United Nations representative provides updates

By Doris Abdullah

“God said, Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. So God made the dome and separated the waters that were above the dome from the waters that were under the dome. God called the dome above sky. The waters below were gathered together in one place and dry land appeared. God called the dry land Earth. And it was so” (Genesis 1:6-10a).

Please pray… For the ministry of Doris Abdullah as the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the United Nations.

Our spiritual, cultural, and traditional belief systems speak of creation as a garden. Humankind, it is said, is the receptacle and caretaker of the garden. After more than two years of pandemic crisis, ongoing wars and conflicts, and a heating planet, the nations of the world have resumed in-person meetings to discuss their mandates and treaty bodies regarding life in the garden called earth.

General Assembly New York

In recognition of Earth’s triple crisis–climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution–161 nations (with 9 abstentions) voted in favor of a Human Rights article to Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment on July 28.

In our own country, we are experiencing the crisis directly with extreme and high temperatures across all 50 states, prolonged and ongoing droughts, floods, tornadoes, and forest fires destroying cities and towns. As the crisis increases, the world is experiencing setbacks in discrimination, hunger, and poverty elimination along with reduced economic growth.

More people flee the conditions in their countries of origin for a better life in another. Often the migrant is unwelcome, which exacerbates inequalities and leads to further unrest and conflicts. Running to another country will not stop the melting of the ice at the poles, the destruction of the rain forest, nor the scarcity of fresh and clean water for agriculture and drinking as droughts on the land and/or pollution in the oceans condemns the planet for all forms of life.

Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review

The NPT (Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review) was under discussion from Aug. 1-26. In total, 191 nations have joined the treaty including the 5 nuclear weapons states. It opened for signature at London, Moscow, and Washington on July 1, 1968. The depository treaty governments are Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the United States of America. The objectives of the treaty are a) prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapon technology, b) promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, c) further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and complete disarmament.

The NPT review is mandatory. We pray for understanding and wisdom in the dialogues of differences among the 191 nations. Let us also pray that they keep talking regardless of their differences and never ever unleash these weapons.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Geneva CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) is the oldest and first treaty body at the United Nations. It was adopted on Dec. 21, 1965, and the 107th session opened in Geneva on Aug. 8 meeting through Aug. 30. Much progress was made when chattel slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was outlawed in the 1800s. Still many atrocities, much terror, suffering, slavery, and exclusion persist because of racial discrimination. The language of race is color of skin, shape of eyes, texture of hair, differences in religion and cultural beliefs, and even social differences.

Racial discrimination did not end after World War II left millions dead across Europe, nor did it end after the genocides in Bosnia or Rwanda in the 1990s. Hate of the “other” begins with words and there is a direct link from hateful language to racial discrimination and genocide. Hate speech spreads rapidly by those using hateful, race-baiting language via social media and other new and old technologies. The opposite of hateful exclusion is inclusion.

Let us all find a place in the garden to plant for the next harvest. May our harvest be free of racial discrimination.


The UN continues to function, in this very strange environment caused by the Russian war in Ukraine. Both, Russia and Ukraine are members states. Member states have had numerous conflicts among themselves before. A clear difference now is that Russia as a permanent member of the Security Council has not just invaded Ukraine, but has declared that Ukraine does not exist. Russia cannot be expelled from the UN as South Africa was over their racist policy of apartheid because it is a founding permanent member, as written in the charter. As irony would have it, Russia was chair of the NPT review.

— Doris Theresa Abdullah is the United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren and an ordained minister at Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren.


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