To the Honorable Members of the United Nations Security Council

Churches around the world pray and hope that there will be no escalation of the war in Syria through attacks from outside. In discussions with representatives of member churches and, over the last few days with Middle Eastern church leaders in Amman, Jordan at a conference to analyse the challenges facing Arab Christians in the Middle East, we have grown profoundly concerned by evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria and the prospect of retaliatory attacks against that country.

While condemning all use of chemical weapons, we must do everything possible to starve the fire of war rather than feeding it with further deadly armaments.The crime of using chemical weapons is to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.

However, an attack from outside Syria is likely to increase suffering and the risk of more sectarian violence, threatening every community in the nation including Christians. At this crucial time, the people of Syria and the Middle East need peace and not war. Weapons or military actions cannot bring about peace in Syria.The need of the hour is for the world to focus on how best to ensure security and protection for the people of Syria. There is no other way to sustainable justice and peace for the people of Syria than the hard work that must be undertaken by all parties inside and outside Syria to find a negotiated political solution. All people of good will must set aside our differences of opinion and interests in order to end the armed conflict in Syria as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the international community to act now to do everything possible to find a nonviolent solution leading to a lasting peace. Particularly we encourage the leaders of the USA and of Russia to use the time as they meet in the coming days to agree on their contributions to a political process towards peace and justice for Syria.

No military attack or intervention will solve the crisis in Syria. Such a course is much more likely to raise the level of tension and increase pressure on the population at large. It can put certain groups at even higher risk, including Christians. In the absence of any legal premise for intervention in Syria, such as the invocation of the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter or a UN Security Council resolution authorizing force, claiming humanitarian intervention as a legal basis is not sufficient in its own right.

We join the call of Pope Francis for dedicated prayer and work for peace in Syria, with a particular emphasis on Saturday, September 7.

WCC general secretary
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit