From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC Executive Committee states: Stop threats of war on Iraq!

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Fri, 21 Feb 2003 10:49:50 +0100

World Council of Churches
Update Up-03-05
For Immediate Use
21 February 2003

WCC Executive Committee states "Stop threats of war on Iraq!"
Supports peace processes in Cyprus and Sri Lanka

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), meeting in
Bossey, Switzerland, 18-21 February, "strongly deplores the fact that the
most powerful nations of this world again regard war as an acceptable
instrument of foreign policy" in a statement against military action in Iraq.
Expressing deep concern for the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and the need
for all political leaders to pursue paths for sustainable peace in the
region, the Executive Committee calls on churches to join in a day of prayer
for peace in Iraq at the beginning of Lent.  

The statement emphasizes that "war against Iraq would be immoral, unwise, and
in breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter" and expresses deep
concern that the United States and some western governments continue to call
for military action. Expressing equal concern about Iraqi violations of human
rights, the statement also calls on Iraq to comply with international
standards of human rights and United Nations (UN) Security Council
resolutions.  It recognizes the need to disarm Iraq, but "also make the whole
Middle East region free from weapons of mass destruction". 

Warning of "a humanitarian crisis of grave magnitude" and the risk of further
destabilizing the region should "pre-emptive" military action be taken
against Iraq, the Executive Committee appeals to the UN Security Council to
uphold the principles of the UN Charter which "strictly limit the legitimate
use of military force and to refrain from creating negative precedents and
lowering the threshold for using violent means to solve international

It calls on the UN Security Council to "adequately reinforce and allow
reasonable time for weapons inspections to fulfill their mandate". Earlier in
the statement, the Executive Committee emphasized the need to pursue
long-term, durable solutions to the conflict, saying "20 years of inspections
are more effective, less costly and more relevant than 20 days of war."      

The statement calls on churches "to intensify" their efforts for peace and in
particular, affirms "the courageous stance" of church leaders, especially in
the United States and the United Kingdom, "in direct opposition to the
positions taken by their political leadership." 

The Executive Committee also highlighted current peace processes in Cyprus
and Sri Lanka. A Minute on Cyprus welcomed recent efforts of the UN Secretary
General to present a plan as a basis for negotiations to bring a "peaceful
and just settlement" to the Cyprus Problem. It also welcomed the decision of
the leaders of the European Union to accept Cyprus as a full member of the
Union by 2004. The committee reiterated WCC's concern that the continuing
situation "violates the sovereignty and unity of Cyprus, the fundamental
human rights of its people, and poses threats to their security and to the
peace and stability in the wider region." Noting encouraging developments on
the political and civil society levels in the country, the Committee
expressed its prayer that "the day, when all communities in Cyprus will trust
one another again and live together in harmony and peace, is now near."

The Executive Committee expressed its recognition and appreciation of
developments in the peace negotiations between the government of Sri Lanka
and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), particularly the role of the
Norwegian government in accompanying the process, and the role of the
churches in the country in their "inter-religious cooperative endeavours to
mobilise people for peace and national reconciliation." However, the
Committee called on the international community to "help sustain the peace
process" by providing "much needed aid and assistance for reconstruction and
The full texts of the statements are available on request.

For more information on the WCC and the Iraq crisis, see: 

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

Footnote 1: In primarily Protestant traditions, the first day of Lent is Ash
Wednesday, March 5. In many Orthodox traditions, the beginning of the Great
Lent comes at the end of Forgiveness Sunday, March 9.

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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