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UN Observer Addresses ACC-10

Posted on: October 30, 1996 1:29 PM
Related Categories: ACC, ACC10, UN Office

With his employers looking at a budget crisis in the next few days, the Anglican Observer at the United Nations used a hi-tech multi-media presentation to back his impassioned plea to support his ministry among the world's diplomats. The U.N. representative is responsible to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council through the Secretary General. Bishop James Ottley, who gives the Anglican Communion a voice at the UN, alternated between smooth diplomacy and inspired preaching to get his message across to members of the Anglican Consultative Council here Sunday night. Bishop Ottley, who has been the church's representative at the UN since 1994, spoke about the "wonderful _ exciting" ministry of the UN Observer post, while an on-line Internet presentation on the Anglican Church was projected on a screen for the council to watch.

The computer presentation on the mission, theology and history of the church is available to people on the World Wide Web. ( Bishop Ottley also used taped messages to the council from several Anglican Church leaders around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, endorsing the work of the church at the UN.

The church employs five people at the New York office, including Bishop Ottley, three advisers on human rights, women's issues and the environment and a secretary.

The office opened in 1991 and now costs about US$404,820 annually to run. Also, a five-year grant totalling US$500,000 from Trinity Church, Wall Street, has ended. Its costs are not in the core budget of the Anglican Communion.

"As a people of faith," he said, let us stand together and celebrate the gifts of God among the people of God in all that we do in our ministry."

Bishop Ottley told the group that the office ministers in two main areas, as a voice among the nations and in personal ministry to diplomats and others who seek the sacraments or counselling from the staff, which includes two priests.

In addressing world problems, he said the church has identified five areas of concern: human rights, the international economy, advancement of women, the environment and disarmament.

The church's UN office has investigated various allegations of human rights abuses around the world and addressed the UN Commission on Human Rights held earlier this year in Geneva.

In that address to the commission, the church targeted atrocities committed by the Sudanese government. Bishop Michael Lugor of Sudan has only recently been able to return to his country, having been forced into exile, lately in Kenya, for almost three years. Several members of his family and staff, including himself, were wounded and others killed by a blast at his home in 1993.

Starvation and torture remain common in the country and the church pleaded with the UN to "more forcefully react and respond to the persistent reports of atrocities against children, women and members of racial, ethnic and religious minorities within the country."

On women's concerns, Bishop Ottley told the council that he had addressed a plenary session of the UN, raising issues such as the killing of female infants by starvation and exposure and young brides burned to death because their dowries were too small.

He said the church has also lobbied hard for the banning of land mines, noting that there are over 110 million uncleared mines in 64 countries and that they claim a victim every 15 minutes - about 2,000 a month.

Besides research and lobbying, the church is also working as a liaison between UNICEF and Liberia and has been consulted on a number of issues, such as the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the lack of rights given to Argentina's native people.

At the personal level, Bishop Ottley said following a recent celebration of the eucharist, a man from the UN approached him seeking counselling. "We have initiated a good thing here," said Bishop Ottley. "We believe in people - we need help."