At the African Union, an Adventist Leader Speaks for Human Dignity

The African Union Prayer Breakfast provides spiritual encouragement to political leaders grappling with immense social and economic challenges.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Bettina Krause/PARL

As heads of state for 54 African countries gathered for the 26th African Union Summit, a Seventh-day Adventist leader urged delegates to recognize “respect for human dignity” as a foundational principle of good governance. Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Adventist world church, spoke at the African Union Prayer Breakfast on January 30, held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The breakfast brought together heads of state, foreign ministers, and religious leaders to pray for those involved in the two-day summit of political leaders—a key annual event focused on challenges facing the African continent.

“Religions agree, even secular ideologies agree, on this one principle called ‘human dignity,’” said Diop, who was one the invited presenters at the breakfast.

“Human dignity is not just one value to be ranked among other values,” he said. It is “a foundational principle that undergirds all human rights in international covenants, treaties and conventions. 

Diop challenged his listeners to imagine a transformed world where “this single principle of human dignity is upheld everywhere, in all encounters.” 

Diop prayed that leaders gathered for the African Union Summit would have the courage to refuse violence in all its forms, and to reflect God’s character by pursuing “freedom, justice, peace, and love.” 

Speaking after the event, Diop said that representing the church at the African Union Prayer Breakfast provided a chance to highlight a pivotal value for Adventists—the conviction that every person has been endowed by their Creator with infinite worth. This single principle, says Diop, is central to Adventists’ understanding of freedom of religion and belief, and to the church’s global commitment to improve the lives of people through health care, education, and humanitarian support.


The African Union Prayer Breakfast is held every January in tandem with the African Union Summit. Issues dominating the agenda of this year’s Summit included human rights, violence and extremism, the empowerment of women, education, and economic development.