The peaceful prevention of conflict stems from the principle that preventing the outbreak of war and deadly conflict is more humane, less costly, and more effective than responding after violence has already erupted.
In this context, a new understanding of the dynamics and root causes of conflict, as well as a concerted commitment to long-term, structural violence prevention, is called for. New methods and opportunities are needed to remove the obstacles to progress on prevention and engage decision-makers cooperatively in the search for non-violent alternatives to war. The ecumenical movement has a long record of dedication to prevent, or if that is impossible, to peacefully resolve, armed conflicts and wars by means of helping individuals, families, churches, societies and the international community to manage conflicts, and become more skilled in transforming them through non-violent action.
WCC actions to date
The Programme to Overcome Violence was adopted in 1994 to prepare churches to mediate and transform conflicts through the effective application of active non-violent methods. Through the programme, the WCC engaged in a global peace campaign, called Peace to the City, which was launched in 1997 in Johannesburg, forming a network of seven cities from around the world doing creative work in peace-building.
The shaping of the Programme to Overcome Violence also led to the proclamation of an ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001-2010).
Further, as an initiative of the WCC under an ecumenical campaign "End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East", the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was established in 2002. Its mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions, to monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation.
In relation to the war on Iraq, the WCC, supported by its member churches, took a firm stance against the war and have produced several public statements, as well as a declaration directed at the members of the Security Council, opposing military action against Iraq.
WCC UN Liaison Office aims:
- seek to improve the international community’s capacity to address conflicts before they explode into violence and to mediate violent conflicts through negotiation
- urge the international community to resolve armed conflicts peacefully
- identify human rights violations and try to prevent violence and humiliation against civilians
- promote solidarity with churches and communities caught up in conflicts and war
- monitor and report on the dealings of the Security Council in connection with relevant issues
- participate in meetings with Security Council ambassadors, convened by the NGO Working Group on the SC
- lobby relevant UN Missions in relation to topical issues
NGO Working Group on the Security Council
NGO Working Group on Israel/Palestine
Ecumenical Working Group