World Council of Churches Office of Communication
150, route de Ferney PO Box 2100 1211 Geneva 2 Switzerland E-mail: media
ASSEMBLY STATEMENTS ON WORLD AFFAIRS
The Assembly appeals to leaders of the G8 nations to cancel the debts of the poorest countries "to enable them to enter the new millennium with a fresh start", and to reduce substantially the debts of middle-income countries. There should be a new, independent arbitration process for negotiating debt cancellation.
The WCC says it "accepts that tough conditions should be imposed on debtor governments", but these must not be a prerequisite for cancellation. The conditions for the process should be determined and monitored by community organisations, including the churches. The G8 nations should use their powers to ensure that funds illegitimately transferred to secret foreign bank accounts are returned to debtor nations.
The statement acknowledges that religion has become "a major contribution to repression and human rights violations". Churches and other religious groups were often urged by governments to support narrow national, racial or ethnic aims. "No religious community should plead for its own religious liberty without active respect and reverence for the faith and basic human rights of others." The Assembly acknowledges that resolving human rights violations cannot be done by Christians alone and calls on churches to emulate the WCC's own efforts for interfaith co-operation in this area.
The Assembly says that violence against women is increasing all over the world and includes discrimination, sexual harassment, genital mutilation and rape. It calls on churches to urge their governments to ratify a proposed optional protocol to the UN convention on eliminating discrimination against women. The protocol would allow individual women's complaints on violation of their rights to be received.
Contact: John Newbury, WCC Press & Information Officer
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 339, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the Assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.