WCC-UN Joint Meeting Proves Fruitful

( [email protected] ) May 18, 2004 06:51 PM EDT

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) met with the secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) in an effort to promote peace-making stride on the part of churches in an international scale. The two heads - the Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and Kofi Annan respectively – met at the UN headquarters in New York on May 17th, and agreed to mark the International Day of Peace with prayer service.

"As a day of prayer for peace, the invitation could also reach people of other faiths," said Kobia about the International Day of Peace, designated for September 21.

Both Kobia and Annan expressed hopes that by marking the day for peace with prayers, people of different contexts could united in reflection on what they could do to promote peace.

Kobia also explained the role religion should play in politics and conflict.

A negative force when used "to gain political power and emphasize the exclusiveness and primacy of one's own group," religion can also make a constructive contribution "by emphasizing fundamental ethics and humanity," Kobia said. "To foster goodwill and understanding between communities, inter-religious dialogue has to be at the grassroots level and address issues of common concern in the struggle against oppression and injustice.

Some of those common concerns, as expressed by Kobia, were the situations in Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

Kobia said the situation in Iraq is “critical, with an escalation of violence, because of the wrong policies of the occupation forces,” and an exit strategy would begin with the withdrawal of the US from all civilian affairs," including management, financial responsibility and oil. "We also see the need to create a mechanism for truth and reconciliation, which should include in its mandate the actions of the occupying powers," Kobia added.

In regards to the conflict in the Israel/Palestine region, Kobia said the proposed “Road Map “does not comprise any original proposal that could help the two sides to overcome the bloody cycle of occupation, terrorism and retribution.” However, he said that the Geneva Accords would "stimulates the public opinions on both sides to overcome stereotypes and find a common understanding of respect for the other".

Annan meanwhile said the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine/Israel (EAPPI) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) should cooperate for greater effectiveness.

The two heads also shared concerns over the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and conflicts in Africa.