Statement of Pax Christi International Against a Pre-emptive War with Iraq
Open Letter to Governments and International Institutions.
Pax Christi, the International Catholic Peace Movement, has a wealth of experience in the fields of peacemaking, reconciliation and human rights. These experiences tell us that the way to peace and true justice does not lie in war and militarism but through international co-operation, conflict prevention and resolution and a transformation of the root causes of injustice and oppression. We now add our voice to that of many church institutions and Christian leaders in the USA, the UK and throughout the world who believe that war with Iraq would be both illegal and immoral.
Pax Christi International rejects the threatened pre-emptive strike against Iraq. We believe that the lives of the peoples of Iraq are already blighted by the war of 1991, by oppression and the effect of unfocussed sanctions. A war would cause enormous added suffering for these people. A war would also set a dangerous precedent for resolving conflict and threaten the fragile stability of the Middle East and could escalate the violence and counter-violence. The Israeli Palestine conflict could deteriorate further and may even lead to a Third World War. Much is at stake.
Pax Christi International recognizes the need for the Iraqi leadership to be held accountable for its abuse of human rights, as reported by the UN Commission for Human Rights, and for its non-compliance with UN resolutions. All other countries, especially concerning Israel, should be held similar accountable for non-compliance with UN Resolutions. However, we believe that this must be done not through a rush to war but through rigorous political and diplomatic means. In the case of Iraq for example, diplomatic co-operation with the UN must be strengthened, UN weapons inspections must re-start and any sanctions which are imposed should be focused at the Iraqi regime and not on the civilian population. Pax Christi International also urges the international community to use its skills and resources to support a peaceful and democratic future for the people of Iraq.
The international peace organization believes that the European Union has a special responsibility to prevent a war and to act in order to achieve peace in the region. The EU should speak out to challenge the unilateral approach of the USA and reinforce and strengthen the role of the UN in creating a just peace and building democracy for the people of Iraq. This would send a clear message to those who believe that war and bombing is the way to deal with Iraq.
It is deplorable that the world’s most powerful nations, continue to regard war and the threat of war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of the ethos of both the United Nations and moral teaching of all faiths including our Christian one. Western governments and intergovernmental organizations should do all it can to make available human, economic, political and technological resources to ensure the peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote sustainable economic and social development.
Antwerp, Belgium, 21 October 2001.