From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Statement on Kosovo

From Sheila MESA <>
Date 14 Oct 1998 07:24:37

World Council of Churches
Press Release
For Immediate Use
14 October 1998


The World Council of Churches (WCC) welcomes news reported on 13
October that President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia (FRY) has acceded to a significant portion of the demands of
the United Nations Security Council with respect to withdrawal of
Serbian forces from Kosovo and security guarantees for the return of
humanitarian organizations to the area.

The WCC welcomes in particular the agreement of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to deploy a sizeable,
unarmed verification force in Kosovo, and the acceptance of this
deployment by the FRY.  This role of the OSCE on behalf of the
international community is consistent with the decisions of the UN
Security Council taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (res. 1160, 31
March 1998).  The use of such a contingent corresponds to the WCC's
repeated affirmation that all means short of the use of armed force must
be used to obtain compliance by offending states with decisions of the
Security Council.  

The Council reiterates its position that any action by states to achieve
international peace and security, either individually or collectively, must
be undertaken strictly under the terms of the Charter and with the explicit
approval of the Security Council.  In this connection, the WCC welcomes
the announcement by the UN Secretary-General that he will send a
mission to the region.

The WCC recognizes that the provisional agreements announced
yesterday fall far short of full compliance with Security Council resolution
1199 (23 September 1998). The Council appeals to all parties, especially
the FRY, the Kosovar Albanian Leadership and all Albanian groups, to
accept all the terms of that resolution, to renounce immediately the use of
arms, to initiate without delay good-faith negotiations for a just and
lasting solution to the Kosovo conflict, and to cooperate with the
Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the
investigation of possible violations in Kosovo which are within the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

As churches and religious leaders in Kosovo, Serbia and elsewhere in
the region, and beyond, have said from the beginning of this conflict,
violence cannot bring peace.  A future based on democracy and respect
for the human rights of Albanians and Serbs alike in Kosovo can only be
reached through free and inclusive dialogue involving all communities.

The Council is particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation
created by the armed conflict which has resulted in the displacement of
some 290,000 persons, an estimated 50,000 of whom are without
adequate shelter.  The WCC urges all parties, and especially the FRY, to
hold to their commitments to allow free and immediate access by
international humanitarian organizations to Kosovo and other regions of
the FRY, and to ensure their safety, in order that urgent steps may be
taken to facilitate the return of refugees to their homes and to provide
shelter and care for those whose homes have been destroyed.

The WCC reiterates its concern for, solidarity with, and assurance of
prayers for all the people of Kosovo, and urges governments to support
the emergency and rehabilitation work of international humanitarian
agencies at this crucial point.  It calls particularly upon the churches to
respond generously to the appeals issued by ACT (Action by Churches
Together) to support the church and church-related agencies working in
Kosovo on behalf of a worldwide network of churches and related

For further information contact, Rev. Dwain Epps, WCC International
Affairs Co-ordinator, 
Tel: +41.22.791.6220

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 332, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but
works cooperatively with the WCC.  The highest governing body is the
Assembly, which meets approximately every seven years.  The WCC
was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Its staff is
headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church
in Germany.

World Council of Churches
Press and Information Office
Tel:  (41.22) 791.61.52/51
Fax:  (41.22) 798 13 46

P.O. Box 2100
CH-1211 Geneva 2

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