Advocacy. Human rights. Justice. Peace. Religious freedom.

Advocacy is an LWF priority. We understand that holistic mission includes proclamation, service, and advocacy.

We aim to be a reliable and effective voice for justice, peace, and human rights. We want our member churches to have strong capacities for public witness on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed people.

We bring to an international stage the grassroots experiences of our member churches and country programs. 

Service and advocacy reinforce each other. Our diaconal experience gives credibility to our advocacy. When our advocacy is successful, it leads to greater opportunities for service.

The Lutheran World Federation has adopted seven priorities for global advocacy: religious freedom and interfaith relations; climate change and environmental protection; gender justice; refugees, internally displaced people and other forced migrants; opppressed minorities and indigenous people; economic justice; and HIV and AIDS. One body through which the LWF promotes justice and human rights is the United Nations.

UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council is the principal United Nations body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the globe. It is made up of 47 UN member states and meets three times a year to discuss human rights issues and countries that need its attention.

During council meetings, civil society organizations with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) status, such as the LWF, can take part in discussions by delivering oral statements or submitting written statements to raise human rights concerns. The council also provides space for ECOSOC-accredited civil society organizations to organize side events during its meetings to discuss in greater depth the issues in focus at the council and therefore enable the views and concerns of civil society organizations to shape the decisions of the council. 

The LWF strives to bring grassroots voices and concerns to the council through oral and written statements, side events or by lobbying diplomats in Geneva. We work closely with our ecumenical partners and other civil society organizations in Geneva to ensure the council delivers on its mandate to promote full implementation of human rights obligations undertaken by states.  

LWF oral and written statements to the council:

Side events

LWF side events have included panel discussions on the following: Myanmar UPR adoption, Mozambique UPR debriefing, freedom of religion, harnessing faith, Ebola, and human rights.

Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review is one of the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation in each of the 193 United Nations member states. It includes all UN member states and deliberates on every human rights issues. Under this mechanism, the UN reviews the human rights situation of all of its members every 4.5 years. The review is conducted mainly on the basis of three types of reports, namely: national reports (prepared by the state under review), UN reports (compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), and other stakeholder reports (submitted by civil society and national human rights institutions).   

Since the creation of this mechanism, the LWF, its country programs, member churches and partners have brought local voices to the attention of the UN and influenced the review in favour of local communities. We do this by training national civil society organizations and helping create coalitions of national civil society organizations before the review. We also support lobbying in Geneva during the review and help support national civil society organizations to implement review recommendations.

Special Procedures

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are a group of independent human rights experts with mandate to monitor and report on a wide range of human rights and advocate for their protection. They undertake country visits, conduct thematic studies, raise public awareness on certain human rights issues, and engage in advocacy by sending communications to states and others in which they bring alleged violations or abuses to their attentions. Special procedures are either thematic mandate holders like the special rapporteur on the right to food or specific country mandate holders like the special rapporteur for the Central African Republic.

Civil society organizations like the LWF play an important role in the work of the special procedures. In most cases, they are the main source of information for communications on allegations of human rights violations. They collaborate on the preparation of country visits, submit information for the preparation of thematic reports, and organize seminars and conferences to disseminate the work of special procedures. The LWF works closely with the special procedures mechanisms in all its priority global advocacy areas.

Human Rights Policy Briefs

LWF human rights policy briefs are short and informative analyses of some of the thematic or country-specific human rights issues we engage with either globally or locally through member churches or World Service country programs. The objective is to create space so human rights issues emanating from our work can be documented and that we can promote alternative action or policy recommendations. The briefs can take the form of both objective policy discussions, highlighting the prominence of certain issues and calls for action without necessarily taking a position, or they can be advocacy briefs, arguing for a particular course of action or adoption of a particular alternative.

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Faith and Protection

LWF participation in the 2012 UNHCR's Dialogue on Faith and Protection offered an example of the potential for our advocacy.  The dialogue brought together faith leaders to consider what faith says about protection of refugees and other forced migrants. We are representing the Christian voice in the dialogue’s follow-up.

Office for International Affairs and Human Rights

OIAHR coordinates LWF public policy development and orchestrates its advocacy. We represent the LWF and undertake advocacy on behalf of the communion in the United Nations and other international forums. We act as a focal point on international affairs and human rights for staff, member churches, and partners.


LWF member churches

Our member churches have a fundamental concern for the vulnerable and oppressed. They are witness to, and sometimes their members are victims of, violence, injustice and exclusion in many parts of the world. Their members suffer along with the communities in which they minister.  As churches they are called to respond to such situations with God’s message of love, peace and reconciliation.

LWF World Service country programs

Our World Service country and regional programs serve vulnerable people, without discrimination.  They are witness to situations of injustice and use a rights-based approach.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

We are one of UNHCR’s oldest and largest implementing partners. We work with UNHCR to improve humanitarian policy and practice.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 As an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO), we have the opportunity to bring matters of human rights concern to the UN.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

We hold a priority relationship with this body.

Ecumenical Advocacy Partners

We coordinate our advocacy efforts especially closely with the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.  

Institutional Partners

We implement advocacy projects funded by different institutional partners such as the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

    • Norad is the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. The Agency is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In matters regarding Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), Norad reports to the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. Norad’s main purpose is to ensure that Norwegian development aid funds are spent in the best possible way, and to report on what works and what does not work.
    • Norad and the LWF have signed a Grant Agreement for a project Promoting Inter-Religious Tolerance and Culture of Peace in Ethiopia.

Norad Funding - Specific Conditions 2018-2019

Collaboration with other LWF departments

The Office for International Affairs and Human Rights provides advice for the Department for World Service, and for the regional area secretaries in the Department for Mission and Development.

LWF advocacy milestones