"Wars cannot be won, only peace can"

Statement by World Council of Churches (20 March 2003)

Reacting with "profound sorrow" to news that a military attack on Iraq has begun, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser has today released a statement calling the attack "immoral, illegal and ill-advised".

In condemning the attack led by the United States, Raiser points out that it began "without the consent of the UN Security Council" and that it ignores "the voice of civil society, churches and other faith communities in those countries and world-wide".

He emphasizes that the attack is "politically dangerous" and "culturally unwise". "By relying on the right of the powerful, including the use of threat and economic pressure to influence other states to support their action, these countries undermine international rule of law that has taken half a century to construct," he states.

Expressing his conviction that "non-violent means to solve the conflict have been far from exhausted," Raiser argues that "the only sustainable response to terrorism is to achieve rule of law, within the rule of law".

"At this time for repentance," he continues, "we pray for all the people who will suffer in this war, as well as soldiers and their families." Recalling the overwhelming response of the global church community against the war, he notes that "The energy that has been released bears witness to a spirituality that calls for peaceful coexistence of all nations and peoples in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. That energy must not be lost." He says churches need to continue efforts to stop the war, assist those in need and "cooperate with people of other faiths, especially Muslims, to restore confidence and trust amongst the nations of the world".

Raiser calls on the governments of the US and the UK and their supporters to cease all military activity, and on all parties "to abide by human rights obligations under international humanitarian law".

"Although this is a day when diplomacy was rejected by some, our call for peace remains," Raiser concludes. "Any war comes at a high price of death of soldiers and civilians, destruction of property and the environment, and the division of people, governments and cultures. This war is no exception. Wars cannot be won, only peace can."

The WCC is responding to the humanitarian situation through Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, http://act-intl.org/

The full text of the statement can be found at:

Photos are available to accompany this statement by contacting the WCC Media Relations office. The photos can be viewed at:

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