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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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March 25, 2015

International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Today, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations intern Kyla Korvne attended the unveiling ceremony of the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (co-organized by the Permanent Memorial Committee, the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the NGO Relations Section, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI), the Caribbean Community and the African Group). Below is her post about the event:

Ban Ki Moon

Photo: Kyla Korvne

Even with the bitter cold and the windy rain blowing all of our umbrellas inside out, a crowd of people from all over the world gathered outside the UN today to celebrate the unveiling of the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The memorial, titled the Ark of the Return and designed by Rodney Leon, the Haitian-American winner of UNESCO’s design contest, draws upon the historical memory of the ”door of no return” through which the slaves went, never to be seen again. Mr Leon spoke of his desire to undo the emotional damage done by that memory with his Ark of the Return, as well as to honor the memory of more than 15,000 victims of the transatlantic slave trade. He drew his inspiration from the door of no return in the slave castle on Gorée Island in Senegal, a haunting site which I visited myself while living in Senegal. For a more in-depth description and photos of the inside of the memorial, see the UN News Centre feature:

Speakers at the event today, hosted by Jamaican Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray, included the Director-General of UNESCO, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the General Assembly. Mr Ban Ki-moon spoke first of the injustice of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the particular hardships of female slaves. All of the speakers expressed their desires that the memorial would act not only as a place to reflect but also as a call to action to fight modern slavery, injustice and racism around the world. Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller delivered a powerful speech, expressing her deep gratitude for the support the CARICOM-led effort to create the memorial received and calling it a remarkable homage to the ”African Holocaust” that brought the slaves here to the Americas. Several speakers mentioned the cultural richness the descendants of African slaves have brought to our society. At the end of the ceremony, Mr Ki-moon and Mr Kahamba Kutesa cut the red ribbon and then members of the Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre led a colorful and lively procession into the General Assembly Hall.  

Categories: Advocacy, Current Affairs, Families, Social witness, United Nations

Tags: freedom, justice, memorial, race, slavery, transatlantic, united nations

March 22, 2015

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) oral statement at Commission on the Status of Women

This story originally appeared in the Presbyterian News Service. Thanks to our colleague Rick Jones for writing this story!

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made an oral statement yesterday to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Ryan Smith, Presbyterian representative to the United Nations, presented the statement during Wednesday’s General Debate session. For the past week and a half, the Commission has been reviewing achievements and challenges since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a major policy document on gender equality, was adopted 20 years ago. 

The statement acknowledged ...

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March 20, 2015

UNICEF opens the tap

The UNICEF Tap Project is back!

This year’s initiative asks Americans to unlock 14 million days of clean, safe water for children around the world by encouraging you to stop texting, calling, emailing, tweeting and posting -- and challenge your friends to do the same. Millions of children around the globe do not have safe, clean water to drink, and the lack of this basic necessity isn’t just inconvenient — it’s lethal. Take the challenge on your cell phone at throughout the month of March. The longer you go without touching your smartphone, the more clean water ...

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March 17, 2015

From Beijing to Now

The Reverend Dr. Bebb Stone reflects on her time as a Presbyterian participant in the Beijing Conference and as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegate to this year's Commission on the Status of Women:

As a Presbyterian woman who went with our church to Beijing in 1995, I have been deeply touched to be with the Presbyterian delegation for this 20-year review at The UN CSW59.  There are 8,500 women here from most if not all of the countries of the world, and the breadth and depth of their work for gender equality ("women's rights are ...

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March 15, 2015

Presbyterian women at the UN - Libby McDermott

Libby McDermott, member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegation to the 59th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and Young Adult Volunteer Alumna, reflects on her experience:

I am no longer a YAV, but I have decided to continue using my Boston YAV blog to share my experience of being a young adult in the church. Last week I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) delegation to the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

Read Libby's insights on the ...

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