BWA, CBF collaborate on UN work

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist World Alliance have formed a partnership to identify the needs of people and congregations worldwide through joint participation in work with the United Nations.

By Bob Allen

The Baptist World Alliance and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have joined forces to enhance a Baptist presence at the United Nations, leaders of the two groups announced recently.

BWA and CBF leaders finalized a partnership agreement in July to collaborate in advocacy of shared concerns such as religious freedom, poverty and human rights on an international scale.

“Advocacy is something that we’re learning to embrace, to use our voice on behalf of the bereft and dying,” CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said in announcing the then work-in-progress at the CBF General Assembly last June in Greensboro, N.C.

For 11 years the Atlanta-based CBF sponsored Ana and David D’Amico, a couple who obtained non-governmental organization status for the Fellowship and ministered to the diplomatic community in New York until their retirement in 2007.

The BWA, a worldwide fellowship of Baptist conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories, has held special consultative status with the UN since 1974. Currently, BWA representation at the UN is done mainly through the use of volunteers.

raimundo barreto crop"This collaboration with CBF will certainly make a positive impact on our capacity to occupy new spaces and extend the reach of our work at the United Nations," said Raimundo Barreto, director of the BWA Division of Freedom and Justice. "We look forward to all the new possibilities that this collaborative work will enable us to pursue."

Leaders said CBF participation in the UN will be prioritized around principles of eight mission communities that make up CBF Global Missions. Those values include education, economic development, health care, justice and peacemaking, internationals and poverty and transformation.

CBF field personnel and partners will mobilize alongside local Baptist leaders in different countries for advocacy on issues of common concern at the national level, compounding the advocacy work done at the UN.

stephen reeves"The Baptist World Alliance is a great partner and has years of experience at the United Nations," said Stephen Reeves, CBF's associate coordinator for partnerships and advocacy. "Working together, we will live out our call to love our neighbors and show compassionate concern for the least of these in a forum focused on international cooperation."

BWA recognition places it in a setting in which non-governmental organizations may make policy recommendations on world economic, social and environmental challenges. The BWA is also accredited as an NGO through the Department of Public Information, which acts as the public voice of the UN.

The BWA is a member of CoNGO, or the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. This group facilitates NGO participation in UN decision-making and programs, particularly in the fields of economic and social justice.

In addition, the BWA is a member of the Committee of Religious NGOs, has participated in the Ecumenical Working Group and has interacted with the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights.

In 2012, the BWA was lead organizer of a side event during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and participated in a review of Pakistan's human rights record at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

Some initial work on the part of CBF is already underway. Phyllis Boozer, the coordinator of CBF's Northeast region, has participated in meetings of the Committee on Concerns of the Status of Women. Additionally, CBF field representative Shane McNary attended two meetings in Geneva regarding the protection of the rights of religious minorities.