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General Assembly 2001 Event 5049
I want to begin with a thank you, to all of you who supported the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office effort to "adopt a minefield," that is, remove deadly landmines from a section of Kabul City, Afghanistan.
Landmines, pellets which contain the fires of hell, continue to take someone's life every twenty two minutes. Your actions, and all others who have been involved in adopt a minefield campaigns offer the world a candle of hope, and literally save lives.
One of the Untied Nations' under-sung achievements is to lead the world in landmine clearance efforts.
Last year in Nashville, at the UU General Assembly, I announced that the UU UN Office was launching an adopt a minefield campaign—without any concerted letter writing or phone calling, within fewer than six months, Unitarian Universalists opened their purses and we were over-subscribed. Last December, a
check of $18,900 was handed over to the UN Association USA for minefield clearance. ..and 4 to 5 thousand more dollars is about to be donated for the same purpose.
We have also this past year been involved with the issue of children at risk, the subject of a UN conference later this year, and the subject of a UN Office workshop at this General Assembly.
In that regard, I want to tell you about Laura Hannant. Laura is a 15 year old Canadian, who spoke at the Annual UU UN Office Spring Seminar this past April in New York.
Among the children Laura befriended during the past five years was a little boy from Pakistan, named Iqbal Masih. At the age of four, Iqbal became a "debt slave," and was literally tied to his carpet loom all day, for six years. At the age of ten, he was finally released, and he began to tell his story. His story caught Laura Hannant's attention. Even though Iqbal was killed two years after his liberation from the carpet loom, probably by a hired killer, Laura last year announced in Sweden the posthumous recipient of the World Children's prize, Iqbal Masih.
We know how youth have enriched and blessed this General Assembly. Laura Hannant is another, who will not be stopped in her pursuit of the human rights of children of this world, and neither will we.
In the spirit of Jim Forbes' words' last evening—above all, to love our children, we have decided a UN Office priority is not to abide the enslavement of any child, the economic impoverishing of any child, or the abuse of any child in the human family.
We also have been involved with the combating the insidious reality of racism, and religious and ethinic intolerance, as we prepare a statement affirming racial equality to the NGO Forum at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, taking place in Durban, South Africa the first week of September.
Vital as these concerns are, they are not our only ones... we are four-square united behind the imperatives of world peace and nuclear disarmament.
I'm happy to announce the inaugural year of the Dana McLean Greeley Annual Address, on the theme of developing a peaceful and just world, with submissions from ministers or laypersons welcome by January 3rd of 2002, and a $300 award to the winning address or sermon to be presented next year at Quebec City.
We continue to be blessed with the unstinting involvement of UU UNO Vice President Elaine Harvey in deliberations to form an International Criminal Court, to try grand scale human rights abusers, and her official representation of the denomination at the United Nations.
Rev. Fran Mercer is our Executive Administrator, and Fran has, among her many accomplishments, enabled a dozen young people over the past year to experience internships, and offer their great talents and abilities to our Office.
I urge you to attend our Spring Seminar at the beginning of next April, probably on themes related to globalization and global inequity.
And I urge you to join this Office, one more way to emerge from the cocoon in which too often we find ourselves, one more way to care, and to heed, and to act. Whether it be doing what we can to spare this generation and succeeding ones the scourge of war, or providing emergency relief to refugees, or furnishing economic wherewithal and food to those who are malnourished, or safeguarding the human rights of all human beings, or protecting this beautiful earth andwe try in Dag Hammarksjold's words, to bring the chalice of our beings to the problems that are all of ours.
Living our values should not stop at our nations' borders. We are part of a family, the human family.
I want to close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s remarks, on receiving the Nobel Prize for peace in 1964...words that can be found in the UN Sunday Classics at our office...
"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have food, clothing, medicine, and shelter for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity for their spirits."
On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and in accordance with resolutions by its Assembly, The Washington Office for Faith in Action authored and/or signed on to the following letters to public officials and endorsed statements in coalition with religious and secular groups in 2000-2001.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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