14.12.10 16:08 Age: 1 yrs

WCC co-sponsors International Congress on the Human Right to Peace


Peace as a universal human right has been the focus of an international congress co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The WCC worked in collaboration with the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (SSIHRL), Forum 2010 and the Institute for Peace Studies (Alexandria, Egypt) to organize the International Congress on the Human Right to Peace, held on 9-10 December 2010 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Discussion at the congress centred on the final text of a declaration on the Human Right to Peace which has been elaborated by international experts and has been the product of a four-year campaign launched by the SSIHRL and supported by numerous civil society organizations. This declaration represents civil society’s contribution to the on-going process that the United Nations started in order to issue a declaration on people’s right to peace.


The “Santiago Declaration” will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council where UN member states will be invited to initiate the official codification of the human right to the peace. The congress also presented a statute for the future creation of an International Observatory on the Human Right to Peace.


The International Congress was chaired by Dr Theodor Van Boven, professor emeritus at the Maastricht University, former moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, former director of the UN Human Rights Division and former special rapporteur on torture of the UN Human Rights Council. UN officials, international human rights activists, academics and representatives of civil and faith-based communities were among the participants in the congress.


The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, spoke during the opening session on the importance of dialogue among civilizations, tolerance and the culture of peace. He told the congress, “Throughout history, civilizations and societies have progressed through interaction and dialogue. There is a need to enhance our mutual understanding so as to address the numerous challenges that are posing a threat to peace and to commonly shared values, such as justice, respect for human dignity and human rights.”


Among the coordinators of the congress was Christina Papazoglou of the WCC human rights programme.


Opening address by the WCC general secretary


WCC work for human rights


Conference programme (pdf)