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No peace without justice: Peacebuilding and human rights training equips young ecumenical leaders


With a focus on peacebuilding and human rights protection, The United Evangelical Missions International Summer School 2023, organised in cooperation with the World Council of Churches and other partners, took place in August and September in Hofgeismar, Germany

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Participants coming from areas affected by conflict in 11 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America were trained for conflict resolution, mediation, and human rights protection in the context of shrinking spaces for civil society and churches.

I think the most valuable part of the seminar was the opportunity to share regional agendas with participants from Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Rwanda etc.), Asia (Indonesia-Papua, East Timor, Korea) and Latin America (El Salvador),” says Rev Min Ji Kim, program executive for the department of international relations of the National Council of Churches in Korea, one of the participants of the training.

It was also very valuable that activists from civil society and ecumenical communities working on issues as civil wars, genocide, racism, hatred, and ideological conflicts, were able to come together for two weeks and form a peace and human rights network that can build deep companionship and help our future work together,” shares Kim.

She appreciated the opportunity to share at the seminar the fact that the Korean Peninsula has been under an armistice for 70 years, and is still in dire need of a peace agreement to end the war and move towards peace. This seminar was a meaningful way to help more people become involved in the work of achieving a just peace on the Korean Peninsula. Keep hope alive!” said Kim.

James Ibrahim, who works on Trauma Healing at the Christian Council of Nigeria, says his understanding was broadened by exploring the relationship between peace and justice. In the possible tensions between human rights-based and peace-based approaches to conflict resolution, the principle of do no harm” must be applied, weighing the option of justice before peace.”

Human rights violations or abuses are potential causes of trauma, shares Ibrahim. If we dont transform trauma, we will transmit trauma—perpetrators today were once ignored victims of human right violations. It is difficult to have genuine reconciliation until total healing is guaranteed—trauma can be responsible for a circle of violence.”

The training also explored the human rights advocacy using the Biblical and the UN human rights context. The Bible is categorically clear about humans’ equality before God. And that is reflected in the UN human rights principles—being right to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, right to life, and many others,” says James Ibrahim, adding that peacebuilding must be accompanied with justice and advocacy to respect human rights of all forms.

First published on the World Council of Churches website on 8 September 2023. 

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