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Wichert, Tim (2004). A Mennonite Human Rights Paradigm? Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee. Downloaded 19 December 2005.

Mennonites are uneasy about human rights. We have not ignored them entirely, and sometimes use the language of rights when convenient. But human rights language tends to be a “second language”, after the preferred language of compassion, care and community. Yet human rights have become an integral part of the international legal system, and have been one of the most significant, non-violent, “political” contributions to public peace, justice and order in the past 50 years. They play an important role in moderating conflicts. Human rights institutions have ensured that there is a systematic international response to torture, unlawful detention, violence against women, and refugees. And at a national level, legal instruments like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the American Bill of Rights, provide the basis for a rule of law which has largely ensured public peace, justice and order. But human rights present a significant challenge to peace theology, which has been the primary tool for developing Mennonite responses to conflict and victimization, especially through the preferred options of forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation. In my view, Mennonites need to move beyond ambivalence and develop a human rights discourse to enhance the viability of peace theology - and restorative justice - as a more universally helpful response to conflict. A Mennonite human rights paradigm could have a significant impact on behalf of those in need. My perspectives on human rights arise from my training in law, some time engaged in the practice of criminal law and refugee law, and the past 13 years working with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which included a three year secondment to the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.(excerpt)


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