08.06.11 19:06 Age: 271 days

Dreams, definition and declarations pave the way to “just peace”


“If we don’t have dreams about what we want to become true, we are not quite realistic,” says the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). “A radical realism in the form of dreams is required to open the space for serious dialogue on the challenges we are facing together.”


Tveit has been engaged in reflection on his experience of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC), at which 1,000 activists from around the world gathered during the week of 17-25 May on the University of the West Indies (Mona) campus near Kingston, Jamaica. One of the important conclusions of the discussions there, he reports, is that “to condemn war is not enough; we must do everything in our power to promote justice and peaceful cooperation among peoples and nations.”


“In addition to dreams and definitions” of peace, says Tveit, “we need the declarations. One declaration about peace has been repeated more than many others: Glory to God and Peace on Earth, the declaration of the angels at Christmas which has been echoed in Christian liturgy every Sunday.”


As a consequence of the IEPC, the WCC will publish resources for churches such as “An Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” and “The Just Peace Companion”, aids to study and action in the pursuit of justice and peace on many levels of society, from local communities to the world of nations.


The Ecumenical Call to Just Peace expands on the churches’ vision for overcoming violence: “The Way of Just Peace is fundamentally different from the concept of ‘just war’ and much more than criteria for protecting people from the unjust use of force; in addition to silencing weapons it embraces social justice, the rule of law, respect for human rights and shared human security.”


The Call to Just Peace continues defining “just peace” as “a collective and dynamic yet grounded process of freeing human beings from fear and want, of overcoming enmity, discrimination and oppression, and of establishing conditions for just relationships that privilege the experience of the most vulnerable and respect the integrity of creation”.


In a document prepared for the politically influential Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Dresden, Tveit described a “growing consensus” among Christians on matters of war and peace, though some disagreements remain on specific issues such as the means of protecting civilian populations in conflicts like the current struggle in Libya and the requirements for a peace that promises justice to all parties in Israel and Palestine.


“What the churches through the WCC offer is a dialogue of life at all levels,” Tveit wrote, “with no preconditions other than a readiness to engage in it and the common goal of fostering peace across the boundaries that separate us.”


Text of Konrad Adenauer Foundation document “Just Peace – the dream that comes true”


Audio interview with the WCC general secretary on just peace


IEPC message


IEPC website