Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

I do not purport to speak for all the members of the communions that are members of the National Council of Churches, but for the governing board, which is the policymaking body and is composed of persons selected by the member denominations. It is this group which determines the policy of the council.

Mr. Chairman, the committee already has heard numerous arguments regarding the domestic and international significance of the covenants and conventions and their legal implications. We recognize that these are matters of substantial concern. But our major interest in this testimony is to demonstrate the long-term and consistent support for ratification of international human rights covenants and conventions that has been expressed by the National Council of Churches, as well as its efforts to implement the principles contained in the international covenants through its own policy.

Throughout its history, the council has affirmed its belief that the universal struggle for human rights is a sign of God's presence in the world, moving humanity toward a more concrete expression of justice. We join with all peoples in the quest for justice, in the fashioning of institutions that secure the creation of those basic conditions that will assure the universal observance of human rights.

It was out of this recognition of its responsibility to participate with others in seeking the means for establishing greater justice and peace in the world that the council committed itself to support the efforts of the United Nations in this regard.

As early as 1951, the governing body declared:

Loyalty to the United Nations involves also persistent efforts to establish conditions of peace throughout the world. To promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to advance the political, social, and cultural well-being of subject and dependent peoples, and to remove the causes of war deriving from economic injustice and deprivation, are tasks to which our nation is committed both by its heritage as a free society and by its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations.

During the 1950's, however, international endeavors for the improvement of human rights were not notable, and U.S. initiatives appeared to be waning:

In 1960, the policy statement of the national council, “Toward a Family of Nations Under God,” issued this challenge:

We believe that the United States should renew and invigorate its leadership in the promotion of human rights, support the United Nations as a forum for airing grievances, ratify the Genocide Convention without delay

This was in 1960, Mr. Chairmanand support the covenant of human rights.

During subsequent years, we have moved from a position of challenge to disappointment and finally to criticism because of what we feel is the abdication of the United States from a position of leadership in international efforts to establish an adequate international framework to guarantee the protection of human rights.

In 1968, the governing board of the national council issued a very sharp judgment. It then was stated:

The United States has defeated its true national interest by hoarding sovereignty as in respect of the reservations upon employment of the International Court of Justice and the failure to ratify conventions on human rights. Professions by the United States in support of the promotion of human rights and freedoms have not been matched by action to strengthen United Nations policy or to bring justice to the victims of such practices.

In 1977, in our most recent policy statement in this regard, the council observed:

In promoting human rights, the adoption by the General Assembly of the Universal Declaration and the bringing into force of a series of international covenants and conventions on human rights, the U.N. has helped to focus the world's attention on the requirements of human dignity and fulfillment and to define the goals and the standards for their realization. Despite the fact that these treaties are in force, the failure of many countries, including the United States, to ratify these covenants and conventions and the lack of means of enforcement have helped thwart the achievement of even minimal goals.

The council and many of its member churches have been encouraged by the initiative now taken by President Carter in signing the international human rights covenants and the American Convention and submitting them to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. We believe that U.S. ratification of these covenants and conventions, as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, will enhance the observance of human rights throughout the world and within our own country. Furthermore, it will give an increased dimension of credibility to U.S. efforts for the improvement of human rights.

Mr. Chairman, the council views the principles and goals embodied in the two international covenants particularly as consonant with many of the aims expressed in the council over the years. We are submitting with this testimony a study entitled, “Comparison of National Council of Churches Policy and the International Human Rights Covenants." It is a substantive part of our testimony, and if there is no objection, I ask that it be included as part of the record. It is attached to my testimony.

Senator ZORINSKY. Without objection, it will be included with your prepared statement.

Reverend WIPFLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If one examines this document, one is struck by the number and diversity of council statements which relate to almost all of the articles of the covenants in specific and fundamental ways. We feel that this agreement exists because council policy and the international covenants seek to reflect the highest principles shared by the human community, principles that also are embodied in U.S. values and in the U.S. Constitution.

It is not necessary to review these similarities in detail. But we wish to emphasize that they illustrate a growing consensus in the religious and secular communities concerning those rights which affirm the dignity and worth of every human being.

The document is a careful summary—and I think this is the important point for this testimony-of those human rights matters that have been of priority concern to the Protestant and Orthodox communities which are related to the council as they have struggled with the issues of justice, peace, and reconciliation during the past three decades.

In reviewing this, one can see where those churches are at this time.

Mr. Chairman, the National Council of Churches sees U.S. ratification of the international human rights covenants as a major step in the struggle to assure the observance of human rights and the enhancement of human dignity. We energetically urge the Senate to consent to the ratification of these covenants.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am ready to answer any questions which you may have. [Reverend Wipfler's prepared statement follows:)

PREPARED STATEMENT OF REV. WILLIAM L. WIPFLER Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee; My name is William L. Wipfler. I serve as Director of the Human Rights Office of the Division of Overseas Ministries of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. The National Council of Churches is an ecumenical organization of 32 Protestant, Episcopal and Orthodox Churches, whose combined membership is over 40 million persons. I do not purport to speak for all members of the communions which are constituent to the National Council of Churches. I am speaking for the Governing Board, the policymaking body which is composed of persons selected by member denominations in proportion to their size. It is this group which determines the policy positions through which the Council seeks to fulfill its expressed purpose “to study, and to speak and to act on conditions and issues in the nation and the world which involve moral, ethical and spiritual principles inherent in the Christian gospel."

For many decades the churches in the United States have been related to the peoples of other nations through mutual efforts in Christian mission. We have come to red nize that our service is to the whole person and that churches must vigorously support those who face oppression and whose basic human rights are threatened or denied. For this reason the National Council of Churches and its member communions seek to be consistent in their witness on behalf of human rights and it is in this spirit that I offer this testimony.

Mr. Chairman, by this stage in these important Hearings on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Committee has heard numerous arguments regarding the domestic and international significance of the Covenants and their legal implications. While we recognize that these are matters of substantial concern, they will be touched upon only indirectly in this testimony. Our major interest is to demonstrate the long-term and consistent support for ratification of the International Human Rights Covenants that has been expressed by the National Council of Churches, as well as its efforts to implement the principles contained in the Covenants through its own policy and programs.

Throughout its history the Council has affirmed its belief that the universal struggle for human rights is a sign of God's presence in the world moving humanity toward a more concrete expression of justice. Our concern for human rights is based on the conviction that God graciously wills a society in which each person can exercise his or her right to a dignified and fully human existence. We believe that God calls His community, the Church, to transcend dehumanizing barriers and to participate in the breaking down of false distinctions, separations and hostilities among peoples and nations. We join with all peoples in the quest for justice and the fashioning of institutions that sécure the creation of those basic conditions that will assure the universal observance of human rights.

It was out of this recognition of its responsibility to participate with others in seek ing the means for establishing greater justice and peace in the world, that the Council committed itself to support the efforts of the United Nations in this regard. In 1951 its governing body declared:

'Loyalty to the Ŭ.N. involves also persistent efforts to establish conditions of peace throughout the world. To promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to advance the political, social and cultural well-being of subject and dependent peoples, and to remove the causes of war deriving from economic injustice and deprivation, are tasks to which our nation is committed both by its heritage as a free society and by its obligations under the charter of the U.N.” (Policy Statement: NCCC Views Its Task in Christian Life and Work, May 1951.)

During the 1950's, however, international endeavours for the improvement of human rights were not notable and U.S. initiatives appeared to be waning. In its policy statement "Toward a Family of Nations Under God," the Council observed in June of 1960:

“The U.N. Charter expresses an international interest in promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. But the Charter does not itself define human rights, nor does it specify methods by which states will achieve practical recognition of these values. The Universal Declaration does set forth standards for achievement which have already had significant influence. The responsibility for action is left to the member states. It remains one of the major uncompleted tasks of the member nations, including the U.S.”

As an ecumenical organization accountable to American churches and concerned with the direction being taken by the U.S., the statement went on to raise the challenge:

"We believe that the U.S. should renew and invigorate its leadership in the promotion of human rights, support the U.N. as a forum for airing grievances, ratify the Genocide Convention without delay, and support the Covenants of Human Rights."

Ďuring subsequent years the position of the Council moved from one of challenge to disappointment and then to criticism, because of the abdication of the United States from a position of leadership in international efforts to establish an adequate international framework to guarantee protection of human rights. In its policy statement, “Imperatives of Peace and Responsibilities of Power," (February 1968) the Governing Board issued a sharp judgment, when it declared:

"The United States has defeated its true national interest by hoarding sovereignty as in respect of the reservations upon employment of the International Court of Justice * * * and the failure to ratify conventions on human rights. Professions by the U.S. in support of the promotion of human rights and freedoms * * * have not been matched by action to strengthen U.N. policies or to bring justice to the victims of such practices."

In its most recent declaration in this regard (“The United Nations and World Community,” May 1977) the Council observed:

"In promoting human rights, the adoption by the General Assembly of the Universal Declaration and the bringing into force of a series of international covenants and conventions on human rights, the U.N. has helped to focus the world's attention on the requirements of human dignity and fulfillment and to define the goals and the standards for their realization. Despite the fact that these treaties are in force, the failure of many countries, including the U.S., to ratify these covenants and conventions and the lack of means of enforcement have helped thwart the achievement of even minimal goals.”

The Council and many of its member churches have been encouraged by the initiative now taken by President Carter in signing the International Human Rights Covenants and submitting them to the Senate for advice and consent for ratification. We believe that U.S. ratification will enhance the observance of human rights within our own country and throughout the world. Furthermore it will give an increased dimension of credibility to U.S. efforts for the improvement of human rights.

Mr. Chairman, the Council views the principles and goals embodied in the two International Covenants as consonant with many of the aims expressed in Council policy over the years. We submit with this testimony a study entitled, "Comparison of National Council of Churches Policy and the International Human Rights Covenants" (appendix I). Examining this document one is struck by the number and diversity of Council statements which relate to almost all of the articles of the Covenants, in specific and fundamental ways. We feel that this agreement exists because Council policy and the International Covenants seek to reflect the highest principles shared by the human community, principles that are also embodied in U.S. values and in the U.S. Constitution.

It is not necessary to review these similarities in detail, but we wish to emphasize that they illustrate a growing consensus in the religious and secular communities concerning those rights which affirun the dignity and worth of every human being. We hope that the members of this committee and the Senate will take the opportunity to study this document. It is a careful summary of those matters that have been of priority concern to the Protestant and Orthodox communities related to the Council as they have struggled with issues of justice, peace and reconciliation during the past three decades.

We see U.S. ratification of the International Human Rights Covenants as a major step in the struggle to assure the observance of human rights and the enhancement of human

dignity. We repeat our expression of gratitude to President Jimmy Carter for signing the Covenants and submitting them to the Senate. We energetically urge the Senate to consent to ratification of the Covenants.

APPENDIX I

A COMPARISON OF NCCC POLICY STATEMENTS AND THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT

ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

[blocks in formation]

Equal rights of men and women of economic, social, cultural rights

full participation in society, economic life, church; by law to be recognized as equal; increased educational opportunities etc. Also Consent to Marriage convention.

6. Right to work,

opportunity to choose work; includes training programs and policies.

17.5 Status of Women 1963

educational training for employment.

« PředchozíPokračovat »