World Council of Churches

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

UN reform

07 September 2005

In the lead-up to the 14-16 September 2005 United Nations World Summit, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has shared its views on a planned reform of the international body with the governments of the UK and China - the two nations which currently preside, respectively, over the G8, and the G77.

Pointing out that the "WCC and the UN have shared goals on justice and peace, eradication of poverty, and the promotion and defence of human rights and dignity", a 7 September letter from WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia to the two governments calls on the UN to hold fast to its fundamental principles, and outlines the Council's "orientations" in nine areas of UN work.

Specifically, the letter calls for development and security concerns to be held together; for better representativity within the UN; for the right to protection of people in peril; for 100% debt cancellation for poor countries and an increase in Overseas Development Assistance; for limiting military force; for not allowing human rights "to be compromised in the name of national security"; and for implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the Kyoto Protocol.
<br /» The full text of the WCC letter appears below:

"In two weeks time, the United Nations World Summit will take place. The event will decide which direction the United Nations will take both in content and in form. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has earlier expressed its appreciation for and commented in detail on the reports written in preparation for this Summit.

The WCC will now follow closely the negotiations on the Outcome Document and will take the opportunity to share its orientations with you, who are in the process of addressing the work of strengthening the UN, setting clearer priorities and mobilizing political will to fulfil its tasks.

The World Council of Churches' considerations on international affairs are based on ethical and theological reflections with our 347 member churches worldwide. The concerns raised in our reflection process are closely linked to the UN agenda. Historically, the WCC and the UN have shared goals relating to justice and peace, eradication of poverty and the promotion and defence of human rights and human dignity.

The WCC calls for

1. bringing together the concerns of development and security. By seeking a common and inclusive approach involving the global South and the global North, there is a basis for moving towards a reformed United Nations;

2. a reform that empowers and strengthens the UN and achieves better representation so that the world organization can successfully address the global challenges facing humanity: wars, conflicts, nuclear arms, environmental degradation, AIDS and other diseases, under-development, extreme poverty and acts of terror;

3. a clear understanding that people in extraordinary peril have a right to protection and that if their own governments cannot or will not provide such protection, then the international community has the responsibility to try to provide it;

4. all countries to honour the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in implementing Goal eight: to "develop a global partnership for development";

5. 100 per cent debt cancellation for poor countries and an increase of Official Development Assistance, ODA, to the UN recommended level of 0.7.

6. full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); the State Parties to explicitly honour and comply fully with their commitments to disarmament; and accession of the Non State Parties to the Treaty. A condition for any new permanent membership in the Security Council should be a clear and verified status as a non-nuclear-weapon state;

7. the UN to maintain its responsibility to restrict and limit military force in the framework of international law and as reflected in the UN Charter, and not give room for the possibility of pre-emptive military action based on article 51;

8. human rights not be compromised in the name of national security. If poverty and terrorism are to be eliminated, it is essential that civil and political rights as well as socio-economic cultural rights of all peoples be realized;

9. the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the negotiations for the second commitment period. The WCC reiterates the need to go beyond technical changes in areas of energy, transport and economic policy, for a fundamental reorientation of the socio-economic structures that are at the origins of the climate change phenomenon.

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, please allow me to express my support for your work at the United Nations and my wishes for wisdom in the very important process of building conditions for the UN to work for a safer and better world for all."