From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WCC Central Committee Marches
04 May 1996 20:51:39
95346 WCC Central Committee Marches
to Protest French Nuclear Testing
by Jerry L. Van Marter
GENEVA--Members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee
broke from their business Sept. 22 to stage a march to the nearby Place de
Nations of the United Nations to protest French nuclear weapons testing in
the South Pacific.
Central Committee meeting observers and staff members of the
Ecumenical Center in Geneva who joined the 158 Central Committee members
swelled the crowd to nearly 300 participants. The decision to march was
made Sept. 21 after the Central Committee approved a resolution condemning
France and the People's Republic of China for their resumption of nuclear
The group gathered in the lobby of the Ecumenical Center, home of the
WCC, where they sang hymns and distributed WCC and antinuclear weapons
banners. The march to the U.N. was led by His Holiness Aram I, moderator
of the Central Committee and head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in
Lebanon; WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser; the eight presidents of the
WCC; and leaders of South Pacific member churches of the WCC.
When the silent march reached the Place de Nations, the protesters
were led in prayer by Eunice Santana, a minister of the Puerto Rico
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and one of the WCC presidents.
Meanwhile, a small WCC delegation delivered a letter of protest to
Vladimir Petrovsky, director general of the Office of the United Nations in
Geneva. Raiser later reported that the delegation was "warmly received and
appreciated" by Petrovsky.
The text of the letter, signed by Aram I:
"I have the honor to convey the sincere greetings of the Central
Committee of the World Council of Churches, currently in session in Geneva.
"During this session, we have turned our attention to the issue of
nuclear testing, and have adopted the statement which I attach for your
"We have also expressed deep appreciation of the significant
accomplishments of the United Nations in the field of disarmament,
welcoming in particular its leadership in achieving an indefinite extension
of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, and agreement of the
nuclear weapons states to conclude a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
"We come to you today to express particular concern about the
continuation of nuclear tests on Moruroa Atoll by the Government of France.
Through your good offices, we urge the Secretary General of the United
Nations to consider urgently the following actions:
1. The sending of an independent commission to assess the impact on
the public health and well-being of the people of French Polynesia as a
result of continuing nuclear tests.
2. The formation of a group of experts to carry out an independent
scientific assessment of the long-term effects of decades of nuclear
testing in French Polynesia in light of the declaration of the
Earth Summit' in Rio de Janeiro.
3. The naming of an independent expert to study the violations by the
Government of France of the human rights of the people of the Pacific, and
especially of French Polynesia, in view of the recognition of the Human
Rights Committee that research, testing, manufacture and possession of
nuclear weapons are among the grave threats to the right to life.
4. The issuance of a reminder to the Government of France of its
obligations under the convention on the Rights of the Child, and urging
that government to desist from any activity, including nuclear testing,
which may endanger the provision of nutritious foods and drinking water
free of all forms of pollution to the children of the Pacific and of French
Polynesia in particular.
5. The exercise of the good offices of the Secretary General to draw
to the attention of the Government of France its moral obligation,
especially in view of the express will of the people of French Polynesia
and the wider Pacific region and in response to appeals from every part of
the world, to reverse the decision of President Chirac, and to desist from
any further nuclear tests.
"We remain convinced that the greatness of France, the cradle of
modern human rights thinking and practice, will not be found in nuclear
deterrence, but through a return to the universal human values upon which
modern France is built, and in providing wise moral leadership in a world
in desperate need of peace."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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