World Council of Churches Office of Communication
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15 September 2000

Call for recognition of Indigenous land and identity in the Pacific

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-00-24, of 6 September 2000

Church representatives from the Pacific region, meeting for a workshop in Suva, Fiji, 11-14 September, have called on the churches in the Pacific to implement awareness-raising programmes on Indigenous land and identity.

The workshop was convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in cooperation with the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).

In a final statement the participants said, "As Indigenous Peoples we desire a future where we encourage the continuing building of Pacific communities of caring, sharing and belonging where everyone enjoys equal rights and shares opportunities and responsibilities according to our aspirations."

They pledged themselves "to promote justice, address disadvantages, work for reconciliation and respect the right of Indigenous Peoples to determine their destiny."

The workshop also called on Pacific churches to include issues of Indigenous spirituality and empowerment, land tenure and self-determination in their programme work.

In a final decision, the workshop called on the churches of the Pacific and the WCC to support the struggle for self-determination of the people of West Papua and request that West Papua be placed on the UN List of Countries for Decolonization. They requested the churches to lobby the UN Commission of Human Rights to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate human rights abuses in West Papua, including the mass killing of over one million people in the last thirty-seven years.

Workshop participants came from Tonga, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Kiribati and West Papua.

For further contact, or arrangements for interviews in Suva, please contact Rev. Bob Scott, WCC Communication (until 16 September) on cellular: Suva 918132; Email

Statement from the meeting

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, 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.