In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt began a crusade to bring attention to the lack of human rights and dignity for people worldwide. Her efforts led to the drafting of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity, which was signed and adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This declaration sets forth every person’s inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms. Articles one and three state, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” and “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity, Former UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul C. Chowdhury invited Dr. Paul Murray to speak to more than 300 political, civil society, and world leaders at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This summit was called to consider how best to respond to the new wave of human rights violations worldwide. The event was sponsored by the Permanent Missions of four nations, Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nepal, and coordinated by the Office of UN Relations.
The following is what was shared at the United Nations by Dr. Murray:
Religion has always played a central role in the protection of human dignity. For example, the abandonment of slavery was inspired by the Biblical concept of “Imago Dei” –All men are created in the image of God. What makes the Word of God powerful when placed as a foundation for the protection of human rights and human dignity is its emphasis on man’s spiritual and eternal nature and dignity as a child of God, the rejection of hatred and violence, the obligation to practice love by living for the sake of others; the power to forgive, reconcile, and restore; and the mandate that God is first and preeminent in the life of every person.
Sadly, throughout history, even until this day, God’s Word has often been misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misused for dominating interests, discriminating, and even justifying violence. The Crusades, inquisition, and even the religiously motivated wars we are dealing with today speak to this issue. America today, a country founded upon the principles of God’s Holy Word, has moved from living by the Word of God to a nation that has become self-righteous and self-edifying in our actions. When we speak today about human rights and human dignity, can there be any other right more important than the freedom to Worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
Mr. Chairman, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, political leaders have neglected the importance of religious freedom in the United States and worldwide. Biblical history has shown us that when nations were in turmoil, men called upon by God – against human adversity, came forth to beckon the call for repentance and a turning back to God. In their call, they also prophesied the judgments awaiting all who sought selfish gains – whether an individual, a community, or a nation, God will not tolerate the lack of love toward one another or disobedience to His Word.
Human rights are not an earned or purchased right; they are within the DNA of every human being born regardless of color, culture, creed, or socio-economic heritage. No man or government has the right or reason to strip away the human rights or dignity of another.
The role of the United Nations is to bring harmony, peace, and the protection of human rights and dignity around the world – but it will never achieve its written goals without the essence and presence of God rooted in every effort, program, or project that goes forth. Politics cannot achieve human rights, dignity, and peace; the special programs and projects you create will not bring forth human rights and dignity, nor will all the money you can raise and make bring about the goals of a global community focused on living for the sake of others. All the efforts of every nation and people cannot be successful without the Hand and Spirit of God guiding the way.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
This spiritual essence and presence of God are needed within the United Nations. It must be woven into every fabric of this global entity. God must be in every plan, effort, document, or declaration, and He must be the center of and the catalyst for every action that goes forth. And as the prophets of old have announced and as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who reflects on the Holy Writ and is driven by the spirit of God, I respectfully submit to you today that only when we as a people, as nations and as a global community repent no effort in the long term will succeed.
Thank you, and God bless each of you today.
Dr. Murray has traveled to the Middle East on four envoys, to South Korea, the Philippines, Africa, Paraguay, and Brazil as a guest of the host governments and religious leaders. He has participated in creating forums for dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, part of discussions around the call for the reunification of North and South Korea, along with speaking to the need to strengthen North and South American relations. In the U.S., he has spoken before approximately 20,000 people in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. He continues to meet with nationally recognized religious leaders in bringing forth a call for a reawakening of America and speaking to the challenges in ministry and the great need for forgiveness and reconciliation in the church today.