Consultation reflects on how to build peace with justice in Asia

Diversity is a ‘celebration of God’s image,’ participants say

June 17, 2013

Consultation participants

Participants in a WCC consultation on Asia’s human security challenges in Hong Kong. —Photo courtesy of WCC Communications

HONG KONG

In a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, participants reflected on “Asia’s human security challenges” today and how to strengthen efforts of working towards “sustainable peace with justice in Northeast Asia.”

In a communique issued at the end of the consultation, participants affirmed the diversity of their ethnicities and nationalities as a “celebration of God’s image” compelling them to “protect human dignity and assert human rights in faithfulness to our God.”

Addressing the socio-political realities of Asia, the communique stated: “God’s justice is about the victims, the helpless and the hurt. Touching their lives in solidarity and accompaniment is the true measure of Christian discipleship. Ensuring the fullness of life together and collectively with them is the true mark of Christian stewardship.”

Organized by the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) and the Christian Conference of Asia, the consultation was held from June 3-6.

The consultation brought together 50 participants from Asia, Europe and North America representing churches, ecumenical councils, specialized ministries, peace activists and academia, contributing reflections on the theme of the WCC’s upcoming assembly.

The theme of the WCC assembly is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”. The assembly is set to take place in Busan, Republic of Korea, Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

“Our lament on Asian realities must be turned to affirmation of every effort and endeavor by all religions and ideologies to work tirelessly and sacrificially to make a more just and compassionate world and a friendlier, brighter tomorrow in Asia,” read the communique.

It concluded, “We must triumph over militarism and militarization and move from militarized economies to peace economies.” The communique urged the churches to be the “agents of justice and peace”.

Asia’s human security challenges

At the consultation, Bishop Duleep de Chickera from Sri Lanka said, “To know what justice is, we need to know what injustice is. And to know what justice is we need to experience the plight of the victims.”

He said that in order to establish the “reign of God” as Jesus preached, we have to rethink human relationships and obligations that can challenge the unjust structures in our societies.

At the consultation there was discussion of the role of Japan for human security in Asia. Prof. Kaseda Yoshinori, a presenter from Japan and a political scientist from the University of Kitakyushu, said, “Powerful countries such as United States, Japan and South Korea play with double standards.”

He added that the approach these countries have towards North Korea is not helpful in protecting human security and sustainable peace in the Northeast Asia.

At the consultation, representatives of the WCC member churches in Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea’s committee for peace and reunification in the Korean Peninsula discussed the proposal for a public issue statement. They made suggestions for the content of the statement from the perspectives of the Korean churches.

The public issues statement on “peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula” was proposed by the CCIA and was mandated by the WCC Central Committee meeting in Greece, 2012. It will be presented at the WCC assembly in Busan.

Mathews George Chunakara, director of the CCIA, said that several speakers at the consultation expressed the need for lifting economic sanctions against North Korea.

He added that participants’ suggestion for the statement was to highlight “steps to realize peace in Northeast Asia by ending economic, financial and commercial sanctions against North Korea and turning from the armistice agreement to a peace treaty, effectively ending today’s de facto war.”

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