September 2, 2003
Council's central committee says U.N. forces must take control
By Jerry L. Van Marter
Ecumenical News International
GENEVA - The governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called
for coalition forces in Iraq to be replaced by United Nations personnel.
In its statement on Iraq, issued Sept. 1, the WCC's central committee also
implied that U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair might appropriately be charged with war crimes for their "illegal
resort to war" on Iraq.
"To do this, the U.N. Security Council would have to take action against two
of its permanent members, which is not likely," Peter Weiderud, director of
the council's Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, conceded.
"But there is a need to look at the totality of the situation."
The WCC statement, approved unanimously with two abstentions, was praised by
several delegates as "forward-looking."
Among them was the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian
Church (USA), who said he was "deeply grateful" for the statement, which he
said "gives some understanding of what we're to do next, because we have been
so concerned with trying to stop the war."
The central committee reiterated its condemnation of the abuses of the Saddam
Hussein regime, but nonetheless called the U.S. and British-led war "immoral,
ill-advised and in breach of the principles of the U.N. charter."
It called for the U.N. Security Council "to insist on the establishment of a
legitimate, sovereign, elected and inclusive government as early as possible,
and (to order) the immediate and orderly withdrawal of the occupying forces."
The committee praised the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq after 13
years, and called for cancellation of the country's onerous debt, which it
said resulted from "loans that merely financed the previous Iraqi regime."
It affirmed the inter-religious cooperation being demonstrated in Iraq, and
said the country's religious institutions must play a central role in its
reconstruction. It also urged all Christians to pray for the Iraqi people and