World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC Central Committee / Geneva, 2002 / Report on Public Issues

Report on Public Issues

Preliminary Report on Public Issues at the WCC Central Commitee, Sep. 2002

02 September 2002

World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland
26 August - 3 September 2002

Preliminary Report on Public Issues

I. Follow-up of actions taken by the Central and Executive Committees since Potsdam

A. Policy matters

Uprooted people
. Staff of International Relations have pursued the concerns addressed in the Executive Committee Resolution on Uprooted People (January 2001) through work with partners, especially the Global Ecumenical Network on Uprooted People (GEN). Advocacy with UNHCR and its member governments intensified during this period with particular focus directed towards UNHCR's Global Consultations on Refugee Protection. Staff and GEN members participated in various meetings associated with these Consultations and advocated with member governments for a more generous interpretation of the 1951 Convention on refugees. In recognition of the leadership role it has played on the issue of refugee women, WCC was one of only two outside organizations invited to participate in the first consultation of refugee women, organized by UNHCR in June 2001. Staff has interpreted these concerns through two issues of the periodical, Uprooted People, in articles and in public addresses in Europe, North America and Australia.

Nuclear disarmament. Follow-up work has continued on Statement on Nuclear Disarmament, NATO Policy and the Churches adopted by the Executive Committee (January 2001). Progress towards its full implementation slowed in light of the demands in the field of Small arms and Light Weapons (cf. Other Initiatives below), but it is anticipated that the ecumenical delegation visit to non-nuclear states of NATO will take place in early Fall 2002.

"The Protection of Endangered Populations in Situations of Armed Violence". The study document commended to the churches by the Central Committee was widely circulated, and gave rise to articles in selected ecumenical and church journals. Specialized committees in several member churches are now engaged in discussions on the document and some reactions from them and other ecumenical partners have begun to arrive, and it is to be hoped that more responses will come. All will be taken into account in due course by the CCIA and reported back to Central Committee.

B. Regional and country concerns

1. Africa

. The statement of the Central Committee was deeply appreciated by the churches in Sudan, and the Sudan Ecumenical Forum has done extensive advocacy work on the concerns it addressed. Major international campaigns have been undertaken on bombing of civilians and the impact of petroleum exploration and exploitation in South Sudan. The Moderator of CCIA and other Commission members have been active in efforts to move the IGAD negotiations ahead, facilitating a visit to South Africa of the Kenyan Special Envoy to the IGAD talks, where meetings were held with a range of senior political figures and specialized institutes. The WCC has continued to offer support to the encouraging people-to-people peace efforts of the New Sudan Council of Churches in the South and by the Sudan Council of Churches in the North. It has also followed closely various other peace efforts. The General Secretary met with the Swiss Government negotiator who, together with counterparts from the USA, brokered a cease-fire agreement in the Nuba Mountains region in early February 2002.

2. Asia

. Concern was again expressed at the Central Committee in Potsdam on the situation in Indonesia, where the WCC has sought to support the Indonesian churches' work in promoting inter-communal peace, harmony and human rights in the country since the downfall of President Suharto in May 1998. The situation in Indonesia has continued to be tumultuous. The impeachment of Suharto's successor, President Abdur Rahman Wahid not long after the last meeting of the Central Committee gave rise to new disturbances and deep concern about the future stability of the country. The rise to power of his successor, Megawati Sukarnoputri, has failed to make any notable difference. The economy continues to stagnate and political and military reforms initiated during the Wahid presidency have been stalled. Islamic extremism is on the increase, corruption remains endemic, the judicial system is unable to cope with the demands of a modern progressive society, and the military - despite the reduction in its role - continues to influence politics and obstructs any attempts to hold it accountable for its human rights abuses.

Communal violence and hatred continued to plague the Malukus region where people are physically divided into Christian and Muslim areas. Staff visited the region and had extensive consultations with the churches and related organizations on the situation in Aceh and West Papua. In December, the General Secretary wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling her attention to the increase in the level of sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi and elsewhere in Indonesia. During the last week of November 2001, 600 houses and six churches were burned in Poso; and 1500 Christians were forced to flee the city in search of security. The following month, another 21 Christian villages and five churches were destroyed there by the forces of the Laskar Jihad from East Java.

Welcome news was received in early February 2002 that the Government had brokered a peace agreement between the Muslim and Christian leadership of the Malukus. This agreement should provide the opportunity to begin the much-needed task of reconciliation and reconstruction. However, for the peace to be sustainable it is important that:

  • the agreement be closely monitored by the government and representatives of both the communities;
  • every effort be made to disarm the militant groups, particularly the youth;
  • outsiders be kept out of the Malukus;
  • the government ensure the impartiality of the security forces;
  • reconstruction efforts begin immediately with the assistance of the central government; and
  • people-to-people peace initiatives and inter-cultural activities that were being carried out under UN agency and NGO auspices be encouraged and continued.

    Staff has also continued to monitor the situation in West Papua, remaining in close contact with the churches in this region that largely share the hope that this region, like East Timor, would be granted the right to self-determination. A recent staff visit there shows that the Indonesian government has failed to apply the lesson learned in East Timor. The military is increasingly involved in repressive acts that violating the civil and political and the socio-economic and cultural rights of the people. A representative of the churches there will attended the sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to draw attention to the abuses of the army and to call for a visit by a Special Rapporteur.

    3. Latin America

    Colombia. The Central Committee Minute on Colombia that drew attention to the negative impact of "Plan Colombia" gave needed support to those in the churches opposing the imposition of such a plan for military action by the United States of America in collaboration with the Government of Colombia. Further steps have been taken to revitalize the ecumenical initiative in support of the peace efforts of the churches in Colombia were taken in late 2001 when the WCC facilitated a visit of church and civil society leaders from that country to Europe to interpret their situation to partners and to solicit their continuing support and solidarity. "Plan Colombia" continues to take its toll of rising violence in Colombia and elsewhere throughout the Latin American continent, making peace-making efforts ever more difficult.

    4. Middle East

    Cyprus. The Church of Cyprus expressed its appreciation for the Central Committee Minute on Cyprus. The Council's positions on Cyprus were presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights and a situation-update and analysis of recent developments was shared with member churches in an effort to assist and further encourage ecumenical action. The WCC also facilitated the delivery of an oral intervention by the Church of Cyprus at the 2002 session of the UN Human Rights Commission on the destruction of cultural heritage in the northern part of the island; and meetings were held with representatives of the Church of Cyprus and with representatives of the Greek and Cypriot Committees for Missing Persons for an exchange of information and views on how to promote confidence building measures and reconciliation between the two sides.

    Mediation efforts on the island suffered new setbacks soon after the meeting of the Central Committee when the Turkish Cypriot side refused to rejoin negotiations without recognition of equal status for the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" with that of the Republic of Cyprus. Despite UN efforts, proximity talks were frozen. An unexpected revival of the peace process occurred in late 2001, however, when Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash initiated an exchange of letters with President Clerides. That led to a face-to-face meeting in Nicosia in December, when they agreed to restart direct negotiations under UN auspices in January 2002 with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement. The Republic of Cyprus's near-term accession to the European Union and deteriorating political and economic conditions in northern Cyprus have contributed to this positive turn of events. Some forty further meetings were held since then, and the parties elaborated and recorded their positions on the security, power sharing and land issues. Despite a June 2002 unofficial deadline by the EU for the emergence of a settlement, the negotiations have bore little fruit so far. The EU, on the other hand, has clarified that even if the process is stalled, the Republic of Cyprus will be formally invited for accession to the Union at the end of the year.

    Iraq. In view of the post-September 11th inclusion of Iraq in the "Axis of Evil", concerns rose about possible new military action against this country. The US is reportedly engaged in a major Iraq policy review based on the premise that the Iraq problem must now be "solved" and not simply managed, despite insistent international calls for the removal of sanctions. Scenarios under consideration are reported to vary between the diplomatic option of passing the new 2smart sanctions" (targeted on military related goods and not other imports in order to prevent damaging the civilian economy) without dropping the demand that Iraq allow the return of inspectors, to planning for another large-scale military campaign against the Iraqi government.

    Staff participated in an MECC Consultation on "Advocacy for Iraq" held in Beirut last October and presented a paper on the Council's positions and actions on the sanctions. Meetings were also held with Graf Sponeck, the former Aide to the UN Iraq Coordinator, who has publicly condemned the sanctions for their impact on the civilian population, and with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iraq shortly before his planned mission to the country on the invitation of the Iraqi government.

    Following his return from a four-week visit to Iraq, the UN Executive Director of the Iraq Program stated that several aspects of the "Oil for Food" program must urgently be addressed by the UN Security Council. Not only does this program need continuous adjustment to meet the needs of the Iraqi people, he said, but it is also necessary that the Sanctions Committee improve its own procedures to avoid the current paralysis in the humanitarian relief supplied under the program. Meanwhile Baghdad extended an offer to resume unconditional dialogue with the UN Secretary-General, who had indicated his wish to resume a substantive dialogue.

    By its resolution 1409, the UN Security Council approved a modification of the sanctions regime along the lines of "smart sanctions" that came into effect on 30 May 2002. Specialists consider these to be merely cosmetic and not to have significantly eased their impact on the civilian population.

    The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
    . Intensive work was been done to follow up the minute adopted by the Central Committee. An ecumenical delegation was sent to Palestine and Israel in late June 2001to explore possible new, more active ecumenical engagements in the region. Its recommendations were studied by the International Ecumenical Consultation on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict convened in early August in Geneva by the General Secretary and co-chaired by the Moderator, and were forwarded to the Executive Committee in September 2001 for action.

    In the interim, the conflict had escalated further. Palestinian suicide bombings within Israel - rare, sporadic and relatively spontaneous during the first ten months of the present uprising - intensified claiming even more lives. Israel employed still greater military force in response, applying collective punishments in violation of the Geneva Conventions and increasing its targeted assassinations of Palestinian political figures. Destruction of Palestinian homes, crops and other infrastructure also intensified, and many more lives were lost. Israel applied even stricter military closures throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Parts of autonomous Palestinian territories governed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were re-occupied. Towns with concentrations of Christian populations were particularly targeted, and for a period in late August the Lutheran Church and school in Beit Jala were occupied by the Israel Defense Forces.

    The international climate became even more tense. On 18th July 2001, the League of Arab States held an extraordinary meeting of the Follow–up and Action Committee of the Amman Arab Summit to deliberate on the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories and Israeli policies. The UN Security Council met on 20-21August at the request of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, focussing on the implementation of the recommendations of the Sharm-El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (the "Mitchell Report"). On 2 August the European Union denounced Israel's policy of assassinating key Palestinian militants, terming the killings a breach of international law that "can only lead to further escalation". It also urged both Israel and the Palestinians to display "maximum restraint" and accept international monitors to oversee a genuine cease-fire. The UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance concluded in Durban, South Africa, just prior to the Fall meeting of the Executive Committee drew wide international attention to the conflict and its causes.

    In light of the deteriorating situation the Executive Committee adopted the a resolution that endorsed the recommendations of the WCC delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories including Jerusalem in June 2001 as further developed by the International Ecumenical Consultation, calling for

  • the development of an ecumenical accompaniment program in Palestine and Israel;
  • WCC member churches and ecumenical partners, in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence, to focus attention in 2002 on intensive efforts to End the Occupation of Palestine;
  • consideration of the organization of an International Conference on the Occupation of Palestine;
  • an international boycott of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories;
  • member churches and Christians to join in non-violent acts of resistance to the destruction of Palestinian properties and to forced evictions of people from their homes and lands; and to join in international prayer vigils to strengthen the "chain of solidarity" with the Palestinian people.

    Following a period of relative calm towards the end of the year, the catastrophic cycle of violence continued, making the chances for peace appear as bleak as ever. A series of suicide bombings and attacks by Palestinian extremists instilled ever greater fear in the Israeli population, and the Israeli Defense Forces again reoccupied Palestinian areas and continued repression through bombardments, targeted assassinations, house demolitions and closures, especially in the Gaza Strip where fighter jets and helicopters caused widespread destruction in civilian areas, raising the Palestinian death toll to over 1000 of which four-fifths were civilians and a quarter were children. The death toll on the Israeli side reached over 300.

    Having already destroyed a large part of the infrastructure and institutions the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government physically "imprisoned" President Arafat in his Ramallah offices and openly sought alternatives to the current Palestinian leadership that it refused to consider a partner for peace. The international community continued verbal calls to stop the violence, but there were no signs of any effective international mediation efforts, the global political context being dominated by the post September 11th "War on Terrorism". The United States again vetoed deployment of international monitors at the UN Security Council in December, effectively sidelining the UN.

    Small, yet vital signs of hope emerged from grassroots initiatives and ordinary citizens within the Israeli and Palestinian societies. On the Israeli side, the realization grew that one could not have peace and occupation at the same time and that military solutions could not bring more security. A combination of well-attended Israeli peace demonstrations against the occupation, a joint declaration by Israeli and Palestinian moderates and the public refusal of some 200 Israel Defense Force reservists to participate in the "repression and occupation of an entire people" for the first time drew increased attention to the occupation as a primary obstacle to security, justice and peace. On the Palestinian side, non-violent direct action as a means of resistance became more frequent and popular. A peace march from Bethlehem to Jerusalem led by the local church leaders on the last day of the year attracted large crowds and was an effective example of such action.

    The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). was formally established in October and went through a 2-month assessment phase. The first international working group meeting in early February 2002 elaborated a model to be followed in the next phase of implementation. The WCC Staff Leadership Group approved the creation of the WCC Fund for the Ecumenical Response to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Responding to the Executive Committee's call, the framework of the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East was developed and launched in the context of the DOV. An initial resource pack of prayers from the Jerusalem Churches was widely shared in December, and further campaign material and a plan of action, as well as the EAPPI program were produced and widely circulated.

    In October 2001 staff held meetings with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and other ecumenical partners in Cyprus and gained their endorsement and support for the 2002 campaign and the accompaniment program. Similar meetings were held with the APRODEV Middle East Working Group in Brussels and with members of the Middle East Forum of Church World Service of NCCCUSA, where the WCC's coordination role was welcomed and some financial support was pledged. Additional churches and ecumenical funding partners participating in the Accompaniment Working Group meeting in February indicated their support as well.

    WCC advocacy efforts at the UN in Geneva continued. International Relations staff addressed meetings and conferences on the WCC program in Washington DC, Boston, and at a EuroMediterranean Human Rights Network meeting on developing policies and action on Palestine. A WCC delegation comprised of staff and representatives of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church attended and addressed the parallel NGO meeting to the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Further discussions were held in Beirut with the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem and with the MECC who formed with the WCC in a Tripartite Committee in December 2001 to look at structural matters relating to the campaign and new programs. The committee agreed on arrangements to re-energize the local ecumenical office of the MECC where the EAPPI local coordination will be located.

    The spring of 2002 marked a new low point in the continuing cycle of violence in Israel-Palestine, with prospects for a just peace appearing ever more distant. Suicide bombings and attacks by Palestinian extremists pushed the Israeli death toll to nearly 500 since the beginning of the second Intifadah. In the month of April the largest military operation by Israel in two decades took place, leading to the reoccupation of all major West Bank towns and cities, and causing widespread destruction and casualties in civilian areas. The death toll on the Palestinian side rose to more than 1700. The reoccupation operation included a 39-day siege of Palestinian gunmen, civilians and clergy in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the intensification of the continuing siege on President Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. The World Bank estimated at that point that over 1 billion US dollars would be needed to repair the military damage to Palestinian infrastructure and to respond to the immediate humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

    The international community's response remained strong in words but lacking in action and therefore ineffective in securing a withdrawal of Israeli troops and a cessation of violence. The UN Security Council passed four resolutions on the conflict in March and April. One affirmed a vision of two states living side by side within secured and recognized borders /Res 1397 (12/3)/ and another called on both parties to move immediately to a cease-fire and for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities /Res 1402 (30/3)/. With Security Council endorsement, the UN Secretary-General formed a fact-finding mission on Jenin, headed by the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, but it was cancelled following Israeli reservations on its composition and mandate and a decision by the Israeli cabinet of non-cooperation. The Secretary-General also elaborated further on the idea of establishing a multinational force for the Middle East for consideration by the Security Council. The purpose would be to assist with ending the violence through monitoring the redeployment of Israeli forces and, in accordance to the Tenet plan, securing the conditions for humanitarian and development assistance and rebuilding and creating an environment of trust for the resumption of negotiations.

    In Geneva, the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights passed four resolutions relating to Israel/Palestine: on the right for a sovereign and independent Palestinian state, on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and on grave human rights violations by Israel. The Commission decided to send High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to the region with the purpose of reporting back to the session on the human rights situation, but this mission too failed to materialize due to Israeli objections on grounds of safety and timing.

    In April, the European Union (together with the UN, US and Russia) issued a statement calling for an immediate halt to Israeli operations and a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories. It also called on President Arafat to make the maximum possible effort to stop terror attacks against Israelis. Moreover, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg later in the month supported the US peace mission by Secretary of State Colin Powell, but did not back the earlier call by the European Parliament for suspending the EU-Israeli Association agreement.

    In a unanimous declaration at its Beirut Summit, the Arab League stated in March that peace must be just and comprehensive and based on the 'land for peace' principle. Following the proposal of Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah they proposed the withdrawal of Israel to the June 1967 borders, a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the territory occupied since 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for considering the conflict over, signing peace agreements with Israel and normalizing relations.

    Also in April 2002, International Relations staff accompanied the WCC Deputy General Secretary on a solidarity visit to the Jerusalem churches to discuss the current situation and ecumenical initiatives. Meetings with the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem included the first official WCC visit to the newly enthroned Greek Orthodox Patriarch Irineos I. The delegation also met with the Chairperson of the PLO Higher Ministerial Commission on Church Affairs, the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee, local human rights defenders, Palestinians in Israel, medical and emergency relief staff, representatives of international and local church related organizations, and key partners of the EAPPI. Discussions also took place on the practical details and local preparations for the EAPPI that is anticipated to become operational in the summer of 2002. In this regard the delegation met with the facilitators and members of the Christian Accompaniment Program - a pilot project for the EAPPI with participants seconded from Danchurchaid and Icelandic Church Aid - for assessment and evaluation.

    At this writing, the cycle of violence has begun again. Terror leading to terror. Inaction spawning despair. In this context, the need for continuing with the ecumenical responses currently being implemented by the WCC seems greater than ever, in order to address the root causes of the conflict, call upon the international community for action to match its words and for giving hope and strength to local Palestinian and Israeli voices for peace and justice.

    II Other initiatives taken since the Potsdam meeting of the Central Committee

    A. Policy matters

    . The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) adopted the Policy Framework and Guidelines on Small Arms appended to this report, laying out a refined policy basis for work in this field. This statement was shared with all United Nations member states prior to the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held 9-20 July in New York. The UN conference was the global intergovernmental meeting to address this issue. Staff and members of the CCIA attended the second and third Preparatory Committee meetings for the conference, lobbying governments, monitoring the proceedings and participating in parallel NGO events. As a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms, the WCC played a central role in the NGO activities. Delegation members participated in the opening and closing press conferences, NGO briefings and an inter-faith prayer service. Special contributions were made through sponsorship of the "Mural of Pain", a 10 meter long display created in remembrance of victims of armed violence in Rio de Janeiro, with personal testimonies and a performance of the Peace to the City Ballet at a Public Rally in Dag Hammerskjöld Plaza, entitled "Guns Know No Borders". Three Commissioners were also advisors to their respective government delegations, thus giving the ecumenical team particular means to influence the debate on the Plan of Action.

    In June, staff attended the European Ecumenical Conference on the Arms Trade, held in conjunction with the EU Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, to provide a platform for discussion on European arms export policy, particularly the EU Code of Conduct on the Arms Trade. A CCIA Commissioner addressed the meeting on behalf of the WCC General Secretary, speaking on "Church Action on the Arms Trade: Where are we Today?"

    "Beyond September 11th"

    Offering compassion and solidarity
    . Churches and councils around the world echoed the brief message sent to the US churches by the General Secretary on 11 September on behalf of the Executive Committee whose meeting was interrupted by the tragic news of the attacks in Washington, D.C. and New York City. There was an immediate and massive outpouring of ecumenical compassion and solidarity with the churches and people of the USA.

    Taking a stand. As the General Secretary's more extensive pastoral letter to the US churches of 20 September did, most other churches and ecumenical bodies strongly condemned the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but also expressed their fears about the likely consequences of a military response.

    The General Secretary underscored these mounting concerns in his open letter to the UN Secretary-General of 1 October:

    This is not the time for the building of coalitions of states that accede to or agree to participate in further acts of retaliation or aggression. It is rather an opportunity to rally the peoples and the nations to a renewed universal commitment to the aims of the Charter of the United Nations and to forge a new global force for justice... The reaction to these acts must not be greater isolationism, but rather should lead all nations to join fully in the efforts of the international community to face common challenges, and there to assume their full share of obligations under the charter, financial and other, to the United Nations. The reaction to these acts must not be a global retreat back into militarism, doctrines of national security or states of emergency that suspend guarantees and protection of fundamental human rights. Democracy has been purchased a too high a price for its freedoms again to be sacrificed.

    Less than a week later, bombings and missile attacks began against Afghanistan. On 8 October, the WCC responded, calling upon the USA and the UK to "bring an end to the present action" and appealing to other nations not to join them in it. That statement issued by the Acting General Secretary expressed heightened concern about the likely impact of the threatened "unlimited" military response to the 11 September attacks on minority Christian churches and communities, most immediately those in Pakistan.

    That statement drew both criticism, especially from some correspondents in the USA, and thanks to the WCC for holding firm to the position of the First Assembly that declared war in all its forms a sin against God and humanity. Many said that the WCC's stance gave them hope, encouragement; a solid rock on which to stand in the midst of the shifting sands of a world caught up in the imagery and confusion of the new US-led global war on terrorism.

    A week later, ACT issued a statement warning of the implications of linking "humanitarian airdrops" with military actions, drawing attention to the desperate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan that predated the military action by several years.

    Providing information, analysis and resources for prayer and action
    . In early October the WCC, in collaboration with Action by Churches Together (ACT) and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, formed a staff task-force to respond to requests for information and guidance in the face of the US media blitzkrieg that tended to hide other perspectives from view. Behind the News: Voices of Faith, Visions of Hope was launched on 4 October to provide alternative information on the unfolding crisis resulting from the 11 September attacks and the subsequent military response. Statements and actions of the global church and ecumenical family, responses from other faith communities and civil society organizations, background information on humanitarian concerns, summaries of inter-governmental reactions, and resources for study and worship and calls for common action were collected and made widely available by electronic mail. This information was made available to the general public through a new website:

    At year-end, this service was evaluated on the basis of comments solicited from recipients of the Bulletin. The overall response was very positive. Many churches and individuals expressed appreciation for the regular and timely provision of alternative perspectives on the crisis and for the reactions of churches in all parts of the world. Individual church and organizational leaders said that the sharing of information significantly aided them in their own responses. Many had forwarded the bulletin to their own e-mail lists or posted it on their websites. It has been decided to continue this service for another three months on a less-frequent, monthly basis with a sharper focus on faith-based reflections and resources on the continuing consequences of the 11 September attacks.

    Pastoral concern and ecumenical solidarity. The Council continued to give expression to pastoral concern for the US and other impacted churches. The Report on Relations with Constituencies provides information on the delegation of seven church leaders, including several members of the Central Committee, that was sent as a "living letter" to the USA from 8-14 November "to express the solidarity and compassion of the worldwide ecumenical fellowship". Similar pastoral concern has been expressed to churches in other parts of the world that have been affected by this crisis in different, sometimes violent ways.

    Reflection and analysis
    . An emergency consultation was convened from 28 November-1 December with the theme, Beyond 11 September: Assessing Global Implications. Some twenty church representatives with responsibility for international affairs and experts from the UN and other international bodies were invited from around the world to reflect upon and analyze, together with WCC staff, the consequences and long-term impact of the 11 September attacks and the military response to them. The purpose of the meeting was not to formulate a common statement or develop an immediate plan of action for the churches, but rather to further a process of mutual discernment among the churches on the meaning of these events. The meeting examined the implications for:

  • Religions, particularly Christian-Muslim relations, minority religions, new fundamentalisms and the misuse of religion in conflict situations;
  • Security and global governance, including the United Nations, disarmament, the international rule of law and changing concepts of security;
  • Economy and globalization, including increased military spending, changes in corporate and international financial institutions' strategy and modes of operation;
  • Humanitarian and human rights concerns, including the interplay between military action and humanitarian response, the movement of and restrictions on uprooted people, and the rising incidence of xenophobia and racism.

    The insights gained during the meeting have guided the on-going work of participants, the churches and WCC staff in this area. The report of the meeting was widely circulated.

    Assessing current trends
    . The trends analyzed in the "Beyond September 11" consultation have grown in scope and their impact has been felt all over the world. The following analysis was provided to the Executive Committee in February:

    The USA's assertion of its overwhelming military, economic and political power has led it to dominate world affairs to a degree seldom seen in modern history. This has generated growing fears around the world. The major French language Swiss daily, Le Temps, in an editorial commenting on President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address reflected widely held European opinion.

    At the Pentagon, the military chiefs-of-staff are working with huge world maps with unprecedented frontiers: they delimit in carefree fashion countries or continents, zones under an American command that covers the whole globe and whose headquarters are in the United States. The Central Command is now in Tampa, Florida, and its military operations span a vast perimeter that is not limited to Afghanistan, but covers most of Central Asia, the Middle East and East-Central Africa. This division of the world according to American security requirements is a good illustration of the State of the Union Address that George Bush pronounced last night before the joint session of Congress in Washington. September 11th and its sequels have allowed all the elements that constitute the strategic vision of the pragmatic, conservative wing of the Republican party to be put in place, bit by bit. American troops will not concern themselves with peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Bush reiterated to Hamid Karzai. Their role, as Condoleezza Rice says, is not to walk children to school. That function can be left to the Europeans, whose offensive capabilities are limited. The function of the US Army, in this conception, as theoreticians close to the Pentagon so boldly put it, is to make war and win.

    Never has this policy been expounded so crudely as on Tuesday night. The United States, attacked for the first time on its own soil, can now define its enemies. Gathering them all up under the name of "an axis of evil" allows a flattering reference to the times of the "just war" against Nazi totalitarianism. Yet the political climate in the United States has much in common with that of Europe in the 1930's. Despite its immense diversity, this country has a considerable degree of national cohesion, whose visible mainstays are the uniformed forces. George Bush tends this flame of nationalism with appeals to social solidarity and voluntarism, all the while announcing further actions of a military nature to be taken sooner or later. This cold, somewhat understandable determination cannot but disquiet Europe. It would be wise to stay well informed about what American power has in mind.

    President Bush has not been shy in announcing its intentions. In his Address he has reaffirmed that "Our first priority must always be the security of our nation" We will win... our war on terror... We can't stop short. If we stop now - leaving terrorist camps intact and terror states unchecked - our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight... My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own... But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will."

    This reaffirmation of America's God-given "Manifest Destiny" is certainly not new, but never before has it relied so overtly on the global military reach of its uncontested military might.

    US military expansionism
    . According to the US Department of Defense, "The United States Military is currently deployed to more locations then (sic) it has been throughout history. The military operations conducted by US military forces while deployed range from war to operations such as peace keeping and humanitarian efforts." 2 This affirmation by the US Department of Defense cannot be denied. A US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was created in 1987. It deployed Special Operations Forces (SOF) "to 144 countries in the world in 1997, with an average of 4,760 SOF personnel deployed per week – a threefold increase in missions since 1991".3 This trend has continued over the past four years, and it has accelerated rapidly since September 11th.

    Emboldened by its self-declared victories over "evil" in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Afghanistan through the massive use of its unchallenged military capacity to destroy, the present Administration has thrust upon the world the notion that there is no problem for which there is not an American or American-inspired and guided military answer. President Bush's ultimatum to all the nations to either "get on the right side of the street, or suffer the consequences" has had a chilling impact.

    The impact on churches and other religious communities
    . The fears expressed by the WCC soon after September 11th about the possible impact on minority Christian communities of a massive military response proved, sadly, to be prophetic. Only days after the beginning of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan there were new attacks on Christian churches in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. Mr. Clement John of the International Relations staff has recently visited Pakistan to meet church leaders and others there to assess the lasting impact. His report, available to the Committee, outlines the continuing concerns of churches there. In Pakistan, as in other countries with majority Muslim populations, wedges are being driven deep between competing Muslim factions. Under US pressure, thousands of perceived "Muslim extremists" are being arrested, interrogated and held in detention without formal charge. This can only heighten religious tensions. When they explode, as is likely, it will be Christians who will be among the first to pay the price.

    Implications for ecumenical mediation efforts
    . It is significant that the list of countries included in the "axis of evil" are several in which the global ecumenical movement has been deeply engaged to build bridges of trust in the interest of peaceful resolution of conflicts. In several of these, ecumenical efforts have made important progress.

    In Iran the WCC has responded positively to approaches from Islamic leaders to engage in dialogues that would help moderates there open doors that would help their country out of their self-imposed isolation. The series of dialogues that have taken place have significantly reduced pressures on minority Christian communities with close ties to WCC member churches, and opened the way for them to retake relationships with churches abroad - including churches in the USA - that had been strictly forbidden. These promising efforts stand to be dashed if the US decides to "target" this country again as a source of international terrorism.

    , whose civilian population has suffered so greatly under the impact of sanctions imposed and maintained by US pressure, remains a major "axis" power named by President Bush. If the US decides to act again here, it will almost certainly be without most of those who joined in the Gulf War Coalition, many of whom have worked at the UN for the relaxation of sanctions. Decades of work by the MECC with the support of churches around the world in bringing relief to the civilian population will be annulled.

    North Korea
    has been drawn out its international isolation in very large part as a result of the patient and determined efforts of the WCC in support of the Korean churches over nearly two decades. As a result the doors have been finally opened between North and South and promising negotiations engaged for reunification. Military action there, or even threat of it, would have immeasurable implications for the whole Northeast Asian region.

    The Philippines
    , whose churches were mainstays in popular efforts to remove US bases and military influence during decades of the Marcos dictatorship, has now received US special forces who are engaged as "trainers" and "advisors" alongside troops of the Government of the Philippines in an intensified war against Muslims in the South. The NCCP has for many years taken the lead in efforts to mediate this conflict, and to bring it to a peaceful resolution. Local churches in the area have in recent times been especially active in this effort to which former WCC staff returned to the Philippines have played leadership roles. This new engagement, so reminiscent of the beginnings of the Indochina war in the 1960s, threatens the strides to negotiated peace settlements and to the hard-won national sovereignty of this nation to which the churches there and in the wider ecumenical movement have significantly contributed.

    Return to militarization and doctrines of national security
    . The new, imposed reliance on military force in both domestic and international relations and the imposition of strict new security measures in nations around the world risk a return to modes of governance reminiscent of the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. While the military may not be brought back into power in states who have managed to free themselves of dictatorships in the past, the imposition of military norms and new laws based on old notions of national security could well result from present trends.

    Some have suggested that a form of "neo-militarism" is emerging that is giving rise to the development of a new international security ideology based on US geo-political and economic interests. This ideology is being applied nationally and locally as is being evidenced by the war in Afghanistan and introduction of US troops into the Philippines and possibly now in Yemen. Under this doctrine the enemy is not well defined but rather diffuse and unseen, justifying the unlimited scope the US has asserted for its military actions and economic warfare.

    US unilateralism and the subversion of the international rule of law
    . The Bush administration began its term in office with a pronounced policy of unilateralism in its international relations with its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, its abrogation of the ABM Treaty and declared intent not to be bound by international obligations undertaken by previous administrations. After September 11th there was a momentary shift back towards multilateralism as the US sought to build a broad coalition force against terrorism and to gain international sanction of its unrestrained military response through the UN Security Council and NATO. These gestures have now been put in the past as the US promises to "go it alone" at whatever cost to achieve intentionally undefined and unlimited objectives. The implications of this for an ordered approach to international peace and security are incalculable at this moment.

    The stagnation of international relations. Since September 11th virtually all initiatives in the field of international relations have been slowed to a near standstill. No UN meeting or other international gathering can avoid the real or feared restraints of the one-track, single-minded presence of the US. An example is the initiative taken by the European Union with respect to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In the weeks immediately preceding, high-level representatives of the EU and its member states paid significant visits to Palestinian and Israeli leaders in the hope of encouraging a reduction of violence and the exploration of new negotiations. These ceased after September 11th and have yet to be retaken. In the meantime, US negotiators have virtually ceased their efforts and the Bush Administration has adopted both the tone and content of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The result has been a continuing escalation of violence on all sides. On other fronts, too, all efforts in which the US is not directly involved have slowed to a virtual standstill in virtually every part of the world. The UN, if not paralyzed, has been relegated still further to maintenance functions.

    The global economy
    . The US Administration has proposed and gained approval for the largest ever increase in military spending. It is purchased at the cost of massive cuts in social programs. This, and the multi-billion dollar emergency grants approved in the aftermath of September 11th seem to be intended to pump sufficient money back into the national economy to stimulate consumer spending and create enough new jobs to turn the recessionary economy around. Some economists, and the reaction of Wall Street, call this assumption into question. The globalization of the economy has upset traditional remedies to such an extent that it is not at all certain whether it will work this time. If it does not, then the ballooning US national debt could drag the entire world economy into its pit. Such powerful forums such as the G-7 have for the moment let this pass. Bodies like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTC, subservient as they have become to US economic power, are ill placed even to send up a warning flag.

    The shift from ideology to "imagology"
    . Media specialists have now begun to assess the impact of September 11th on the global control of news and information. Content has given way increasingly to image and the manipulation of images. The US itself may have been the primary, unwitting victim. For months most of the media available to the majority of people outside major media markets in the metropolitan centers have hesitated to stray "off message" as set by the image-makers in Washington, D.C. The global impact has yet fully to be assessed, but it merits serious attention.

    September 11th and the ecumenical movement.
    Many other issues are pertinent to a thoroughgoing analysis of current trends. More should be said about the impact on uprooted people who find more and more frequently all doors closed to them in the increasingly isolationist and protectionist international climate. The blatant violations of human rights in both national and international law under the guise of the global "war on terror" need urgent attention. The "profiling" of Muslims and persons of Arab descent or appearance has led in the USA to the arrest and indeterminate detention without charge of thousands. Other thousands have been singled out by police and security services in the Europe and other parts of the world. And the list goes on, a list that parallels the core agendas of the ecumenical movement since the formation of the WCC.

    The question arises, and is likely to become more pressing, as to how does our "common understanding and vision" as churches in the ecumenical movement prepare us for facing up to and giving witness to the Gospel in such a time. At other critical points of history, whether it was in the period leading up to the Second World War, or during the time of the Cold War, or at times of severe crises in particular regions or countries, the churches in the ecumenical movement have often been the first to maintain their international ties across the dividing lines in an effort to forge a common witness for peace and justice. The early experience of the post-September 11th period is alarming in this respect. To choose only one example: during the nearly four weeks between the attacks in New York and Washington and the beginning of the bombing in Afghanistan, as Washington and London were shaping together the global armed response, it appears that there was practically no structured or continuing dialogue between churches in the USA and the UK. And this at a time when globalization of communications has made it easier than ever before in history for such contacts to be made.

    Churches in powerful countries have often remained silent in the face of radical changes taking place in their own nations with respect to reliance on and recourse to military response and to the increase in security measures that have invaded the private sphere of democracies in almost unprecedented ways.

    We have much to reflect upon as churches when it comes to the impact of this period, and serious questions to ask ourselves about the degree to which our fundamental unity will be strong enough to bind us together in the face of the ever stronger forces of division in our world.

    Further follow-up
    . The Executive Committee discussed this question extensively, and asked staff to convene a further "Beyond September 11th" discernment consultation in the USA with member churches and invited church representatives from countries that have felt the impact of current US policies around the world. A consultation, "Beyond 11 September: Implications for US Churches and the World," is planned to be held in Washington, DC from 5-6 August 2002. A report of that meeting will be available to the Central Committee.

    This meeting is being convened in Washington D.C. by the WCC in consultation with the National Council of Churches of Christ of the USA (NCCCUSA) and Church World Service. The letter of invitation notes

    the fact that there seems to be a wide gap in mainstream public opinion in the US and the rest of the world about the US "war on terrorism". Moreover, the international media tend not to report on actions by the churches and thus many in the world have been left with the impression of a certain quietism among the US churches when it comes to expressing their views of the policies and actions of their own government. As a result there has been a breakdown in ecumenical communication in search of a common response to growing international crises.

    The purpose of the meeting is not in the first instance to come up with concrete recommendations for action, though those would be welcome, but rather to deepen the analysis of what these events mean for the United States and for the world. Churches in other parts of the world have expressed great interest in the opinions, analyses, and actions of US churches and the report of the meeting will be shared with WCC's Central Committee meeting in August. The meeting is also expected to feed into the November 2002 Assembly of the National Council of Churches and to discussions taking place on the same subject in Church World Service.

    B. Regional and country concerns

    1. Africa

    Through the staff Africa Peace Monitoring Group (APMG), intensive work has been done on several other conflict situations in the continent.

    . Plans are underway for sending an ecumenical delegation to the churches in support of the peace and mediation efforts.

    Democratic Republic of Congo. The WCC has been in close contact with churches in this country with respect to their peace efforts and social ministries. Another round of peace negotiations for the DRC is scheduled to be held soon in South Africa, and representatives of WCC-related churches will be actively involved. Particular attention has been paid to the eastern part of the country, and plans have been made to send an ecumenical delegation to the churches in this especially contentious region. The volcanic eruption has delayed this visit, though ACT has been deeply engaged in organizing the delivery of emergency assistance to the people affected. As is so often the case, natural disaster has again revealed the deep social, political and economic problems of this region, and discussions are now being retaken with the local churches to schedule a visit as soon as is feasible.

    . Contacts have been maintained with the churches, following-up the ecumenical training provided by the WCC for leaders there organized in collaboration with a peace and reconciliation center in the Cameroon.

    . The tumultuous period following the first round of presidential elections in this country gave rise to serious concern about outbreaks of widespread violence. Efforts by international mediators have failed to resolve the conflict between the individuals contending for power, and the situation has gone from bad to worse, with recent deployments of massive force by the military that up to lately had remained neutral in the political conflict. The WCC has remained in regular contact with the churches there, supporting their efforts to mediate between the two contenders for the presidency.

    West Africa Interfaith Peace Initiative
    . In response to the critical and worsening situation in West Africa involving most centrally Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WCC, in cooperation with the regional ecumenical fellowship (FECCIWA) and consultation with the AACC, convened in April a consultation in which interfaith councils in the region were brought together to determine what they might do to strengthen mediation efforts. This consultation built upon work in the region of the team on Inter-religious Relations and Dialogue, and was in many ways a landmark. It was the first time that an international encounter of this nature had taken place in Africa. Some thirty Christian and Muslim leaders met in Freetown, where they were accompanied by some fifteen Christian and Muslim observers from Sierra Leone. The absence of representatives from Côte d'Ivoire was regretted, but they have been kept close in to the process through subsequent communication. The meeting:

  • enabled the participants to share information and experiences on the socio-political situation of their respective countries and on actions being taken at the national and regional level,
  • reviewed together the situation in the border areas and its impact on peace and reconciliation,
  • strengthened the existing inter-faith groups in the region and encouraged the formation of such bodies where they do not exist,
  • defined national and regional plans of action for peace and reconciliation, and
  • formed a follow up committee to encourage networking among the inter-faith groups in the region.

    In a declaration adopted at the meeting, the religious leaders committed themselves to
  • work together to encourage the Heads of State of their countries to hold a joint meeting as a way to resolve the current conflicts, calling on their respective governments to review their commitments to implement existing regional treaties and agreements regarding mutual non-aggression;
  • promote measures to stabilize the borders between their countries and public consultations regarding the mandate for eventual external interposition forces;
  • strengthen collaboration with other civil society actors to reduce cross-border proliferation of small arms;
  • undertake joint visits to refugee camps to assess the protection the rights and other needs of refugees and internally displaced persons;
  • work with UNHCR and others to encourage the timely and safe return of all displaced persons and refugees to their homes,
  • widely disseminate the commitments made in their declaration through their religious communities and the public media;
  • continue active collaboration and follow-up actions to ensure the implementation of the above commitments through an appointed joint coordinating committee.

    While progress in achieving these goals has slowed due to the complexities of the political situations within and between several of the countries, staff continues to support the coordinating committee named by the consultation as it actively pursues the task of peace and reconciliation.

    . At the Eighth Assembly in Harare, delegates and visitors experienced for themselves the critical economic situation that was developing in Zimbabwe. The exchange rate had fallen badly and the social situation had deteriorated seriously as a result of rising prices for basic commodities. Veterans of the war of liberation were pressing ever harder for the special compensation promised them by the ruling party, ZANU PF, but that had never been paid. The trade union confederation was demanding economic relief in the form of improved wages, salaries and workers' benefits.

    Subsequently, the situation worsened significantly. This was partly due to the increasingly unfavorable situation of global markets, but also as a consequence of the meteoric costs of Zimbabwe's participation in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (reported in 2000 as having reached the level of US$ 1 million per day). Rising demands of international financial institutions and traditional aid partners for radical structural adjustments further complicated the problems.

    Having failed to obtain voter approval for a new constitution in early 2000, the government and the ruling party feared the possible loss of parliamentary elections originally scheduled early in the year, but repeatedly postponed. In the run-up to the elections, government leaders gave official encouragement to the War Veterans to invade and occupy white-owned commercial farms. The government turned a blind eye to the rising tide of violence around the country aimed at intimidating those suspected of supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that was emerging as a viable opposition party.

    The WCC, in cooperation with the AACC, sent an ecumenical delegation to Zimbabwe in late May 2000 to listen to the churches around the country about the general national climate, and to determine how best to respond to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) request for international ecumenical election monitors for the parliamentary elections. The delegation's report pointed with alarm to the rising tide of violence, the apparent complicity of the government with it, and the fact that police forces were apparently under instructions not to interfere with those occupying farms or engaged in acts of violent intimidation of voters.

    The report also went into detail about land redistribution, stressing it as a fundamental problem remaining from the period of colonial rule. It made reference to significant studies done on the issue and recommendations that had been made for a peaceful process of resettlement on a "willing seller - willing buyer" basis. It was critical both of the British and US governments that had reneged on their promises of financial support for such a scheme during the Lancaster House negotiations on independence, and of the government of Zimbabwe that had long tended to use the land issue more for its own political purposes than to engage in a serious process of redistribution to landless peasants.

    Under substantial international pressure, violence was largely controlled by the time of parliamentary elections, and voters came out in large numbers despite continuing threats. The ecumenical monitors mobilized by the ZCC with WCC support called the results "reasonably free and fair", despite the fact that the climate of violence in preceding months, the lack of adequate preparations for elections, the late delivery of lists of approved voter rolls, and other irregularities had severely compromised the process.

    Though the opposition did not win a majority in parliament, it made significant gains. ZANU-PF, however, rather than working to restore the confidence of civil society through steps to restore law and order, compounded the problem by further encouragement of War Veterans' land invasions. More white farmers, black workers on the farms and invaders themselves were killed. The government continued to overrule court rulings and pressured independent judges to resign, replacing them with more unconditional supporters of ZANU PF. The climate of racial tensions was allowed to grow, and periodic attacks were perpetrated on independent journalists and newspapers. Allegations of official corruption proliferated both in government ministries and in government-controlled commercial enterprises. Spending on the war in the DRC continued, resulting in radical cuts in social welfare programs, especially in health services. In early August 2001 the FAO listed Zimbabwe for the first time as one of the African countries facing an exceptional food emergency.

    As tensions continued to grow between civil society and a ruling party that more and more stubbornly refused to hear criticism there was a nearly total breakdown in dialogue between the government and the churches. At the request of the ZCC, the WCC General Secretary met several times in Geneva with ministers of the ZANU-PF government, urging them to take steps to curb violence and to show their openness to church-state dialogue.

    All this served to erode even further confidence in the government by international financial institutions that stepped up their demands not only for economic reform, but especially also for political reform and action to stop violence. SADC states also became increasingly concerned and involved, pressuring President Mugabe and his government to take decisive steps to control violence and to put in place a considered process of land reform that would restore confidence of the population as a whole and of foreign donors.

    On 7 September 2001, an agreement was struck at a Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, between the British and Zimbabwean governments that bound the Zimbabwean government to stop violence and restore the rule of law, to end farm occupations and remove invaders from white-owned farms not listed for compulsory acquisition, and to transparency. It said that the British government and other donors would finally agree to fund the land reform program, and that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) would work with Zimbabwe's government to pursue "effective and sustainable land reform. President Mugabe officially accepted this agreement. but fears were expressed by participants in the Abuja negotiations that he would, as so often in the past, refuse to honor it. These fears were realized on 8 September, when a massive new land occupation involving some 150 supposed War Veterans took place as police reportedly stood by watching the extreme violence that was used.

    A significant sign of hope occurred in mid-July 2001, when ZCC organized an unprecedented meeting of church leaders at Victoria Falls to consult about the national situation. Several ministers of government were present and were insistently questioned by church leaders. That consultation prepared an extensive report, the substance of which was released in the form of a pastoral letter to the nation in late August on the eve of a brief visit to Harare by the WCC General Secretary.

    In the light of this courageous witness, and with the encouragement of Zimbabwean church leaders that the WCC officially support their actions, the Executive Committee in September 2001 adopted a strong statement welcoming the ecumenical the fact that the leaders of the ZCC had addressed their own national situation in a bold way, making clear and constructive recommendations to lead the society as a whole away from the brink of self-destruction. It encouraged them to continue to provide such needed leadership in the interest of peace and justice, and to stimulate and guide a process of national dialogue and negotiation in pursuit of non-violent approaches to conflict transformation.

    The statement went on to express grave concern about the ever rising tide of violence leading up to the planned presidential elections, and called on the government to respond to the reasoned appeal for national dialogue expressed by the church leaders and on the international community to help promote such a climate of responsible civic discourse.

    2. Asia

    Consultation on Justice, Peace and People's Security in Northeast Asia
    . Between 26 February and 3 March a major ecumenical consultation was held in Kyoto, Japan, bringing together some 40 representatives of national Christian councils in Japan and Korea, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) as well as of ecumenical partners in Europe and North America. The consultation was organized in cooperation with the Council for World Mission, whose General Secretary and Moderator attended. It was the third ecumenical consultation since 1984 dealing with security issues in the region. The first of these, the Tozanso consultation gave rise to a series of meetings between Christians in North and South Korea that contributed significantly to progress on peaceful reunification of that divided country.

    The Kyoto Consultation sought to redefine "national security" in terms of "people's security" that it saw as essential to peace and cooperation in the region in the new post-Cold War context. It also reviewed several particular points of continuing tension in the region, among them the difficult question of differences with respect to the "One China Policy" of the People's Republic of China. This led to significant and still unresolved debates between representatives of the China Christian Council and the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan present at the meeting.

    Sri Lanka
    . The Central and Executive Committees have repeatedly issued statements on this situation since inter-communal conflict exploded in 1983. The General Secretary paid a pastoral visit to Sri Lanka in March 2001. Subsequently, the situation in Sri Lanka again worsened when the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress withdrew from the ruling coalition. When the major opposition United National Party introduced a "no confidence motion" against her Government, President Chandrika Kumaratunga suspended the Parliament and called for a referendum in August to adopt a New Constitution. Her decision provoked widespread unrest and was condemned by the leadership of political parties, religious groups and civil society organisations. Protests and demonstrations ensued all over the country, resulting in violent street battles between the people and the security forces.

    The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka issued a statement on the constitutional crisis on 14 July saying, "A National priority must be the establishment of a new political culture through which a political space will emerge for the strengthening of democratic institutions ushering peace and the development of the country... There should be an end to confrontational political in the large interest of the country and its people."

    On the morning of 24th July, suicide bombers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked the Bandaranaika International Airport and the adjacent Air Force Base causing heavy damage to military and civilian aircraft renewing concerns about the overall security situation in the country. An International Relations staff member was in the country at that time on one of its periodic visits to the churches in support of their peace and reconciliation efforts, and he reported extensively to ecumenical partners on the situation, recommending specific actions to be taken.

    In December 2001 general elections were held that brought the United National Party to power under the leadership of new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. After these elections several positive developments have taken place. The stalled peace negotiations between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were revived. Both sides declared a unilateral cease-fire and have since adhered to it. As a gesture of goodwill the government lifted the embargo on essential items like food and medicine to the North, roadblocks that were common in the capital Colombo have been removed and steps were taken to open the highway to Jaffna. This came as a major relief to the Tamil people.

    The Norwegian government has been invited to restart the peace negotiations it led earlier. With assistance and encouragement from the WCC, the National Council of Churches in Sri Lanka and the Norwegian National Council of Churches have formed a close partnership in support of the mediation. Representatives of both have exchanged visits and have developed a clear strategy for ecumenical support for peace. While these positive measures have brought much relief to the people, there is now a need for the parties not only to formalize the cease-fire agreement but also to address substantive underlying political issues related to the ethnic conflict. For just and lasting peace the parties must be prepared to acknowledge and address the contentious political issues and commit themselves to a negotiated settlement. It is important that any peace agreement arrived at should have a human rights component covering such areas as forced recruitment of children for war purposes.

    3. Latin America

    . The popular revolt against government economic policies that exploded in late December last year, and that led to the resignation of successive presidents has been of serious concern to the WCC and the wider ecumenical movement. The WCC mobilized emergency funds to support church-related human rights organizations, and ACT has also engaged to provide emergency relief assistance to those in need through the churches. In collaboration with the national ecumenical coordinating body in Argentina, a round-table was organized in early April to determine how best to accompany and support the churches in what promises to be a long struggle to restore economic and social justice in their country.

    . The WCC has been in close contact with the Protestant Church Federation in this country that is experiencing another wave of violence and human rights violations. Staff visits continued in response to the churches' request for assistance in ecumenical education. The General Secretary has written to support the joint appeal of the Protestant and Roman Catholic for a cessation of violence and the establishment of a process of responsible political dialogue. CCIA assisted Haitian church representatives to attend the 2002 session of the UN Commission on Human Rights to speak to their situation and to urge the visit of a UN Special Rapporteur.


    1 Le Temps, Geneva, 30 January 2002.Emphasis added.
    2 US Department of Defense website.
    3 Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, "Special Operations Forces: The Way Ahead", Defense Issues, vol. 13, no. 10, US Department of Defense, 1998.
    As we venture into an uncertain future, threats to U.S. Interests are developing new dimensions. We are being increasingly challenged by regional instability, transnational dangers, asymetric threats and the likelihood of unpredictable events...

    SOF consists of over 46,000 people, active and reserve, that are organized into a variety of land, sea and aerospace forces...

    ...Our national military strategy requires our armed forces to advance national security by applying military power to help shape the international environment and respond to the full spectrum of crises, while also preparing now for an uncertain future... For example, combat-read Armny Special Forces (SF) teams are tourinely deployed around the world in support of peacetime engagement to prevent conflict and conserve resources... During conflict, SOF conduct operational and strategic missions (and) attack high-value, time-sensitive targets throughout the battlespace to assist in rapidly achieving land, sea, air and space dominance. SOF also conduct information operations...

    The Information Age has also opened up a wide range of new opportunities, seemingly endless possiblities and significant vulnerabilities for SOF. Accordingly, we are examining new ways to enhance our capabilities to ensure uninterrupted information exchange, reduce an adversary's ability to use information and influence situations to support mission accomplishment. These capabilities range from passive defense to psychological operations to precise strake operations against key information nodes.

    The revolutionary capacilities offered by Information Age technologies are forcing us away from traditional assumptions... For example, future psychological operaitons will imply a "CNN Central" approach... We must also capture the true "art" of information operations - the techniques typified in the "reality manipulation" employed daily by the marketing and advertising behemoths of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

    Appendix I


    Official actions


    21 March WCC Statement on the Occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    19 March- Written statements submitted by the Commission of the Churches on International

    27 April Affairs (CCIA) to the UN Commission on Human Rights on economic, social and cultural rights, and on religious freedom, liberty and religious intolerance focusing on conflict situations with significant religious dimensions; and oral interventions on Guatemala and the situation in the Middle East.

    29 March Letter from the Director of the CCIA to Judge Gabriel Cavallo in Argentina, welcoming his finding in the case of a high-standing military officer found guilty of serious crimes during the period of military repression, and signaling the importance of this in light of the continuing effort to overcome impunity.

    10 April Letter from the General Secretary to Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, chairman of the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Financing for Development, and from Dr. Rogate Mshana (Program Secretary for Global Economics) to Amb. Bagher Asadi, Chairman of the G-77, urging the inclusion of ecumenical concerns in the draft plan of action for the UN process on Financing for Development.

    6 June Letter from the Director of the CCIA to the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN in Geneva expressing condolences on the death of Palestinian leader Faissal Husseini, former head of Orient House in Jerusalem; and letter to the Ambassador of Israel to the UN in Geneva expressing condolences on behalf of the General Secretary to the families of the victims of the suicide bomb attack on June 1st.

    12 June Letter from the Director of the CCIA to the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the UN in Geneva conveying condolences to victims of the bombing of a Roman Catholic Church and their families, and expressing the hope that the Government would pursue vigorously those responsible.

    13 July Letter from the Acting General Secretary to member churches and councils of churches in India and Pakistan on the eve of the Agra Summit Meeting, 14-6 July 2001, sharing the hope of the churches and people of goodwill in the two countries that the Summit would help restore mutual trust and confidence to overcome the obstacles in the path to peace in the subcontinent.

    2 August Letter from the General Secretary to Bishop Dr. Ambrose Moyo, President of Zimbabwe Council of Churches, congratulating the Council on the important witness for peace, justice and good governance given to the nation by the Heads of Denominations at their retreat in Victoria Falls in mid-July.

    29 August Letter from the General Secretary to WCC member churches in Australia and the National Council of Churches of Australia expressing dismay at the refusal of the government to allow the asylum-seekers rescued from the sea by the captain and crew of the Norwegian container ship Tampa to land on its territory.

    7 September Statement by the World Council of Churches delegation at the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa commenting on the NGO Forum. (Circulated to the last Executive Committee).

    11 September Message from the General Secretary, on behalf of the Executive Committee then in session, to the churches and people of the United States of America expressing condolences following the attacks earlier that day in New York City and Washington, D.C.

    14 September Statement by the Executive Committee on the situation in Zimbabwe in support of a "Pastoral Letter to the Nation" by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and expressing deep concern about the deteriorating social and economic situation in the country.

    Statement by the Executive Committee on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict reaffirming WCC policy on the pursuit of a just peace in the Middle East: expressing profound condolences to all the victims of the conflict and especially to the families of those who have been killed in both Palestine and Israel; calling for an ecumenical campaign in the context of the DOV to focus attention in 2002 on intensive efforts to end the illegal occupation of Palestine; calling upon the churches to participate in an international boycott of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and to organize international prayer vigils to strengthen the 'chain of solidarity' with the Palestinian people; and calling on the Council to develop an ecumenical accompaniment program that would include an international ecumenical presence in Palestine and Israel.

    20 September Open letter from the General Secretary to the churches in the U.S.A. in pursuance of the message sent by the Executive Committee on 11 September.

    25 September Meetings in Geneva with senior church leaders from Colombia and other ecumenical partners on the overall situation in that country, the work being done by the churches, and possible areas of cooperation, including ways to strengthen international support for the Colombian peace process; meetings with representatives of diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations; and accompaniment of the Colombian delegation to Uppsala, Sweden for further consultations.

    2 October Open letter from the General Secretary to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the implications of the 11 September attacks and the proposed international response.

    8 October WCC statement on the initiation of bombing in Afghanistan calling upon the USA and the UK to bring a prompt end to their military action, appealing that no other state join with them in it; and offering assurances of prayers for those who live under the bombs, and for the minority Christian churches and communities who are placed in danger as a result of such action, especially in Pakistan, and for the Muslim and other religious communities who were likely to consider themselves the targets of this and the other threatened military actions.

    16 October Letter from the General Secretary to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ms Rosemarie Waters, President of the UN Staff Committee congratulating them on having been given the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace.

    29 October Letter from the Acting General Secretary to General Pervaiz Musharaf, president of the Republic of Pakistan, expressing deep concern over the attack in Bahawalpur which resulted in the deaths of 17 Christians, and about the "safety and security of the Christian minority in the present highly charged environment of religious intolerance"; supporting the call of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan for a judicial inquiry into the attack and measures to ensure the security of the Christian minority; and reiterating the WCC's appeal for a prompt end to the military actions against Afghanistan.

    29 October Public announcement of the establishment of the Ecumenical Monitoring Program in Palestine and Israel (EMPPI) as approved by the Executive Committee.

    8-14 November WCC "living letters" pastoral delegation visit to the churches in the U.S.A. in pursuance to the message issued by the Executive Committee on 11 September and the letter from the General Secretary to the US churches.

    16 November Letter from the General Secretary to the heads of Muslim religious communities around the world at the beginning of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan and in anticipation of Christian Advent; evoking the spiritual bonds uniting Christians and Muslims that need to be rediscovered in the aftermath of the 11 September tragedies, rejecting tendencies in the West to perceive Muslims as a threat and to portray Islam in negative terms, and calling for genuine cooperation and joint efforts to assist victims, to defend human rights and humanitarian law and for "intensification of dialogue between religions and cultures".

    29 November - 2 December Consultation convened in Geneva by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs with representatives of churches and ecumenical partners, "Beyond 11 September: Assessing Global Implications."

    5 December Statement by the CCIA on the occasion of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention being held in Geneva calling upon the parties to apply the terms of the Convention to the situation of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories and in particular on the State of Israel as the occupying power to abide by its obligations as a signatory of the Convention.

    11 December Letter from the General Secretary to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urging her to call upon the government of Indonesia to pay serious attention to the sectarian violence taking place in Sulawesi before it degenerates into another situation such as that of the Malukus.

    20 December Letter from the General Secretary to member churches and ecumenical partners conveying a resource pack of prayers and messages and encouraging churches and congregations to adapt and use them in services of worship from 1 January up to Easter Sunday to launch the ecumenical campaign in 2002 in support of peace in the Middle East through ending the illegal occupation of Palestine.

    21 December Open letter from the General Secretary to the Haitian Protestant Federation containing a call upon the government and political parties in Haiti to put an end to a spiral of violence and injustice spreading across Haiti and "to do everything possible to bring the political agreement currently being negotiated to a successful conclusion;" and encouraging the churches "to persevere in the search for a better life for the Haitian people, through prayer, the proclamation of the will of God and practical action... in trying to break the vicious circle of injustice and violence".


    10 January Letter from the General Secretary to President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria expressing condolences on the assassination of Minister of Justice and prominent ecumenical figure Dr. Bola Ige.

    10 January Letter from the General Secretary to the churches in Argentina supporting their witness to society in the tumultuous period provoked by the economic crisis in the nation that led to resignation of successive presidents of the nation.

    22 February Letter from the General Secretary to the churches of Madagascar offering support and solidarity in the light of the post-election disturbances in their country and urging the parties to exercise wisdom and restraint in pursuit of a negotiated solution to the impasse.

    4 March Letter from Acting General Secretary to the National Council of Churches in India and member churches in India deploring the acts of communal violence in Gujrat that resulted in over a hundred deaths and immense sufferings of both Muslim and Hindu communities, and appealing for the Ghandian principles of non-violence and supporting the churches in their efforts to build bridges and act as agents of peace and reconciliation.

    15 March Open letter from the Director of the CCIA to the member churches, regional and national councils of churches and ecumenical partner organizations conveying eyewitness reports from Palestinian church workers on the rising tide of violence resulting from Israeli Defense Force actions in Palestinian lands and the appeal of the Heads of Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem calling for an end to all violence, and on the global Christian community to press for active involvement of their governments in pursuit of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and the current military action.

    2 April Oral intervention by the CCIA/WCC at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, addressing the violations of international law, human rights norms and the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel in the present conflict; and endorsing the High Commissioner for Human Rights' call for an international presence to reduce violence, restore respect for human rights and create conditions propitious for negotiations.

    4 April Oral intervention by CCIA/WCC at the UN Human Rights Commission on the urgent need for increased human rights protections for refugees and internally displaced persons.

    12 April Open letter from the General Secretary to European Union Foreign Ministers reiterating the obligations of the international community under the UN Plan of Partition contained in res. 181 (1947); and urging them to take urgent measures including the suspension of the EU-Israel Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, review all forms of military cooperation with Israel, and to affirm the willingness of the EU to participate in an international mission or third-party mechanism on the ground to oversee Israeli compliance with Security Council demands for immediate withdrawal from Palestinian territories and Palestinian compliance with its demand to cease all further terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.

    16 April Oral intervention by CCIA/WCC at the UN Human Rights Commission on the increasing environment of repression in West Papua/Irian Jaya, urging the Commission to use its influence with the Government of Indonesia to cease human rights violations and repression in this territory.

    6 May Letter from the General Secretary to the Protestant Federation of Haiti, congratulating them on the joint appeal with the Roman Catholic Church calling for days of prayer for peace, justice and propriety in their nation in view of the rising tide of violence, injustice, and official corruption.

    10 May Letter from the Director of the CCIA to the churches in Colombia in response to the massacre of civilians in the church of Bellavista, expressing solidarity with the churches in their peacemaking and mediation efforts, and calling on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the paramilitary forces and the Government of Colombia to offer guarantees of protection to civilian populations in areas of conflict and to cease all bellicose actions.

    Ecumenical delegations to the United Nations


    February, May, October Preparatory Committee meetings in New York for the High Level Event on Financing for Development (FfD) to be held in March 2002. Large Ecumenical Teams participated in three preparatory meetings where they addressed issues of trade, debt and structural adjustment policies, and took leadership role in seeking to unite the larger NGO community. They prepared talking points for future preparatory meetings, and circulated a fundamental and widely appreciated document, "Justice: The Heart of the Matter. An Ecumenical Approach to Financing for Development."

    March-May World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD/Rio +10). Ecumenical Teams were active at two meetings of the Commission on Sustainable Development and at the first Preparatory Committee for WSSD in New York, and began thematic preparations for WSSD (September 2002).

    January, May, June Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on HIV/AIDS. WCC Ecumenical Teams were active at two informal preparatory meetings in New York in January and May, and addressed the plenary session of the Special Session in June. The WCC delegation facilitated a statement that called for increased partnership between faith-based organizations, governments and inter-governmental organizations. It was endorsed by Christian, Jewish, Muslim and inter-faith organizations.

    July UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. A ten-member delegation attended the conference in New York, including five members of the CCIA; two Peace to the City partners from heavily affected areas and a communicator. Apart from facilitating several parallel events, in cooperation with the International Action Network on Small Arms, the WCC made an oral intervention to the conference which emphasized the need to reduce demand for small arms through measures that promote the strengthening of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, as well as economic recovery and equitable growth, and other measures such as reform of the security sector and programs to reverse cultures of violence and create cultures of peace.

    July UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. The WCC delegation in Geneva made an oral intervention calling for full and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples in the establishment of a Permanent Forum, the work of the Special Rapporteur, and the implementation of the draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.


    January Preparatory Committee Meeting on Financing for Development in New York. The WCC UN Representative continued to be an active member of the Small Ad Hoc Working Group created to facilitate access of all accredited NGOs to the UN processes. It negotiated with the Co-Chairs of the PrepCom Bureau to ensure transparent selection process in NGO speaking, organized the NGO Orientation on 13 January, coordinated the daily NGO Caucus meetings and co-hosted the evening reception where government, UN Secretariat staff and NGO delegates came together. The Ecumenical Team of some 25 persons representing 8- 10 organizations addressed the plenary with a presentation on "Staying Engaged - for Justice". Team members were sought out to lead several of the NGO caucuses and the team's Talking Points were included in several Caucus statements.

    March World Conference on Financing for Development - Monterrey, Mexico. The ecumenical team was joined by five persons from the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) who organized a parallel meeting on "Faith, Economy and Society". Thirteen members of the wider ecumenical team were selected by the UN Secretariat as speakers or advisors to Conference Round Tables, and team members drafted four statements with proposals which were presented and distributed at each Roundtable in which they participated. The team organized a "side event", entitled "On the Road...Monterrey to Johannesburg" in the format of a town hall meeting. The final speech of the conference was prepared by the NGO Caucus and presented jointly by an ET member, one of the youngest persons present, and another NGO representative, on behalf of civil society as a whole.

    January-April The specialized ecumenical team following the global debate leading to the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) participated in two Preparatory Committee Meetings in New York during this period. The first to review and assess progress achieved in implementation of Agenda 21, and the second that the first negotiating meeting and the first week was dedicated to consideration of the Chairman's Paper.

    April An ecumenical delegation followed the regular annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

    May-June WSSD Ministerial 4th PrepCom. Bali, Indonesia. Ecumenical Teams participated in two Preparatory Committee Meetings in New York and in the Ministerial meeting in Bali, addressing ecological debt, corporate accountability, energy and water as a strategic social good.

    August-September Based on the long period of preparation and engagement with the preparatory September process from the beginning, the ecumenical team will participate, as the Central Committee meets, in the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. They will continue to pursue the points raised with the Preparatory Committee and give particular attention to those most affected by climate change.

    May A small WCC delegation attended the Special Session of the UN General Assembly devoted to Children, held in New York.

    May A WCC delegation was also in attendance at the first meeting, in New York, of the Indigenous Peoples Forum.




    Small Arms and Violence

    Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are the primary instruments through which persistent and deeply rooted political conflicts are transformed with alarming frequency into armed violence and war. Through war, crime, domestic violence and suicides, more than 10,000 lives are lost each week to small arms violence. The easy availability of SALW exacerbates and prolongs armed conflicts, defers economic and social development, promotes crime, nurtures cultures of violence, and produces an extraordinary worldwide burden of cumulative personal tragedies and public crises.

    The most devastating impact of small arms affects the vulnerable, especially teen-agers. The light weight, transportability and ease of use of small arms and light weapons has facilitated one of the most abusive elements of contemporary armed conflict, notably the engagement of children as armed combatants.

    It is a matter of urgent public responsibility that the international community now act to address the problems of the proliferation, accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and to address their debilitating social, economic, political and humanitarian impacts.

    The Role of the Churches

    In response to the small arms crisis, and in the context of the international campaign, "Peace to the City", carried out in the context of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Program to Overcome Violence, the WCC Central Committee called in 1997 for "special attention to the concern for microdisarmament". Subsequently, international and regional consultations on micro-disarmament were held in Rio de Janeiro (May 1998 and July 2000) and Nairobi (October 2000); a Micro-disarmament Fund has been created to support local and regional initiatives; and an Ecumenical Network on Small Arms (ENSA) is in formation.

    The July 2000 consultation in Rio declared that "the problem of armed violence and the diffusion of small arms...cannot be effectively addressed without the involvement of the Churches in the region". The Latin American declaration went on to say that "churches have deep roots in local communities and thus are especially well positioned to address the issues of micro-conflict. Churches know the people's needs, and can understand the insecurities that lead some to seek security through guns".

    The churches are well placed to acknowledge and testify to the impact of small arms, since they minister to the victims and their families all around the world, in rich and poor nations. Churches see people's needs and are in a unique position to address the small arms epidemic, identifying its material, moral, ethical and spiritual dimensions. Churches can inform, mobilize and guide the community, offering a specific and holistic contribution to the international small arms campaign.

    Churches also have a policy role to play, bringing theological insights and moral and ethical perspectives to bear upon the social and political pursuit of small arms control and demand reduction.

    The Emerging Small Arms Agenda

    Through a wide range of UN expert studies, UN resolutions, and civil society research and analysis, a broadly recognized international small arms agenda is emerging. The churches are challenged to support and advance that emerging small arms action agenda designed to control the supply and availability of SALW, to promote social, economic and political conditions to reduce the demand for SALW, and to facilitate and ensure effective implementation of and compliance with small arms control and reduction measures.

    While individual states exercise varying degrees of control over SALW, there exist no universal laws or standards by which to regulate the production, transfer, possession or use of small arms, and to protect individuals, families and communities from small arms abuse.

    Nevertheless, a series of significant international initiatives by states have been taken that deserve the study of the churches, including:

    a) ECOWAS "Declaration of a Moratorium on Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons in West Africa" (November 1998);

    b) The "Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa" (March 2000);

    c) The "Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons" (December 2000);

    d) The OAS "Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and other Related Materials" (November 1997);

    e) The Brasilia Declaration for the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Arms Trade in Small Arms and All Its Aspects, Regional Preparatory Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean States for the UN Conference (November 2000);

    f) European Union joint action on "Combating the Destabilizing Accumulation and Spread of Small Arms and Light Weapons" (December 1998);

    g) The UN "Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition", supplementing the "United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime" (March 2001).

    The UN 2001 Conference

    The forthcoming (July 2001) United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects offers a significant opportunity to advance the three-fold small arms agenda, to recognize the humanitarian consequences of the proliferation of small arms, and to mobilize support for timely measures and commitments to mitigate their damaging impact.

    It is vitally important that the UN conference commit States to measures that will have a real and beneficial impact on the lives of the people who now suffer the devastating and debilitating consequences of the presence and misuse of small arms in their communities. The conference could be a critically important step toward addressing the small arms crisis, but it will only be an early step on the way to developing the international measures, norms, and laws needed to reduce the demand for and enhance the control of SALW.

    A Call to Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons

    Against the background of the work already undertaken on small arms and light weapons by the WCC International Relations staff and the CCIA Peacebuilding and Disarmament Reference Group, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, at its forty-fourth meeting in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, 14-18 May 2001:

    Renews the appeal to the churches of the Fifth WCC Assembly (Nairobi 1975) "to emphasize their readiness to live without the protection of armaments"; and urges Christians to do those things that make for peace with justice, and to foster the development of social and political institutions that provide security and physical and spiritual well-being for all without resort to weapons;

    Renews its commitment to sustained participation in the emerging global effort to address the excessive and unregulated accumulations and proliferation of small arms that foment conflicts around the world, make them extraordinarily destructive, and render them more resistant to peaceful resolution;

    Welcomes the convening of the UN Conference on small arms in 2001 and urges the churches to commit it and the broader effort of small arms disarmament effort to God in prayer;

    Emphasizes the urgent need for resolute international action through the 2001 conference and beyond to encourage the international community to put in place a sustained program of action to address the small arms crisis;

    Welcomes the formation and work of the International NGO Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), of which the WCC is a founding member;

    Affirms the importance of church action and encourages the Ecumenical Network on Small Arms (ENSA) in its continuing work in collaboration with other members of IANSA;

    Calls upon states to use the occasion of the 2001 UN Conference to agree and commit to the following measures, and to put in place policies and resources to ensure their effective follow-up and implementation:

    a) to exercise restraint in the accumulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons, and to pursue a global "code of conduct" to control arms transfers in the context of and consistent with the obligations of states, including the obligation not to acquire arms for purposes other than or beyond levels needed for self-defense, to ensure the least possible diversion of resources to armaments, and to the obligation to respect and protect the welfare and rights of its citizens;

    b) to implement strict domestic controls on the manufacture, possession and use of small arms, including consideration of the feasibility of adopting a legally binding instrument for a universal ban on civilian possession and use of military assault rifles;

    c) to address social, political and economic conditions that tend to generate demand for small arms and light weapons (including a focus on human safety and protection, peaceful resolution of conflict, promoting cultures of peace, an urgent attention to reform of the security sector);

    d) to cooperate, notably within and between regions, in support of more effective and consistent compliance with controls and regulations, including the pursuit of universal legally binding instruments to regulate brokering, and to adopt universal standards for marking, tracing, and record keeping of small arms and light weapons;

    e) to adopt international standards for stockpile management, for post-conflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, for weapons collection, and for the destruction of surplus and collected weapons;

    f) to promote the conversion of weapons manufacturing capacity into socially constructive production;

    g) to practice maximum transparency in transactions and policies and regulations related to small arms and light weapons;

    h) to provide increased international support and resources for programs and initiatives to promote social justice and advance human security as conditions essential to development, and to promote social, economic and political conditions conducive to long-term peace, stability and development;

    i) to provide financial, technical, and political support for the effective implementation of the above measures and policies;

    j) to put in place effective follow-up and accountability processes.

    Urges the churches, in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence, to join with other faiths and civil society partners in their own countries to obtain their governments' agreement to these goals;

    Commits itself to continue to give special attention to ameliorating the social, political and economic conditions that tend to generate demand to violence reduction efforts;

    Commits itself to continuing active consultation with member churches and regional and national councils of churches to promote education and awareness raising, to develop and refine ecumenical policy on the issue, to contribute to the development of national, regional international plans of action to address armed violence and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and assist the churches in developing their own effective programs and actions to control and mitigate the effects of small arms and light weapons.

    Adopted at the 44th meeting of the CCIA/WCC
    18 May 2001
    Crans Montana, Switzerland