The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations have long recognized the need to honor the deep connections within our human family and to awaken a new spirit of international community and cooperation. They have seen the United Nations playing a key role in that regard. The 155th General Assembly (1943) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America adopted a Statement of Principles on a Just Peace, which spoke of the need for the international community to organize itself to “preserve peace, maintain international law, [and] provide adaptations to changing conditions.” The 156th General Assembly (1944) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America affirmed that an international organization be “given responsibility broad enough to exercise a constructive influence upon the life of the nations ... and endowed with curative and creative responsibilities commensurate with at least the most pressing issues that arise in the relations between nations.” While acknowledging that the United Nations, like any institution, is not perfect, subsequent General Assemblies have reaffirmed support for the United Nations, and called for a strong United States commitment to and participation in the organization.
Through the years, Presbyterians have engaged with the United Nations as individuals, as congregations, mid councils, and as a denomination. We have prayed for the United Nations and maintained a witness in the name of Jesus Christ within the United Nations community. Today, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds special consultative status to the United Nations through the United Nations Economic and Social Council. This allows our voice to be heard by a truly global audience and to contribute to its agenda by attending international conferences and events, making written and oral statements at these events, organizing parallel and side events at these events, and taking part in advocacy and networking. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations currently represents the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the United Nations. The ministry inspires, equips, and connects Presbyterians for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community. The ministry advocates for peace and justice to the United Nations, based on policies of Presbyterian General Assemblies.
The 220th General Assembly (2012) again expressed support for the United Nations:
On Supporting the United Nations—From the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
The 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved the following:
- Affirm the church’s historic support for the United Nations as an instrument of peacemaking and peace building and a guarantor of the human and legal rights of people and nations.
- Commend the United Nations for its efforts to address global poverty, hunger, and unemployment; work for economic development; expand educational opportunities; care for creation; improve the health of the human family; combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases; and enhance the status of women, children, indigenous peoples, people of color, and others who are all too often marginalized.
- Give thanks for the engagement of Presbyterians with the United Nations from its creation forward.
- Commend the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for its long-standing witness through educational seminars, congregational programs, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation, strategic reflection, and advocacy for international justice and peace.
- Encourage Presbyterians individually, and as congregations, mid councils, and other groups to learn about, pray for, support, and make use of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in its work to inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians, Presbyterian mission personnel, and our partners for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community and to witness to the United Nations community in the name of Jesus Christ, based on the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies.
- Urge seminaries, universities, colleges, and campus ministries related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide opportunity for faculty and students to learn about the purposes and mission of the United Nations.
- Call upon the United States government to
- foster peacemaking through multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral force;
- support efforts to strengthen the United Nations and the rule of international law;
- assure that its financial obligations to the United Nations are adequately and promptly met;
- overturn laws that mandate an automatic cut-off of U.S. support to UN agencies that allow Palestine as a member; and
- show its commitments to the extension of international order by the ratification of major international treaties still pending action in the U.S., including the Law of the Sea Treaty; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
- Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this resolution to the church, and to the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, every member of Congress, the secretary general of the United Nations, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, and all missions to the United Nations. (Minutes, 2012, Part I, pp. 1301ff.)
Central to our Reformed heritage is the understanding that following Jesus involves a deep public spiritual life: taking our faith into the world to help shape the policies that guide our life together in our communities, our country, and the global neighborhood. Presbyterians live that public life as we engage with the United Nations in the name of Jesus.