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Archbishop of Canterbury meets UN Secretary General

The Archbishop with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Wednesday 27th January 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams spent 45 minutes with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon yesterday evening in New York following a day of consultations with heads and senior staff from a range of UN agencies and UN Ambassadors.

The Archbishop reiterated his profound condolences on the loss of so many UN staff in the earthquake that has devastated Haiti. He also reiterated his deep appreciation and admiration for the work of the UN in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Accompanied by the UK Representative to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Anglican Observer to the UN Ms Hellen Wangusa the Archbishop and the Secretary General discussed a range of topics including Haiti, Sudan, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the vulnerability of children in situations of armed conflict and subject to trafficking. They also discussed the role of the church in sustaining and building grass roots capacity, especially in the most fragile and war-torn communities.

The Secretary General paid tribute to the importance of faith communities in developing and sustaining infrastructure in areas critical to the delivery of the MDGs.  The Archbishop highlighted the role played by the churches in the education and health sectors in some of the poorest countries in Africa.  Faith groups, he underlined, were embedded in local communities and were there for the long term. This was particularly true in Southern Sudan. The Archbishop urged the UN Security Council to play a strong role in pressing the Sudanese government to implement in full the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The international community also had a duty to support the people of southern Sudan to build capacity including in education and health.

 The Archbishop said:

"The Church in Sudan is completely committed to peace and development and will work with all agencies, governmental and non-governmental, committed to the same goals. Its infrastructure is at the service of the community, the government and international agencies".

Earlier in the day the Archbishop met the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy. The rehabilitation of children who had become caught up in conflict was a key role for churches, so too was protecting children from the vortex of abuse and violence including trafficking and abduction. 

 "The nurture of children is the touchstone of our mature care of humanity" said Dr Williams.

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