Peacemaking

“Christ, the Prince of Peace, calls his followers to seek peace in the world. Sometimes war may be unavoidable but that the tragic evil that comes with war must rouse us work for peace” (Living Faith 8.5.1-2). The church has a statement on the Theology of Peacemaking and supports the concept of the Responsibility to Protect. The church has advocated that Canada support UN Conventions to regulate the trade of conventional weapons and to ban nuclear weapons and land mines. This page covers several issues: Disarmament, Arms Trade, Nuclear Weapons, Armed Aggression, Landmines.

Click below to jump to an issue:

Peacemaking Policy

Principles General Assembly has endorsed:

  • There can be no peace without justice. (A&P 1991, pp. 299-331, 56-57) God’s peace cannot be separated from God’s righteousness, justice and steadfast love. (A&P 1992, pp. 323-331, 41)
  • Christians are called to be active participants in the process of peace-making. (A&P 1987, pp. 343-344, 33)
  • As a witness to God’s reign the church must address the well-organized roots of violence, deal with the world powers-that-be that bear a special responsibility for all aspects of social justice and seek out people of good will who are working for the cause of peace and need well-organized support. (A&P 1992, pp. 323-331, 41)
  • Canada should maintain a peacekeeping role in international affairs and focus attention on seeking the welfare of all people on earth as way of achieving world peace. (A&P 2018, pp. 284, 22)
  • A military solution in itself is no solution to international conflict. (A&P 1991, pp. 299-331, 56-57)
  • The PCC endorses the Canadian Council of Churches document “The Canadian Churches and the Responsibility to Protect” while recognizing the questions addressed concerning the use of last resort (military intervention) and the potential for abuse of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. (A&P 2007, pp. 284-289 and A&P 2008, pp. 281-2, 25)
  • Economic advocacy is a non-violent action that may contribute to peaceful change. (A&P 2003, pp. 298-309, 15)
  • Ethnic or cultural distinctions must enrich the church not divide it. The church must condemn idolatrous nationalism in its many forms and be an effective witness of God’s kingdom of shalom. (A&P 1993, pp. 248-251, 38)

Peacemaking Policy

Principles General Assembly has endorsed:

  • There can be no peace without justice. (A&P 1991, pp. 299-331, 56-57) God’s peace cannot be separated from God’s righteousness, justice and steadfast love. (A&P 1992, pp. 323-331, 41)
  • Christians are called to be active participants in the process of peace-making. (A&P 1987, pp. 343-344, 33)
  • As a witness to God’s reign the church must address the well-organized roots of violence, deal with the world powers-that-be that bear a special responsibility for all aspects of social justice and seek out people of good will who are working for the cause of peace and need well-organized support. (A&P 1992, pp. 323-331, 41)
  • Canada should maintain a peacekeeping role in international affairs and focus attention on seeking the welfare of all people on earth as way of achieving world peace. (A&P 2018, pp. 284, 22)
  • A military solution in itself is no solution to international conflict. (A&P 1991, pp. 299-331, 56-57)
  • The PCC endorses the Canadian Council of Churches document “The Canadian Churches and the Responsibility to Protect” while recognizing the questions addressed concerning the use of last resort (military intervention) and the potential for abuse of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. (A&P 2007, pp. 284-289 and A&P 2008, pp. 281-2, 25)
  • Economic advocacy is a non-violent action that may contribute to peaceful change. (A&P 2003, pp. 298-309, 15)
  • Ethnic or cultural distinctions must enrich the church not divide it. The church must condemn idolatrous nationalism in its many forms and be an effective witness of God’s kingdom of shalom. (A&P 1993, pp. 248-251, 38)

Select actions endorsed by General Assembly

2019: The Moderator wrote to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Defence to communicate the church’s concerns about the weakness in the Act related to Bill C-47 to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code, (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) and encourage the Government of Canada to include policies regarding arms exports to the United States that are consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. The Moderator also wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs asking that the Government of Canada make public its report on the investigation into allegations of Saudi use of Canadian-made vehicles against civilians in eastern Saudi Arabia. (A&P 2019, pp. 29-30; 288-291)

2013: General Assembly wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to congratulate the Government of Canada for voting in favour of the Arms Trade Treaty and to urge the GOC to sign the Treaty and submit the Treaty to Parliament for ratification by December 31, 2013. Church members were invited to write similar letters to their MPs.
2018: General Assembly affirmed the Government’s participation in the Mali peacekeeping mission (with 162 casualties as of July 2018, this was the deadliest peacekeeper mission in UN history) and acknowledged the risks to Canadian peacekeepers. General Assembly asked that congregations pray for the safety and wellbeing of peacekeepers and the people they protect. (A&P 2018, pp. 284, 22)

2008: The General Assembly endorsed the Canadian Council of Churches document, “The Canadian Churches and the Responsibility to Protect”, while recognizing questions concerning the use of last resort (military intervention) and the potential to abuse the R2P doctrine. (“Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) is a doctrine that outlines guidelines for intervention by the international community in a state’s internal affairs when it is unwilling or unable to protect its citizens from avoidable catastrophe. Under current international law, a state cannot intervene in the internal affairs of another state. The central principles of R2P include prevention, protection, and rebuilding. Military intervention, the most extreme element in protection, is a last resort. It has no standing in international law.) The church affirms the importance of prevention and rebuilding in the responsibility to protect, as well as the peaceful intervention options for protection. The church acknowledges that the more complex and controversial option of military intervention as a last resort may be warranted in extreme situations where all peaceful measures have been attempted and have failed to protect vulnerable citizens. The Presbyterian Church in Canada retains its own judgement and the right to support, oppose or withhold comment on a situation where military intervention is used. (A&P 2008, pp. 281-2, 25)

2000: General Assembly sent a letter to the Government of Canada asking what specific actions it was planning to take to implement the Agenda for Action agreed to at the International Conference on War-Affected Children. (A&P 2000, pp. 319-320, 19)

1994: General Assembly adopted a statement called the “Theology of Peacemaking” which includes reflection on the “just war” theory and articulates responsibilities for

Christians as peacemakers. (A&P 1994, pp. 358-359, 29)

1991: General Assembly asked the Government of Canada to consider ways to achieve a better balance between funding for peace-making research and military research. (A&P 1991, pp. 299-331, 56-57)

Disarmament

Principles that General Assembly has endorsed:

  • In the face of the dangers which confront our world and our country, Presbyterians are urged to commit themselves before God to work for peace, to pray for peace, and to be a peacemaker in the fullest possible way. (A&P 1983, pp. 372-374, 44, 78)
  • No nation, including our own, has the right before God to resort to nuclear weapons, either offensively or defensively. (A&P 1983, pp. 372-374, 44, 78)
  • We condemn the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage all to use whatever means possible, appropriate to the Gospel, to end their production and prevent their use. (A&P 1982, pp. 316-317, 58, 85)
  • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is supported by the Church as a way forward towards global nuclear disarmament. The Government of Canada does not support the Ban Treaty and did not participate in its negotiation. Canada is therefore encouraged to adopt and ratify the Ban Treaty and should use its position as a member of NATO to urge NATO to adopt policies that reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons. (A&P 2018, pp. 286-288, 22)
  • Canada should declare itself a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. (A&P 1988, pp. 361-363, 35)
  • Research and development of biological weapons should cease, and present stocks of such weapons destroyed. (A&P 1989, pp. 347-348, 69)
  • The production, sale and use of all landmines should be banned under a UN convention, and initiatives on rehabilitation offered to victims of landmines. (A&P 1990, pp. 392-394, 62)
  • In order to reduce the contribution of trade in small arms to fueling and prolonging conflict, international criteria should be established in which nations:
    • adopt global transfer principles or criteria that would prevent the shipment of small arms to countries at war or where there are serious human rights violations, or to countries in which such arms are likely to undermine security and development efforts.
    • agree to strengthen and harmonize national regulations on small arms that would include prohibiting possession of semi-automatic and automatic rifles, machine guns and all light weapons by those other than authorized entities.
    • include small arms as part of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to promote greater transparency.
    • ensure that the small arms issue remains a priority in Canadian foreign policy and is integrated into wider conflict prevention, poverty reduction and security policy programming. (A&P 1995, pp. 263-264, 33)
  • The sale of firearms should be strictly regulated. (A&P 1973, pp. 278–279, 283, 40)
  • Owners of firearms should be licensed and should be obliged to take training in the safe use of firearms before a license is granted. (A&P 1976, pp. 436, 470, 60)

Select actions endorsed by General Assembly(arms trade, nuclear weapons, armed aggression and land mines)

Arms Trade

2018: General Assembly communicated concerns about weaknesses of Bill C-47 which would amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code to be consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. The concerns were related to exemptions that applied to exports of military equipment to the US. General Assembly asked the Government of Canada to make public its report on its investigation into allegations of Saudi use of Canadian-made vehicles against civilians in eastern Saudi Arabia (Canada permitted a $15 billion contract to sell Light Armored Vehicles to Saudi Arabia, making it the biggest military contract in Canadian history). (A&P 2018, pp. 284-286, 22)

2017: General Assembly encouraging the Government of Canada to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty. (A&P 2017, pp. 20, 309)

2016: General Assembly requested information on how the Government of Canada will ensure that military equipment sold to Saudi Arabia will not be used against civilians engaged in peaceful protest activities in Saudi Arabia or in other countries, and requesting that the most recent report on human rights in Saudi Arabia be made public. (A&P 2016, pp. 313-4, 23)

2015: General Assembly wrote to the Government of Canada regarding the sale of light armed vehicles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requesting assurances that Saudi Arabia will not use the vehicles against civilians engaged in peaceful activities and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs encouraging the Committee to hold public hearings to examine Canada’s export controls of weapons and military equipment. (A&P 2015, pp. 305-6, 27)

2013: General Assembly commended the Government of Canada for voting in favour of the Arms Trade Treaty (the treaty sets universal regulations for the cross-border transfer of weapons) and urged the government to sign and ratify the Treaty. Church members were invited to write similar letters to their MPs. (A&P 2013, pp. 289-290, 24)

2006: General Assembly commended the Government of Canada for its leadership to date on efforts to control the proliferation and misuse of small arms and requested it work with like-minded states at the 2006 UN Review of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects.

1995: General Assembly sent greetings to the South African Council of Churches and the South African Catholic Bishops Conference expressing support for their call for a moratorium on all arms imports and exports in South Africa and requested the Government of Canada to urge the South African government to cease the export of arms to participants in regional African conflicts. (A&P 1995, pp. 263-264, 33) (Sanctions imposed on South Africa during apartheid curtailed its participation in the international arms trade. But the apartheid government developed its own state-owned and supported industry, ARMSCOR. ARMSCOR became the world’s 10th largest manufacturer of arms and thrived on supplying regional African conflicts, including a $6 billion sale of arms to the former government of Rwanda in 1994.)

Nuclear Weapons

2018: General Assembly advocated that the Government of Canada adopt and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty) and expressed gratitude to Project Ploughshares (a Christian peace policy organization and project of the Canadian Council of Churches) for its research and advocacy to promote nuclear disarmament and abolition. (A&P 2018, pp. 286-288, 22)

2004: General Assembly recommended to the government that Canada not participate in the Ballistic Missile Defence system. (A&P 2004, pp. 316, 15)

1988: General Assembly recommended congregations study the Project Ploughshares document “Peacebuilding: The Church Response to Canadian Defence Policy” and endorsed peacemaking as a primary concern, giving the IAC a mandate to explore ways of implementing a peacemaking program across the whole church. It called on the Government of Canada to declare Canada a nuclear-weapons free zone and communicated its opposition to the proposal to purchase nuclear-powered submarines. A&P 1988, pp. 361-363, 35

1985: General Assembly adopted a report that drew attention to the problems of relying on the manufacture and sale of conventional armaments to developing nations as a means of stimulating the economy, noting that: “It is not a question of defence, but the moral question of using armaments as a means of creating jobs.” General Assembly called on the Government of Canada to renounce the policy of general deterrence (general deterrence threatens first nuclear strike to a perceived threat) and to urge NATO to renounce ‘first’ use, to cease arming with counterforce weapons for preemptive attack, and to abandon military strategies contingent upon the use of nuclear weapons. It also called upon the Government of Canada to plan for functioning in a world free of nuclear threat posturing and to provide leadership in seeking global nuclear disarmament and peace. In addition it called on the Government of Canada to decline the invitation of the U.S. government to participate in the Strategic Defense Initiative (a space-based counterforce system dubbed “Star Wars”) research program as a dangerous new stage of the arms spiral, but instead to commit Canadian technology to the verification of disarmament agreements. Individuals and Sessions were encouraged to engage in prayer, education and advocacy. (A&P 1985, pp. 327, 348-350, 33-35)

1984: General Assembly commended the parliamentary leaders of Canada for their peace initiatives, especially in their attempts to mobilize middle powers, both east and west, to use their influence in moderating the current military climate. It urged the Government of Canada to persist in overtures to nuclear superpowers requesting more reliance on diplomatic negotiation rather than on military aggressiveness. (A&P 1984, pp. 389, 38)

1983: General Assembly revised its 1982 statement regarding testing of cruise missiles and endorsed a “strategy of suffocation” (which consists of working toward a comprehensive test ban on the development of new nuclear weapons, agreement to stop the flight testing of new strategic delivery vehicles, phasing out the production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes and an agreement to limit and reduce military spending on new strategic nuclear weapons systems). General Assembly advocated that a contribution of 0.1% of the annual arms budget be put to positive disarmament measures, and use of GOC influence within NATO and NORAD to move away from the brink of world destruction and toward alternative measures for seeking world security such as multilateral disarmament and strengthening UN peacekeeping capabilities (A&P 1983, pp. 372-374, 44, 78)

1982: General Assembly adopted “Commitment to Life in a Nuclear Age”, which said, “we condemn the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage all to use whatever means possible appropriate to the Gospel to end their production and prevent their use.”

The statement was also sent to the prime minister, the leaders of opposition parties, the premiers of the provinces, the secretary-general of the United Nations and the ambassadors of the Soviet Union and the United States. General Assembly expressed its opposition to the testing of cruise missiles in Canada. (A&P 1982, pp. 372-374, 53, 76)

1978: A public review of Canadian military procurement and sales was called for and study of Canada’s role in disarmament and the role of world peace by Parliament and congregations. (A&P 1978, pp. 335-336, 35)

1963: The Board of Evangelism and Social Action reported to the General Assembly that after two years of study and consultation it was unable to develop a consensus on a response to a 1961 overture calling for a statement on modern nuclear weapons. (A&P 1963, pp. 318-319, 56)

1960: General Assembly urged the Government of Canada to use its influence in international affairs to: stop the testing of nuclear weapons; halt the production of nuclear weapons under conditions of international inspection and control; press for the prohibition of nuclear warfare, and; accelerate international co-operation in the development of atomic power for peaceful purposes. (A&P 1960, pp. 304, 50)

Armed aggression

1990: General Assembly wrote to the Government of Canada to encourage the U.S. administration to accept responsibility for the damages caused by its invasion of Panama and make reparations giving priority to the needs of the poor. (A&P 1990, pp. 392-394, 62)

1985: General Assembly appealed to the Government of Canada to speak strongly through its diplomatic contacts against invasion of the territory of others (such as the recent invasion of Afghanistan by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.)(A&P 1985, p. 35)

Landmines

1995: General Assembly commended the government for the Canadian contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations for their assistance with mine clearing operations, especially in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and the former Yugoslavia and encouraged the Government of Canada to support and assist the establishment and enforcement of a world-wide UN convention banning the production, sale, and use of all landmines, and urged the government to undertake further initiatives in rehabilitating the victims of landmines. (A&P 1995, pp 263, 33)

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