CCIA analyses trends in international relations, prophetic witness in public policy advocacy
Emerging geo-political trends in Asia and their impact on international relations and the shaping of a new world order were analyzed and discussed at the 51st meeting of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The CCIA meeting was held in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, from June 9 to 16 2012.
The geo-politics and geo-economics of the emerging world order have their underpinnings in Asia. A new political architecture with new centres of power is taking shape. Various elements in this configuration play different roles including the formation of new economic and strategic alliances in which Asian powers become strategic partners.
The CCIA meeting discussed the emerging situations related to the democratisation process that has advanced in several world contexts, especially since the beginning of the Arab Spring in early 2011. Despite positive aspects to these developments, such political changes have allowed for strengthening of religious fundamentalism and extremism.
In a world passing through alarming crises, churches are reminded of the values of prophetic witness and prepared to be the repairers of the broken walls in a divided world, where they are called to be instruments of justice and peace for all God’s people and their struggles.
“As Christians we are working in the world, but we are not of the world. Churches are in a better position to contribute to stronger civil societies,” stated the Rev. Kjell M. Bondovik, moderator of the CCIA in an opening address which was delivered in his absence.
Priority areas for global advocacy
The CCIA identified advocacy priorities for the immediate future. These included global advocacy on freedom of religion and the rights of religious communities, the rights of stateless people, the right to self-determination for the people of French Polynesia, Palestine and West Papua; ratification of the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families, responding to conflicts and accompanying churches and peoples in other situations of conflict.
Additional areas of priority concern for the CCIA are the politicisation of religion and growing religious intolerance in several Middle East, African and Asian countries; democratic governance and the rule of law in Zimbabwe and Myanmar; peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula, Nigeria and South Sudan.
Call for sharpening CCIA focus on international affairs
The Nanjing meeting recommended that the future focus of the CCIA should be specifically concentrated within the framework of international affairs following the 10th Assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea in the autumn of 2013.
This is particularly in keeping with the tradition and historical mandate of the CCIA, to speak truth to power in the emerging circumstances of international affairs. The CCIA commissioners evaluated the integration of various commissions into the CCIA since the last WCC assembly in 2006, concluding that these attempts at integration have not been helpful in sharpening the focus of the work of the CCIA and its public policy advocacy. It is felt that too many diverse concerns have been brought together into the operational framework of the CCIA.
The 51st meeting of the CCIA was the first international ecumenical event hosted by the China Christian Council and the first WCC event permitted by the government in the People’s Republic of China since the formation of the WCC in 1948 and the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.
Read also: WCC meeting in China looks at changing demography of Christianity, freedom of religion (WCC press release of June 15 2012).