What is your contribution to peace

Peace and justice

Contribution by Caroline Kruckow and Andreas Dieterich, speakers in the peace team of Bread for the World.

Anyone who wants to promote and maintain peace must ensure justice and balance social tensions. Because unequal distribution or access opportunities are a constant threat - in individual countries and worldwide. Peace work therefore always means interfering in social, political and economic power relations, which are often causes of violence and / or wars. Nonviolence and prevention are both a challenge and a basis for action.

In the biblical testimony, justice and peace cannot be separated from one another: "The fruit of justice will be peace and the result of justice will be rest and security for ever", promises the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 32:17). The World Conference for Church and Society in Geneva in 1966 stated that justice and peace “are not only tasks for the respective national societies, but also for the relationship between the industrialized and developing countries”. This describes an area of ​​shared responsibility: "Justice and peace in an interdependent world" has been the guiding theme of church development cooperation since the World Church Conference in 1968 Know the whole world and have the means, there is no excuse. It is a world, and the immense inequalities between people of different nations and different continents are as inexcusable as the great differences within nations. "

The connection between peace and justice was formulated in concrete terms: "This commitment to justice all over the world is also an effective contribution to peace. Because in the broad sense of biblical preaching as well as political reality, peace means more than the resting of arms or else the constantly threatened balance of highly armed powers. Unjust conditions in domestic and world politics represent a constant threat to peace. The people's efforts for peace must therefore include the search for more justice and the equalization of social tensions through global development programs As a result, justice and lasting peace are directly linked. "

With the apparent resolution of the East-West conflict and after the attacks of September 11, 2001, new global challenges arose for peace and security policy, which the churches also had to face. To this end, the EKD initiated a discussion process, which in 2007 resulted in the peace memorandum “Living from God's Peace - Ensuring Just Peace”. The introduction says: “Peace cannot be taken for granted. Preserving, promoting and renewing it is an everlasting task ”. The 2007 memorandum emphasizes the need for prevention, the primacy of nonviolence, and the importance of civil peace and development services in promoting, maintaining or restoring sustainable peace. She also developed the guiding principle of “just peace”. Justice is understood here as a “category of a social practice of solidarity”, “which primarily addresses the weak and disadvantaged and fulfills the commandment to love one's neighbor and enemy”. Peace is seen as a social process in which violence decreases and (political and social) justice increases.

Disclose conflicts and overcome them constructively

This is also the guiding principle for Bread for the World. Church development work takes into account the close connection between peace, justice and the integrity of creation. Our guiding principle of just peace is based on the holistic approach that the international ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches have formulated in recent decades (“Peace in the community, peace with the earth, peace in the economy, peace between peoples”). In this understanding, justice is closely linked to distributive justice and access opportunities, but it also means that there is no violence and oppression.

The basic concern of Bread for the World is to support people to improve their lives on their own, to determine themselves and to shape them with dignity. The work of a bread for the world partner organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an example of the fact that peace must grow from within and that local communities know best what peace means for them and how justice can be achieved. It advocates the participation of the communities in the extraction and use of raw materials such as coltan. The aim is to reduce the negative and conflict-causing effects of raw material extraction on the local population, such as environmental pollution, corruption or child labor, and to use the resources gained more intensively for their own development.

But peace work also means taking responsibility for the consequences of our lifestyle and our politics in the Global North. For this to happen, the international framework and action in all political fields must also be changed in terms of global justice and peacebuilding. Bread for the World, for example, works together with its partner organizations in Germany, Europe and worldwide for an ecological and social value chain. In doing so, we demand from the federal government that it legally obliges German companies to respect human rights in their business operations, across the entire supply chain, right up to the coltan mine in the Congo.

Political work in the Global South as well as lobbying and advocacy work in the Global North thus help to reveal conflicts, to deal with them constructively and to overcome injustices as causes of conflict. A gender-specific view is always particularly important. Men and women have different approaches to power in their respective societies and bring different potentials and possibilities of influence, which can either promote peace or exacerbate conflict. Understood in this way, development work for peace and justice also always means interfering in social, political and economic power relations, which are often causes of violence and / or war. Working on conflicts, non-violent and constructive, is therefore a central challenge in church development cooperation, which should not be missing in the justice debate.

This article is part of the publication "Together for Justice". You can find more information on this topic at this link.