Inspired in part by the Jubilee 2000 campaign against debt and by the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, a unique alliance to harness the collective energies of the worldwide church to promote justice and peace issues has been launched in Geneva.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, which is holding its founding meeting in Geneva from December 7 to 9, brings together 45 representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the World Council of Churches, regional ecumenical organizations from all parts of the world, and international ecumenical bodies.

The alliance is intended to promote joint action by its members "to influence the policies and practices of governments, international institutions and the corporate sector," according to a background document produced about the network.

"Never before has a meeting taken place which brought together such a comprehensive and wide-ranging group of ecumenical partner organizations engaged in the work for justice and peace, for development and human rights, for ecological integrity and sustainable conditions of life for all," said Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), at the opening session of the alliance December 7.

What was new, Raiser said, was "the resolve to strengthen the prophetic voice and the impact of ecumenical witness on the crucial social, political and economic issues of the day by pooling the resources of partner bodies in the ecumenical movement."

Outlining the range of issues the alliance intended to tackle, Raiser said: "The gulf between rich and poor is continuously widening, both within and between countries. There is an ever-increasing number of conflicts, and we witness the spread of a genuine culture of violence. ...

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