Anglican Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has called on leaders of the G20 nations gathering in London for their conference next week to increase their commitment to conflict prevention.
The archbishop made his call, which included a specific reference to the need for funding, in a speech to mark the launch of the Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security.
Dr Sentamu drew on his recent visit to refugee camps in Kenya set up to house people displaced by last year’s conflict which surrounded the national elections.
He said that there was a “moral imperative” to prevent conflict and guarantee human security, adding: “Without human security the continuing tragedies that we see unfolding in Darfur and Zimbabwe will continue."
"Populations outraged at these daily acts of inhumanity wonder why their own governments have been reduced to inaction as these conflicts continue with their increasing human cost," Dr Sentamu declared.
He also pointed to the “blatant disregard for human rights” that often accompanies conflict, including the use of child soldiers, the systematic rape of women and girls and the execution of unarmed civilians.
“All sense of human worth and dignity is lost in these most brutal conflicts,” he said.
The archbishop continued: “The underlying essential truth that each of us is created in the image of the Divine and that as carriers of God’s image, each one of us needs to be treated with love, care and respect is a truth denied and violated in each of these conflicts. Each one of us is a stand-in for God. In the killing fields of our world, God is being violated and blasphemed.”
Dr Sentamu warned that the global economic turmoil could fuel more conflict unless the G20 started to invest in conflict prevention.
“We need to act and act decisively now,” he said.
“The UN has stated that the ‘biggest source of inefficiency in our collective security institutions has simply been an unwillingness to get serious about preventing deadly violence. This indifference has gone on long enough.”
The archbishop acknowledged the Government’s substantial investment in the Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty, but warned that the results could be undone if government leaders fail to address conflict.