The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CCADD.




17 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2000

(with many thanks to our hosts for their excellent organisation and hospitality)


The conference centre Loyola was thirty-five miles South of Washington on the Potomac river. The hospitality was generous even extravagant. The weather was fine except for our visit to Washington, which coincided with the arrival of hurricane Gordon which had been creeping up from Florida. We saw Washington from the coach. The sea food restaurant was one where our hosts paid the bill and we ate as much as we could after that!

The two Bible studies given in a jocular not to say irreverent way examined the Old Testament view of war. The Hebrew word holy mans separate. And the Israelite wars were separated to Yahweh. The victory therefore is not to strength of arms- Gideon - but to the rightness – the justice of the cause. What troubled the Old Testament people is that the bad guys did not always get what was coming to them.

In the N.T. study there is the reversal in the cross. It is good guy who gets what is coming to the bad guys. The curse is on God. He is not concern only for the righteous but for sinners. We are called to Love to our enemies. One of the most difficult things for human to do is to love our enemies while they are still remaining enemies. Scripture gives the guidelines. We have to count up all the faults of our enemies - the very things that make them our enemies - and then recall that that is but a splinter compare with the beam which is in our own eye.

The speaker at the first session was addressed by Dr.Michael Wheeler. He spoke on the subject of "START and the ABM treaties". .

Recently the Clinton administration has been seeking modification of the ABM Treaty to allow for a National Missile Defence .NMD. Russia claims that if the USA departs from ABM it will wreck START. Most European countries have registered strong concern about changes in ABM and China threatens an arms race if NMD is followed. The purpose of the paper is to examine how the USA got to where it is.

Between the end of the Second World War and the Korean War early warning systems were poorly funded. After that war US set out to defend itself with a robust capability. In 1957 the Russians launched their Sputnik and the US went into over drive. Both Russia and US developed ICBM’s.

At this stage Arms control began to enter the picture which received a set back when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. A Sentinel programme to cope with ICBM’s was proposed and then in the 70’s abandoned.

Nixon concluded SALT 1 and the ABM treaties. Though it did seem that Russia was developing MIRV’s specifically to attack USA. In the 80’s Reagan introduced a major rearmament programme. Strategic Defence Initiative Organisation SDIO was formed and the cost, enormous, became the subject for debate. .

In 1985 Gorbachev revealed his plan for the total elimination of all Nuclear weapons by the year 2000. NATO got worried because they were still dependent on the US Nuclear umbrella. In 1985 the Intermediate Nuclear Force treaty was signed and led to the effective ending of the cold war.

Concern began to mount that the break up of the Soviet Union would increase the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the whole debate moved onto a different level. Clinton took office in 93 he began to shift NMD to a readiness programme. In 96 NMD became a campaign issue. A commission concluded that the ballistic missile threat from nations like North Korea Iran and Iraq was moving at a pace. In 98 the Koreans launched their Tapeo-Dong missile over Japan proving that the USA was vulnerable. Last year Clinton announced a review to assess the readiness of NMD against a possible Korean attack.

The question is can US move to NMD without unravelling START and triggering a new arms race. The US are seeking to convince both Russia and China that an American NMD will not disrupt their relationships. The fact is that if Russia USA relationships break down Russia has still the nuclear ability to destroy American society and, though not in the present, China may be moving towards that position.

Now is there a threat from North Korea? It has a history of violent behaviour. It has a biological and chemical weapons programme. It has a missile programme. There is belief in the States that U.S Cities are at risk. .

If that is so can NMD be effective? Wheeler maintains that while no defence can be perfect there is no reason why such a defence cannot be reasonably effective especially with the improvements when it is activated.

US officials are looking to the possibility that deterrence may fail. North Korea may attack the US. If the President could see such an attack pending he would have both offensive and defensive weapons.

The US seems determined to go ahead with NMD. Will it destabilise the world. Wheeler relied on history to explain that this is the risk that US must take in the hope that there would be a satisfactory solution. In the discussion that followed speakers called the whole matter of NMD into question.



Brian Wicker’s theme was "Prospects for Multilateral Arms Control".

The starting point is the Non Proliferation Review in April/ May 2000. The 180 states accepted a moratorium on Nuclear testing when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty comes into force bringing with it: the commencement of negotiations for a fissile material cut off in five years; the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament; an early conclusion of START 3 - with the reduction of the role of nuclear weapons; putting all fissile material under safeguards; openness concerning nuclear weapons of nuclear states; the development of verification capabilities to achieve a nuclear weapon free world and an unequivocal commitment to total nuclear disarmament.

He then unpacked some of the aspects.

For CTBT to come into action all nuclear states must ratify. India and Pakistan have not signed and China has not ratified. What is most needed is that the USA should ratify. The claim is that ratification would undermine US deterrent and if America has the deterrent then other nations can have confidence.


Europeans are sceptical about threats to American security from say Korea and are concerned that with NMD the whole disarmament programme and arms control would unravel. Even a limited version of NMD would stimulate China to increase its nuclear deterrent plans with obvious repercussions in India and Pakistan.

The idea of NMD is linked to the upgrading of the radar installations in Fylingdales in Yorkshire which some claim would be a breach of the ABM treaty. The Foreign office is evasive claiming that it cannot decide until the request arrives. Then the issue will be, "Can they resist the pressure from the US to comply". If the British Government does agree this will lead to conflict within NATO many of whose nations are more sceptical than the British.

The Fissile Material Cut off treaty known as `fissban’ will make it impossible for nuclear states to manufacture key materials for nuclear weapons.

The Conference on Disarmament which meets in Geneva has a crowded agenda which includes nuclear disarmament; the arms race in outer space as well as `fissban’ and the negotiations getting confused. There is yet no agreement how to begin negotiations on `fissban’ in spite of pressure from the NPT Review which hopes that the work on this subject should be completed within five years.

The whole work is visiated by distrust. China does not trust the US; it does not know what will happen when the President is elected and it sees NMD as a deliberate escalation of the arms race.

The NPT Review is committed to the full entry into force of START 2 and also the conclusion of Start 3 with preserving the ABM treaty as the basis for further nuclear reduction.

Wicker then takes issue with Sir Michael Quinlan. Quinlan claims that nuclear weapons can be safely retained albeit at a lower level and this will prevent war. The abolitionists claim that retaining these weapons will inevitably lead to their being used in anger. Here is the crux of the nuclear disarmament dilemma.

There are alternatives. One is known as `minimum deterrence’. Reducing the number to say 200 warheads that would illuminate accidents or miscalculations or provocative posturing. The difficulties are: that the nuclear states are not interested; to make deterrence effective states have to be able to carry out their threat and the only way to target with such small numbers would be to threaten an opponents cities.

The alternative is `virtual deterrence’. A few weapons would be retained stored and monitored under international supervision. They would not be geared to plans for actual use but would be a warning to any state that stepped out of line that they could be assembled

The question is who would store and where would they be stored.

Wicker dismisses both minimum and virtual deterrence asserting that it can never be right for human beings intentionally to kill others no matter how good the end.


The main speaker in the third session was John Langan: On Morality and the future of weapons of Mass destruction. As a young lad at the opticians, a lens was slotted into the frame in front of his eyes, he was asked "Better with or Better without". He applied that to weapons of destruction. The immediate comment would almost certainly be `better without’ but let’s reflect.

Because we live in a world in which different groups with different agendas exercise power and in which agreements with regard to the use of weapons can as easily be broken as made, so there cannot be one single decision about their deployment, use and control. Even if we came to the deactivation of all weapons, we should still live with the knowledge of construction and the possibility of bringing them back to reality. The threat of these weapons is not because of the discoveries of science, it is the political assessment of the situation.

If we imagine conflicts without nuclear weapons there could still be war on a massive scale. Nuclear deterrence has prevented a conflict with conventional weapons and so we come up with the comment `better with’.

Langan notes that the possession of weapons of mass destruction in the absence of political conflict creates little anxiety. No one worries whether U.K. or France have them. But the contemporary history of Iraq and the growing conflict between India and Pakistan makes it clear that even states that have no ambition for global domination are interested in acquiring weapons to resolve their regional conflicts. Again, we may say `better without’ because the issue is about politics and not about weapons. Langan claims that thinking of ways of illuminating nuclear weapons is unlikely to yield any satisfactory result unless the fundamental issues maintaining the conflict are dealt with.

When we begin to take weapons of mass destruction and political conflict together again we may come up with the proposal `better without’. If we recognise that the during the cold war the political conflict justified the weapons, now it seems that an abolitionist stance regarding the weapons would lead to a world without both weapons and political conflict. Two points are made. We see that intense political conflict and weapons rise and fall together. Again, the conflict issues are worth worrying about when they are supported by the threat of nuclear weapons.

What makes the question about nuclear weapons naďve is that it directs our concerns to the means of conflict rather that than to its source. Let us take the two together. It is noteworthy that the intense political conflict and the sense of need of weapons of mass destruction are likely to rise and fall together. The lessening of the threat to the core countries of the western alliance eliminated political conflict between the communist world and their adversaries but it did not mean the end of political conflict throughout the world. In fact it freed the parties in the lesser conflicts to ratchet up the intensity of their own conflicts. So that the whole world continues to be troubled by political conflicts that are sometime dismissed by commentators as regional.

It is clear that violent political conflict has a much wider scope than the current distribution of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq and Iran may use these weapons but Bosnia Rwanda Sierra Leone engage in war without them. So we have cases of intense political conflict and a minimal likelihood of use of nuclear weapons. With these two types Iraq and Bosnia, there are two important points. It is the newly industrialised states that have acquired the capacity of procuring mass weapon that present the most serious threat. And second, catastrophic evils can be accomplished with unsophisticated technologies. In view of which the `better without’ argument is beginning to look suspect.

So far the author has used the language of `better than ’ rather than the language of right or wrong. But the policy makers are primarily concerned in bring about better situations and often disinterested in looking at them in the more general terms. So he sets out his proposals for right and wrong using the good and better language.

A world without weapons of mass destruction is better than a world with.

A world without may actually be a more dangerous place.

Possession of weapons does not necessarily lead to their use.

The risks are likely to be greater when less sophisticated societies acquire them.

The capability of development of weapons of destruction cannot be eliminated and any settlement must provide for such a proliferation.

States will only renounce weapons when they are convinced that that they can have protection in other ways.

The actual use of weapons constitutes the criticism of the policy which made it necessary.

Solutions to the political conflicts must be found before nuclear weapons become and attractive option.

He proposes that these are the basis for assessing arguments and proposals for future policy.

In session 5, Col Kees Holman presented his paper on "Humanitarian Intervention without the authorisation of the UN Security Council."

The UN charter is based on the concept that sovereign states have a responsibility to maintain law and order but in practice they do not always do this and therefore military intervention is permitted. At present the Security Council can intervene when it is agreed that there is a threat to world peace and when the right to self-defence is challenged. But the Security Council is not always able to take effective measures in time and a state or a group of states may intervene either by force or the threat of force to end human rights violations without the consent of the Security Council or the country concerned. Can this be justified?

Could humanitarian intervention be legally justified by reference, say, to "reprisals" or by a"state of necessity"? In the past the use of force has often taken the form of reprisals but justifying action on these grounds would run counter to the humanitarian nature of the charter and under international law reprisals must never involve force.

The doctrine of a state of necessity seems the most plausible option but this is strictly limited because it can only apply as a legal defence if the action is not in conformity with International law.

The author then puts forward makes seven points in what he calls the strong argument for humanitarian intervention.

1.Reliable and objective evidence exists of grave violation of human rights. 2. The Government is unwilling to take action. 3. Other means are not available. 4. The primary purpose is to stop the violations. 5. The action is supported by those it is intended to help. 6. The opinion of the countries in the region to be taken into account. 7. The action has a reasonable chance of success and finally the action is not likely to lead to greater problems.

The six guidelines for action which he then sets out in his paper in detail are the working out in of that framework,.


There had been a cock-up. Jan Friedlaender thought he had to present a paper rather than commenting on Holman’s paper. And later Duncan Forrester was down to make a comment when he had already submitted a paper. Some astute juggling in the steering Committee brought about conflict resolution, though that Committee was not given any explanation as why for the first time in 37 years no Germans were present. They were missed.

In session 6 Michael Rouge’s subject was "Why is it that terrorism and human rights violations are often attached to religion".

Rouge began by separating Terrorism and Human rights violations. He defines terrorism as "a mode of governing or opposing Governments by intimidation". People who feel that their rights are ignored by the authorities and who despair of gaining better treatment through legal means resort it to. In some cases religion is the defining criterion. Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland; Muslims in Philippines. But even when religious affiliation seems to be at the forefront, the issues at stake have little to do with the right of people to practice their religion. What is present in all cases is the resentment against alien or brutal domination. They may claim to be fighting for their religious beliefs but one suspects that they and these have been manipulated by the leaders of the movement. In summary religion may or may not be a feature where terrorist acts are concerned but it is never the root cause of such acts.

He then turns to human rights violations and religion. The first reason for conflict is a reflection of the difficulties that have existed historically between religions and the proponents of human rights. Take France - is the motherland of human rights. Religious /human rights disputes flare up as for example in the fatwa against Salmon Rushdie and the choice of Rome for the Gay rights 2000 celebration.

A second more serious reason for the conflict is that religions claim that they are entrusted with divine revelation for their list of human rights. True some human rights are without challenge but not all can be justified in this way. And when interpretation comes in controversy arises.

When the UN Declaration was adopted in 1948, eight Islamic states voted in favour but Saudi Arabia could not bring the text into line with Muslim orthodoxy. Again when the Mexican representative moved an amendment allowing men and women to marry "without restriction as to race nationality or religion ". Three states voted against and four abstained on the ground of the Koran. Legally all Islamic states are bound by the UN Declaration but as fundamentalism gains a stronger hold there is a tendency to disown their international commitments considering it their duty to God to do so.

A third source of conflict has to do with religions emphases on duties as well as rights. In ‘68 the French students had a slogan, Forbidding is Forbidden. But no religion can go along with that. For example "Thou shalt not kill" and so on. Freedom may serve the cause of justice as a whole, but it may bring about results that are seen as gross violations of human rights.

Again, take religious freedom. A group claiming to possess the truth may find it difficult to accept that other doctrines can be taught and practised. In France New Religious Movements are regarded with suspicion and against which the young should be protected by state policies. In Saudi Arabia the practice of religion other than Islam is not permitted. Converting to another religion is punishable by prison in Nepal. Religion claims the Pope expresses the deepest aspirations of human beings. It is at the heart of human rights. Everyone should be free in all circumstances to follow the dictates of his or her conscience and no one should be forced to act against it. But at this point French logic breaks down because he has already said that he wants state action against the New Religious Movements

His third section is headed promoting human rights in the present religious context. In spite of the fact that religions seem to sanction what appears to others to be views intolerant of human rights, we should not draw the conclusion that religions are opposed to human rights. But western Countries have to recognise that certain aspects of their way of life derived from their religious outlook do not appeal to non-western states. Others will see linking the concept of human rights too closely with excessive individualism as an attack on important values which religions rightly defend.

Violations of human rights are not the consequence of religion but human rights and religion do interact and they can profit by questioning the others assumptions in a respectful way.


Col Cyriel DeSmet introduced his paper, "Why not be more serious on the control of small arms, using the ban on landmines as an example.

Most conflicts are now intra-state rather than inter-state and most casualties are from the use of small arms. The wide availability of these weapons is an open invitation to solve conflicts on the battlefield rather than round the negotiating table. Many are convinced that sustainable development cannot be maintained without the disarmament in small arms.

Estimates place the number of weapons in circulation somewhere between 100 and 500 million and the manufacture of small arms has increased by 25% in the last decade this is accompanied by a huge but immeasurable black market.

The parallel with the abolition of landmines he dismisses as unhelpful. The measures that are needed include the establishment of international norms against the uncontrolled transfer of small arms, increasing transparency of production and the standardisation of export regulations.

There is increasing international momentum for taking more decisive action in the control of small arms because they are such a major element in the continuation of intrastate wars. The situation is complex, needing initiative at both international and national level.

The speaker in session 8 was Forrester and his subject "Theological reflections on non-military means of resolving conflict".

The thesis of the paper is that Christians must take social and political conflicts with the greatest seriousness and be passionate in seeking the best ways for their speedy and just resolution. Social political economic conflict are not always undesirable and unnecessary and are sometimes the only way forward to a just solution. Conversely non-violent solutions may prolong the conflict and leave deeper wounds. Christian just war thinking takes the sinfulness of active violence as axiomatic and seeks to discipline the use of violence and confine it within narrow limits. It seeks to transform violence into an effective tool for the resolution of conflict when all other ways have proved unsuccessful. But violence still remains theologically questionable. Whenever the sinfulness of violence is lost then just war thinking degenerates into the justification or even the glorification of war. He gives the account of a Christian General who was responsible for getting his troop across the Rhine. The way to do this was to order the destruction of the town of Cleves by aerial bombardment. The General agonised over this. It could never be called good. It was sinful but necessary and called for penitence.

The paper wants to explore some ethical issues that arise in three areas of conflict resolution.

1. What are the roots of violence. 2. What about the movements - the transition from violence to non-violence. How do we expand the just war theory into the just conflict resolution theory.

First the root of violence. He points to family and school where peaceful resolution of violence is frequently ignored. For all its excessive idealism the programme to overcome violence by the WCC does look for the roots of violence in families in society and in churches. Violence in the home means that the children are prone to violence in later life. Discipline by intimidation is a breeding ground for violence. The way that a school operates - the way that disputes are resolved are all important parts of education.

Churches in their own life should be the sign and the sacrament of the coming unity of mankind.

Forrester then examines the changes in thinking about conflict resolution that result not from military victory but when people discover that violence cannot achieve the desired ends. He examines two situation namely South Africa and Northern Ireland. In South Africa the issues of guilt and retribution are not avoided or disguised but they are put within a framework of the fuller understanding of Justice and its end. Justice and reconciliation rest on truth telling which in itself in often healing. Top South African Generals asked for Amnesty if they accepted full responsibilities for the atrocities. The Commission had the right to grant it where there was evidence of penitence and a willingness to make restitution. But Archbishop Tutu made it clear that a general amnesty is amnesia and not the healing of memories. Informed commentators are quite clear that the need for a resolution that is healing comes directly from the Judeo Christian tradition. In this transition period theological factors are supremely important.

The Greek word `kairos’ means `opportune moment’ and the kairos for Ireland is now because of the realisation that military victory is impossible. The Good Friday agreement gives time for the reconciliation of memories and for the steady gathering of support around a vision of the peaceable future for Northern Ireland. Both South Africa and Northern Ireland show the importance of religious insights in non-violent conflict resolution.

He then takes up two non-violent ways of dealing with conflict. One is Gandhi’s satyagraha. It is a movement with deep religious roots intended to replace ways of violence. It appeals to the conscience of one’s opponents by inviting suffering on oneself. Satyagraha was for achieving independence with minimal violence and beginning the process of nation building. Yet even Gandhi recognised that there were situations where it could not be effective.

Forrester then looks at a second way viz. sanctions. Different Sanctions have different aims. Economic sanctions may be used as a way of disabling an antagonist before or after military conflict and to encourage the presence at the negotiating table. They may be a way of making a dramatic statement of principal. The sanctions applied by Church groups encouraged Church leaders in South Africa and even though they had but little direct economic impact they represented a powerful expression of solidarity and offered many opportunities of education about the true nature of Apartheid

It has been argued that disinvestment and the arms embargo were the most important cause for the release of Nelson Mandela and the mounting recognition that apartheid could not be maintained.

The sanctions now against Iraq are of a very different order. The war succeeded in repelling aggression against Kuwait but no other objectives were achieved such as removing Saddam Hussain or destroying the power of Iraq to manufacture and use weapons of mass destruction. These were the aims of the sanctions. But these sanctions are more the punishment of the people of Iraq than the use of non military means to achieve a political gaol.

Forrester notes that a great deal of attention is being devoted not only to what makes peace but to ways of encouraging mediation and negotiations to resolve deep seated disputes.

In summary what has theology to say about the non-military means of conflict resolution? It reaffirms the predisposition against the use of violence but recognises that in some circumstances the controlled use of force is the only way.. Non military actions have sometimes little likelihood of success and can have a devastating effect on the civilian population and escalate into vindictive and vengeful violence. This is why the emphasis is on the goal which is reconciliation the restoration of peace and the building of community are so vital.

In the final meeting an invitation was given to attend the 2001 Conference which is to be held at the Fircroft College, Birmingham, UK from 31st August 2001 to 4th September 2001.