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Swords into plowshares

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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.

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October 1, 2015

YAV attends UN General Assembly

Matt Cowell, our YAV attended his first UN General Assembly this week. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is accredited to the United Nations and through the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations advocates and engages the United Nations. Read his blog below:


Greetings from the United Nations!  The General Debate of the seventieth session of the UN General Assembly is in full swing here.  During this pivotal week at the opening of the debate, every member state and permanent observer state makes speeches focusing on the various issues of the day—196 speeches over the course of six days, a very time-consuming procedure when considering that some of the presentations last twenty to thirty minutes.  Because a state typically discusses major relevant domestic and foreign topics, the subject matter discussed can vary from one state to another, meaning that some speeches are more engaging than others.

I have had the pleasure of sitting in on the debate over the course of two days this week, during which I heard from entities and states as varied as the European Union, Mongolia, Palestine, and Swaziland.  The majority of the presentations focused on the recent passage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), part of the UN’s awaited Agenda 2030.  The successor to the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000, the SDGs seek to give countries around the globe tools they need to achieve long-term economic, political, and social growth.  Provisions regarding climate change, gender equality, food security, and access to education are among the seventeen issue-areas that the SDGs address, all with the goal of allowing developing countries to grow both on their own and with assistance from other states or international organizations.

Some speakers touched on a variety of topics other than the SDGs, occasionally bringing up politically charged ones.  In some cases, states briefly commemorated anniversaries of important events in their histories while tying those events to current issues.  At other times, states questioned the actions of others.  Still other states made recommendations as to how the UN could approach certain issues more effectively, and many states called for reform within one or more of the UN’s bodies.  All in all, it was a very insightful experience that allowed me to hear firsthand the ideas and concerns that are on the minds of UN members and observers.

Categories: Advocacy, Current Affairs, Human Rights, PC(USA), Peace, U.N. General Assembly

Tags: advocacy, development, general assembly, pcusa, sdg, un, yav, young adult

October 1, 2015

Prayer After the Shooting at Umpqua Community College

It happened again today.  This was the 45th shooting at a school in 2015, and the 142nd shooting since Sandy Hook.   As we - the congregations and members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) -  prepare to gather around a wide table this World Communion Sunday and to receive the Peace and Global Witness Offering, may we strengthen our resolve to work to end violence in all its forms.  May we reclaim our identity as those who are called "peacemakers," united with believers worldwide, as we follow the One who is our Peace.

Pray with us.

God of our life, whose presence sustains ...

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September 29, 2015

Declaration of Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping

During the UN General Assembly meetings, world leaders gathered for a summit on international peacekeeping. Below is the declaration from 43 United Nations member states:


Declaration of Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping

The Governments of Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Turkey, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam jointly declare their support for the following:

As the United Nations marks its seventieth anniversary ...

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September 28, 2015

The demand has never been greater

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that "the demand for peacekeeping has never been greater," as leaders of more than 50 countries gathered today for a summit on United Nations peacekeeping operations. The summit provided an opportunity for the leaders to pledge new commitments and strengthen existing capabilities.

President Barack Obama convened the summit. He concluded his remarks with the observation:

I want to thank all of you for your partnership and the commitments that your nations are making here.  We will hear some extraordinary commitments from a number of nations.  And we are very proud that the international community has responded ...

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September 23, 2015

The UN turns 70

On October 24, the United Nations turns 70. United Nations Day marks the anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter that occurred in 1945. 

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long supported the work of the United Nations. The 220th General Assembly (2012) voted to "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."

Presbyterians were present at the creation of the United Nations. Our presence of witness and education remains strong today.

Here are some ...

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