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Is the UN preparing to attack Religion?

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Our Brother Bill Underwood wrote an interesting article in the newspaper:

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If you had to choose between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, which would you choose?Now, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have to choose, I already have both.’ Are you sure?Last August, the central district court of Tver – the oblast or ‘state’ in which Moscow resides, banned a religious website, jw.org. They did this secretly, not notifying the owners of the website until the day before the ban was to go into effect – January 22, 2014. Had they prevailed, their rationale would have been to claim, as they have in the past, that the ‘free speech’ on jw.org defames other religions. Jw.org won that battle in the court of appeals, but the foundation on which the attack was based still exists.In 1999, Pakistan brought a resolution to the UN calling for a ban on “Defamation of Islam.” Cooler heads prevailed and, after much discussion, the Commission on Human Rights passed instead a resolution banning “Defamation of Religion.”Over the years from 2000 to 2009 the resolution was added to, revised, strengthened, and re-worded, but it was consistently approved. Aside from the lack of elections, U.N. politicians are no different from any other type. It would have been politically incorrect to be seen as anti-Muslim, especially after 9/11, so passing a bill to protect them from defamation seemed like a good idea. Typical was the vote of the UN General Assembly in December, 2007: 108 for, 51 against, and 25 abstaining.In 2009, however, Pakistan pushed again. Their resolution that year stated that they were concerned that defamation of religion led to “the creation of a kind of Islamophobia in which Muslims were typecast as terrorists." They weren't opposed to freedom of expression, oh no. They merely wanted to ban "expression that led to incitement.”They said the hatred of Muslims was just like the hatred of Jews that Hitler had whipped up in pre-WWII Germany, and look what that led to. Has there been a Muslim “krystallnacht” that I didn’t hear about...the night of August 9, 1938 when Germans destroyed over 7,000 Jewish businesses and over 1,000 synagogues? Even in the days after 9/11 when there was enormous outrage against Muslims, the level of hatred never approached that.Pakistan’s proposed resolution said basically that freedom of speech sometimes has to yield in order to maintain peace. Governments such as Russia, Pakistan, and most of the middle east are quick to use this argument: some opinion or expression of yours is causing distress to others; therefore, instead of telling the ‘others’ to grow up and get over it, they tell you to stop expressing your opinion.In any case, this was a step too far, and the pendulum began to swing back. Pakistan’s argument was recognized for what it was, and over 200 civic groups, some Muslim, some Christian, some atheist, demanded that the UN push back.Over the preceding 10 years, the UN had assigned a “special rapporteur” to analyze the subject of defamation of religion and report back. The rapporteur’s report in 2009 included this telling statement:

  • “[We] encourage a shift away from the sociological concept of the defamation of religions towards the legal norm of non-incitement to national, racial or religious hatred."

Three months later when the United States and Egypt introduced a resolution which condemned "racial and religious stereotyping," EU representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the European Union "rejected and would continue to reject the concept of defamation of religions." Significantly, he said:

  • "Human rights laws did not and should not protect belief systems."

And the representative from Chile pointed out that,

  • "The concept of the defamation of religion took them in an area that could lead to the actual prohibition of opinions."

A month later, at a human rights meeting in Geneva, the United States representative admitted that defamation of religion is “a fundamentally flawed concept.” The rep from Sweden repeated what the Frenchman had said earlier: international human rights law protects individuals, not institutions or religions.By 2011 the backlash was complete. The UNHRC declared that "Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with” the charter of the Human Rights Committee.In the years since then, any proposal in the UN attempting to ban ‘defamation of religion’ has been shot down. Freedom of speech has trumped freedom of religion.Last week, far from worrying about ‘defamation,’ the UN came out loudly and publicly chastising the Vatican.

  • This has never happened before.

Their purported justification for doing so went like this: The Vatican is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 34 of which reads in part:

  • “Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”

The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: The UN went further. They also condemned the Church’s doctrines regarding homosexuality, abortion, and ‘reproductive rights.’Chastising a signatory of a contract for failing to abide by the contract is one thing; Attempting to dictate to a church what their doctrines should be is something else. Where is the UN’s authority to do that? Yet they did it anyway.If, as the UN says, religions and belief systems are not protected by human rights - and I agree, they clearly are not – what prevents them from taking the next step: deciding that religions and belief systems are nothing more than ancient superstitions that are doing more harm than good, and that it’s time to ban them?It’s too bad the UN doesn’t have any teeth. Do they? We'll Investigate that next.

Bill.underwood@mail.com

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The United Nations and Religion

Who better to discuss religious freedom than the man tasked with promoting and defending it for the United Nations?

 
Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

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Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.Photo courtesy United Nations - Geneva via Flickr


This image available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.I caught up with Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, on the eve of his first official visit to Jordan last week. Speaking from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany where he’s also a human rights professor, Bielefeldt discussed the fundamentals of religious freedom, how it fits together with other rights, some of the worst offenders around the world and the state of religious liberty in the Middle East.The conversation started with a simple but loaded question: What is religious freedom? Bielefeldt acknowledged that defining it can be a tricky and often political endeavor — governments, scholars, people of faith and those of none sometimes tailor its definitions to suit their own interests.He sees religious freedom first and foremost as a human right that protects human beings rather than one that protects particular belief systems:

  • “Religious freedom is as universal as any other human right and as liberal as freedom of expression. It protects a broad range of human freedoms like the search for meaning, the freedom to leave or change communities, to adopt a new faith, to spread one’s beliefs and to establish educational institutions. Like every other right to freedom, it’s about the right to equality.”

But religious liberty often comes into conflict with other rights, like when it’s summoned up to suppress free speech or to oppress women and sexual minorities. Bielefeldt said these examples are “problematic invocations” rather than legitimate uses of religious freedom.Beyond such “subversion”, Bielefeldt identified three major obstacles to religious freedom around the world today:

  • “One of the biggest obstacles is hatred, collective manifestations of hatred caused by aggravating societal circumstances. Another big problem is that, increasingly, people think freedom of religion or belief might be superfluous or not a human right at all. Another big issue is the situation of religious minorities worldwide. Some minorities are harassed, stigmatized and treated as though they do not belong to the nation.”

In determining the worst state offenders of religious freedom, Bielefeldt thinks it wise to distinguish systematic state discrimination from society-based hostilities, citing China as an example of the former and Nigeria the latter:

  • “In China, it seems the general population doesn’t care so much [about religion]. It’s really restrictive government policies that threaten religious freedom. We see that with the Falun Gong in Tibet, Protestants and Catholics, the non-recognition of churches. Freedom of belief is facilitated by state administration. Unless the state registers a group, it is illegal. That goes against the spirit of human rights. Here it’s not the society really, but rather the state apparatus exercising oppression.
  • “In Nigeria, it’s totally different. There, Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, is terrorizing Christians, but also many Muslims. State institutions can’t provide protection. It’s a totally different pattern.”

Bielefeldt said the Middle East, and Egypt specifically, are home to both systems of oppression and a host of other complicating factors:

  • “What we’re seeing now throughout the region is an enormous politicization of religion, especially of Islam. It’s a huge and complicated conflict that cannot simply be spelled out as Muslims vs. Christians. That would be too easy. In Egypt, there are Muslims and Christians on both sides of the political debate.
  • “Christians are now an easy target group for people to vent their frustrations. It’s about the identity of the country, about creating a new Egypt. Religion is a big part of that, but it’s not the only thing. One shouldn’t leave out unemployment, the desperate situation of youth, and disenchantment with the West and Western development strategies that have failed. It’s a complicated picture. Religion is a big part of it, but it’s not the key to understanding absolutely everything.”

On the international scale and particularly at the United Nations, Bielefeldt said the state and reputation of religious freedom have changed significantly in the past decade or so, notably around the discussion of religious defamation. Starting in the late 1990s, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a group of 57 states that bills itself as the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” pushed for U.N. resolutions to prohibit such defamation.Bielefeldt said these resolutions “cast a shadow” on religious freedom:

  • “The defamation of religions issue was articulated as a dichotomy of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, which is totally wrong in my opinion. Freedom of expression is often seen as totally liberal, you can be provocative with it. But the perception of freedom of religion is that there is a stop sign. You can only go so far. That has contributed to the dubious reputation of freedom of religion as being somewhat less liberal, which is unfair and unjust. It is as liberal a right as any but has this perception that it somehow doesn’t fit.”

Red lines between religious liberty and freedom of expression surfaced amid these defamation debates when illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad, published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, resulted in violent protests around the world. These demonstrations in 2005 and 2006 were led by some Muslims who deemed the depictions blasphemous and offensive. Bielefeldt said the fact that global media organizations reprinted the cartoons amid threats of violence “made it clear that there is no such right as the right to be free from criticism.”A U.N. Human Rights Council resolution in 2011 “put aside the discussion on religious defamation,” according to Bielefeldt, by considering and protecting both free speech and religious freedom.Bielefeldt is currently finishing a report on gender relations and religious freedom, in part to further emphasize his assertion that religious freedom should not be viewed as a right in isolation:

  • “In this report, I’m speaking out against fragmentation, the idea that human rights should focus on gender or religion. Some people think it’s an alternative, an either/or of anti-discrimination. I don’t share this view. I believe all human rights are interrelated in a positive sense.”

Bielefeldt is scheduled to issue preliminary findings from his current mission to Jordan on Sept. 10, with a full report slated for 2014.

http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/qa-with-united-nations-religious-freedom-czar-heiner-bielefeldt/

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On 6/17/2017 at 04:40, The Librarian said:

The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.

why this sound so familiar to me, looks as the same problem as in some other religions

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NOTE: This is not a religious section of the forum, but I will respond based on the link between JW beliefs and certain expectations concerning the UN that are fairly unique to JW teachings.]

The protection of the civil rights of various religious groups for some will look exactly like the suppression of religion to others. If someone has a religious investment in defaming other religions, then telling them that they can no longer defame others is considered to be an encroachment on their own religious rights. There is no perfect solution to this problem. We know that Jesus and the apostles, too, set an example of pointing out the hypocrisy and wickedness found in the leaders of other religions. The attitude of the world itself and its non-religious philosophies are also defamed in the Bible. So there is nothing unchristian about defaming religion and empty worldly philosophy.

So what happens if there is a demand supported by international law to protect the civil rights of individuals by outlawing the defamation of their religion by another religion? This supposedly makes it impossible for religions which require the conversion of persons of other religions and ideologies. It is a necessary tenet of our religion that we promote it publicly just as 'Acts of Apostles' shows the earliest Christians spreading religion through conversion of others.

There have been several interesting tests of how Jehovah's Witnesses have reacted to political or legal pressure by the rules and laws of various nations. When I first visited Jehovah's Witnesses in Mexico, Mexico had rules that supported the Witnesses. We could preach and convert people exactly as we do in the United States and elsewhere. But due to past problems with the political power of the Catholic Church, they also had rules that restricted religious organizations from owning property. The Watchtower Society didn't like this restriction even though other religions had no problem with it. So it was decided that it would be OK for Witnesses in Mexico to act like a non-religious, civic organization that basically taught people how to read (using WT publications), but without prayer and singing and use of the Bible in door-to-door work. The talks at the Hall were considered to be "educational" and the TMS was about speech training. There could be no purely religious talk, especially of the kind that spoke out against other religions. Of course, as soon as the rule changed so that the Watchtower would now be allowed to own property, then the Watchtower allowed singing of kingdom songs, prayer and use of the Bible in service. The Watchtower had suppressed these proper forms of worship among Witnesses for decades, until the property rule changed.

In other places, most recently in Russia, Jehovah's Witnesses are being suppressed from Russia's own legal system, their national courts. (The undue influence from the Russian Orthodox Church also seems obvious.) In Mexico the suppression came from the rules of the Watchtower Society, but now the rules (in Russia) are part of the law of the land. Apparently, the initial design of the rules was not to stop Jehovah's Witnesses from worshiping, praying, using the Bible or singing kingdom songs. Any religion, including JWs, could still exist and Witnesses could do what they wanted, as long they wouldn't denigrate other religions through their publications and preaching activity. In Russia, we would have to become a religion that could not convert others using the current version of our message.

But, in Russia, we would not have to act like a civic organization. The goal was to "blunt" the sharper edges of the religion in terms of its control over membership through its own sets of laws and punishments. Russia would allow the religion to go on, but to be independent of literature produced or translated from the United States (that demeaned other religions) and independent of the control from the United States. Of course, this is not how the hierarchy of Jehovah's Witnesses works. The new interpretation of the "faithful and discreet slave" requires a close observation of the latest changes made by a specific group of 8 men in the United States. The brothers tried to convince the Russian court that they were not directly dependent on rules emanating from the United States, but this was actually seen to be a false claim and the court didn't accept it.

But this makes me think of a few questions. Is it possibly true already that enough influence has already emanated from the Governing Body so that Jehovah's Witnesses can now continue to follow the practices and doctrines already defined from prior publications and educational direction given in the past? This could be an important question because our publications have already promoted a view that, at any time, nations of the world could turn on Jehovah's Witnesses, and individuals might be "on their own" and will need to follow the direction of their local congregation elders. In some countries, the suppression could be so harsh that it may be difficult to find fellow members of a dissolved congregation. And this is also considered to be an indication that it may no longer be time for continued preaching work for the purpose of converting others, but time to remain faithful even if we seem to be on our own. 

Another question is a more basic one. Could our preaching work go on if we were not able to demean and diminish other religious choices publicly? Is this really the primary goal of the public preaching? What would happen if, in such countries, under such legal restrictions, our ministry transformed to one of good works for others of all religions, but especially toward those related to us in the faith. In the earliest public ministry mentioned in Acts, it is the sharing of food and possessions with those related in this faith in Jesus. That appears to be the big attraction of "the Way" -- those who would be Witnesses of Jesus to the most distant part of the earth. With a reputation of showing love and caring for their own, people were interested in what motivated them to such acts of goodwill and kindness toward each other. It was likely that the majority of those who were converted learned more about Christians from this reputation. Would such a new style of ministry work with JWs in Russia? What if JWs were the most well-known for how they took care of each other? What if they had the best practices for taking care of orphans and widows and honoring their elderly parents and other elderly members? If people came to them over their loving reputation and only THEN did the JWs happily explain why they do such things, might this actually result in an increase in those who want to follow them? There would be less need for JWs to formally go out to others. (There is some evidence that the actual growth of JWs in most places has been primarily through informal contacts, not formal door-to-door contacts.) I wonder if it's possible to transform a ministry to work just as well by having people come to us. Wouldn't Jehovah bless the work that is motivated correctly? Wouldn't Jehovah make sure that media was attentive to such stories of charity and goodwill?  

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On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

Jesus and the apostles, too, set an example of pointing out the hypocrisy and wickedness found in the leaders of other religions.

How to tell to some Catholic priest or GB leader or to some secular politician or city major that he/she is wrong in something or that he/she made bad deed, or pointing on their hypocrisy and similar?? ..... and in the same time not to be, not to sound offensive or rude and in the same time expressing own feeling and thoughts? 

Does it "pointing out" or "criticism" on something and someone, only privilege of "higher class" of people aka that same leaders or is that same "privilege" actual  "human rights" of all people, not just few chosen?   

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

So it was decided that it would be OK for Witnesses in Mexico to act like a non-religious

 

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

In other places, most recently in Russia, Jehovah's Witnesses are being suppressed from Russia's own legal system,......The Watchtower had suppressed these proper forms of worship among Witnesses for decades, until the property rule changed.

In first example "suppression" came from WT leaders, own Church and   such GB decision was "justified, righteous, wisdom from Above" :)))) ..... but in Russia case it is "devil attack, suppression caused of enemy worldly people". :))))))  Past and present events in different perception (differences in perception) on, about good and bad, about "proper or less proper or worldly forms of sacred service to god and all other forms.  Interesting!  

 

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

The brothers tried to convince the Russian court that they were not directly dependent on rules emanating from the United States, but this was actually seen to be a false claim and the court didn't accept it.

Of course, it is WT lawyers false claim :)))))

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

Of course, this is not how the hierarchy of Jehovah's Witnesses works.

WT is Corporation. From that, this point, post, standpoint, view, every JW member must start processing all what came from Main Church Body aka GB. 

 

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

if we were not able to demean and diminish other religious choices publicly?

.... or whatever else. Does some group or individual can express disagreement on all and every issue??  Not only to different, other groups, but to his own group too?  Or  to be "politically correct", whatever such frase means? :)

 

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

I wonder if it's possible to transform a ministry

 "Transformers" :) 

 

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

work that is motivated correctly

please , this is grey field ... motivations, humans hearts, minds :))) interpretations are many. They will judge you and praise you for the same thing :) I have enjoy in reading your posts. Have a good and peaceful day, greetings!

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3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

It’s interesting you cite Jesus Work, and yet have a heretical view of the GB influence that extends from scripture, to begin with. 1 Corinthians 12:27.

I Corinthians 12:27 is a perfect example of what I believe. It says:

  • 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)

Anyone who believes that says there is currently another body to look to, such as a Governing Body, should be the ones defending against a potentially heretical view. I believe that there is a way to view the Governing Body concept in a way that is is not heretical, and not at odds with the Bible, and I have explained it before. Holding a specific, proper view about a group of 8 specific men in New York who make up this "Governing Body" is NOT, in my view heretical. For the sake of efficiency, an organization will find it useful, helpful, and proper to look to groups of older men for guidance. We have the example of Moses taking the advice of Jethro. We have the Sanhedrin. Jesus, in fact, wanted the combined experience and advice of the apostles to help guide the first-century congregations as they emanated forth from Jerusalem in the days following his death, ascension, and the pouring out of the holy spirit at Pentecost.

So there is nothing necessarily wrong or heretical about a group of men selected for the purpose of efficiently running an organization. 1 Corinthians 12:28 mentions teaching and helping and guiding as proper ministries for some of the body of Christ to be involved in. It would therefore be proper for the body of Christ to select specific persons or even committees of persons to serve in various capacities as that body of Christ might choose using Scriptural guidance and advice.

The potentially heretical view is the claim that these men and only these men currently make up the fulfillment of the parable Jesus gave about the unfaithful slave. (Yes, it is also a parable about a faithful slave, but the primary focus and majority of content in the parable is about the unfaithful slave.)  Because then we would have a body of men who are not the apostles, wishing to be thought of as if they were apostles. It would require us to view a specific body of specific men as a Body within the Body of Christ. Looking to a body of men as a committee who are our specific leaders to follow is precisely what Paul spoke against when he spoke of those who would look to various "superfine" apostles. It is precisely what Jesus was referring to when when he said that we should [NOT]** look to specific persons as our leaders or teachers. The Bible often mentions the dangers of such arrangements. It even mentions the potential danger of looking to the body of apostles themselves as our leaders. This is what Paul emphasizes when he tells the Galatians that he did not look to the body of elders in Jerusalem for leadership, not even the apostles, those who "seemed to be" pillars in the Jerusalem congregation.

[Edited to add the "NOT" in the above paragraph where Melinda pointed out the error.]

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3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

It’s interesting you cite Jesus Work, and yet have a heretical view of the GB influence that extends from scripture, to begin with. 1 Corinthians 12:27.

I attempted above to only address the actual point of difference, as I see it, between your view and my view of the GB.  To be fair, I should probably acknowledge that you appear to be trying to make some additional specific points in your post, but there was nothing there that seemed very appropriate to comment on, because most of what you said just simply doesn't apply or I have always been in full agreement with it. The intent of some of your post wasn't clear to me. So perhaps if I try to respond to what I think you meant, you will be able to clarify further if you can see I'm not understanding you correctly.

From what I can tell, your instant reaction to call me and my views heretical and your other attempts at defamation have become a kind of reflex for you. You apparently don't read what I am saying before quickly misunderstanding words that you don't like.

In this case, I think the primary word you didn't like was "influence." You didn't like that I had said used the term "influence . . . emanated from the Governing Body" in the following question that I had asked:

On 5/19/2018 at 3:11 PM, JW Insider said:

Is it possibly true already that enough influence has already emanated from the Governing Body so that Jehovah's Witnesses can now continue to follow the practices and doctrines already defined from prior publications and educational direction given in the past?

You might not have understood that I meant this in a very positive way. I mean that the Governing Body has positively influenced Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide with proper guidance and teachings. Yes, I know I have not held back from discussing non-Biblical influences in the past, too, but the question above focused only on the positive influences. It could be restated as follows:

Is it possible that (through all the various publications, practices, encouragement of good habits, assigned Bible reading/discussion, reviewing of important Bible topics, etc.) that the Governing Body has already produced enough good influence on congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses so that they are readily capable of standing on their own in the event of severe persecution that would cut us off from communication with the Governing Body? I hoped the question was rhetorical, because it seems obvious that congregational elders and servants should already be trusted to help guide and teach a congregation in such circumstances. We already know there have been exceptional cases and extreme circumstances in the recent modern history of Jehovah's Witnesses where communication has been cut off and the Witness work and congregational matters went on without any major problems. And as I already stated in the post, we are reminded that we should be ready for such extreme circumstances.

I also note that you might have misunderstood my use of the word "past." It didn't refer to Russell, Rutherford, and past GB "influences." It refers to the pattern of instruction already received, with good habits learned over the years. Many elders and servants had no ability to manage even a small project, yet past assignments over the years have taught many brothers and sisters to rise to the occasion to manage complex tasks. (Assembly organization, budgets, donations, paperwork, building halls, scheduling assignments.)

I think you took some offense to the fact that I mentioned influence of the GB as if it superseded the influence of Jehovah, Jesus, the Bible, and the holy spirit. That wasn't the intent. For some individuals, unfortunately, I think it does supersede all these entities. But that wasn't the topic here. I meant it only as a guide for understanding proper spiritual influence.

3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

So, when you STATE, GB influence? Rather than a GUIDE to the teachings of Christ? It is NOT representative of SCRIPTURE!

This is where I figured you must have misunderstood GB influence. I meant it, just as you said: "a GUIDE to the teachings of Christ" not a replacement for Scripture. I know where you are coming from, so I don't blame you for thinking I was here referring to areas where I believe the Bible gives us a clear reason to disagree. But in this context I was referring to the many areas where we can positively agree.

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2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Understanding one's character and intent have yet to fail my views about certain people here. There is NO misunderstanding when it comes to subliminal message.

Assuming your obfuscation is purposeful, I'll try to translate your apparent intent:

"I, AllenSmith, have never yet failed to understand the true character and intent when I view certain people here. To myself, I now understand that I had previously misunderstood the main thing that 'JWInsider' was saying, although since I will never actually admit a fault, be they ever so blatant to others, I will, instead, focus on the new claim that that I never misunderstood the subliminal message."

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

But it’s good that one of your staunch supporters was brave enough to see through some of your commentaries.

If you meant @Srecko Sostar, I have never seen this person as a staunch supporter. If you meant @Melinda Mills, then you probably missed the fact that she does not typically "support" my views in areas where they might differ from the Watchtower, and never staunchly even when she does. In this case, she merely pointed out the fact that I left out the word "not," because the sentence wouldn't have made any sense in context as it stood. But she was pointing out what I must have meant, not what she necessarily believes. I see she did "upvote" a comment or two of mine, and that is always a dangerous thing for people to do when you are around, since they will often have to brave your disapproval. You often convey this disapproval of any kind of support in a bullying manner and go after people for assumed sins just because they found something agreeable in a post of mine. I hope you will stop this kind of bullying. (I'm not saying that what other people do doesn't ALSO come across as bullying . . . [ahem..j.t.r..ahem] . . . but it's easier to take when it's cushioned with a sense of humor.)

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Therefore, you are correct to define some of your comments inappropriate to this post!

Yes. It's true. I gladly admit that this post was not primarily about the differences in our view of the GB. Still, many JWs believe that the time will come when the UN will attack religion, and there is an associated assumption that this will result in a collapse of religion in some global sense, and will thus precipitate a specific attack on Witnesses which is thwarted by Jehovah, Jesus and the angelic hosts. This is supposed to be our lot between the great tribulation and Armageddon. We are told to expect that it means times of being cut off from communication with New York, and a need for almost unquestioning reliance on local leadership through the guidance of congregation elders. In some cases, we expect that some will be cut off from even that much association.  JWs want to feel prepared to face such a time without fear.

I don't think it's out of place, then, to discuss this entire supposed "UN episode" in the light of such expectations.

I don't feel right about discussing it unless I also disclose that I have my own questions about the readiness of many Witnesses to face such a scenario. Part of that is the strained relationship that I see many Witnesses have with their local elders, and others in the congregations in general. Part of that is what I see as an unhealthy and immature relationship of dependency on the Governing Body for almost every aspect of their spirituality and worship. For me personally, I must also deal with the fact that I look to the track record of the Governing Body in attempting to predict the meaning of scripture, and I realize that so far they have something like a 0% accuracy rating in everything ever predicted when it comes to fulfilled prophecy. So, just out of the honest need for full disclosure when I give an opinion, I will be forced to include some of my personal hesitance to accept these predicted scenarios as necessarily accurate.

But I should still have a right to an opinion, and you should have a right to yours, and a right to give counterbalancing evidence if you have any.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

The GB has NEVER claimed to be Christ-like, Apostle like, or above anyone that has become a true “follower” of Christ.

Interesting. It's false to say they have never claimed this. But it's usually more subtle than an outright claim. Whether they claim it or not is immaterial. It's an impression that is given and never completely corrected. We could have a whole separate discussion on this topic.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

The GB has never asked anyone to glorify them as you claim!

I never claimed they asked for anyone to glorify them. Please stick with the evidence, not stuff you make up.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

However, what can be said of “Bethelites” that contend superiority for having served at the Bethel House?

They should feel no superiority for having served at the "Bethel House." No one should. I certainly don't. In fact, as you have pointed out yourself, sometimes serving at Bethel is a detriment to true spirituality.

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1 hour ago, AllenSmith said:

But it’s good that you now realize it’s only YOUR opinion on how other witnesses think about the GB and what they rely on.

Thank you for noticing that I have always considered my opinions here to reflect nothing more than my opinions here.

1 hour ago, AllenSmith said:

To you, Anna, JTR, and much more here DEMAND much more of our brothers than what is humanly possible.

I have noticed statements from JTR and Anna that actually state just the opposite. I've said it many times, too, that it really is humanly possible to make all the prophetic conjectures that you wish, and then just be humble about it and state that we really don't know for sure about these things we are conjecturing about. In other words, it's possible to make conjectures and be 100% right about everything we state as long as we are humble, discreet, and not presumptuous. The GB could have said that they don't know for sure, but that they believe the UN will attack religion for certain reasons, and then give those reasons. None of us would have the right to be dogmatic. We would always be 100% right, because we only stated that it was our current belief -- our opinion. Of course, I don't demand that we admit when we are just "conjecturing." But the Bible says it's the best course to avoid presumptuousness and the Bible recommends being faithful and discreet.

1 hour ago, AllenSmith said:

So, you are correct to suggest there are some that are uncharacteristic of having unity. Especially when you are speaking on behalf of all. Please! Enlighten Melinda on this famous crystal ball you have, and I will show you a spiritualist.

Your "word salads" imply so much that is incorrect that I won't bother to untangle them. But it is funny that you find a person who says none of us has a crystal ball, and that none of us should claim to have one, and then you claim that this person thinks he has a crystal ball.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Once again, the one being “deleted” in the past for the whims of people like you was me. So, NO! My opinion has been silenced and deleted to protect people like you in the past. However, you think too much of yourself if you think my opinions are invalid and yours are.

I didn't want you deleted and you didn't want you deleted. So you are like me in that regard. Someone went against the whims of people like you and me. However, you have repeatedly claimed that you have not been silenced because you merely had to create new versions of your name and new versions of several other supportive "characters" who can up-vote yourself and show derision to others. I agree with you that you have never actually been silenced. So this should not be an excuse for coming up with no evidence for your opinions. Your opinions are just fine. Many have been spot on. Some of mine have been merely opinions unsupported with evidence. Opinions on their own are not valid or invalid, just opinions. But if anyone shows evidence contrary to my opinion, I will ALWAYS adjust my opinion in favor of the evidence. This is one of those places where no one has to hold back in presenting either opinions or evidence or counter-evidence. So if you have evidence, great. But if you don't have any evidence, then please stop whining about how one or two of your "characters" were deleted for abusive behavior several years ago.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

especially when you falsely claim NO prophetic fulfillment

I apologize. I was only thinking about prophecies associated with dates and time periods like 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, the mid-70's, the end of the century, the generation, etc. But I admit that there is one "prophetic fulfillment" in another category that comes very close. It's the best example available. I'm referring to the one that Knorr "predicted" about the League of Nations rising again as the United Nations. This one was not originally from the Watchtower, but from Christendom, but still the Watchtower should get credit for choosing to repeat it.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Well, something we can agree on. You for being there, and me for knowing human conditions, and all its elements. Just like having to deal with spiritual matters when the time comes. ALL MEMBERS SHOULD BE SPIRITUALLY PREPARED TO TAKE ANY ROLE NECESSARY AS A UNIT OR FOR PERSONAL SALVATION. That message hasn’t changed since Christ. Philippians 3:4-11

Here, it seems, we really do agree! And this was the main point I was making, too.

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9 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I'm referring to the one that Knorr "predicted" about the League of Nations rising again as the United Nations. This one was not originally from the Watchtower, but from Christendom, but still the Watchtower should get credit for choosing to repeat it. ?

Knoor's Law: "No matter what happens ... SOMEBODY predicted it."

As far as TRUE predictions ...... it just was not .... us.

We do know, however, from GB member Stephen Lett, that (paraphrased) " ... there is more evidence of God's Kingdom on Earth now, than there is for gravity, and electricity."

... but for the life of me, I find it impossible to wrap my mind around that statement.

If Ah had stated that ... Ah could legitimately be involuntarily committed to a mental institution, and wear size 400 sleeves that tie in the back.

My Movie.mp4

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Is the UN preparing to attack Religion?

Just getting back to the main topic. The most relevant  prophetic statement I am aware of relating to this question is here:  

"And the ten horns that you saw and the wild beast, these will hate the prostitute and will make her devastated and naked, and they will eat up her flesh and completely burn her with fire.
For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, yes, to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished." Revelation 17:16-17.

Leaving aside extensive argumentation on the interpretation of these two verses, Jehovah's Witnesses understand this to be describing the destruction of false religion at the hands of its long-time partner, the political element of human society.

  • "The ten horns" = those "movers and shakers" within the political set up (as opposed to "vassal" states) at the time these events occur.
  • "The wild beast" = the earlier referred to "was but is not" conglomeration of nations we currently know as the United Nations of which the "ten horns" are a prominent part.
  • "The prostitute" = said "Babylon the Great", the world empire of false religion, destined for complete destruction at the hands of the political powers.
  • "Their one thought" = preservation of national sovereignty at all costs. There has always been a rather tenuous balance in this element of the religion/politics relationship. In fact, the false charge of "sedition" constitutes a prime weapon in the anti-Jehohvah's Witness strategy employed by false religion. It has been a main component of it's murderous schemes to eliminate servants of Jehovah with the enlistment of political muscle.(Compare John 19:15: "We have no king but Caesar") However, in striking similarity to the failure of Haman's schemes at the time of King Ahasuerus as described in the Bible book of Esther, false religion is "hoist on it's own petar", (to borrow a Shakesperean idiom). This will involve a remarkable feature in that the political elements (particularly those dominant UN partners, more inclined to veto than agree) participate in an unreserved delegation of authority to their political figurehead, currently identified as the UN.
  • "God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought" = the crux of this whole matter. Observers today may well detect evidence to support their view of a rising anti-religious trend in UN attitudes to religion. But there may equally be those who would choose to argue a completely opposite view. Not to be overlooked is the view held by false religion itself at the time of it's destruction. This is indicated at Rev:18:7 "I sit as queen, and I am not a widow, and I will never see mourning". Rev18:8 adds "That is why in one day her plagues will come".

The destruction of false religion at the hands of it's one time political allies will be something to shock this system of things to it's very foundations. It will open the world stage for "a tribulation such as has not occurred from the beginning of the creation that God created until that time" Mark 13:19. Those blessed with the 'abundant true knowledge' characterising these" last days" have a comprehension of the world scene that is very different from the many who remain in "darkness mentally and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensitivity of their hearts." Eph 4:19.

So in answer to the question, probably not, as a body, although godless elements have been in it's composition since it's origin. This event will come "as a thief in the night", a development indeed, but something precipitated by Jehovah, at a time of His choosing, once the "good news of the kingdom" has been preached in all the inhabited earth, for a witness. Then the end will come.

Now is not the time to bite the hand that feeds us!

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      Striking a conciliatory line, his comments marked a change in tone for Mr Trump after his remarks during the presidential campaign where he told the US: "Islam hates us."
      Addressing the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, he said: "We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading."
      Saudi King: 'Islam is the religion of peace'  Mr Trump told leaders at the meeting that he brought "a message of friendship and hope and love", and urged Muslim countries to ensure "terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil".
      He announced a deal with Gulf countries to crackdown on the funding of extremists.
      The President also hit out at Iran, accusing Tehran of "fuelling the fires of sectarian conflict".
      He said among Iran's destabilising interventions was in Syria, where President Bashar al Assad has "committed unspeakable crimes".
      "From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region," Mr Trump said.
      Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said the President's comments "will be very much welcomed by the predominantly Sunni attendees from some 50 nations.
      "And it will strike a degree of horror into (Shia-dominated) Iran.
      "Terrorism is sponsored through groups like Hizbollah, by Iran, but there are also Sunni Islamic terrorist groups that the Iranians are fighting, not least Islamic State in Syria."
      Mr Trump also called upon countries around the world to work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

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    • By admin
      The UN should create a set of international rules to help stop the pandemic of fake news and Cold war-style disinformation, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said during a session of the UN Committee on Information in New York.
       
    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      Bolivian Ambassador Remembers The U.S. Saying Iraq Had Chemical Weapons!


      World News
    • By Kurt
      GENEVA (4 April 2017) – Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts*. 
      “This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation,” the experts said. 
      “The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia,” they stressed. 
      The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity.  
      A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events. 
      A full court hearing is scheduled for 5 April and if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized religious organization to be ‘extremist’. 
      Concerns about the counter-extremism legislation have previously been raised in a 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  by the three experts to the Russian authorities on 28 July 2016.   The Suspension Order imposed on 15 March is the latest in a series of judicial cases and orders, including a warning sent to the organization last year referring to the ‘inadmissibility of extremist activity’. This has already led to the dissolution of several local Jehovah’s Witness organizations, raids against their premises and literature being confiscated.  
      “We urge the authorities to drop the lawsuit in compliance with their obligations under international human rights law, and to revise the counter-extremism legislation and its implementation to avoid fundamental human rights abuses,” the UN experts concluded. 
      (*) The experts: Mr. David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya), Special Rapporteur on  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives), Special Rapporteur on  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. .   The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.   UN Human Rights, country page: 
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The Clean Seas campaign was launched last week, aimed at eliminating major sources of marine plastic and changing shopping habits.
      The United Nations has declared war on plastic. In an unexpected announcement that emerged from the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali last week, the UN officially launched its ‘Clean Seas’ campaign. The goal is to eliminate major sources of pollution, including microplastics in cosmetics and single-use disposable plastics, by pressuring governments and individuals to rethink the way goods are packaged and their own shopping habits.
      Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, stated:
      “It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans. Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”
      It’s a problem that must be dealt with as aggressively as possible. Scientists say that the equivalent of a dump truck load of plastic is deposited in the world’s oceans every minute, and this quantity will only increase as consumption and population grow, too. By 2050, it’s said there will be more plastic than fish in the seas. The UN writes, “As many as 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy – litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife.”
      On the campaign website, people can commit to certain actions to combat their personal plastic pollution, such as not using disposable grocery bags, bringing their own coffee cup, avoiding cosmetics with microbeads, and pressuring firms to reduce excess packaging. The campaign’s press release says it will make announcements throughout the year, highlighting advances made by countries and companies to reduce disposable plastics.

      Some countries have taken noteworthy steps, with ten already signing onto the #CleanSeas campaign. Indonesia, for example, has pledged to reduce marine litter by 70 percent by 2025, and Costa Rica says it will “take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.” Other nations are turning to taxes on plastic bags.
      The UN Clean Seas campaign is a good place to start, as it will spread the awareness of a little-known problem much further afield. Awareness, however, is just the first small step. It must translate into real lifestyle changes in order to make any sort of difference. It requires people to think ahead – request no straw with a drink, pack containers and bags when going to the store, trade in the diaper wipes for a washcloth, kick the bottled water habit – and it requires municipal governments to take a strong, often unpopular, stance.

      Just as microbeads are being eliminated in many places, plastic shopping bags should be, too; or at least the tax should be high enough to deter anyone, say $5 a bag, instead of 5 cents. Every town should have a bulk food store where the use of reusable containers is incentivized. Styrofoam and plastic takeout containers should be made illegal. Places to return packaging directly to manufacturers should be built alongside recycling facilities, based on the successful model of returning wine and beer bottles for refund in the province of Ontario. Schools need to start teaching children to care proactively for the Earth and to live with a reduced footprint, much like the strong anti-littering messages taught in Japan.
      Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard quotes Wang Yang Ming in his book, Let My People Go Surfing: “To know and not to do is not to know.” Hopefully the Clean Seas campaign will be that crucial first step toward informing greater swaths of the world’s population and inspiring them to further action.
      http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/un-says-its-time-tackle-plastic-pollution-aggressively.html
    • By The Librarian
      United Nations Building, New York City
      Photo Credit: Flash 90
       
      For years, critics of the United Nations have been calling on the U.S. to defund and even quit the world body. Some have urged that a rival or successor organization be established. Now, the empty sheet of bitter discontent with the UN has been filled in with a new name and a new movement calling to “defund and replace” the troubled organization with the Covenant of Democratic Nations. This writer has been a participating witness to the birth of this movement.
      Just days after the passage of UN Resolution 2334, which declared, among other things, that Israel’s Jewish connection to the Western Wall was effectively illegal, concrete replacement action began. It has started with a conversation of ideas proposing an official international conference that would carefully propound a multilaterally-signed diplomatic convention to be ratified by countries as a binding treaty that would juridically forge the covenant into operational reality.
      The entire process would be limited to nations governed by democratic principles. Each member would or could defund the United Nations while it labored to construct a successor entity dedicated to world peace along democratic principles with equal respect for all people regardless of religion, gender, race, identity, or national origin, as well as formulating a mechanism to resolve disputes.
      A prime mission of the new world body would be to re-ratify, amend, or nullify all acts and resolutions of the United Nations and its agencies such as UNESCO. Thus, the Covenant would create a new body of long-overdue, reformed, clarified, and updated international law. Sensibly, most CDN nations would remain as vestigial members of the UN overseeing its collapse from economic and bureaucratic processes as was done when the League of Nations was dissolved after World War II and replaced with the present UN.
      Clearly, the history of world bodies, fluttering high-minded banners of peace on earth following wars that scorched the world and scarred all humankind, is not a good one. The League of Nations was born after World War I out of a quest for revenge by the victors, laced with a visionary desire to end colonialism and empower self-determination among nationally awakened peoples, so long as the whole business conquered the oil fields of the Mideast, lubricating the machinery of the post-Second Industrial Revolution West—and the multinational corporate palms that controlled it.
      Countries were invented that had never existed, carved and chipped off the toppled Turkish and German empires, with handpicked kings and sovereigns put into place who could legally sign lucrative petroleum contracts. Backstage, oil companies got the oil. But the flaccid League of Nations – which never included the United States –proved its utter uselessness during the Hitler regime.
      After World War II, the League was replaced by the United Nations. Although enshrined as a democratic enterprise, profoundly undemocratic and scheming governments penetrated the organization from its inception. Civil war-torn China and a tyrannical and hegemonic Soviet Union joined France, Great Britain, and the United States to create the Security Council. Expansion, inclusion, and extension eventually enrolled 193 nations, including such egalitarian democracies as North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. The world body began as a sick organ and deteriorated from there.
      The Covenant conversation launched in earnest on January 23 when a panel of like-minded voices assembled in a crowded Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ,) who currently supports a bill to defund the UN, opened the Covenant Launch proceedings by declaring, “This is a critically important issue. The United Nations started out with a noble charter…but the United Nations has not only failed their charter, they have distinctly moved in the opposite direction and done actual harm…. They have become an anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, anti-freedom mob…. We need some type of alternative – a Covenant of Democratic Nations…. We need to repeal and replace.”
      Sarah Stern, founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), pinpointed America’s 22 percent share of the overall UN budget. Stern said America was not getting what it pays for when “despotic, ruthless, tyrannical regimes” such as Syria “could pass judgment on the one democracy in the Middle East.” The UN has, she said, proven to be “abysmal” and added, “It is now time to begin having this conversation about dissolving the United Nations and replacing with a Covenant of Democratic Nations that share our common values…of tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law.”
      Famed constitutional attorney Nathan Lewin, who has worked on 28 Supreme Court cases, proclaimed to the room, “The United Nations deserves an obituary…because the United Nations committed suicide when it adopted Resolution 2334. It wrote its own death warrant…. Today I am happy to join a group that would spell the end of the United Nations, the end of its funding, it presence and significance in the world order.”
      The Covenant launch in Washington was only the beginning. Additional panels and town hall meetings will convene in several locales in the coming weeks. The conversation has begun.
      Edwin Black
      About the Author: Edwin Black is the author of several books including “ IBM and the Holocaust” and the initiator of the Covenant of the Democratic Nations effort. For his prior efforts, he has been awarded the Moral Courage Award, the Moral Compass Award, and the Justice for All Award.
      http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/replacing-the-un-with-the-covenant-of-democratic-nations/2017/02/02/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      UNESCO has intervened in the long-running Israeli-Arab conflict over Jerusalem's holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It passed a resolution for the sites to be referred to only by their Arabic names - Haram al-Sharif and the Buraq Wall - thereby ignoring any Jewish connection.
       
    • By The Librarian
      Over the past year we have been celebrating 70 years of the United Nations and indeed, there is much to be proud of and grateful for. Over the past year alone, Member States adopted an ambitious development agenda – Agenda 2030 – as well as the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, a process in which I was honoured to play a role. These agreements demonstrate, once again, the power and the value of the UN when its Member States are united in purpose.
      At the same time, the world is facing complex challenges that the UN’s founders could have scarcely imagined 70 years ago. As our societies have grown more interconnected, so have our problems. The global migration and refugee crisis has demonstrated that armed conflict, environmental degradation and human rights violations in one part of the world can have repercussions across the world. We are already witnessing the effects of climate change, the impacts of which are being felt most acutely by the poorest societies that are least able to cope. We have also been made painfully aware that terrorism knows no borders and that violent extremists are increasingly adept at exploiting power vacuums, instability and discontent to spread hatred and destruction.
      Image: United Nations Working together to tackle the biggest challenges
      It is evident that we can no longer afford to deal with such challenges in an isolated manner or ignore the full range of their impacts – social, political, environmental and economic. Doing so risks inflaming vicious cycles of conflict. The only way to take on these challenges is by working collectively; either we figure out ways of winning together, or we will all lose together.
      In these complicated times, and in a fraught and shifting geopolitical environment, the United Nations remains the indispensable organization that can bring the world around the table to formulate collective responses to shared challenges. Even as these challenges grow increasingly complex, Member States continue to turn to the UN as the universal forum to build consensus and unity in the face of daunting obstacles. But in order to deliver on its crucial responsibilities in a fast-moving world, the UN as an institution has to evolve. This requires visionary leadership and creativity to adapt the way we think, the way we engage, and the way we work.
      Four priorities for peace and security
      For the UN to take on the global challenges of the 21st century, I believe the next secretary-general should focus on four broad priorities in the field of peace and security.
      First, conflict prevention and strengthened political engagement must be brought to the forefront of the UN’s agenda. This is not a new idea –three major reviews of the UN’s peace and security architecture over the past year have reiterated this point. The UN secretariat needs to be more creative in presenting to the Security Council the full spectrum of instruments we have at our disposal to prevent and de-escalate conflicts, from special envoys, regional political offices and political missions, to peacebuilding support efforts and specialized, interdisciplinary teams that can provide host governments with focused support. The UN should also use its greatest assets – its convening power and legitimacy – to be more active at bringing together stakeholders to negotiate political settlements and resolve conflicts before violence erupts.
      Additionally, we must remember that conflict prevention requires sowing the seeds of long-term peace through development and prosperity. Agenda 2030 highlights the old truth that there is no peace without sustainable development – and no sustainable development without peace.
      A second priority should be promoting full integration of UN system-wide efforts. Too often the UN’s political, developmental and human rights efforts are functioning at cross-purposes. This must stop. The multi-dimensional challenges we face require multi-dimensional thinking and action. We must overcome institutional inertia and instil a culture of systemic collaboration and inter-disciplinary thinking appropriate for the interconnected world we live in. The new secretary-general and their team should find innovative ways of harnessing the full capacities of the UN system, including the agencies, funds and programmes to be able to tackle issues on all fronts. This also requires undertaking renewed efforts to promote better internal governance, transparency and accountability. And we must heed the call from both Member States and UN staff to adapt our bureaucratic processes to be more agile and effective, and better respond to evolving realities in the field.
      Third, the UN must become a better partner. Regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union, European Union, Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and others play a critical role in conflict resolution and prevention. We must recognize that other actors are sometimes better placed to react more rapidly and effectively. In such cases, we should work together with these organizations to identify the ways the UN can best support and enable regional efforts. And our approach should be grounded in a spirit of mutual respect and recognition of comparative advantages.
      Finally, the next secretary-general should redouble diplomatic engagement with Member States, particularly the Security Council, through closer and more regular interaction aimed at finding and expanding points of consensus. While the Council has been criticized for its handling of the Syrian crisis, we must recognize that it found common ground on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and on authorizing cross-border humanitarian access. Even in the most seemingly intractable conflicts, there is room for agreement on issues of common interest, and the secretary-general should use their diplomatic arsenal and creativity to facilitate consensus among Member States, even when consensus seems impossible.
      Making the impossible a reality
      Indeed, a universal agreement to combat climate change seemed impossible only a few years ago. But through persistent, hopeful leadership and old-fashioned multilateral diplomacy –the UN’s raison d’être and greatest strength – we were able to make the impossible possible. I am confident that together we can do the same for the multitude of challenges we face today. Billions of people around the world affected by conflict, poverty and hardship are counting on us. We cannot fail them.
      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-are-the-big-challenges-awaiting-the-new-un-secretary-general
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