UN_Media – 122 COLUMBUS CIRCLE, UNITED NATIONS (UN_IMMUNITY) — Noting that he is not writing this through a glass ceiling, or under pressure from vested interests, the Rev. Luis Luis Cipriani admitted he has a nose-in-the-air mission and finds it challenging to stay objective on sometimes life-or-death issues.
Cipriani is the United Nations humanitarian affairs chief who has openly said he cares more about religious freedom than any other issue, and has also denounced “a religious war with the primary aim of eradicating any truth that might offend extremist interpretations of religion.”
The charismatic Dominican priest and spiritual leader of over 4 million people, who is based in Beirut, Lebanon, headed back to New York in early September. He accompanied UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s head of office for Afghanistan, John Holmes, who said on his way back that the two remain engaged in regular consultations in a desperate effort to find a diplomatic solution to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.
Although the Vatican refuses to take sides, Cipriani said that many Catholics in Europe now feel “this could be a far-right crisis” and he insisted that his countrymen have urged him to stay focused on the importance of religious freedom.
Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, the Netherlands, also chairs the Commission on Religious Freedom and their efforts have won huge support from the UN.
The full report on the state of religion and human rights – issued to members of the Security Council – covers 20 countries (including those that discussed the report). The majority of the 18 sections report deal with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burma, Egypt, Libya, India, China, Turkmenistan, Kuwait, Myanmar, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Yemen, Nigeria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Palestinian territories.
The most controversial issue, of course, was Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who have been subjected to what many see as crimes against humanity.
In his introduction to the report, Guterres commended the independence and tenacity of religious leaders who have shown willingness to stand up against violence. Guterres is hopeful, according to the report, that under his tenure as head of the UN, this will become a “new norm” that holds leaders accountable.
“We owe it to those who struggle in the real world to those who struggle for the sake of our principles, to each of you who participated in the process and are now working in the field to promote effective respect for human rights,” he said.
But he cautioned his colleagues, “I must stress that the human rights system of the United Nations has achieved tangible advances by using many tools and mechanisms.”
In Myanmar, where nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled because of a campaign of violence by the government, at least two separate reports, by the UN and by the International Committee of the Red Cross, have documented the accounts of people who described killings, torture, rape and arson carried out by Myanmar security forces.
The large-scale crisis, after years of religious persecution, is now a test of Guterres’ leadership, as well as the effectiveness of his call for accountability and “religious freedom.”
Coming soon: Parts Two and Three.
Note: Watch – 10-31-2018