Peter Prove, director of the World Council of Churches' Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.


Proves reflections at the conference convened under the theme Peace Among the People – Interreligious Action for Peace and Inclusive Communities,” spoke about interreligious challenges and responses in contexts in which the WCC is engaged or concerned. 

[R]eligion is one of the many diversities in the human family that has in some places and at some times been instrumentalized by divisive forces,” he said. But to my knowledge its very rarely the case, if ever, that a conflict can be said to be fundamentally religious in nature.”

Much more often, he noted, ethnic divisions or political ambitions lie behind conflicts that are presented in religious terms.

I observe that the many different conflicts that have proliferated around the world in recent times are symptomatic of one common malaise: declining respect, even open contempt, for the principles of international humanitarian and human rights law,” he said. These instruments of international law were negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War precisely to protect the world from the sort of horrors that we are now seeing again in Ukraine, in Israel and Palestine, and elsewhere.”

He asked: Is our collective memory really so short? How can we be so ready to unlearn the lessons of the past, and to abandon principles created for the protection of all members of the global community?” he said. In the current geopolitical context, it should be the common first priority of faith leaders from every religious tradition to insist on the continuing importance of these principles, to demand that all governments fulfil their legal and moral responsibility to ensure the unbiased and consistent application of these principles in all contexts, and to refuse to be the pawns of politicians and demagogues.”

Keynote address by Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs at the Peace Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia