Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby set to address UN Security Council
Archbishop Justin Welby will become the first Archbishop of Canterbury to address the UN Security Council when he takes part in an open debate later this month. The Archbishop has been invited to brief an open debate on “mediation and its role in conflict prevention” by the UK’s Ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce. The event, on 29 August, is one two big “discretionary events” being organised by the UK during their rolling presidency of the UN in August.
“Over the years, the UN has been increasing the amount of effort it puts into mediation,” Ambassador Pierce told journalists at a UN press conference. “I think everybody agrees there is still more that could be done there: there is more that we can do to share best practice; there is more we can do to talk about what works.
“A lot of countries – both off and on the [Security] Council – have very personal experiences of how mediation has helped resolve conflict or see off the threat of conflict and we want to tap into that knowledge.”
Archbishop Justin has extensive experience of international mediation and the ambassador reminded journalists that he is a member of the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. “He has a particular offering to make”, she said. “We wanted to have a briefer who we hope Council members will enjoy hearing from. I have heard the Archbishop speak; I think he will be a very good contributor.
“I do know that he comes often to the United Nations and takes his contribution to it seriously.”
She added: “He makes frequent visits to New York [and] is very interested in the work of the United Nations. I had a very good chat with him before I took up my job as ambassador.”
The Anglican Communion has official observer status with the United Nations. The Communion’s Representative to the UN, Jack Palmer-White, described the Archbishop’s invitation to address the Security Council as “a really exciting and significant moment.”
He said: “Not only does his participation as an expert briefer for the debate acknowledge his own expertise on matters of peace and reconciliation, but it is also an opportunity to draw attention to the vital work of mediation, conflict resolution and peace building going on around the Anglican Communion.
“I hope that those participating in the discussions can take away a really clear sense of the important role that churches and other faith actors can and do play in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.”
It is salutary at this time to realise that the Anglican Communion has a real voice in the proceedings of the United Nations Organisation world-wide. The news that Archbishop Justin Welby will be the first Archbishop of Canterbury to address the U.N. Security Council at the end of this month (August 2018) should not be too surprising. In his term at Coventry Cathedral as a clergy member of the staff, he was engaged in the work of Reconciliation and Peace-making connected with the ongoing work of the cathedral in that important ministry.
Our own Archbishop Paul Reeves was once the Anglican Communion’s Representative at the United Nations in New York. At that time, he was also associated with the inner city Church of Trinity, Wall Street, which has an ongoing social ministry to the poor in that busy centre of New York.
The now Permanent Anglican Representative to the U.N. is Jack Palmer-White, whose short video (linked above) is well worth listening to, in terms of the A.C.’s influence on this most important international organisation.
What, no doubt, will exercise the minds of those who read this report is the very important question of how well the ABC is doing with conflict resolution in his own Church, the Church of England, on issues facing that Church at this present time. Having clearly enunciated – together with the Archbishop of York – that gay people are no longer considered ‘persona non grata’ in the Church’s ministry; and having supported the petition to the U.K. Parliament that ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ is no longer tenable and should be outlawed; Archbishop Welby will undoubtedly be more welcomed as a speaker to the U.N., whose own Charter supports the decriminalisation & emancipation of the gay community.
Another challenge facing the ABC – at home in the UK and in connection with his historic role as ‘Primus-inter-pares’ of the worldwide Anglican Communion – is that of the rise of a fundamentalist ‘alternative Anglicanism’ in the emerging Sola Scriptura GAFCON/FOCA sodality, which bitterly opposes any movement to include the civil rights of the LGBTI community in its own jurisdictions (mainly in Africa – but NOT South Africa) and refuses to live with any overt concession to LGBTI people anywhere else in the Communion. With the C. of E.’s recent accommodation of this important minority of people of gender/sexuality difference; the position of the ABC as continuing Primus-inter-pares is being solidly challenged.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand