Lutherans Welcome Guatemala Peace Accord LWF General Secretary calls on int

12/30/1996 12:00:00 AM



a chance" in Guatemala

     CHICAGO, Dec. 29 (lwi/elca) - The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Ishmael Noko, called on the international community to help Guatemala rid itself of conditions that caused years of conflict and thus "give peace a chance" in the Central American country.  Noko welcomed Sunday's signing of the final peace accord in Guatemala as a milestone that "establishes the foundation for peace in Guatemala."  However, the "arduous process of reconciliation and consensus-building" still lies ahead, he said in a statement.
     The Zimbabwean theologian is general secretary of the LWF, whose 122 member churches in 68 countries worldwide include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
     Noko called on the international community to safeguard the achievements reached in the peace agreement.  "Increased attention must be given to long-term development and reconstruction in order to eliminate the conditions that cause conflicts and thus give peace a chance."  He added, "Peace can only be achieved if the culture of violence that has grown over many years of confrontation can be converted into a culture of reconciliation and justice."
     Noko stressed the LWF's commitment to conducting development and humanitarian projects in Guatemala, as part of its continued mission of solidarity with the Guatemalan people.

Past, future support for peace process
     The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) originally sponsored talks between the Guatemalan government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) in March 1990 in Norway, at which the Oslo Peace Accord was signed that inaugurated the Guatemalan peace process.  The formal negotiations between the government and the URNG began in Mexico City in 1991.
     Between 1993 and 1995, the LWF was one of four major church organizations that together convened a series of ecumenical consultations that brought together representatives of Guatemala's civil society.  While not part of the formal negotiation process between the government and the URNG, the four consultations sought to strengthen the process toward peace and democracy in Guatemala.  (The consultations were organized in association with the Latin American Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.)
     In September 1996 an LWF delegation visited Guatemala to identify possible development programs that would help ensure implementation of the peace agreements.

                       *     *    *

Statement by Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World
Federation, on the occasion of the signing of the Agreement on a Firm
and Lasting Peace in Guatemala  29 December 1996

The agreement on a firm and lasting peace signed in Guatemala City
today marks the end of 36 years of war in Guatemala. This historic
agreement is the result of a negotiation process during which a
number of substantive agreements were concluded that can now enter
into force.

The Lutheran World Federation expresses its deep appreciation and
warmfelt congratulations to the negotiating parties and the
Guatemalan people for reaching this agreement, which is the
expression of a strong commitment to peace, and a testimony of
courage and statesmanship.

The Lutheran World Federation also commends the tireless efforts of
the United Nations, the "pa?ses amigos", and other organizations and
individuals for their contribution to a peaceful solution to the
conflict in Guatemala.

The final peace agreement entered into today gives the Lutheran World
Federation special cause for rejoicing. The Lutheran World Federation
has been involved in the Guatemala peace process from the outset,
facilitating the meetings which led to the Oslo Accord in 1990.
Subsequently, together with the Latin American Council of Churches,
the World Council of Churches, and the National Council of the
Churches of Christ in the USA, the Lutheran World Federation convened
four ecumenical consultations bringing together the negotiating
parties and representatives from Guatemala's civil society at
critical moments in the peace process. The Lutheran World Federation
wishes to continue its mission of solidarity with the Guatemalan
people and is currently looking into ways of doing so through
concrete development and humanitarian projects.

The agreement signed today establishes the foundation for peace in
Guatemala. It is a milestone in a process which will continue at the
level of implementation, with new challenges and efforts to be
undertaken with a view to creating a truly peaceful and just society,
built on democracy and human rights, on human dignity and mutual
respect. On behalf of the Lutheran World Federation, I call on the
Guatemalan people to continue with determination this arduous process
of reconciliation and consensus building. Peace can only be achieved
if the culture of violence that has grown over many years of
confrontation can be converted into a culture of reconciliation and
justice.

On this occasion, the international community also has a
responsibility to safeguard the achievements reached by the
Guatemalan parties and to support the peace process beyond the
signature of the final peace agreement. Increased attention must be
given to long-term development and reconstruction in order to
eliminate the conditions that cause conflicts and thus give peace a
chance.

The Lutheran World Federation is dedicated to continuing its support
for the peace and reconciliation process through advocacy and by
putting its good offices at the disposal of the parties whenever
required. It is also committed to initiate active programmatic
support as a contribution to ensuring that the peace signed today
becomes a reality for all Guatemalan citizens. Our prayers are with
the Guatemalan people, the partners of the negotiation process and
all people of goodwill, as Guatemala shifts from a condition of war
to a process of reconciliation and peace.

                      *     *     *

The Lutheran World Federation is a communion of 122 member churches
and 12 recognized congregations, representing over 56 million
Lutherans worldwide.  Of these, some 5.5 million are in North America
and over 1.1 million in Central and South America.  The federation
was founded in 1947.  Its secretariat is located in Geneva,
Switzerland.

ELCA News


You can receive up-to-date
ELCA news releases by email.