From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WCC gen. sec. addresses International Military Chiefs of Chaplains ...
George Conklin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
09 Feb 2000 11:45:58
World Council of Churches
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
For further information, please contact Karin Achtelstetter, Media
Relations Officer: Tel: (+41.22) 791.61.53 Mobile: (+41) 79.284.52.12
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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