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Peace With Justice - Church Leaders' Statement
15 April 2003
Before the invasion of Iraq began, we, church leaders in New Zealand, although keenly aware of the evil intentions and capacities of President Saddam Hussein's government, spoke out against such an attack. Now it seems the war is reaching its conclusion with victory by the United States led forces. We express our deep grief over the destruction of human life and property that has been brought about by this war, especially the death and disabling of so many innocent men, women and children, along with military personnel. We state again our conviction that the launching of this war lacked moral and legal legitimacy. It was launched before all peace efforts and other means to avoid it had been taken.
Now, as the world turns its attention to the reconstruction of Iraq, we state unequivocally that peace must include justice; there will be no lasting peace without justice. In the situation that has been created in Iraq, we believe two principles of justice must be observed: That claims of victory by those who initiated this unjust war bestow no rights in detemining the future of Iraq. That the land, resources, governance and future of Iraq belong to the people of Iraq.
Therefore - We support the New Zealand government in calling for an interim United Nations administration in Iraq, with authority to oversee the rebuilding of the infrastructure of the country and the return of government to the people of Iraq. We are strongly opposed to the United States and its allies in this war assuming any prior rights in this process. We will encourage and support initiatives of the New Zealand government (a) to share in any necessary peacekeeping operations during the United Nations interim administration, and, (b) to contribute to the restoration of health and education for the people of Iraq.
We urge the New Zealand government to do all it can to ensure that, if charges of war crimes or crimes against humanity are to be laid, the United Nations take sole responsibility for the laying of such charges and that such charges be heard and determined by an independent international court, such as the International Court of Justice. We commit ourselves to continue the aid and development projects being undertaken by the Churches. There is much already being done, and we commit ourselves to the rebuilding of relationships between Christians and Muslims.
We state again: there will be peace only when there is justice! We invite the members of our Churches and all people of goodwill in this country to join us in promoting peace with justice for the people of Iraq and the Middle East.
Signed: Jabez Bryce, Acting Primate of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Brian Winslade, National Leader, Baptist Churches of New Zealand; Bryce Morris, Congregational Union of New Zealand (Personal Support); Norman West, President, Methodist Church of Aotearoa New Zealand; Michael Thawley, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand; Thomas Williams, Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand; Commissioner Dr. Shaw Clifton, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army - New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga; Michael and Merilyn Payne, Joint Yearly Meeting Clerks, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Aotearoa/New Zealand.