From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ACNS3255 Case for war yet to be made, warns House of Bishops
"Anglican Communion News Service" <email@example.com>
Wed, 15 Jan 2003 15:29:40 -0000
ACNS 3255 | ENGLAND | 15 JANUARY 2003
Case for war yet to be made, warns House of Bishops
Over the course of the last twelve months the Church of England's House of
Bishops, concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation between the
international community and Iraq, has sought to raise those ethical and
moral issues that need to be addressed before any final decision is taken as
to the use of military force. These concerns were previously set out in its
9 October 2002 submission to the Foreign affairs select Committee's ongoing
inquiry into the war against terrorism. This submission concluded that while
military action can sometimes be justified as a last resort to enforce
United Nations Security council resolutions, to undertake a preventative war
against Iraq at this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war
unacceptably. The House of bishops at its meeting in Leeds has today issued
the following statement on Iraq:
We believe that the Government's stated policy of disarming Iraq of its
weapons of mass destruction is best pursued by facilitating and
strengthening the work of UN weapons inspectors. It is crucial that this
process be allowed to run its course. To launch military action while there
remains the potential to secure a peaceful resolution would be ill-judged
We continue to hold that a conclusive case has yet to be made in favour of
military action against Iraq. We do not believe the evidence presented to
date suggests a clear link exists between Iraq and Al Qaeda or that Iraq
poses an immediate threat to international security. Without compelling new
evidence to the contrary, we contend that military action could not be
It is vital that, however the current crisis unfolds, the UK government
should seek the maximum support of the international community, working
within the framework of the United Nations. We urge all nations to give the
weapons inspectors the full co-operation, resources and information they
need. We call on Iraq to present credible evidence to support its claim that
it does not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction.
We believe that it is vital that proper focus and attention is given in any
event to ensuring that the basic humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are
met and that a clear path is constructed for the swift and effective return
of Iraq and its people, who have long suffered under the regime of Saddam
Hussein, to a rightful place in the community of nations.
In seeking to resolve this crisis we call on the international community to
provide the basis for a lasting and just peace in the region by taking all
necessary steps to revitalise the Middle East Peace Process, based on the
twin principles of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state.
At a time of widespread suspicion and insecurity we urge the government and
the media to avoid the use of language or rhetoric which might cast this
crisis in religious terms or contribute to extremist and exclusivist
attitudes. We will continue to work with other faith leaders, both here and
overseas, to strengthen the bonds of community relations and cohesion at
this difficult time.
We return to our dioceses determined in Christ to call on all members of the
Church of England to engage with people of faith to pray for the world and
for those entrusted with the grave responsibility of taking decisions which
will have immense, widespread and unpredictable consequences not only for
Iraq and the Gulf region but for us all.
Note to Editors
The text of the House of Bishops' submission to the Foreign Affairs Select
Committee, Evaluating the Threat of Military Action Against Iraq: A
Contribution to the Debate by The House of Bishops, is available from
www.cofe.anglican.org/papers/ under the link 'House of Bishops sets high
threshold for Iraqi war'.
In the submission, the House of Bishops said:
1 We affirm the Government's stated policy of disarming Iraq of its weapons
of mass destruction (WMDs). Unfettered and unhindered access must be gained
for the UN weapons inspectors, in order to facilitate the identification and
destruction of Iraq's WMD in compliance with all relevant United Nations
Security Council resolutions (UNSC).
2 We hold that the primary international concern remains Iraq's blatant
disregard of the UN and its authority as expressed in relevant UNSC
resolution. Any unilateral action to enforce Iraq's compliance with such
resolutions risks further undermining the credibility and authority of the
3 We recognise that in those instances where diplomatic and economic
pressure fail to ensure compliance with UNSC resolutions, military action
can sometimes be justified as a last resort to enforce those resolutions.
4 We nonetheless hold that to undertake a preventative war against Iraq at
this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war unacceptably.
5 We believe that if military action were to be considered as a last resort,
the outcome in terms of suffering on all sides could be immense, with
widespread and unpredictable environmental, economic and political
consequences. There would also be implications for inter faith relations. We
therefore urge that these concerns should be central to all political and
6 We support and encourage the Prime Minister in his efforts to press for a
new international conference to revitalise the middle east peace process,
based on the twin principles of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian
state. We believe such a conference has an important role in trying to
promote the wider stability of the region at a time of widespread suspicion
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