World Council of Churches

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

Support for the work of the United Nations

04 September 2004

Letter to H.E. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, 4 September, 2004


Dear Mr Annan,

We write to you from Nairobi, Kenya, where we are meeting as representatives
of the Christian ecumenical bodies of the eight continents and regions of
the world - Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East,
North America, the Pacific - and of the World Council of Churches. We are meeting
during a time of appalling and continuing instances of conflict and violence,
from nearby Sudan to North Ossetia in Russia and in the Middle East, but we
greet you in the name of him who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers".

In May this year several of us were privileged to meet with you in your office
in New York. On 17 May, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World
Council of Churches, met with you and on 24 May you received a delegation of
church representatives from the USA, Canada and Europe. We recall those meetings
with deep gratitude and appreciation. We were moved by your readiness to
find time in your schedule to receive us, and by the evident seriousness with which
you listened to us and attended to our concerns. We further appreciated your sincere
recognition of the positive role which faith and religious commitment can
and does play in working for reconciliation in a world of conflict and violence.

We left much encouraged by a real sense of commonality of interest and purpose
between yourself and ecumenical Christianity. Among the fruits of Dr Kobia's
conversation with you has been the call to churches throughout the world to
observe 21 September as a day of prayer for peace, to be shared with people of all
faiths, and for this we are deeply thankful.

All of us meeting here in Nairobi wish to take this opportunity of reaffirming
the deep desire of our organizations and member churches to support the United
Nations, and you personally, at this critical time on the world scene. We believe
that the UN remains the indispensable instrument of the nations of the world if
they are to remove the scourge of war from the earth and to establish the condi-
tions for peace, notably: observance of human rights, a just sharing of the earth's
resources, eliminating poverty and all forms of discrimination. In face of all tendencies
either to disregard it or exploit it for particular national ends, we believe
that the unique status of the UN in the eyes of all its member states must be
restored, accompanied by a renewed respect for international law and the desire
to solve conflicts by a truly multilateral approach. We are committing ourselves
to promoting this view of the UN in our respective church constituencies.

Soon the UN will be marking the 60th anniversary of its founding. We share
the hopes of many that this will present an opportunity for a just appraisal of the
role which the UN has played since the Second World War, and at the same time
an examination of how it can be adapted to fulfill more effectively its role in a
world which has changed so much in sixty years. Coming as we do from all regions
of the world, we are very conscious that to many peoples and nations, especially
outside Europe and North America, the inherited structures of governance of the
UN do not adequately reflect the present realities and needs of the world as a
whole. We look forward to sharing in and contributing to the coming debate on
these issues, for we believe in the UN and in its future.

Returning to the more personal level, we especially wish you to know the deep
respect and trust in which you are held among us and those whom we represent.

It is difficult for us to conceive the pressures you must experience day by day, but
we hope that on your part you can imagine the spiritual support with which you
are surrounded. Be assured that every discouraging sign which you encounter,
whether of indifference to or hostility towards the UN and your work, is being
countered by the hopes and prayers of countless people of faith and goodwill
around the world. We will always be ready to offer signs of this support in further
meetings with you, and to hear your own expectations and hopes of the
churches in facing the current challenges for peace and justice. Indeed we would
welcome the opportunity of such a meeting before the end of this year, and one
of our colleagues will be in contact with your office about this possibility.

Attached to this sentiment we would like to offer a specific suggestion. We
believe it would be very appropriate if, in addition to your statements on particular
problems, crises and conflicts, and your reports to the governing bodies of
the UN, you felt able from time to time to deliver what would amount to a "State
of the World" message, addressing global issues and placing particular problems
in a world perspective - and also pointing to wherever you see signs of hope. This,
we believe, would not only serve to enhance the profile of the UN in the eyes of
people at large, but also help to generate and spread the sense that we are indeed
living in one interdependent world where there can be no real peace and security
for any if there is not peace and security for all.

These thoughts, wishes and hopes, which we convey for your kind attention,
come with our heartfelt prayers that you may be given all needed strength and
wisdom, and yourself find blessing as you seek to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted
to you.

On behalf of our respective independent regional ecumenical organizations and
the World Council of Churches,

Yours sincerely,

The Revd Dr H. Mvume Dandala
General Secretary
All Africa Conference of Churches

Dr Ahn Jae Woong
General Secretary
Christian Conference of Asia

The Rt Revd Dr Kingsley Lewis
Member, Continuation Committee
Caribbean Conference of Churches

The Revd Dr Keith Clements
General Secretary
Conference of European Churches

The Revd Israel Batista
General Secretary
Latin American Council of Churches

Guirguis I. Saleh
General Secretary
Middle East Council of Churches

The Revd Dr Karen Hamilton
General Secretary
Canadian Council of Churches

The Revd Valamotu Palu
General Secretary
Pacific Conference of Churches

The Revd Dr Bob Edgar
General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA

The Revd Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches