Churches have a history of participating and leading advocacy campaigns – for instance the “Decade to Overcome Violence” led by the World Council of Churches, or as member of coalitions, like “Save Darfur”. While the themes of the campaigns vary, from environmental justice, gender equality or ending poverty and hunger, they all have something in common: a fundamental basis in human rights that originates in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHDR). The theological and ecumenical linkages and to human rights have been explored by many scholars, and the history of the churches involvement in the creation of and international human rights framework has been documented by a careful few. Telling the story of the great ecumenist and Lutheran leader O. Frederick Nolde’s role in the creation of the UDHR at the birth of the United Nations in his book For All People and All Nations, John Nurser writes: 
The Protestant, Anglican, and to an extent Orthodox ecumenical movement contributed enormously to the events that led up to the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming in December 1948 that is Universal Declaration of Human Rights was defining, with unparalleled authority, what had in its 1945 founding charter been indeterminate. This declaration was deemed to be what the states that ratified the charter had in mind as the constituting ‘soul’ of the new order of international affairs they created. To exclude this contribution is a historical travesty.
 In 2008, many people have forgotten just how and why human rights are the “soul” of a “new world order” that we enjoy today. And they fail to realize that churches have a role in maintaining this soul. Looking back over sixty years, it is clear that the UDHR paved a critical pathway to other treaties and conventions. It has served as a model for national constitutions, laws and policies-- some 90 national constitutions drafted since 1948 have roots in the declaration. The UDHR laid the groundwork for two legally binding treaties: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both adopted in 1976. Additional ensuing treaties protect against torture and racial discrimination, uphold the rights of children, prohibit discrimination against women and outline the rights of people with disabilities. From local courts to international committees, councils and commissions, the number of people these agreements have protected is estimable. 
 The goal of this paper is to explore neither the theological connections to human rights nor their political evolution. Other scholars have aptly articulated those histories. This paper instead argues that in 2008, on the anniversary of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must turn our commitments to human rights into living breathing campaigns that involve, inspire and educate the people of our churches. To greater understand how to do this, this paper will examine the basis for human rights within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), explore the meaning of a rights-based approach to development, including an understanding of poverty as a violation of human rights, and finally consider strategies and strengths for faith-based communities to engage in human rights advocacy.
A Basis for Human Rights in the ELCA
 The importance of upholding human rights is strongly articulated in ELCA policy. The social statement “For Peace in God’s World” finds that the words of the preamble to the UNDHR are consistent with the understanding that human beings are created in God’s image. The social statement further reads:
We therefore will continue to teach about human rights, protest their violation, advocate their international codification, and support effective ways to monitor and ensure compliance with them. Our priorities are to:
 To implement this vision, program units of the ELCA for Church and Society and Global Mission are specifically charged to promote education and awareness about internationally recognized human rights in their many dimensions, throughout the ELCA, as well as among related agencies and with global companion churches.
A Rights-Based Approach to Development
 For many in the Global South, development has become a dirty word, signifying an industry exploited at the expense public institutions and the community that ultimately destines the population to a future of debt repayments. In many instances this impression has been created because development experts and outside interventionists have ignored the local wisdom of communities and made mistakes that have doomed their projects to fail, for example starting agricultural enterprises with male leaders in sub-Saharan Africa instead of women who grow the majority of the food.
 More and more, small-scale self-help projects have been recognized as the most effective ways to stimulate food production because they incorporate local wisdom and technology. Church-related projects are often leading examples of community-led development, because they operate on a small scale with genuine community participation and leadership. The success of these projects relies on intentional community involvement in the planning and implementation, which may mean a project takes longer to execute, or requires changes partners did not anticipate, but guarantees critical local ownership and sustainability. Consciously or not, such projects are taking a rights-based approach to development.
 Many institutions have a rights-based approach in their mandate, and UN agencies even have a mutual agreement to use one. In many cases, faith-based organizations have a natural tendency to take a rights-based approach because of long-term relationships, smaller size, less political agendas or pressures than state funded agencies, and most importantly, deep roots within the community. In the accompaniment model that guides international cooperation for the ELCA, staff makes sure that everyone is sitting around the table and able to share their needs before any plans are made. The ELCA takes their lead for any projects from indigenous leadership, with the goal of strengthening the local church, and emphasizes creating inclusive processes for decision-making lasting throughout the project.
 Elements of good human rights programming, as outlined by UN agencies, includes: 
1. People are recognized as key actors in their own development, rather than passive recipients of commodities and services.
2. Participation is both a means and a goal.
3. Strategies are empowering, not disempowering.
4. Both outcomes and processes are monitored and evaluated.
5. Analysis includes all stakeholders.
6. Programs focus on marginalized, disadvantaged, and excluded groups.
7. The development process is locally owned.
8. Programs aim to reduce disparity.
9. Both top-down and bottom-up approaches are used in synergy.
10. Situation analysis is used to identity immediate, underlying, and basic causes of development problems.
11. Measurable goals and targets are important in programming.
12. Strategic partnerships are developed and sustained.
13. Programs support accountability to all stakeholders.
 Though it would be easy to say that church agencies are better at taking a rights-based approach to development than secular organizations, it is important to continually educate, challenge and measure our work against these principles. The natural church hierarchy could leave out some of the population, or working with the most marginalized may not be socially desirable, such as reaching out to sex workers, drug users, or men who have sex with men to prevent the spread of HIV. Faith-based development projects may succeed at community participation, or democratic decision-making, but neglect to educate the population about their rights, or effectively evaluate implementation. Finding creative ways for participation of stakeholders must constantly evolve and be flexible, especially taking into account male-dominated cultures, or expectations that young people should not speak out in public. A human rights-based approach is a journey, sometimes a long one.
Understanding poverty as a human rights violation
 One underlying assumption of a rights-based approach to development is that poverty, because it does not allow for an adequate standard of living, is a violation of human rights. On a superficial level, this reasoning is obvious. Compare countries like Zimbabwe, where life expectancy is 34 for women and 37 for men, to Norway, where women live to be age 82 and men 79. On a simple level the right to life in Zimbabwe is being violated by structures that perpetuate poverty and disease. The advantage of human rights language is not to have another way of articulating that everyone has a right to life, but in the gains that occur when a rights-based approach ensures sustainable development, and when human rights education improves an individual or community’s sense of dignity. Human rights training with people in poverty has shown time and again that once people know to ask for their rights, the system that keeps them silent and disempowered starts to shatter. Once communities learn their rights, they become successful advocates for themselves.
 The year 2008 not only marks the 60th anniversary of the UDHR; it also is the final year of the International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. Unfortunately, this decade has not lived up to the charge of its name. While gains have been made in some regions, particularly Asia, the number of undernourished people worldwide increased by 75 million in 2007 to total 923 million, the majority living in Africa. The poorest, the landless and female-headed households are the most hungry.  Reporting that “there are more poor people than we think”, the World Bank recently revised its marker of extreme poverty to those living at less than $1 per day upward – setting a new extreme poverty line at those living less than $1.25 per day, which numbers 1.4 billion people, an increase of 200 million.  The World Bank study presumes that we will likely reach the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1981 level of poverty by 2015. However, a victory celebration is not in order, the World Bank disparagingly concludes that poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has not been significantly altered in the last twenty years, and efforts must be increased. 
 In their evaluation, the UN Secretary General and NGOs agree that the decade, as well as the now annual Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct.17), has helped the poor to become more aware of their rights and the services available to them, as well as raised awareness about the plight of people living in poverty. In October 2008, the UN General Assembly agreed to begin the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, though it is unclear if any changes to this campaign will be made.
 Overshadowing the decade, campaigns inspired by the Millennium Development Goals have meant advocates are singing a new refrain. The assertion “We can end poverty” now rings from the lips of leaders like Bono, Jeffrey Sachs, and Desmond Tutu. A sampling of the slogans of some of the most visible public NGOs are:
Oxfam International: Be the generation that ends poverty
The ONE Campaign: Make poverty history
RESULTS: The power to end hunger 
 While many economists can estimate how much money it will cost to end poverty, it is also useful to examine these campaigns with a human rights lens. We must be careful that we do not oversimplify our message by saying that ending poverty can just be paid for with western currency. This attitude that ending poverty is one-way street, from the Global North to the Global South, is more of a return on investment approach than a rights-based one. No doubt, more resources are needed, but this simplicity may detract from a broader understanding of what creates and maintains the poverty trap, such as geographic barriers, corruption, histories of injustice, wars, unfair global trading systems, weak infrastructures and deficient education and health systems. This is not to say that donors cannot fund projects that are rights-based and succeed, but rather an urging to articulate human rights within our campaigns, in both the Global North and South.
 The idea of ending poverty certainly has resulted in excitement and mobilizations in both faith and secular movements, but hard fought human rights treaties and agreements from UN conferences in the 1990’s such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Beijing Conference on Women have been downplayed by the frame of the Millennium Development Goals. Global South leaders in particular, like Rev. Judith Van Osdol from Argentina, say human rights served as vital “grace spaces” in churches surviving the dictatorships in Latin America. She has a concern that human rights language is falling out of the global development conversation, “When we back out of human rights language we become a development agency focused on the bottom line rather than the dignity of the human person.” 
 Van Osdol believes that faith language offers richness that human rights cannot uncover. Human rights focus on individuality, and rely on actions of state actors and legal commitments. Faith-based organizations, with the belief that men and women are made in the image of God, are poised to add to framework of human rights by introducing the notion of higher purpose, the collective body and common good. While human rights language may seem cold, faith language includes word like hospitality, charity, justice (the Hebrew translation of justice implies community), human flourishing, and life in all its fullness, and of course dignity.
Finding the right words for poverty
 If our goal is to better convey the full dignity of persons living in poverty, it is important to understand how poverty is presented in the media. In many campaigns and media coverage, poverty remains abstract, a journey to be completed, or a pathway to be forged, built or paved. A recent study from the United Kingdom on how poverty is reported on in the media starts to uncover how the way we talk about poverty affects public policy. It found that poverty reporting rarely appears as a news item for its own sake, but is tied to other news. The primary reasons for news coverage came from indirect experience and statistics, and in most cases the voices of people living in poverty were absent. In the majority of media stories, people living in poverty are not described by age, gender, ethnic group, or work, parental or disability status. The study found that media reporting has a tendency to conservatively report the scope of poverty, nor explicitly mentions the effects of living in poverty. 
 Not surprisingly, the medium and the form influence how the story is responded to by the audience. Though poverty is less reported about in local media, local news outlets are more likely to provide context, and the story is usually better understood by the local community. Only 13% of stories surveyed in the study included images in the print media, and the images of poverty tend to focus on individuals. However, when poverty was reported on by television, the images tended to have more structural overtones, for example, by showing an image of an entire homeless tent city or dilapidated housing project, and implying a need for a structural response such as state assistance. Complementing statistics with stories and images is found to make more compelling stories. The study concludes that poverty needed to be presented as an experience, rather than a condition. 
 While the study only examined media in the UK, media is a global good that is chewed up, copied and consumed worldwide. The author’s analysis has implications for the framers and storytellers of any human rights or poverty campaign:
Such reporting has the effect of portraying poverty as an abstract occurrence rather than the result of the social conditions or the distribution of resources. An effect of this representation… is that it becomes difficult to construct an understanding of poverty as a structural outcome of inequalities, and therefore develop the basis for a collective response to it. 
 A human rights approach to reporting on poverty ideally has human dignity at its center, as well as fosters collective sense of common good. As both producers and influencers of the media, faith-based institutions can help add faces, names and addresses to the people living in poverty, as well as name the details of the conditions that constitute it, moving beyond data. For instance: 40-year-old Mary Nelson has two children, works at Burger King and lives in her car, she loves to bake but hasn’t done so in three months. She lives in fear for the safety of her children. Or 13-year-old Joya was married last year and lost her first child after difficult labor. She wishes she could continue learning to read; she fell behind in school because she started menstruating and had to stay home every month. With members all over the world, a long tradition of storytelling, preaching and the rich imagery of the Bible, churches have distinct advantage to make poverty real to constituents.
Supporting national and regional human rights
 Though progress has been made, violations of human rights continue. People suffer from torture, detention, execution, political disenfranchisement, discrimination, hunger and homelessness. The perpetuators of these abuses may claim that the accusers have no credibility or that violations are internal state affairs, but they do not challenge the principles of human rights. Over sixty years, human rights have gained widespread support and become a normative frame, perhaps best elaborated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:
“Human rights are African Rights. They are also Asian rights; they are European rights; they are American rights. They belong to no government. They are limited to no continent, for they are fundamental to humankind itself.” 
 The significance of UNDHR legal and normative basis for people still struggling for their human rights cannot be overstated. While they might not legally be a basis to win battles in the United States, they are essential to worldwide civil society struggles. For instance, women denied their right to own on inherit land, such is the practice in much of sub-Saharan Africa have used Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as legal basis as well as a strategic platform to gain international allies and support.
 Human rights instruments such as the committee on CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council are useful because when states come up for review, an international spotlight is shone on their policies and practices. Every state signatory of the treaties (the majority of UN member states) are reviewed at least once every five years under one convention or another. Depending on the countries openness to the human rights instrument and the organization of civil society, the review can catalyze coalition building and momentum for change in national policy. NGO shadow reports are a key element of the monitoring of human rights instruments, and NGOs are given platforms to speak and distribute their reports while countries are reviewed. With long-standing offices and accreditation to the UN, faith-based institutions can play a valuable role in these reviews if they choose to do so. With more than 40 countries reviewed every year by the Human Rights Council, and at least 12 reviewed by the committee on CEDAW, faith-based organizations must plan ahead and be intentional about which countries they will submit reports about and monitor.
 Faith-based organizations can especially play a role in human rights where the state or civil society is weak. For example, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) field program in Mauritania supported a coalition of civil society to deliver a shadow report to the CEDAW committee at the United Nations in 2006. Many severe human rights violations exist in Mauritania, such as forced feeding, female genital mutilation, child marriage, among others. By bringing a delegation of six women and one man, an imam, the LWF delegation both served to challenge and expand on the official country report, as well as served as a witness to the proceedings and spread the word about them once they returned home. For a country like Mauritania that is rarely on the global stage, the CEDAW meeting was indeed significant. As a process, the writing of the shadow report served as an exercise in coalition building in Mauritania, strengthening the capacity and cooperation of civil society. For the members of the delegation on an individual level, traveling to UN headquarters to represent their organizations boosted their credibility, improving their status as advocates when they returned home. By including an imam on the delegation, LWF added a male religious advocate to a cause that is usually female, as well as demonstrated its commitment as an interfaith actor.
 The example from Mauritania shows how an international human rights instrument can catalyze national advocacy. But strategies that build regional cooperation for human rights are also essential. The African Women’s Rights Protocol is an interesting example. It took eight years of negotiation to create the protocol, which is now ratified by 23 out of 53 African countries. The protocol is significant because it is able to address cultural and traditional practices specific to Africa, such as polygamy, female genital mutilation, land ownership, and sexual cleansing. But once the protocol was written, the struggle for implementation and awareness was just beginning. To encourage governments to ratify in, a mass SMS text message campaign was organized by women’s organizations to urge governments to sign on. The SMS campaign received significant media coverage, but to reach grassroots women, community organizers used flip charts to explain to women that they have rights in their local languages.
 Many women’s rights advocates have the protocol at the center of their work, using it as a catalyst for policy change and teaching about human rights. “This is a tool that can be used in national development strategies because it is a legitimate tool for governments, but it was created by women’s movement and articulates struggles of domestic violence and widowhood,” Rose Gawaya, Oxfam Global Gender Adviser, told the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2008.
 The Protocol is gaining traction in some countries legal systems. In Zambia, it has been used to implement a new policy that requires 30% of advertised land to be owned by women. Still, educating women parliamentarians about the protocol and the importance of rights policies for women is urgently needed. Even when women have political power, it does not mean they can enforce their rights. In Mozambique, where 92 out of 252 parliamentarians are women, a bill on violence against women has been stalled in the legislature for one year. According to women advocates, no one is supporting it, and the women in power in the parliament do not have enough power to influence processes. 
 Nearly every regional grouping has its own regional human rights system, and many countries have national bodies on human rights. At a time when Western leadership is unreliable, human rights must be decentralized. Global faith-based organizations can play key roles supporting theses instruments as they evolve. While advocacy offices may be commonplace in churches in the Global North, the idea of public church has not yet been fully realized by companion churches and local development partners. Supporting regional human rights mechanisms is part of building South-South partnerships, which build solidarity and result in the sharing of expertise between countries facing similar struggles and who may be able to better relate culturally.
Movement building for the 21st century
 Human rights treaties alone will not inspire a movement. There are countless creative and non-technical ways to foster civic participation for a world where everyone can live life in all its fullness. Inspiring citizen advocacy is a key contribution faith-based organizations can make to promote a culture of human rights. The ELCA is using many of these advocacy tactics at a time when U.S. citizens are more aware of poverty than they have ever been. Some of these tactics include:
Individual/ Local / State/ Community
 Worldwide, the movement to end poverty is gaining more foot soldiers. As part of the effort to draw attention to the Millennium Development Goals, “Stand Up” mobilized more than 116 million people – nearly two percent of the world population – to take part in events in 131 countries on October 17-19 2008. From Angelina Jolie (refugees) to George Clooney (Darfur) and Fifty Cent (water), it seems every celebrity has a good cause. The ONE campaign to end poverty is practically a household name with 2.4 million signatures and the ubiquitous white bracelet. In 2007, Amnesty International delivered a petition to the Whitehouse urging the administration to set timelines and benchmarks for deploying peacekeepers in Darfur-- it took them only six months to gather 500,000 signatures.
 These mobilizations have been extraordinary, especially during a period when it seems the Bush administration would not respond to any action, no matter the size. But the government may not be keeping pace with the people. Regardless of U.S. politics, the government is not the only route for human rights. Advertising and marketing professionals suspect a change is taking place with consumers. They report that their business clients are asking for more than just the commercial campaigns to sell products, but for the tools to address issues necessary for their business to survive, such as solid waste, litter, food nutrition, and food safety, drunk driving, alcoholism, consumer liability and passive product effects.
“Whereas in the past, leadership was measured in terms of company or brand with the biggest market share, the most outlets or the most shares, the meaning of leadership seemed to have shifted… More and more it seems that in order to achieve perceived leadership in the marketplace, it is no longer enough for advertisers just to stress size, product features or benefits. It is increasingly necessary to assume the public responsibility that goes with leadership, by acknowledging and speaking out on broader social issues related to ones product, services and reputation.”
 Like business leadership, church leadership is in various stages of flux adapting to a global economy. Recent product scares from Chinese imports have alarmed consumers, making them wonder how they can be sure they are buying safe toys for their children. Raising energy costs have made people wonder how to conserve energy. This church ministers --also with real and perceived leadership--, to a consuming society, and can remain relevant by providing tools for congregants the tools to navigate the complicated ethics of their local big box shopping center.
 Human rights language may fade out of vogue in the U.S., but human rights remain the “soul” of a world order that we must cherish, protect and work to ensure it benefits all. Churches in the U.S. are both taking leadership in realms of human rights, for example encouraging anti-racism training, or speaking out against torture, as well as struggling to end discrimination against people in same sex relationships.
 In a world that is longing for bridges to be built, connecting the company to the consumer, the government to the citizen and the church to the world, human rights our are touchstone. As an institution, and a collective body of citizens with expertise in community building, the church is prepared as any actors to tackle these challenges and take advantage new opportunities. But we must have the capacity to look for these opportunities, and the boldness and the flexibility to take chances.
 It is hoped that this paper helps elucidate the gains of the past sixty years in human rights, as well as the remaining challenges. It is crucial to recognize the history of our churches involvement in human rights, and the effectiveness of utilizing a rights-based approach to development. As people of faith, we have the freedom to use language about human rights and poverty that emphasizes the dignity of the human person, tells the story and the conditions of persons living in poverty, as well as communicates the necessity for collective response. We must approach the future of human rights careful not to forget the achievements of the past, and support new and emerging regional and national human rights initiatives, especially those led by the Global South.
 John Nurser, For All People and All Nations (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press: 2005) p 173.
UNDH50 National Coordinating Committee & Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, In Your Hands, Community Action Guide for Human Rights Year and Beyond, 1998.
 “For Peace in God’s World” quotes the following from the preamble to the UDHR: "Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." “For Peace in God’s World” was adopted by more than a two-thirds majority vote (803-30) as a social statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the fourth Churchwide Assembly on August 20, 1995, at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Online at: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Soc ial-Statements/Peace.aspx.
 “ELCA Global Mission Guiding Principles and Commitments; Human Rights.” Approved by the board of Global Mission March, 2002. Online at: http://www.elca.org/~/media/Files/Who%20We%20Are/Office%20of%20the%20Presiding%20Bishop/Strategic%20Planning%20Roundtables/Global%20Ecumenical%20Interfaith/HumanRightsPrinciples.ashx .
 The term Global South includes developing countries, or countries with majorities living in poverty without access to services, formally referred to as the “Third World”. The Global North includes “First” or rich world countries.
 Dale White, Making a Just Peace, Human Rights and Domination Systems. (Nashville: Abingdon Press: 1998).
 “The Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation Towards a Common Understanding Among UN Agencies,” Interagency Workshop on a Human Rights based Approach in the context of UN reform 3-5 May 2003.
 Based on interview with Gaylord Thomas, Director, Africa Continental Desk, Global Mission Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. October 26, 2008.
 “The Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation Towards a Common Understanding Among UN Agencies”. Interagency Workshop on a Human Rights based Approach in the context of UN reform 3-5 May 2003.
 Reliefweb, 2008.
 Statistics Norway, 2007.
 “Hunger on the Rise”, UN Food and Agriculture Organization. September 18, 2008.
 Originally the World Bank estimated 1.2 billion people lived at less than $1 per day. “World Bank Updates Estimates for the Developing World”, World Bank. August 26, 2008.
 Slogans are taken from respective website of the organizations.
 Rev. Judith Van Osdol served as the Continental Director of Women's ministries and Gender Justice Desk of the Latin American Council of Churches from 2002-2008, and as an ELCA missionary to Argentina for 12 years.
 Rev. Judith Van Osdol, presentation at ELCA Church & Society All Staff Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October 28, 2008.
 UNDH50 National Coordinating Committee & Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, In Your Hands, Community Action Guide for Human Rights Year and Beyond, 1998.
 Rose Gawaya, Oxfam Global Gender Adviser, speaking at a side event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women on February 29, 2008.
 “More than 116 Million People, nearly 2% of the World’s Population Stand Up Against Poverty” Whiteband: October 22, 2008. http://www.everyhumanhasrights.org/freedom-from-want-freedom-from-poverty-0.
 Steve Ruhl. Amnesty International Magazine. New York: 33:4 (Winter 2007) p. 7.
 Tim Love, Vice Chairman at the Omnicom Group, "Think Like the Sun for Greener Marketing Effectiveness" Speech to the Columbia Business School, 2008.
© February 2009
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 9, Issue 2