Statement calling for an end to foreign military interventions in Syria
12 October 2015
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace" (Romans 10: 15)
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is gravely concerned by the dramatic escalation of the military operations in the conflict in Syria and strictly condemns them. This we do at a moment when expectations and new hopes had been raised of a political process moving forward, in line with the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, and approved by the UN Security Council last August. We are particularly concerned that this escalation will make the situation even worse for the people of Syria, and particularly for all vulnerable communities.
The WCC, together with its member churches and ecumenical partners, has expressed on several occasions its deep conviction that “there will be no military solution” to the crisis and conflict in Syria. In an open letter to the UN Security Council in September 2013, the WCC stated that “an attack from outside Syria is likely to increase suffering and the risk of more sectarian violence, threatening every community in the nation including Christians. At this crucial time, the people of Syria and the Middle East need peace and not war. Weapons or military actions cannot bring about peace in Syria. The need of the hour is for the world to focus on how best to ensure security and protection for the people of Syria. There is no other way to sustainable justice and peace for the people of Syria than the hard work that must be undertaken by all parties inside and outside Syria to find a negotiated political solution. All people of good will must set aside our differences of opinion and interests in order to end the armed conflict in Syria as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the international community to act now to do everything possible to find a nonviolent solution leading to a lasting peace.”
Sadly, this urgent call remains truer and more needed now than ever. The dramatic daily increase of the number of victims, the haemorrhaging of Syria’s population as refugees, and the inability of the international community to find common political solutions have become ethically unbearable. The cycle of extreme violence and its tragic implications on the whole Syrian population have become unacceptable.
We call upon all governments to put an immediate end to all military actions and to support and engage with a political process for peace in Syria through which a narrative for all Syrians can be generated. We also reiterate our urgent call to the UN Security Council and the international community to implement measures to end the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Syria. History has shown tragically and repeatedly that foreign military interventions cannot bring peace and eliminate extremism. On the contrary, they will rather fuel religious tensions and lead to more radicalization. Only a political solution in Syria, leading to the establishment of a transitional national government, recognized by the people of Syria and the international community, can adequately address the existential threat posed by ISIS and other extremist groups and offer hope for the preservation of the diverse social fabric of Syria and the region.
At a time when the ecumenical movement is engaged in a global “pilgrimage for justice and peace”, the WCC invites its member churches to accompany the people of Syria in this path, and to develop with them ways of building bridges and working towards a just peace. The Syrian people deserve another alternative to what they face today, and a just peace now. The international community has to take the common responsibility to secure it. We hope and pray that the suffering of the Syrian people will come to an end soon.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary