Frequently asked questions

For the answer to any of the following questions, click on the desired question. If you have a question which is not listed here, e-mail us using our online form.

What is the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV)?

The Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace 2001 - 2010 (DOV) is a global movement initiated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in parallel to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). It strives to strengthen existing efforts and networks for overcoming violence and it inspires the creation of new ones. Read more...

What is the DOV annual focus?

The annual focus highlights a specific region every year. A relevant theme is emphasized among the churches of that region so as to promote and structure work around the DOV and to exchange specific experiences and learnings from the region of the focus.
The purpose of these annual foci is to encourage churches regionally and locally in their efforts for peace and justice, to understand the regional and international challenges by moving beyond stereotypes and to highlight peace and reconciliation work being done in the region. The past annual foci were as follows: Israel/Palestine (2002), Sudan (2003), USA (2004), Asia (2005), Latin America (2006) and Europe (2007). The remaining annual foci are the Pacific Islands (2008), the Caribbean (2009) and Africa (2010). Read more...

Who can participate?

Churches, individuals interested in becoming peacemakers, NGOs and civil society, practitioners, activists, peace institutes, educational institutions (seminaries and other academic institutions), artists, interfaith groups, etc. Anyone engaged one way or another in overcoming violence is welcomed to feed in the process. Read more...

"Overcoming violence" - is this not an unrealistic undertaking?

Violence is part of the human reality. Just like disease. There are at least two reasons to engage in overcoming violence:

  • Violence prevention has become a public health priority world-wide. Its motto is: Violence is preventable - not unavoidable. This is a practical issue and in the end a matter of survival.
  • No less important for Christians is their faith in the alternative to violence. Jesus' nonviolence is not only salvation and hope for humanity, it is also the way in which Christians are to live.

Christians and churches cannot work alone on overcoming violence. We need to act together with civil society to effectively prevent and overcome violence.

What is the definition of "violence"?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation." (World Report on Violence and Health, WHO)

Why is violence such an important issue for the World Council of Churches (WCC)?

Because peace is an important issue. Where there is violence there is no peace. Violence is on the front page of the daily news. It is at our doorstep and actually in too many of our homes and churches. Violence has always been here, but several things happened at the end of the 20th century:

  • The legitimacy to use violence is no longer clearly attributed to the state, its instruments or persons with authority over others.
  • War as an institution between nation states no longer exists. War has proliferated and while going on in many places, it is not legal under current international law.
  • In the past, the ecumenical discourse on violence was usually centered around war and peace. Today, we know that the majority of casualties to physical violence are victims of individual or interpersonal violence.
  • Violence is a most widespread means of entertainment and also a tremendous business, both in terms of weapons sales and entertainment industries.
  • Unless humanity learns to prevent violence and use non-violent approaches we are going to destroy ourselves.

What is the International Day of Prayer for Peace?

The International Day of Prayer for Peace - 21st September - is a yearly opportunity for church communities all over the world to pray and act together to nurture lasting peace in the hearts of people, their families, communities and societies. The idea was proposed in 2004 during a meeting between WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and coincides with the UN International Day of Peace. Read more...

What is the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC)?

In February 2006, the WCC's 9th Assembly met in Porto Alegre (Brazil) and decided that "the conclusion of DOV be marked by an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC)". The Assembly also called for "a process of wide consultation to be undertaken towards developing an ecumenical declaration on "just peace". This consultative process leading up to the IEPC allows for broad participation with many entry points, and covers a wide spectrum of thematic and methodological approaches. The IEPC is due to take place from 4-11 May 2011. Read more...

What are the major thematic areas of the IEPC?

There are four main themes for the IEPC:

  • Peace in the Community
  • Peace with the Earth
  • Peace in the Marketplace
  • Peace among the Peoples


What is the Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace?

During 2008 a drafting team of eight women and men from all parts of the world will elaborate a first exposé. This will be shared with the member churches of the WCC. Their input will be used to work out a WORKING DOCUMENT that will be brought to the Peace Convocation for discussion and action. Read more...

How can churches participate in the work towards the Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace?

Parish groups, seminary students, peace activists and similar organizations have begun to write their own peace declarations. These texts may include prayers, songs, poems. All of them will be published on the IEPC pages of the DOV website. These contributions will be taken up by the drafting group. They will also be used by the working group developing spiritual materials that can be used on the way towards the Convocation and during the Convocation itself. Read more...

What are the Living Letters?

"You show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3,RSV).

Living Letters are small ecumenical teams visiting a country to listen, learn, share approaches and challenges in overcoming violence and in peace-making, and to pray together for peace in the community and in the world. The teams consists of 4 - 6 women and men from different geographical and confessional backgrounds who have witnessed violence in its various forms and are engaged in working for just peace. The aim of such visits is to show solidarity and support to those visited, highlight their daily work and struggle at the grass-root level on overcoming violence. Such an experience is successful when both the visitors and the visited feel they have received from and have been nurtured by the experience. Read more...

Has the DOV actually made any difference?

We can hardly measure the impact of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) on actual violence on the ground because the DOV itself does not implement violence prevention programs. However, we can affirm that churches have become more informed and more engaged in overcoming violence in their respective contexts. It is generally recognized that violence prevention begins with awareness. Churches still have a lot to learn about violence and especially about non-violence. The DOV will not accomplish this, but will hopefully get churches effectively engaged so that the effort continues beyond the Decade.

Where is the DOV coordination office located?

The DOV's Coordination office is located in Geneva, Switzerland, within the Ecumenical Centre. For more information click on "Visits to the Ecumenical Centre and the DOV"

What does the DOV logo represent?

The hands in the shape of the heart over the broken earth signify the need as well as the hope of overcoming violence. The yellow earth stands for hope amidst turmoil, while the sharp edges of the green shape emphasise the danger that the earth is in. The movement around the earth signifies the dynamism of this global initiative. Download the logo