Responses to Situation in Syria by International Church Organizations

Statement by the LWF President and General Secretary
on the escalation of military conflict in Syria

In a statement issued in Geneva on April 14th, LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge, on behalf of the global communion of churches, call for “an immediate halt of the spiral of military retaliatory action that is leading the world closer to global military conflict.”

The Lutheran World Federation expresses its grave concern over the dangerous escalation of the conflict in Syria and new levels of direct foreign military intervention. This development is pushing humankind closer to a global armed conflict, the like of which has not been seen since World War II.

The Lutheran World Federation unequivocally deplores any breach of international law pertinent to the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons in either international or non- international armed conflict.

Alleged breaches need to be independently investigated, and addressed thoroughly and swiftly. Perpetrators need to be held accountable, as per the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Out of the traumatic experiences of World War I and II, the community of states developed treaties banning the use chemical weapons, such as the Geneva Gas Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The UN Security Council was established to safeguard compliance with these treaties. In doing so, the community of states, was driven by the resolve not to allow conflict and violence again to escalate and get out of control.

It is with dismay that the LWF has observed that the existing instruments to address allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria have been either ignored or have failed to deliver on their purpose.

Instead, retaliatory military strikes have been carried out. These strikes constitute a breach of International Law, because they have not been authorized by the UN Security Council.

The Lutheran World Federation urges for an immediate halt of the spiral of military retaliatory action that is leading the world closer to global military conflict.

The Lutheran World Federation calls upon the leaders of governments and the United Nations to:
• Make use of the available instruments, conventions and procedures to address any dispute and conflict among and within States, as well as any breach of international obligations;
• Not to dismiss or ignore these instruments, conventions and procedures, where they may have failed to deliver on their purpose. Instead, urgently reform and improve them so that they work for the sake of humankind;
• Remain accountable to customary International Law while addressing conflict and alleged breaches of internationally binding conventions.

The Lutheran World Federation calls upon its member churches to:
• Pray for justice and peace in the world, and particularly at this time in Syria and the Middle East.
• Publicly support and advocate for the de-escalation of this spiral of conflict and
• Publicly hold their governments accountable to International Law as the only way
to safeguard lasting peace and justice in the world

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14: 27

LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge

~ accessed from the Lutheran World Federation website

World Council of Churches reiterates calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria

In a statement from Geneva on April 16th, the World Council of Churches (WCC) urged the international community to find a way to break the cycle of violence in Syria. The statement comes two days after the USA, France and the UK carried out missile strikes following a suspected Syrian government chemical weapons attack.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and its fellowship of member churches and ecumenical partners, journeying together on a pilgrimage of justice and peace, are deeply saddened and dismayed that after almost seven years of bloody conflict, Syria and its people continue to be the victims of unremitting violence and brutality. The international community must find a way to break the vicious cycle of violence that has already led to the greatest humanitarian tragedy since the Second World War, resulting in the deaths of more than 400.000 people, rendering more than 13.5 million people in need of aid and assistance inside Syria, and causing more than 5 million people to flee the country as refugees and 6.1 million people to be displaced internally.

Throughout the course of this human-made catastrophe, the WCC has always spoken out against the war and raised its voice for a just peace. We reiterate our strongly-held views that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria A just and sustainable peace for all Syrians can only be brought about through a political solution.

The WCC deplores the fact that atrocities are still being perpetrated against civilians. The UN Security Council has repeatedly failed to adopt sufficiently strong and consistent measures to put an end to these atrocities, to implement a durable ceasefire, to ensure respect for international law and accountability for all those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the use of chemical weapons.

Today, with regard to the tragic escalation of the situation in Syria, the WCC reiterates what it has called for many times: an immediate ceasefire, unconditional humanitarian access to all regions in Syria, the commitment of all parties to respecting international law and to seeking peace through dialogue and a political process rather than by armed force, the resumption of the UN-led Geneva peace process, and the prompt return in safety and dignity for all civilians who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and lands.

WCC member churches in Syria and the region will have an important role to play in healing wounded memories and in bringing all Syrians together in a common narrative, for the preservation of Syria’s rich diversity and the restoration of social cohesion. In this, the WCC assures the churches in Syria that the ecumenical family will accompany them together with the whole people of Syria on this path, in working for a just peace and for human dignity.

We hope and pray that an end to the suffering of the Syrian people will be delayed no longer.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General  Secretary
World Council of Churches

~ accessed from the World Council of Church’s website

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