From the Worldwide Faith News archives


From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 30 Dec 2002 20:17:02 -0800

December 23, 2002

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120,000 Children Engaged In Armed Conflict In Africa

NAIROBI (AANA) December 23 - The African Union AU has been called upon to 
intervene in the Great Lakes region to stop the sale and manufacture of 
small arms weapons used by children in armed conflict.

The appeal is contained in the final report on the child soldiers in Great 
Lakes region strategy workshop held here last month. It was released by the 
coalition to stop the use of child soldiers in co-operation with the 
African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and 
Neglect ANPPCAN.

According to the report, researchers estimate that more than 300,000 
children are being engaged in hostilities world wide. Out of this, more 
than 120,000 children currently participating in armed conflict are from 
Africa and are between 7 and 18 years old.

The recruitment of the children as soldiers in the Great Lakes region is 
widespread and the participants blamed the rise of child soldier to African 
government not ratifying the African Charter on children rights thereby 
leading to escalation of child soldiers.

The 40 representatives of local, regional and international organisations 
from Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania 
and hosts Kenya including United States discussed ways of curbing the child 
soldiers in the region.

The overall objective of the workshop, the report says, was to develop 
strategies for national child soldiers coalitions and sub-regional 
co-ordination mechanisms to meet its principle goal of mobilising and 
networking to bring to an end the engagement of child soldiers.

Urging light arms manufacturers to stop selling arms to countries that 
recruit child soldiers and stop the involvement of children in armed 
conflicts, the participants intended to provide an overview of major 
outcomes and challenges identified in the region.

The participants were challenged to lobby their governments for 
ratification and implementation of regional legal standards for child 
protection including for the African Charter on the rights and welfare of 
the child.

The report cited the most affected countries on child soldiers as Angola, 
Burundi, Congo- Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo Ethiopia, 
Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Burundi and Rwanda, the report notes, are known to have the lowest 
recruitment ages in the whole of Africa. Latest reports indicate that close 
to 20,000 people are currently fleeing their homes in Burundi, as fighting 
between government forces and rebels rages on despite the on going peace 

The participants implored the African Union for being slow in the 
ratification of African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child. Out 
of 53 member states only 27 have ratified the Charter.

Africa indicates need to wake up to the realities and consequences of child 
soldiers as it complicates future peace in continent, the report says, 
adding that governments should be encouraged to a level where ideas are 
shared to bring to an end to child soldiers.

According to the report, the overall priority to end the use of child 
soldiers in the Great Lakes region is to prevent the recruitment and use of 
child soldiers by domestic and foreign forces.

Other priorities would be to restrain Burundi and the DRC who are the 
epicentre of conflict in the region thus promoting the child soldiering 
especially now where there is a spiral of conflicts in that region.

The report further emphasises that capacity building of actors and 
organisation working on child soldiers issues should centralise information 
on the existing expertise, experience and training where gaps exist to 
develop mechanism for proper information.

Reported By Herman Kasili


Campaign For 'Trade For People, Not People For Trade'

GENEVA (AANA) December 23 - The right to food, health, education, work and 
an adequate standard of living are part of the internationally recognized 
framework of human rights standards. That makes them a legal obligation 
rather than just a policy option.

A global campaign launched December 10 by the Geneva-based Ecumenical 
Advocacy Alliance EAA argues that the universality of these obligations 
fundamentally challenges notions of competition and efficiency, which 
accept that, in the global marketplace, some people and communities may 
lose these basic entitlements.

Launched here on World Human Rights Day, the three-year campaign wants to 
ensure that international human rights, social and environmental agreements 
take precedence over trade agreements and policies. Or, as its slogan says, 
that trade is for people, not people for trade.

The EAA is a global network of more than 85 churches, development agencies, 
and related organizations on all continents, including the World YWCA, the 
World Council of Churches, Bread for the World, and many others.

It represents a constituency of hundreds of millions of people. "As 
institutions, and as members of civil society, we believe we have both the 
obligation and the power to speak for justice and change the rules of 
global trade," considers EAA board member Dr Musimbi Kanyoro.

Speaking at a press briefing on the campaign, Kanyoro, who is secretary 
general of the World Young Womens Christian Association YWCA, argued that 
economic injustice, spearheaded by "trade rules that are not fair and don't 
put people first", are "brutally ripping the global community apart".

Prof  Dr Christoph St|ckelberger of the EAA's trade strategy group told 
journalists that it is "because the biblical standards for economics, 
including the trade of goods and services, are justice and taking the side 
of the poor".

"This vision," said St|ckelberger, "should not be reduced to mere equality 
of opportunity for all to compete without hindrance. That has only helped 
those who already have access to political and economic power to gain more 
power and a greater share of the world's resources, and to create power 
elites that suppress others".

The campaign acknowledges that "trade is a basic social activity", and that 
it "can contribute to the common good". But it argues that "trade on 
unequal terms is damaging, creates and maintains inequities, and can lead 
to violence, conflict and environmental destruction".

It holds that "trade should be a means to share the bounty of the earth and 
the fruits of human labour, yet too often is a force that causes poverty, 
despair, injustice and death".

The campaign will advocate for trade rules and policies that recognize the 
right to food, ensure sustainable agriculture, promote greater 
self-reliance in developing countries, guarantee access for all to 
essential services, and allow for regulation of transnational corporations.

Its action plan covers mass mobilization, including use of a global 
petition; local advocacy initiatives; and lobbying with international 
institutions by experts from North and South.

Each participating church and organization will take up the common campaign 
agenda in its own context with its own government, as well as working 
together to impact international institutions.

This plan has been shared with both World Trade Organization WTO director 
general Supachai Panitchpakdi and UN high commissioner for Human Rights 
Sergio Vieira de Mello, and both have agreed to meet with the EAA.

It has also been sent to all governmental representatives and observers to 
the WTO, and to all ambassadors to Switzerland. (NB: The plan of action and 
the petition are available on the EAA website at

SOURCE: World Council of Churches

New Website Set For Decade To Overcome Violence

GENEVA (AANA) December 23 - Coinciding with International Human Rights Day, 
the World Council of Churches WCC last week opened a new interactive 
version of its "Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010): Churches seeking 
Reconciliation and Peace" website. Its address is:

The new website is designed to create and strengthen networking by 
churches, organizations and individuals committed to the search for peace, 
justice and reconciliation.

Says Decade coordinator Hansulrich Gerber: "When violence and threats of 
war are rising up ominously around us, an initiative like this, which aims 
at strengthening organizations and individuals committed to peace and 
reconciliation, is a sign of hope".

The website, available in four languages (English, French, German, and 
Spanish), is designed as a tool to enable churches, organizations and 
individuals committed to the aims of the Decade to make contact.

It would also help them establish relations with one another by sharing 
resources and experiences, notices of events and information on what they 
are doing.

Those logging on to the website can play an active role by sharing with 
others their efforts to overcome violence and making them widely known.

At the same time, they can easily obtain any information they require via 
the website's new thematic structure and its search-by-category function.

"It's a new way of working in that it provides an open forum," declares WCC 
senior web editor Olivier Schopfer, "and the challenge for us and for 
everyone committed to the Decade is to make it a lively, dynamic instrument".

At the same time, the Decade is focusing on  encouraging and inspiring 
churches, organizations and individuals to commit actively to the search 
for justice, reconciliation and peace.

The website also contains resources produced by the WCC itself, such as a 
new study guide on the four main Decade themes, ideas on how to participate 
in the Decade in local communities, a listing of regional and national 
coordinators, together with e-mail discussion groups and visual resources.

The Decade to Overcome Violence is the WCC's response to the mandate of its 
eighth assembly in Harare in 1998 "to work strategically with the 
churches... to create a culture of peace".

The Decade was launched internationally in February 2001 and, by bringing 
together already- existing initiatives, it provides a forum for sharing 
experiences and building relationships of mutual support and learning.

At the same time, the Decade is focusing on  encouraging and inspiring 
churches, organizations and individuals to commit actively to the search 
for justice, reconciliation and peace.

SOURCE: World Council of Churches

WCC Publishes Details Of The Ecumenical Movement

GENEVA (AANA) December 23 - The long-awaited revised and expanded second 
edition of the "Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement" has just been 

Produced by the World Council of Churches WCC, this volume is an essential 
tool for study and research on the movement and for passing the ecumenical 
memory on to a new generation.

With almost 700 articles, 50 of them new and the others revised and 
updated, and 370 authors from all Christian confessions and world regions, 
the new edition of the dictionary is a window into the richness and 
diversity of ecumenical thought and action.

Eight thousand copies of the first edition were printed and it is now out 
of print. This second edition maintains the accuracy, objectivity and wide 
range of the first edition, and takes account of the major changes that 
have taken place in the world, and the life of the churches, during the 
decade since it first appeared.

Readers will thus find new articles on subjects like "economic 
globalization", "ethnic conflict", "religious roots of violence", as well 
as "Pentecostal-Reformed dialogue", "Baptist-Orthodox relations", and 
"theology of religions", among many others.

As with the first edition, editorial responsibility for the dictionary was 
entrusted to six leading ecumenical figures: Nicholas Lossky, Josi Miguez 
Bonino, John Pobee, Tom F. Stransky, Geoffrey Wainwright and Pauline Webb.

Themes include:  principal developments in the history of the ecumenical 
movement at world, regional and national levels; the life and work of the 
WCC and other ecumenical bodies and organizations; ecumenical concerns of 
the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian families.

The others are: important discussions and agreements reached, and ongoing 
disagreements on doctrinal matters; social, political, legal, cultural and 
ethical issues from a Christian perspective; evangelism and mission, 
worship and prayer, education and the renewal of the church.

Other themes include: Christian responsibility towards the poor and their 
place in church and society; communicating  the ecumenical vision and 
dialogue with other faiths;  biographies of distinguished personalities, 
and an index of leaders and thinkers whose contributions appear in the 

Throughout its 1,300 pages, multiple cross-references provide links between 
the articles, thus enabling wider exploration of the various themes.

The bibliography was composed with the average reader in mind, and its 
capacity to supply him/her with additional information.

While at present available only in English, the dictionary will also be 
published shortly in French, Italian and Spanish editions, and the 
possibility of German and Russian versions is also being investigated.

One article per month will be published on the WCC website over the coming 
year, at: .

The constantly changing nature of the ecumenical landscape and the 
challenges presently confronting traditional ecumenical orientations 
inevitably makes publishing such a work as this a risky undertaking.

Nonetheless, as WCC general secretary Rev Dr Konrad Raiser indicates in the 
prologue, the dictionary is intended "to be a source of inspiration and 
reliable orientation for all those who have accepted the call to the unity 
and renewal of the church as a personal commitment".

SOURCE:  World Council of Churches

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