The Anglican Communion’s newly appointed Advocacy Officer, Jillian Abballe, on the role of the Anglican Communion Office at the UN in living out prophetic vision.
“We live in interesting, dangerous times.”
“There has never been a more important time to do this work.”
“The stakes have never been higher.”
If you work in the world of global advocacy, at the UN or in other multilateral arenas, you probably hear these phrases quite often.
While many historians would caution against essentialising any one period of history to be the most critical or the most important, there is something particularly special – and urgent – about the time in which we live. I’m sure those who have come before, our ancestors, felt similarly about the times that they lived through – the Industrial Revolution in the West, decolonisation in sub-Saharan Africa, the anti-slavery movement, the end of apartheid, and so on.
These days we live in world where there are record numbers of internally displaced people and refugees fleeing war, violence, and lack of economic opportunities, among other things. There are panels of international experts claiming that the precious planet which we call home is at a tipping point, and it desperately needs humanity to try to recover what may have already been lost.
We also live in a world where religion, religious NGOs, and communities of faith are being increasingly highlighted in these international fora in ways that acknowledge their unique contributions to the work of peace with justice and human development. Such initiatives may include scriptural reasoning programs as a way to discuss gender-based violence in their community; the provision of essential health services that are not being provided by the state; or contributions to intra- and inter-faith reconciliation processes, among others.
As such, it has perhaps never been a more critical time for the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations as a key instrument in representing the voices and witness of Anglicans from all across the world. The issues which Anglicans care deeply about and are affected by are very much in line with the conversations happening within global settings, and the Communion has important experiences and expertise to share.
The creation of my position in New York – UN Advocacy Officer and Head of Office – is a statement of this hope to enhance Anglican voices at the UN and other global institutions. In joining the team representing the Anglican Communion at the United Nations (ACOUN), my aim is not only to increase the visibility of the Communion in these spaces, but also to share the messages of the Communion to influence these global conversations. Most importantly, this position is about sharing what is happening at the UN with the Communion, creating platforms for Anglicans around the world to advance their own advocacy in various fora, and strategically supporting that advocacy by offering the expertise of the ACOUN in service of those priorities.
Faith has an important role in sharing a prophetic vision of a world where loving service, just structures, peace and reconciled relationships, and protection of creation is not a distant dream, but a reality of the here and now. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to walk this path with the Communion and with all those of goodwill who share this vision.