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Resolution on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As adopted Nov. 13, 1997 by the NCC General Assembly


WHEREAS December 10, 1998 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations; and


WHEREAS the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights serve as the universally accepted standards of human rights and as such provide an outstanding achievement worthy of recognition and celebration; and


WHEREAS we are daily reminded that individuals and communities suffer often because essential human freedoms are not recognized, just treatment and protections are not guaranteed, and violations of the wholeness and integrity of personhood are not prevented throughout the world, including the United States; and WHEREAS the United States of America, with its potential for creative human rights leadership, has yet to ratify major international human rights instruments; and


WHEREAS our religious faith calls us to affirm the dignity and worth of every human being and to struggle for justice for oppressed people everywhere; and


WHEREAS the General Assembly of the United Nations, reflecting the gross violations of human rights during World War II, also in 1948 unanimously adopted the Genocide Convention, calling for the protection of “national, ethnic, racial and religious” groups from activities that would harm or destroy them; and calling for competent international judicial mechanisms with jurisdiction over such crimes;


THEREFORE the General Assembly of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, meeting in Washington, DC, November 13, 1997:


CALLS upon the units of the Council and its member communions to observe and celebrate 1998 as Universal Human Rights Year, an occasion to strengthen our commitment to the advancement of human rights through widespread dissemination, study and reflection of the Universal Declaration and other international human rights instruments in order to promote tolerance, understanding and greater respect for human rights;


URGES the United States Congress, the President and the Administration to reaffirm United States commitment to universal human rights, and to work toward the ratification and implementation of international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child;


CALLS urgent attention to contemporary threats to national, ethnic, racial and religious groups, through the revival of ancient hatreds, and the fostering of fear, with the potential for genocidal consequences;


AND further calls for the strengthening of the international judicial system to include an international criminal court with jurisdiction over individuals responsible for gross violations of human rights, such as, genocidal and war crimes and other crimes against humanity.