The Lutheran Office for World Community was formed in 1973 in response to the principles embodied in the United Nations Charter. Lutheran activity in international advocacy at the United Nations, however, may be traced to the world organization's early days when Lutheran seminary professor O. Frederick Nolde was a leader in the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every assembly of the Lutheran World Federation since its founding in 1947 and many social statements by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessor bodies have affirmed the importance of human rights, peace, and justice.
Since 1973, the Lutheran Office for World Community has participated in a variety of historic issues. The independence of Namibia was a major policy goal at a time when few others advocated for the people in that land. The office assisted The Lutheran World Federation in 1989 and into the 1990s as it helped mediate the differences between the warring parties in Guatemala. In 1993, the Lutheran Office for World Community participated in the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria. It has worked for human rights on behalf of people in Ethiopia, El Salvador, Liberia, South Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.