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Lambeth's Forgotten Teaching: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Donn Mitchell

The 1998 Lambeth Conference’s endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been overshadowed by its statement on sexuality, yet the implications of the former may contain the seeds of reconciliation for the latter. This article examines Anglicanism’s relationship to the genesis, purpose, and authority of the Universal Declaration and raises questions about Anglicanism’s understanding of conscience and dissent. It identifies inconsistencies between Lambeth’s oft-stated support for the Declaration and the tone and tactics of the inter-Anglican sexuality debate. The ways in which such discussions are distorted by real and threatened persecution are examined along with suggested responses. Finally, the article proposes creation of an inter-Anglican commission on human rights, organization of a global network of Anglicans in diplomatic service, and other strategies to breathe life into Anglicanism’s commitment to human rights.

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