From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC gen. sec. addresses International Military Chiefs of Chaplains ...

From George Conklin <>
Date 09 Feb 2000 11:45:58

World Council of Churches
Press Release
For Immediate Use
9 February 2000

WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser calls for an "early warning system" to 
identify potential mass violations of human rights

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Konrad 
Raiser, has criticized the growing tendency to legitimize the use of 
military means in humanitarian interventions.  These should "remain an 
exception, for which clear and binding rules and criteria must be 
established under international law," Raiser urged on Tuesday, 8 February, 
addressing participants at the 11th International Military Chiefs of 
Chaplains Conference taking place in Geneva from 7 to 11 February, 2000.

Particularly the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and NATO's intervention 
in the Kosovo conflict, but also the "UN's self-critical examination" in 
the light of the "tragic events in Rwanda" had made further discussion of 
the legitimacy of humanitarian interventions inevitable, Raiser said in his 

Raiser announced a WCC study on the ethical issues surrounding humanitarian 
intervention.  The study will be prepared in consultation and cooperation 
with church aid agencies, humanitarian organizations and research 
institutes and will be submitted to the WCC's Central Committee at its next 
meeting in January 2001.

Raiser expressed regret that "the political-ethical discussion has focussed 
principally on the question of the legitimacy of armed humanitarian 
intervention".  "As a result," he said, "other forms of intervention to 
protect human rights, stopping short of armed intervention, have received 
less attention."  In order to limit cases "where armed intervention is seen 
as absolutely essential", the range of other possible instruments should be 
developed and expanded, the WCC general secretary urged.

As positive and effective examples of this type of action Raiser mentioned 
the appointment of UN Special Rapporteurs for certain countries and 
categories of human rights violations, and the despatching of teams of 
observers to monitor elections and human rights.   Such measures needed to 
be systematically organized and developed, he said.

Raiser called for the setting up of a "permanent monitoring body" within 
the framework of the United Nations and an "early warning system to 
identify potential mass violations of human rights".  Another aspect which 
the WCC general secretary described as particularly urgent was "the 
development of measures for the protection of minorities and population 
groups who have become refugees in their own countries as a result of armed 

If these other possibilities are to be effectively used and developed, 
however, it would be necessary to change mindsets away from "the 
predominantly military logic of crisis reaction to genuine humanitarian 
measures".   This would need to be accompanied by "resolute steps to divert 
material and financial resources away from the formation of military 
intervention forces, as currently happens, and use them instead to 
strengthen civil instruments for humanitarian action and the protection of 
human rights," Raiser said.

The "striking imbalance" between the means poured into NATO's intervention 
in Kosovo and the slow process of bringing together the necessary human and 
financial resources to rebuild the social order once the military action 
was completed showed, however, that "the will for this change of direction 
does not as yet exist, either among the general public or among the 
responsible governments".

For further information, please contact Karin Achtelstetter, Media 
Relations Officer:  Tel:  (+41.22) 791.61.53  Mobile:  (+41)


The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, 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
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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