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EKD peace spokesperson: we should critically question military policy

June 14, 2013

The churches should be critical of the political concept 'responsibility to protect' (R2P) as legitimizing military intervention in conflicts, in the opinion of Renke Brahms, the spokesperson on peace questions of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The World Council of Churches (WCC) was called upon to "urgently clarify" its attitude, said Brahms on Thursday. He was speaking at the start of a three-day conference on peace issues, organized jointly by the EKD, the Protestant academies of Berlin and Villingst, and the Heidelberg-based Protestant Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (FEST).

Brahms, who is a pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen, pointed to the risk of abusing this concept. In his opinion, this had been the case with the military engagement in Libya. "Then the concept of R2P can be suspected of justifying military interventions by reference to human rights," said Brahms. The concept is an agreement of states that they will only intervene with military force in conflicts in other countries if the people are acutely threatened by war crimes or grave violations of international law.

Edward C. Luck, the UN special envoy for Responsibility to Protect, defended the idea - it was not only necessary but also unique, because it was not easy to apply. Those concerned had to wrestle with it all the time, he claimed, thereby encouraging participants to join in the discussion.

Martin Schindehütte, EKD bishop responsible for ecumenical relations and ministries abroad, began the conference by praising the concept of 'just peace' developed by the churches. He called on the European churches and churches worldwide to remain in conversation about peace questions and to bring the results into the public arena. Christians had a social and political responsibility in this regard, he said.

The concept of 'just peace' emerged during the Decade to Overcome Violence, which was launched by the WCC in 2001. It contrasts with the notion of 'just war', which was regarded as obsolete. In November this year, the 10th Assembly of the WCC with its 349 member churches will meet in Busan, South Korea. Peace issues will also be on the agenda in the divided country.

14 June 2013

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