World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

23 April 1999


The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on non-NATO nuclear weapon states to join in efforts for the rapid elimination of nuclear weapons. The WCC's appeal supports an initiative by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) on the occasion of NATO's fiftieth anniversary and the summit to be held in Washington, USA, on 24-25 April. During the summit, NATO will review its strategic concept.

CEC, CCC and NCCCUSA wrote to the ministers of Foreign Affairs in March and early April, urgently requesting them to revise "NATO's present assertion that nuclear weapons ‘fulfil an essential role' and are the ‘supreme guarantee of the security of the allies'." The WCC endorses this appeal and has now extended it to include non-NATO nuclear weapon states.

In letters to diplomatic missions in Geneva, the WCC calls on the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the People's Republic of China and India, which are not members of NATO, likewise to adopt the three recommendations addressed to NATO.

The appeal issued by CEC, CCC and NCCCUSA, and supported by the WCC, calls on NATO "to ensure that the new NATO strategic concept:

  • affirms NATO's support for the rapid global elimination of nuclear weapons and commits the Alliance to take programmatic action to advance this goal;

  • commits NATO to reducing the alert status of nuclear weapons possessed by NATO members, and to pursuing effective arrangements for the rapid de-alerting of all nuclear weapons possessed by member states; and

  • renounces the first-use of nuclear weapons by any NATO members under any circumstances, and commits NATO to the pursuit of equivalent commitments from other states possessing nuclear weapons."
The WCC has also written to the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, the National Council of Churches in India, the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Russian Orthodox Church, encouraging them to take appropriate steps in their countries to support the appeal.

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.