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Statement to the 32nd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress

20 July 1994

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America is an accredited non-governmental organization (“NGO”) with consultative status at the United Nations.  As such, we can submit papers, be granted hearings and propose agenda items for consideration by the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiaries.  In this international setting, our ecumenical outreach programs can be presented and we can exchange ideas and develop strategies to alleviate major global concerns.

1994 is the International Year of the Family.  At the United Nations, the family is considered the cradle of society.  Experts advise that the integrity of the family throughout the world must be preserved so that children may be raised in a stable and secure environment.

At the 1993 World Forum on the Family the roles of men and women in the family were examined.  Emphasis was placed on social welfare programs that preserve rather than destroy the family.  Case workers worldwide were urged to offer family therapy, classes in disciplining children, and lessons in parenthood with that goal in mind.

The World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993 affirmed the universal nature of the United Nations human rights standards.  Of particular concern to the Society was the conference’s decision that the rights of women should be safeguarded.  In a related matter, the U.N. General Assembly recently approved the appointment of a High Commissioner on Human Rights.  A special envoy to investigate violence against women was recommended by the United States delegations.  The NGOs played an important role at this conference which recognized the importance of continued dialogue and cooperation between governmental bodies and NGOs.  I am also proud to report that the Archdiocesan Council was instrumental in the development of the U.N. Declaration on Religious Intolerance.

The right of older persons to govern their own care and quality of life was incorporated into the United Nations draft proposal for a Declaration of the Rights of the Elderly.  Traditional concepts which reinforced dependency among the elderly were replaced by dynamic policies.  These would maximize the participation of older people in their communities and eliminate age discrimination.