Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
In 1937 the Second World Conference of Friends created the FWCC (Friends World Committee for Consultation) “to act in a consultative capacity to promote better understanding among Friends the world over.” It is an umbrella organisation for the +400,000 Friends around the world. Their purpose is to encourage fellowship among all the branches of the Religious Society of Friends wherever they may be. Their mission is summed up as “Answering God's call to universal love, FWCC brings Friends of varying traditions and cultural experiences together in worship, communications, and consultation, to express our common heritage and our Quaker message to the world”.
The global Quaker community spans a rich diversity of regional cultures, beliefs and styles of worship. There are four cooperating autonomous section offices
- Africa section
- Asia West Pacific section
- Europe and the Middle East section
- Section of the Americas
FWCC’s World Office is at Friends House in London, England where it serves these four main roles:
- Organise world gatherings, including International Representative Meetings and consultations of Quakers world-wide.
- Support and maintain contact with the work of the four FWCC sections and the Quaker United Nations Offices.
- Coordinate the International Membership programme, which joins isolated Friends and worship groups to the wider Quaker community.
- Promote an understanding of the world-wide character of the Society of Friends, through staff travel, conferences, correspondence and publications, and through ecumenical and interfaith work on behalf of Friends.
FWCC’s International Membership Office acts as a meeting for both isolated Friends and newly-established worship groups. Being listed with the International Membership programme provides recognition and presence within the world family of Friends.
Since 1948, FWCC has had “consultative” status with the United Nations and is responsible for the two Quaker UN Offices in Geneva and New York. Their association with the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) enables FWCC to offer a means to monitor and present Quaker contributions to world affairs. These offices consult with members of the UN Secretariat, the representatives of other non-governmental and faith-based organisations and delegates from a variety of countries. Areas to which the offices contribute include human rights, disarmament, the environment, economic justice, trade and development, criminal justice and action on refugees.
In New York, QUNO focuses on building coalitions to bring little-noticed conflicts and issues to the attention of the governments at the Security Council and General Assembly. American Friends Service Committee manages the programme with the policy guidance of the Quaker United Nations Committee—New York which is comprised of Friends from the US and each of the four sections of FWCC.
In Geneva, QUNO works with UN agencies and related organizations such as the International Organization for Migration and the World Trade Organization to bring to them the voices of the under-represented governments and groups. In recent years, there has been remarkable success in bringing reforms and new awareness in several areas, such as child soldiers and women in prison. QUNO-Geneva has been instrumental in much of the work on small arms trade.
The United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Commission is based in Vienna. An international team of volunteers from FWCC attends the annual meeting of the Commission and as well as its Congress held every five years. Their work focuses on promoting the concept and use of restorative justice and working to include language relating to it in position papers and documents.
FWCC has named a volunteer representative to serve on the non-governmental organization committee within UNICEF. FWCC also sends an observer to meetings of the UNICEF Executive Board.
Through their work with the World Council of Churches their consultation extends to those of other faiths.
FWCC also attempts to draw together details of projects that show Quakers putting their testimonies into action.
Friends World News is the bulletin of the FWCC and is currently published twice each year.
The FWCC also plays an important role in connecting Quakers with one another through international events such as the worldwide conferences of Friends for example the one held in 2012 at Kabarak University near Nakuru, Kenya.
The four sections are also able to inform friends of the whereabouts of local meetings and to put them in touch with Quakers in their area.