From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC, IMF and the World Bank to continue dialogue

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Thu, 20 Feb 2003 15:54:46 +0100

World Council of Churches
Update 03-04
For Immediate Use
20 February 2003

WCC, IMF and the World Bank to continue dialogue
First encounter described as 'historic'

Cf. WCC Press Release, PR-03-09 of 12 February 2003
At the end of a two-day seminar, the thirty participants representing the
World Council of Churches (WCC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
the World Bank (WB) agreed to continue the process of dialogue started in
Geneva on 13 and 14 February.  They also identified four areas of concern
that will be addressed in a series of encounters, the first of which will
take place in Washington, D.C., next October.

The agreed themes are: the challenges of globalization; participation of the
people in development, such as in Poverty Reduction Programmes and in debt
resolution; the respective roles of the state and public and private sectors
in development and poverty reduction efforts; and institutional governance
and accountability, with regard to equity, justice and the distribution of

"This encounter was historic, because it has begun a process of dialogue and
of common challenge," commented Aruna Gnanadason, coordinator of the WCC's
team on Justice, Peace and Creation.  This first step in the process "brought
to the fore the urgency for reflections on the context of economic
globalization and the grave inequalities in our world", Gnanadason said.

"Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, a meeting like this would have been
seen as just impossible," declared Bob Goudzwaard, in his opening remarks to
the joint seminar at which the three institutions discussed their respective
concepts of development, the evolution of their mandates and their different
viewpoints on the creation of wealth, social justice and the privatization of
public goods. Goudzwaard is professor emeritus of economics and a former
member of the WCC Commission on the Churches' Participation in Development

Even today, as Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the WCC, noted in
a letter addressed to seminar participants, "Many among the constituency of
the World Council of Churches, particularly in the southern hemisphere, would
question the wisdom and purpose of such a dialogue." All the same, he said,
the seminar had brought together partners "who have so far had very little
opportunity to talk face to face", and had created "a space where the
difficult issues concerning the sustainability of the global human community
can be faced with respect for the integrity of one another's convictions and

While the WCC's contribution to this dialogue has always been "informed by
the insight and advice of competent experts", it has sought primarily "to
articulate the voice of those who have little opportunity of influencing the
decisions but have to bear their consequences", Raiser said.  The WCC has
tried in this way to give the dialogue "the human face which is a central
focus of the present discussion".

At the conclusion of the seminar the participants agreed that it had met the
conditions raised by Goudzwaard as essential if this series of encounters was
to become a "really meaningful event" - "the willingness to listen carefully
to each other" and "the willingness to agree, but also, if needed, to

Another condition mentioned by Goudzwaard was transparency. "The churches are
nothing without their members," he said, stressing that there has to be
feedback between constituencies and those taking part in the encounters if
these "are to become really useful". One step in this direction is the
decision taken to publish the papers presented at the seminar, to help make
the process more open for such feedback. 

Photos from the seminar are available on demand. 

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office,  tel: +41
(0)22 791 64 21 /61 53

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, 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, The 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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