DOV Newsletter - December 2005


Dear Reader:

In the spirit of "Building Communities of Peace for All", the theme for this year's DOV Annual Focus, churches in Asia are finding creative ways to address violence in their contexts. This issue of the Overcoming Violence newsletter will highlight just a few of the many stories we are hearing as we learn of their struggles for reconciliation and peace.

The Asia Focus mural project was commissioned by the Christian Conference of Asia from Lei Garcia and Ugatlahi. It is a collective creation of young Filipino visual artists who are also community organizers. Dr Hope Antone, Lei Garcia and Ugatlahi conceptualized the mural.

Stories of communities addressing crime and punishment as well as violence in economics have been contributed by persons directly involved in this work. A recent inter-religious conference in the Philippines and an upcoming event on economic justice in Hong Kong are examples of initiatives by churches to engage civil and religious groups in dialogue and cooperative efforts. The Ecumenical Coalition for Tourism is passionately committed to raising the issue of violence in tourism. We have also included an insert based on a recent study of current trends in military spending.

The Decade is gaining momentum! In the midst of violence, churches in Asia are working diligently in search of peace for all members of society.

Kent Yoder, Assistant DOV Coordinator


Paper copies can be ordered from the DOV Coordination office.


From its beginning, a central goal of the DOV has been to "challenge the growing militarization of our world, especially the proliferation of small arms and light weapons". The insert "World Military Expenditures" in this newsletter is the summary of a recent study by DOV intern Abigail Pound. This research demonstrates that government military spending is depriving many societies of funding for basic social services and development aid. As we look toward the second half of the Decade, it is critical that churches begin to play a greater role in challenging our governments and our neighbours on this issue. In a recent statement, the WCC Executive Committee called on churches to "exercise their unique potential" to address the growing reality of militarism in all levels of society.

To view the WCC Executive Committee statement on the control of small arms and light weapons visit:

To learn more about the work of WCC's International Affairs visit:

Punishment and Forgiveness in East Timor

While visiting East Timor, the need for reconciliation between villagers who had earlier joined the militias and the people whom they had abused during their time in power was brought up often. Some foreign organizations working in the country had designed rather complex programmes to deal with this on a large scale. It was a Pakistani member of the UN police force who put it into perspective for us. He related that in one village three members of a militia returned to their old village after spending some time in exile in West Timor. Strong feelings immediately emerged because these three men had beaten some of their neighbours, and had burned down a number of homes including the village meeting hall. The village members all came together to hold a trial. The three men had no option but to admit to their crime since everyone in the village knew them and had witnessed their behaviour. After hearing their confessions, the elders spoke up, "A crime like this must be punished. There must be justice."

Timorese families in Lisa Dila, East Timor. Photo by Peter Williams/WCC)

Fearing the worst, the three hung their heads in fear. Then the elders continued. "You have destroyed our homes and our meeting hall. We have already collected the materials to rebuild these buildings. You must each rebuild the homes you are responsible for burning, and then you must rebuild our meeting hall."

Quickly the three men set to work. They worked hard and the villagers watched them closely to see if they would do a good job or not. In due course all the buildings were rebuilt.

Once again the elders called a meeting. First they collected a small amount of money from each villager and with that money they bought a cow that was slaughtered and the meat prepared for a feast. When all was ready, all of the villagers gathered around the food. "You have paid for your crimes," the elders said. "Now let us share this meal together so that forgiveness can be complete."

The crime was paid for and forgiven. This, the Pakistani said, is the traditional way of solving problems here, and it is best for outsiders to stay away. The introduction of other models or ideas simply confuses the issue.

*By Max Ediger, staff of the JustPeace Centre of the Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA) based in Hong Kong.
DAGA website:

Hanmaeum Community: Life Giving Agriculture

When Reverend Nam Sang-do moved to the village of Jangseong-gun, South Korea in 1984 to become the minister of Baekum Presbyterian Church, he found his pastoral duties called him to work with local farmers on economic and ecological issues. As he settled into his new surroundings, he witnessed the local farming villages struggling with poor health - due to soil and water contamination from agricultural chemicals - and an unstable economy, as a result of insufficient revenues for their produce.

In 1989, Rev. Nam formed a group made up of local farmers and members of Baekum Presbyterian Church to reflect on these issues. This group stated that they were concerned about finding ways to improve the quality of life for the villagers. Together they began restructuring their local economies, sought alternative ways to market their produce, and developed new methods of farming which were more environmentally-friendly. In time, this group evolved into a collective farmers association, under the name ‘Hanmaeum Community'.

International participants on exposure visit to a farm near Wonju, South Korea during the 2005 Life Giving Agricultural Forum

Farmers began turning to organic methods of farming in an effort to reduce the use of agricultural chemicals. To address the challenges of harmful insects and weeds, they experimented with natural alternatives to chemical treatments. The farmers discovered that freshwater snails could be used to kill weeds in rice fields, and that ladybugs and dragonflies could repel insects causing crop damage. The Hanmaeum Community also established a direct trading network with urban markets by collecting produce from farmers and delivering it directly to consumers. This initiative has stabilized the local economy and ensured a fair payment for their produce.

In 2000, Hanmaeum Community created the Environmental and Farming Education Centre in an effort to promote the growth of environment-friendly farming. Here the centre has developed classes to teach organic farming methods to current and future farmers, and opened an education centre to help urban adult and adolescent consumers experience local farming culture and production.

* This story was shared at the 2005 Life Giving Agricultural Forum which took place in Wonju, Korea from April 8-14. The conference was organized by the Ecumenical Coalition for Alternatives to Globalization.
For full report visit:

International Day of Prayer for Peace, September 21, 2005

Faith communities worldwide came together on September 21 to observe the joint WCC International Day of Prayer for Peace and UN International Day of Peace. To learn about initiatives and events which took place on this day visit the UN International Day of Peace Vigil website at:

DOV at the World Council of Churches 9th General Assembly!

DOV Plenary: Youth Overcoming Violence.

Ecumenical Conversations: "Churches responding to new threats to peace and human security".

Mutirão Workshops:

  • Global Priorities: Military Spending vs. Human Needs
  • DOV: Historic Peace Churches' Involvement and Alternatives to Violence
  • Overcoming Violence in Families - Keys to a Constructive Way Forward
  • The Seven Point Peace Plan of the Peace to the City Network
  • DOV Quo Vadis?: Mid-term Reflection
  • A Different Look at Violence: a Health Perspective

And many more!

DOV Exhibit: The exhibit will be made up of three parts: Information on Violence, Churches Overcoming Violence, and Witnesses for Peace. The presentation will be primarily through artistic expression. This will also be a central space for meeting DOV people, and hearing about the work of other Assembly participants.

A peace vigil in Porto Alegre as part of the DOV Mid-term celebrations will take place.

Visit the WCC 9th Assembly website:


Thermostat: How Can We Turn Toward Peace in a Time of Fear?
A DVD for youth on war, peace and Christian conscience. Thermostat includes a wide variety of resources and a 100-page study guide focusing on the themes of peacemaking, imagination, allegiance, security, terrorism, camouflage and nonviolence. Thermostat encourages intergenerational conversation and learning. DVD - 180 minutes, available in English.
Produced by Mennonite Central Committee 2005. Available in English.
The DVD may be ordered from:, US$ 25.00.

Why Violence? Why Not Peace?
A study guide to help individuals and groups in the churches to reflect and act in the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010): Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace
By Diana Mavunduse and Simon Oxley, 2002
Available in English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish
Price: single copy free of charge; pack of 25 copies Sfr.35.-, US$ 23.50, £ 15.00, € 23.50
Download free of charge or order from the DOV Coordination office at: >Resources>WCC Resources

Being an Instrument of Peace
By Usha Jesudasan
Being an Instrument of Peace is a collection of 52 reflections based on the famous prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi - Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace. With stories from her own experience and the lives of others, Usha shares meditations on each line of the ancient prayer.
Published by EastWest Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd.
Order from the publisher at:

The Churches in International Affairs: Reports 1999-2002
Edited by Dwain C. Epps
This report is a collection of the World Council of Churches' major studies; policy statements, resolutions and decisions adopted by the governing bodies; conclusions of major international consultations; and actions taken by the Council in the field of international affairs from 1999-2002.
WCC Publications. Available in English.
Price: Sfr. 35.-, US$ 28.-, £ 15.00, € 22.00.
Order from WCC Publications at:

People Building Peace II: Successful Stories of Civil Society
Edited by Paul van Tongeren, Malin Brenk, Marte Hellema and Juliette Verhoeven
People Building Peace II seeks to document and draw attention to the important role civil society is playing in preventing and resolving conflict around the globe. In so doing, it wishes to show that people on the ground, ranging from women, youth and faith-based organizations to artists and media, can make and already have made a positive difference in many conflict areas.
Lynne Rienner Publishers. Available in English.
Order from publisher at:, US$ 24.95.

Chain Reaction (New!)
The quarterly magazine of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, a programme of the World Council of Churches. As a forum for debate and dialogue, this magazine expresses solidarity and commitment in the struggle to end the occupation. Available in English.
Chain Reaction may be ordered from the EAPPI office by contacting:

For the Peace of the World: A Christian Curriculum for International Relations (New!)
Edited by Dr Antonios Kireopoulos
The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA presents a new study guide on foreign policy from a Christian perspective, including in-depth essays and Bible studies, prayers, litanies and other worship resources for use in congregational settings. The study guide weaves together many strands of Christian faith that inform the discussion of current events.
Published by Friendship Press. Available in English.
Order at:, $7.95 plus postage.

Nurturing Peace: Theological Reflections on Overcoming Violence (New!)
A Core Group of theologians from different confessional and geographic backgrounds was called to develop and facilitate the work of the Commission on Faith and Order in the area of theological reflection on peace. About to be published, Nurturing Peace: Theological Reflections on Overcoming Violence synthesizes some of the insights and challenges emerging from these reflections as an offering to the churches and Christians everywhere at the mid-point of the DOV. The book addresses three theological challenges identified by the Core Group for the churches and the ecumenical movement to consider as they participate in the DOV: our notions of others, the creation and ourselves; our ways of viewing and exercising power; and our ways of relating with others.
For information on the study process visit:
Order from WCC Publications at:

Christians and Muslims in Mindanao Forge Solidarity Network

Photo by Gail Allen/The United Church of Canada

International Muslim-Christian Solidarity Conference
August 22-26, 2005, General Santos City, Philippines

In the face of social and political discrimination, representatives of the Moro people in Mindanao gathered in search of solidarity with their Muslim and Christian neighbours. The International Muslim-Christian Solidarity Conference, organized by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Moro-Christian People's Alliance, drew an attendance of grassroots Christian and Muslim organizers, diplomats, Catholic sisters and priests, ministers, imams, and activists.

Also present were 14 international guests, from 8 countries, who sought to express a visible sign of international solidarity, and reflect on the Moro struggle within a larger global context. A sense of trust and unity formed as participants came together to discuss issues of human rights violations, economic development, and the global war on terror, and this, in the end, led to the formation of a new Muslim-Christian network. The Solidarity Network for the Moro People in the Philippines will organize activities addressing the Moro context on the local, national, and international levels.

Global Priorities Campaign Launched

On October 17, 2005, Global Priorities: an international inter-religious campaign to change budget priorities was launched in New York. The purpose of Global Priorities is to combine the voices of people of all religious traditions to challenge current national and international spending priorities. This requires a long term effort to shift a portion of investment in human security away from military spending and toward the Millennium Development Goals. For more information visit:

Ecumenical Conference on Globalizing Economic Justice and Social Sustainability

December 8-12, 2005, Hong Kong. Preceding the 6th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (December 13-18), the Conference on Globalizing Economic Justice and Social Sustainability will gather Asian ecumenical organizations at the YMCA Youth Village in Hong Kong. The conference will reflect on the relationship between WTO policies and current issues of economic justice, as well as provide an occasion for faith communities, civil institutions, and people's movements to discuss their role in developing alternatives for more just and sustainable economies.
For more information about this event visit the Christian Conference of Asia DOV website at:

Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism

While tourism has the potential to enhance global understanding through cultural encounters, the tourism industry is leaving marks of environmental destruction, economic disparity, and the degradation of human life. In a message on World Tourism Day, September 27, WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, expressed his concern for these lasting effects of tourism in local communities. Kobia encouraged all those engaged in the DOV "to recognize the dehumanizing and violent aspects of tourism, especially in relation to women, children, marginalized communities, and the environment." He also drew special attention to the work of the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT) for their focus on the social and ecological dimensions of tourism.
ECOT is a regional ecumenical organization, based in Hong Kong, which seeks to analyze the character and effects of tourism in Asia, with the objective of promoting sustainable, authentic, and life-giving cultural encounters. Finding the balance between social responsibility and leisure is the challenge ECOT brings to the tourism industry. As executive director Ranjan Solomon states, "for the church and its agencies, the challenge is to bring alternative paradigms to the tourism agenda which have values of justice, development, respect for cultures, and ecological sensitivity as their base." With this vision, churches are seeking to develop a more holistic approach to tourism.
To learn more about ECOT visit:

World Military Expenditures - a compilation of data and facts related to military spending, education and health

In 2004, world military expenditures reached $1 trillion - an average of $162 per person. The United States accounted for nearly half, 47%, of the total. There was a reduction in military spending at the end of the Cold War and until 1998. Since then, there has been an increasing trend; from 2002 to 2004 there was an annual average increase of about 6% in real terms (adjusted for inflation).

  • The recent increase is undoing the progress made after the Cold War- the world military expenditures in 2004 were only 6% lower in real terms than at the peak of the Cold War.
  • The biggest factor in the subsequent upward trend has been spending in the United States. Particularly, there has been a rapid increase since 2002 due mainly to the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
  • The United States is the foremost contributor of global military expenditures - the Stockholm International

Peace Research Institutes estimated the percentage in 2004 as 47% with 455.3 billion US dollars, far and away more than the amount spent by the next largest spender, the UK, at 47.4 billion.

Military Spending in the Developing World

While the amount of military spending in developing countries is small by comparison to global spending, it often occupies budget space desperately needed for development and social service. Research sponsored by UNICEF indicates that government spending on basic social services - primary education, basic health, and access to safe water - have a particularly big impact on children in poor countries. However, most developing countries spend only 12 to 14 percent of the national budgets on these services. The World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (WMEAT) summary reports that in 1999, on average developing countries spent 14.5% of central government expenditures on the military. In South Asia, the average percentage of military spending as a percentage of central government expenditures was 16.1%, and in Southern Africa it was 17.1%.

The need for basic social services in developing countries is brutally clear:

  • Nearly nine million children die each year in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia of easily preventable diseases.
  • In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, pregnancy and childbirth cause the deaths of nearly 500,000 mothers each year. 
  • In the developing world, one third of children do not complete four years of school. 
  • Half of the children in South Asia are undernourished. 
  • Half of the world's population lack access to adequate sanitation.

Another issue highly related to world military expenditures is foreign aid. Aid, normally from wealthy countries to developing countries, comes in various forms - humanitarian, development, military, etc. While international aid is substantial, by many standards wealthy countries give relatively modestly, and much aid is heavily tied to the foreign policy objectives of the donor country rather than to the needs of the recipient country. 

Some things to consider about aid to developing countries:

  • Almost all developed countries have consistently failed to meet the UN goal of 0.7% GDP.
  • Reality of Aid, an international non-governmental initiative focused on aid related lobbying and analysis, estimates that one quarter of what the USA, UK, France, Germany, and Japan spend annually on arms would be enough funding for aid to do its part in meeting the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015. 
  • According to UNICEF, as of 2000 the world could have meet basic human needs for everyone on earth if $70 to $80 billion- 10% of the world's military spending - were redirected towards that purpose. 

Source - Global Policy Forum 
Data from SIPRI and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Compiled by the Coordination Office, Decade to Overcome Violence, World Council of Churches. 

Download the 30-page document "World Military Spending" with more detailed data and many links.
Or download a summary of the report.