Basic Affirmations, Commitments, Recommendations and Future Perspectives - Recommendations
78. We commit ourselves anew to being the church, the body of Christ and the
people of God. We ask our churches and all Christians in Europe, to work for
justice, peace and the integrity of creation, as formulated in the following
79. We consider it essential that the vital concerns for justice, peace
and the integrity of creation should not be separated from the mission
of the church to proclaim the Gospel. We therefore commit ourselves to
the task of proclaiming to all people God's offer of new life in Christ.
80. We encourage the initiation of ecumenical "shalom-services". Women and
men who engage in such service will learn to see their church as part of the
servant people of God among all peoples. We therefore commit ourselves to spreading
this active spirit of shalom.
81. More specifically, we will place our efforts and will ask the others
to situate their efforts within the framework provided by the CSCE-process,
and within the framework of the United Nations at the global level.
82. The comprehensive approach of the CSCE framework relating together security,
economic and ecological cooperation, human contacts and human rights, should
be strengthened and expanded to include also the ecological dimension as well
as the question of justice in the North-South relationship.
83. The international framework of the United Nations should be made
more effective. They have proven that they can be helpful in solving regional
conflicts, in assisting the development efforts of many countries, in dealing
with environmental problems. Therefore, there is a need for the governments
of the world to increase their support of the United Nations and to translate
this support into tangible form. The work of non-governmental organisations
in the areas of peace, justice, international cooperation and the defence
of human rights, as well as the protection of the environment should be
supported and strengthened.
(a) There is an urgent need for a new international economic world order
for the entire humanity, with special priority for the poor, the oppressed
and the powerless. Every economic development has to be submitted to the
criteria of social sustainability, international sustainability, sustainability
for the environment and sustainability through generations. Such action
should include the regulation of international trade relations, the lightening
of the debt burden of the poor countries, development cooperation through
organisations which enable people to invest for justice, such as the Ecumenical
Development Cooperative Society (EDCS), as well as the restructuring of
production and consumption which are increasingly being based upon the
new technologies and introducing a dual society for the rich and the poor.
We should also remind our governments that it has been twenty years
since United Nations members agreed to use 0,7% of their GNP for development
purposes. Similar programmes, such as the Solidarity Funds of Europe, are
also worthy of support.
(b) For the debt crisis, we recommend that the poorest developing countries
be released from their debts, while effective measures are taken towards the
alleviation of the debt of all indebted countries including those in Eastern
Europe. Governments are in a position to cancel or re-schedule debts and to
assist commercial banks and international institutions undertaking similar actions.
Conditions should be created to prevent these countries from getting indebted
again to the current extent (prevention of capital flight, revision of the international
monetary system, changing the policies of the IMF, revision of the terms of
trade, etc.) and to make sure that the funds released are being used for the
benefit of the victims of poverty. In addition, we urge that the "Disarmament
for Development" Funds (United Nations Conference, 1987) should be put into
(c) In order to overcome situations of injustice dealing with discrimination,
racism, sexism, torture, disappearance and killing of people and other violations
of human rights, including the right of peoples and nations to self-determination,
we call for the full implementation of the international human rights agreements
on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and of the instruments
for their concrete application, including:
- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the optional
protocol thereto (1966)
- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
- Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the optional protocol
thereto (1967) (1951)
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959)
- Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
Based on Religion or Belief (1981)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (1984)
- European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
- the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, (Helsinki,
1975) as well as the documents of the follow-up conferences of the CSCE, specially
Madrid, 1983 to 1985 and Vienna, 1986 to 1989.
(d) We call for the establishment of the necessary mechanisms of control
in case of non-application of these rights, so that individuals too can
appeal to an international court of law, as is the case regarding the European
Convention on Human Rights.
(e) Racism is a fundamental violation of human dignity and human rights. It
is, moreover, a sin according to our Christian tradition. Nevertheless, racism
and ethnic discrimination occur in many places, including our countries in Europe.
Sometimes it becomes institutionalised, as is the case with the immigration
laws of certain European countries and other policies and practice in different
parts of Europe. Sometimes, as well as being institutionalised, it takes on
extreme proportions. This is the case with apartheid in South Africa. We consider
all forms of racism to be inacceptable. Apartheid, as a system is incapable
of being reformed and should be abolished. We ask churches, congregations, and
individual Christians to commit themselves actively to the 'minimum programme
of action' of diplomatic and economic measures (such as a coal embargo, no new
loans, and a ban on direct air links), as was urged by the South African Council
of Churches and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference during the
visit of their delegation to Europe in May 1988.
A worldwide emphasis should be placed on the population problem.Since overpopulation is largely a consequence of economic poverty, an
appropriate population policy must concentrate principally on overall economic and social development. It must never dismiss human dignity
and reverence for life as a first criterion.
(g) We urge that the support of life be recognised as supreme criterion in
structuring the social order. This applies in particular to the
protection of unborn life and of children.
(h) As a further application of this, specifically we call for a concept of
work, where women and men share in all activities, and in which each has his
or her rightful share, without exploiting the workers, nor the weakest in our
societies, such as young women with children, the elderly, refugees and migrants.
Such action could entail job sharing, while at the same time there should be
a guaranteed minimum income for all members of society whether employed or unemployed.
This also includes measures which enable persons to work while caring for a
family. The care for children, for elderly and disabled people, should be acknowledged
as an important and indeed meaningful occupation, worthy of the recognition
(i) Discrimination against women, for instance in wages and employment opportunities,
should be abolished. They should be protected from
violence, and women in problematic situations, such as single mothers
and violated women, should receive adequate protection.
(j) We ask our churches to decisively improve the involvement of women in decision-making
processes and in church life in general, to see that
they are equally represented in Church bodies and theological faculties,
to begin a profound dialogue with feminist theology, to acknowledge and
support women's ecumenical engagement.
(k) While we recognise that there is an idealization of youth in our societies,
we believe that the reality of life for many young people is
characterized by underestimation of their ability and creativity;
lack of a meaningful role in society; and the deprivation of a vision
the future. Young people suffer from unemployment; poverty; homelessness;
enforced military service with no possibility for
conscientious objections in some countries. They also suffer from alcoholism
and drug abuse. We ask our churches to recognise that many
young people feel unable to take a full part in the life and witness of
their churches. One reason for this is that young people are underrepresented
in decision-making bodies of the churches. We believe that better co-operation
between the churches and youth organisations would be an important step in ameliorating
(l) We ask the churches to recognize that refugees and migrant workers leave
their countries of origin inside and outside Europe, either because their economic
situation is hopeless or because they are victims of political, social or religious
oppression. We call for the abolition of all restrictions against these people.
We call upon all European Christians to receive and accept them as brothers
and sisters, and to work for changes in the legislation and in public opinion
and behaviour to allow their situation to improve.
We also want to call attention to the millions of refugees and displaced
persons in other continents. They are victims of economic, political, social,
environmental changes and violent situations. European churches and Christians
should do everything within their power to take away the root causes of
their plight, and to render immediate assistance.
(m) We call, more specifically, upon the churches, the Christians and
the leaders of the EEC-countries to ensure that the implementation of the
Single European Act in 1992/1993 will not lead to a levelling down of social
provisions and ecological standards. We also urge them to ensure that the
European Community will become more aware of the fact that it does not
cover the whole of Europe and that this should also be reflected in its
name. The European Community should continue to reach out across its borders
to the rest of Europe and the world.
(n) 1992 will moreover mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of
a period of European expansion to the detriment of other peoples. This
calls us to work for a just and peaceful relationship both between the
countries within Europe and between Europe and the other parts of the world
in particular the Middle East for which Europe bears much historic responsibility.
We urge our churches to support the struggle of the people in Latin America,
Africa and Asia for social justice, human dignity and the preservation
of their environment.
85. We urgently appeal to all Christians of Europe to contribute actively to
the solutions of these problems within their churches and within their societies.
Our lifestyle should take into account the needs of the poor and the marginalised
of our own society as well as of the Two Thirds world. Each of us too is contributing
to the causes of injustice. Our involvement for changing structures of injustices
will only be credible if we, as individuals, take seriously our personal responsibilities
in the matter.
(a) Since European churches are convinced that war is against the will
of God, everything should be done to develop further the international
mechanisms of peaceful resolution of conflict between nations, through
international agreements, recognition of international courts of law, etc.
These efforts should be geared towards overcoming the institution of war.
The promotion of peace must take priority over the prevention of war.
(b) We call upon the USSR, the USA as well as the countries of Europe, to honour
already existing treaties, to continue their negotiations for disarmament, to
take steps in conventional disarmament, to reach an agreement on a comprehensive
test ban for nuclear weapons, and to refrain from any military use of space
and of the Antarctic. We welcome agreements such as the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty and call for their full implementation.
(c) We call upon all countries and governments in Europe to join forces
and work together towards the goal, that the development, production, deployment,
possession and use of weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, biological
or chemical, be condemned by international law and thus be brought to an
end; moreover that in this way the system of nuclear deterrence be overcome
and be replaced by a different, less dangerous system of security. We strongly
support the efforts of the United Nations and other international institutions
towards global and regional security.
(d) Today security can no longer be safeguarded on a national level
alone. Rather the preservation of peace requires structures of co-operative
security. All countries in Europe should strive to co-operate in developing
and implementing purely defensive structures of security. In this way the
danger of misuse of nationalistic feelings which cause and foster tension
and conflicts within each country and in relationships with other countries
could be lessened.
(e) Those who serve in the armed forces with the aim of protecting the
rights and freedoms of their peoples should exercise their office in the
service of world peace. At the same time the rights to conscientious objection
to military service as a part of freedom of religion, conscience and thought
has to be recognized by all governments by creating the possibility of
appropriate alternative civilian service. Churches and congregations have
the task to advise those who are called up for military service in their
decision of conscience and to offer pastoral guidance to them, while respecting
the decision of the individual.
(f) The international arms trade and the export of weapons and weapons
technology to zones of conflicts and tension should be stopped. In all
the other instances, they should be subjected to the strictest rules and
regulations. Policies have to be worked out for the conversion of arms
industries to civil production.
(g) We welcome explicitly the Concluding Document of the Vienna Review
Conference of CSCE from January 1989 and stress its meaning for the ongoing
and deepening process of detente in Europe and between the USSR and the
USA. Important results on the realisation of human rights, religious freedom
and human contacts have been reached. We also recognize that Europe
has failed to uphold the right of those nations and peoples within states
to self-determination and to foster their own cultures, traditions and
languages. We agree that human rights have to be realised in their globality
and reciprocity, as political, civil, social, economic and cultural rights.
We commit ourselves to use these rights and to observe their realisation
in our respective countries. We are convinced that human contacts at all
levels of society between the countries of Europe should take place. The
time has come that the borders in Europe especially between East and West
should progressively lose their separating character. We encourage the
churches to make use of the existing possibilities, especially in establishing
partnerships between parishes.
(h) If we look at the whole world we see with great suffering the continuation
of some situations of conflict and tension. We think in particular of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the Palestinian question,
the situations in Lebanon and Cyprus. We ask that every effort be made to overcome
these conflicts and to solve these questions with respect to the legitimate
demands of all. Efforts should be made to unblock these situations so that peoples
be free to make their political choices and that the peaceful co-existence between
women and men from different religions and origins be re-established and can
be a sign of hope and peace for all.
We urgently appeal to all Christians in Europe to assist their churches
and their governments in solving these issues.
(i) At all levels, both in the churches and in society, peace education,
geared towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts, has to be developed
and encouraged. At all times non-violent alternatives have to be a priority
in conflict resolution. Nonviolence should be seen as an active, dynamic
and constructive force, grounded in absolute respect for the human person.
(j) We ask all Christians in Europe to renounce the use of violence
in their everyday life, in their family, in school, at work, specially
the glorification of violence in the mass media. As Christians we have
a special responsibility for the education of our children. They can mirror
the vision of a peaceful and just world as long as they know themselves
to be loved unconditionally by adults. The adults living and acting today
are the hurt children of yesterday - the hurt children of today are the
adults of tomorrow. The children are our future and hope.
The rights and wishes of parents concerning the education of their children
should be respected. In particular the religious beliefs of children should
be fully respected. In addition, parents should have a right to oppose military
or pre-military education. Children should not suffer any disadvantage from
non-participation in such lessons. The rights of children should be recognized
and defended by all.
(a) All technological development has to be assessed according to the
above mentioned criteria of sustainability (see para.84(a)). This entails
a complete reversal of the concept of sustained economic growth as well
as in the use of natural resources.
(b) The wasteful use of energy in the industrialised countries has reached
such gigantic proportions that there is an urgent need for a drastic reduction
in their use. Some churches have committed themselves to work for a significant
reduction in the use of energy. We appeal to all the European churches
and Christians to do the same within the limit of their possibilities and
untiringly to challenge decision-makers in political, technological and
business life to more efficient policies for saving energy.
(c) We are referring in particular to fossil fuels, a reduction of the use
of which can be achieved through effective energy-saving techniques and through
the development of renewable energy supplies (sun, water, wind). The necessary
financial resources could be collected by appropriate taxation. Nuclear power should not be the basis of future energy
supply because of its social, technical, ecological and military risks. Safety
requirements in nuclear power plants should be to the highest international
(d) According to the Brundtland Report the technical possibility exists
of reducing per capita energy consumption in industrialized countries by
50% and increasing the per capita energy consumption in the Third World
countries by 30% (on the basis of predictable increases in population).
In so doing the total world energy consumption would only be increased
insignificantly. This is the only worldwide energy perspective which combines
the preservation of creation with justice. This approach should be considered
seriously by Christians in the industrialized countries, particularly as
the Brundtland report has increased substantially public awareness of ecological
issues and is well regarded in the scientific community.
(e) Special measures have urgently to be taken in order to protect the
ozone layer, to counteract the greenhouse effect, preserve what is left
of the rain forest, and to prevent the spread of desertification.
(f) There is an urgent need for an international and controllable regulation
on waste disposal, particularly for nuclear and other dangerous waste. On no
account should European countries dump their waste at the expense of other countries,
in their seas or international waters. Special attention in this matter is deserved
by the question of nuclear waste disposal (e.g. in the Pacific).
(g) International agreements on border-crossing emissions in order to
prevent the further pollution of water, air and soil, and to undo the damage
already done, are an urgent priority for all European countries.
(h) Strict legislation and controls for genetic research and genetic
engineering and professional codes of conduct are needed. There is equally
an urgent need for the churches to continue to reflect on the latest developments
in the field of bio-technics in order to provide ethical guidelines for
these issues about the implications of the value of life, not only of the
human person, but of all living creatures and of nature itself.
(i) Urgent measures have to be taken to preserve the variety of species
and variety of genetic riches within the species. The churches can be instrumental
in making this problem known. The United Nations World Charter for Nature
of 1982 is a first step.
The next step could be an international Species Convention such as the
International Union of Nature and Natural Resources has proposed. Financial
agreements should be reached which ensure that the countries, particularly
in the poor world, receive an equitable share of the benefits and earnings
derived from the development of these species.
For us as Christians, the variety of species in itself shows the generosity
of God the Creator.
(j) Dialogue with scientists on ecological issues and study of such resources
as the Brundtland Report are commended.
We ask all Christians of Europe to help and support their churches and their
governments in realising these measures. We ask all of them to adopt a lifestyle
which is as little damaging as possible for the environment. This will mean
a reduction in the use of energy, the use of public transportation and to limit
waste. Municipalities can introduce an "ecological book-keeping". We have to
learn that our happiness and health are less dependent on material goods than
on the gifts of nature and our fellow creatures, on human relations and on our
relationship with God.