporters whom we consider to be partners in our important mission. We ask for your prayerful as well as financial support. In this season of hope and gladness, we wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and every blessing.
With good wishes,