World Council of Churches

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

Presentation of the WMDC's Final Report

15 June 2006

Letter to Dr Hans Blix, Chairman, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission,
15 June, 2006

Your Excellency,

It is our privilege to welcome you to the World Council of Churches, Dr Blix,
as chairperson of The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. With this letter
please accept my greetings as General Secretary of the WCC. We very much
welcome your visit and welcome the fact that the Commission's timely and important
work is being shared with the Vatican, the Organization of the Islamic
Conference and the WCC as well as with governments and inter-governmental
organizations.

When you enter this house, you are on friendly soil. In the mission and the
mind of the organizations based here, this has always been a zone free of weapons
of any kind.

The World Council of Churches was conceived just before the mass destruction
of World War Two and began its life just after Hiroshima. For the 58 years
of its existence, churches united in the WCC have challenged the arms race and
been dedicated to disarmament.

We receive the WMD Commission report with a few of the words that churches
use on the subject.

WCC governing bodies addressing the issue over the years have been both realistic
and brave. Looking mostly at nuclear arms from a moral and global perspective
and seeking unity among churches, the WCC has developed a forward-looking
attitude - sometimes ahead of its time.

At its first assembly, in Amsterdam, the WCC said the indiscriminate destruction
of atomic weapons and "the part which war plays in our present international
life is a sin against God and a degradation of man".

By the mid-1950s, the WCC was already looking beyond nuclear weapons, calling
that era "an age of fear" and noting that "True peace cannot rest on fear". The
main elements the churches offered at that time were to become part of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty 15 years later:

• a new international order with
• the elimination and prohibition of these weapons of mass destruction and
• a mechanism of effective international inspections and control.

As your report makes clear, these elements have fresh relevance today.

In the 1960s, the WCC urged governments "never to contemplate first use of
nuclear weapons" and to "move away from a balance of terror".

In the 1980s the WCC called all nuclear powers to freeze testing, production
and deployment of nuclear weapons and reduce all nuclear weapons stocks.
Our most recent actions came during the mandate of your Commission. When
the Commission speaks, there is considerable harmony with our policies on no
WMD use by states or by non-state actors, on new weapons systems, on stopping
proliferation and achieving elimination.

Just three months ago, the most recent WCC assembly stated that "in the
nuclear age God… has granted humanity many days of grace". The assembly said
one shared principle of world religions applies to all weapons of mass destruction
and is "stronger than any ‘balance of terror'… [namely, if] we do not want nuclear
weapons used against us, our nation cannot use nuclear weapons against others."
The assembly also urged churches to "raise awareness in [younger] generations
with no memory of what [nuclear] weapons do". It recommended much greater
international support for disarmament and compliance mechanisms including the
IAEA.

In the work of the WMD Commission and in the report's title, "Weapons of
Terror", we find sobering and necessary realism. But we also notice a spirit of
courage and possibility, and encouragement for people to dedicate themselves to
non-proliferation and disarmament.

There is appreciation of civil society as a constituency for arms control and of
an educated public as a force for change.

The word ‘hope' appears six times in the document - half of them in your
Chairman's preface. And amid troubling trends and dangerous doctrines, the
Commission consistently lifts up the efforts of those who keep hope alive.

The Commission is a state-supported disarmament initiative and in this we
see a link. This house owes much to the international commitment, the unflagging
partnership and the unstinting generosity of the church in your country, the
Church of Sweden. We see a link between the global ecumenical commitment of
the Church of Sweden and the global security commitment of the Government
of Sweden. For its sponsorship at this time in history of a Commission on weapons
of mass destruction, we offer heartfelt thanks for your government's action.

We will receive this report on behalf of the hundreds of millions of members
in the churches of the WCC. They are parishioners but also citizens in 150 different
countries around the world, including the countries of the WMD Commissioners.

There is enduring commitment within churches to mobilize ethical, spiritual
and political energy to meet the new challenges posed by weapons of mass destruction.

Our strength in working against nuclear and other weapons has been to
seek unity. When the churches can speak in unity they make a difference.

Welcome to you and to members of the Commission staff. Your report has
implications for the world and we will affirm its message in churches around the
world.

Thank you for your visit and for the Commission's work. We pray that God
may bless these efforts in good time and with good fruit.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary