World Council of Churches

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

Statement on Iraq

02 September 2003

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 26 August-2 September, 2003

Recalling all of the WCC´s previous relevant policy statements on Iraq, in particular
its statements made since the meeting of the Central Committee in 2002;

Condemning the human rights violations of the previous regime evidenced for
example by the discovery of mass graves;

Reaffirming its conviction that the war on Iraq was immoral, ill-advised and in
breach of the principles of the UN Charter;

Reaffirming also the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq;

Noting the inalienable and fundamental rights and freedoms of the Iraqi people;

Reaffirming also the right of the Iraqi people to freely choose their political destiny,
non-intervention in their own internal affairs, full sovereignty over the natural
resources of their country and economic and social reconstruction;

Stressing the importance for the occupying powers immediately to allow the United
Nations to work with the people of Iraq to form a representative, full and equi-
table participatory government based on the rule of law, free of influence of the
occupying powers;

Reaffirming the importance of non-military means for the nuclear disarmament
of Iraq and for its eventual confirmation by United Nations weapons inspectors
and recognizing once again the need for the whole Middle East region to be free of
weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons by non-military means;

Reiterating the need for member states to support the United Nations in playing
a leading role in humanitarian relief, the reconstruction of Iraq, disarmament,
protection of human rights and the restoration and establishment of local and
national governance structures;

Welcoming all humanitarian assistance provided to the people of Iraq by the international
community and the churches world-wide, in particular under the umbrella
of Action by Churches Together International (ACT) in cooperation with the Middle
East Council of Churches (MECC);

The WCC Central Committee,

Concerned about the prevailing lawlessness and insecurity in Iraq and the potential
impact of the daily violence on the Iraqi people, humanitarian and UN personnel
and the transitional process;

Noted with regret that over 80 percent of the population of Iraq is now estimated
to be living in poverty while it is estimated that the total debt of the country
is within the range of USD 100-150 billion (excluding its outstanding reparation
claims from the 1991 Gulf War), which has a crippling effect on the life and
future of the Iraqi people;

Continues to be concerned about the long-term political, social, cultural and religious
consequences of this war and the continued occupation, especially the negative
impact on Christian-Muslim relations, the exacerbation of intense hatred towards
the "western world" strengthening extremist ideologies, breeding further global
insecurity and increased emigration of Christians from the Middle East;

Encouraged by the increased role and involvement of the United Nations and its
specialized agencies, including the creation of a new UN assistance mission to
support the Secretary General in the fulfillment of his mandate under UN SC
Resolution 1483;

Dismayed by the actions taken by the United Nations Security Council subsequent
to the war on Iraq, giving the occupation an open-ended mandate, an ambiguous
role to the United Nations, and granting the occupying powers the right to
legally and financially administer Iraq, that have the propensity to undermine its
role as primary upholder of international peace and security;

Remains concerned that there is no clear timetable for an end to the military occupation
and the earliest possible restoration of Iraqi sovereignty;

Convinced that it is essential to place human rights and the rule of law at the forefront
of efforts to encourage the building of representative, democratic institutions;

Remains convinced that diplomatic efforts involving the states of the region will
still be needed to address outstanding conflict issues in the Middle East, most
notably the need to end the illegal occupation of Palestine;

Noted with appreciation the statement "Church Leaders United Against War" and
all efforts of the WCC General Secretary and staff prior to and during the war on
Iraq and recognized particularly the appreciation expressed by the Arab world,
including the churches in the Middle East and the MECC.

Therefore, the WCC Central Committee,

Deplores the invasion and occupation of Iraq by foreign forces as an act of aggression
in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law;

Declares that preventive and pre-emptive war violates international law and the
principles of the UN Charter;

Welcomes the courageous stance of all WCC member churches in particular the
churches in the USA, UK and Australia in opposing this war and working tirelessly
for peace;

Welcomes the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq after thirteen years;
Opposes the occupying powers taking advantage of their military force to establish
military bases in Iraq for their own use, and from benefiting from rebuilding
Iraq or from sale of its resources;

Calls on the UN Security Council to insist on the establishment of a legitimate,
sovereign, elected and inclusive government as early as possible and for the immediate
and orderly withdrawal of the occupying forces, handing over transitional
administration to the United Nations;

Encourages member states of the UN to raise the concern of the legality of this
war in the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly;

Asks states to participate in setting up a transparent mechanism for arbitration
and to cancel the Iraqi debt as it has emerged out of loans that merely financed
the previous Iraqi regime;

Requests the relevant UN mechanisms promptly to investigate, gather any evidence
of violations of human rights of the previous regime, war crimes and crimes
against humanity, violations of international humanitarian law including the illegal
resort to war, and to prosecute all such crimes;

Calls on the occupying powers to provide for full reparations to the Iraqi people for
damages caused and precipitated by the unlawful use of military force, and to ensure
the removal of cluster bombs, depleted uranium and un-detonated munitions;

Condemns all forms of violence, the killing of religious leaders, all acts of destruction
and looting in Iraq, including the deadly terrorist attack on the United
Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and mourns the loss of lives of the UN personnel
who were in Baghdad to serve the humanitarian needs and work for the
restoration of the sovereignty of the people of Iraq, particularly the death of Mr
Sergio Vieira de Mello;

Urges all those concerned to allow full unimpeded access by humanitarian personnel
to all people in need of assistance, and to promote the safety, security and freedom
of movement of humanitarian, United Nations and associated personnel;

Calls on the churches world-wide and the international community to demonstrate
a collective and cohesive commitment to support the people of Iraq, whose
plight has not been given proper recognition in the rehabilitation and reconstruction
of their country;

Urges the Iraqi religious communities to uphold fundamental human rights,
including religious freedom, the urgency of establishing the rule of law, ensuring
the rights of all religious communities and equal rights of all citizens;

Affirms the role of the churches of Iraq, in collaboration with other Iraqi religious
communities, in the social, economic and political reconstruction of Iraq,
including the creation of platforms of inter-religious dialogue;

Reiterates its commitment, together with the churches of Iraq, to dialogue and
cooperation among religious communities. Such cooperation, grounded in the
respect of cultural diversity and religious plurality, is essential for the safeguarding
of national unity, preventing or diffusing communal tensions;

Prays for the people and the churches of Iraq and their faithful as they continue
to be witnesses of hope.