World Council of Churches

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

Appeal against military action in Iraq

15 October 2002

Individual letters to Members States of the Security Council and to the Secretary General of the UN, 15th October, 2002.

Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches (WCC) remains extremely concerned with the continued calls for military action against Iraq both by the US and UK governments despite Iraq's compliance with United Nations Resolution for UN weapons inspection, agreeing for the "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites in Iraq".

We were greatly alarmed and saddened by the US Congressional Joint Resolution to authorize use of force against Iraq passed by the US House of Representatives and Senate on 10th October, 2002, authorizing, inter alia, the President of the USA to use its armed forces in order to enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

As you prepare for further deliberations of the United Nations Security Council this week, I would like to draw your attention to the numerous voices of Christians around the world, who, committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the prophetic vision of peace, strongly believe that preemptive war against Iraq is illegal, immoral and unwise.

The World Council of Churches' governing body meeting in September this year, urged the international community to uphold the international rule of law, to resist pressures to join in preemptive military strikes against a sovereign state under the pretext of the "war on terrorism", and to strengthen their commitment to obtain respect for United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iraq by non-military means.

They deplored the fact that the most powerful nations of this world continue to regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of both the United Nations Charter and Christian teachings.

The WCC has always advocated for every member state to comply with binding UN resolutions and to resolve conflicts by peaceful means. Iraq can be no exception. Since the end of the Gulf War we have repeatedly called the Government of Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction and related research and production facilities, to cooperate fully with UN inspectors deployed to oversee compliance, and to guarantee full respect of the civil and political, economic, social and cultural human rights for all its citizens.

We are deeply concerned by the potential human costs of a new war and the prospects of large-scale deplacement of people. The people of Iraq have suffered enough under a sanctions regime since 1991. Inflicting further punishment on innocent civilians is not morally acceptable to anyone. Churches around the world also caution against the potential social, cultural, and religious as well as diplomatic long term consequences of such a war, especially a unilateral one. Further fueling the fires of violence that are already consuming the region will only sow more seeds of intense hatred strengthening extremist ideologies and breeding further global instability and insecurity.

The WCC joins its voice with church leaders and Christian communities around the world, especially from the USA and UK, praying that you focus your attention on addressing the root causes of this conflict and to put an end to the dire humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the Middle East region as a whole. I call upon you as members of the United Nations Security Council to act wisely, responsibly and courageously.

We pray that God will guide you to take decisions based on moral principles and legal standards.

 "No nation shall lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4.

                                                                                                                      Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                    Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser
                                                                                                                                                    General Secretary