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Statement on the threats of military action against Iraq

26 September 2002

Adopted by the Central Committee, Geneva, 26 August - 3 September, 2002.

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva 26 August to 3 September, 2002:

Profoundly concerned and alarmed about the persistent efforts of the Government of the United States of America to gather international support for a new military action against Iraq with the stated objective of overthrowing the present government of Iraq;

Recalling and reaffirming the words of the WCC First General Assembly (1948): War as a method of settling disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ. The part which war plays in our present international life is a sin against God and a degradation of man.

Recalling and reaffirming the 1991 Seventh Assembly Statement on the Gulf War, the Middle East, the Threat to World Peace and its statement on the Situation in Iraq of February 1998, where it warned against renewed military action which would result in large scale casualties and increased suffering by the Iraqi people;

Recalling and reaffirming subsequent WCC actions and public statements calling upon the United Nations Security Council to lift immediately all sanctions that have direct and indiscriminate effect on the civilian population of Iraq;

Reiterating its conviction that "under the sovereignty of God, no nation or group of nations is entitled to prosecute vengeance against another. Nor is any nation entitled to make unilateral judgements and take unilateral actions that lead to the devastation of another nation and the massive suffering of its people." (Central Committee, Potsdam, 2001);

Shares the fears and concerns of the churches in the Middle East and as expressed by the Middle East Council of Churches in its statement of August 5, 2002, and supports its call for "a sustained and determined diplomatic and political effort that engages the Iraqi government directly, and a sustained campaign to re-empower the Iraqi people and restore their dignity";

Welcomes The Christian Declaration launched in mid-July by Pax Christi UK which considers the pronouncements of war plans against Iraq by the USA, with a possible British support as immoral and illegal, deploring the fact that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of both the United Nations and Christian teachings;

Further welcomes the positions taken by churches in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and other nations expressing grave concerns about the threat of war against Iraq;

Calls upon the Government of Iraq to respect the resolutions of the UN Security Council, including demands that it destroy all 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;

Calls insistently upon the Government of the United States of America to desist from any military threats against Iraq and any further development of plans for military actions against that country;

Urges 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;

Calls upon all member churches and ecumenical partners to prevail upon their governments to address the root causes of the conflict itself and to put an end to the dire humanitarian crisis in Iraq; and

Reiterates its expression of solidarity with and prayers for the churches and people of Iraq.