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December 2, 1976

Interchurch Peace Council (IKV), 'IKV Standpoint 1977: A First Attempt at an Outline'

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

IKV Standpoint 1977

A first attempt at an outline



The following inventory of items for a new standpoint is the result of a conversation with Daan Schut; a conversation between Daan Schut and Ben Oostenbrink; the consultations in Onderdendam (Aug. ‘75); the 1972 positioning; and some thoughts of my own. I realize that it has become little more than an inventory: any clear line in this diffuse material is still absent. The Peace Council will have to try to create one.


Our 1977 standpoint could be made up of three parts:

  1. Adjustment of the ‘72 standpoint.
  2. Europeanization (pros and cons) in the fields of security, development and human rights. Under the criterion: what does and can the European Community contribute to a more just and more humane world.
  3. The place, role and possibilities of the churches.


ad I. In this chapter the 1972 standpoint will --briefly-- be resumed: which viewpoints do we still endorse, where the emphasis lies now, and what criticism we have in hindsight. Issues as the balance of deterrence, SALT and MBFR, CSCE, defensive deterrence and territorial defense, NATO and WP will come up again in this regard. It is also good to work out the biblical/theological concepts (of 1972): peace / hope / power / enemy / justice / destination / et cetera.

I mention some critiques of the 1972 standpoint:

  • In the standpoint there is fairly casual assumption of the single Europe (East and West). It becomes insufficiently clear that on a number of issues East and West are diametrically opposed to each other. Ideological differences do not emerge clearly enough this way. Too easily a “solid European peace structure” is identified, as if the ideological differences would not have an impact.
  • What does a lightly-armed Europe mean for Russia? Does Russia belong to Europe or not? It seems as if Western Europe as an entity is put against the loose collection of Eastern European states.
  • The IKV favors a West European defense policy (in 1972), but without a West European nuclear force. What does this mean for the position of power vis-à-vis Eastern Europe? What remains of a lightly-armed Europe?
  • On-going West European integration is considered positive – without much reflection. Main argument: international issues will be better addressed that way. Do we still think about it that way?
  • The expectations of SALT, MBFR, UNCTAD etc. were rather optimistic in 1972.
  • The theological base is on the one hand rather utopian/idealistic, on the other hand also compromise-like: words like “carefully” and “possibly” appear repeatedly.


ad II. Europeanization; the main thread in this chapter is: what issues should be made into a community issue and what issues should not?


  1. In general

In May/June ‘78 there will be elections for the European Parliament. A parliament, by the way, with few or no competences. A deciding question for Europe’s future is: will the European Community be a community of citizens or will the “people’s participation” be further eroded? In what way will the power hierarchy be organized? What competences should the European Parliament be given? Should the national parliaments maintain a high degree of autonomy? Would a district voting system offer a better perspective on real involvement of the European citizen? Does Europe grow bottom up or top down? Will the parliamentary democracy be eroded even further?

In any case, it seems that for the time being the European Parliament will not be very responsive. (Which already goes for a lot of national governments too; there is little receptivity for societal needs.) The European civil servants for the greater part are technocrats, who would rather to be monitored. What does this mean for the issues of security, development and human rights?


  1. Security

The question whether there is a Europeanization of security is not very easy to answer. In a lot of respects we could speak of intergovernmental rather than of integrative developments. Furthermore it seems necessary to separate “small” countries (as the Netherlands) from “medium-sized” countries (particularly France, West Germany, Great Britain, Italy).

Consequently, the image is at least fragmented. Nevertheless it seems possible to talk about “resisting Europeanization” or the “conditioned Europeanization.”


There are some aspects to discern in a development in the direction of Europeanization:

  1. Technology

There are pressures for standardization and division of labor, partly as a consequence of the current dependence on the United States. In fact, West European armies are supplied with American material. Do we have to regret this? Regarding Research and Development Europe has fallen behind permanently. But that is quite positive if you want to moderate Europeanization.

  1. Defense conceptions

The idea that nuclear deterrence works, is still predominant in Western Europe. Especially the Germans do in fact not want to think about the question of whether the American nuclear guarantee actually works. One could note that we in Western Europe could easily lower our “level of deterrence” below the level of the other side, but counter-argument is that we are already below that level, so that further reduction is not right.

Fundamental questions are: Is it possible to defend oneself anyway? How could one feel safe, militarily speaking? What should we do when deterrence fails?

  1. Entanglement of the European weapon industry

One could identify this as a negative development, or as “fiddling in the margins.” There also is the principal question of what is really the size of this complex. (For recent material a study by Albrecht in Instant Research on Peace, Finland, 1976/1 and 2).

  1. What conflicts do you expect?

Do we keep talking about two competing systems? And do we observe it from the ‘creative angle’ or from the perspective of the zero-sum-game (“leads sooner or later to war”), which is still commonly seen in the balance of power.


The question of Europeanization could also be observed from the angle of scaling. See parts ii and iii above. We could add the arms trade. In conclusion there is the angle of independence: Western Europe wants to address things alone, for example regarding the energy problems. In this perspective we can see the threat of the West European nuclear force. Independence brings with it that other developments will be pushed into the background, for example the project of a safe Europe made up of 30 countries, as is argued for in the Standpoint ‘72. An expansion of scale in many respects will also have the effect of producing lowest common denominators (cf. what remains of Pronk’s[1] policy within a European framework).


  1. Development cooperation

Development is focused – especially in the churches and surely in the Netherlands as well – on notions as self-reliance and people’s participation. A consequence of this for a development policy is a target group policy: the process of conscience-raising and development of the poorest people and most underdeveloped groups need to be supported.

For a government, it is difficult to realize such a policy, because it has to take into account for example the local rulers and the needs of the local (private) enterprises, who want to benefit indirectly from development monies.

In the Netherlands, Minister Pronk has looked for solutions to these problems and to that effect emphasized in his policy:

  • aid via private organizations (they will reach the target groups)
  • the so-called third criterion (= having a social-political structure striving for redistribution and equal rights), with which a developing country must comply in order to qualify for aid.

The large countries in the Community do not have a policy directed at self-reliance. Quite the contrary, often. Moreover one of the big malefactors of the “gap,” namely the functioning of the free-market-mechanism, is defended tooth and nail, the FRG first in line.

Within the EC, the FRG is the great pioneer in promoting communization of the development efforts. The Netherlands is willing to participate, but in phases and after demonstrated alignment of goals. Structural development cooperation is already in important ways Community policy, especially trade policy. Development cooperation and stimulation of export are conceived by the Community as extensions of each other. Development cooperation is foreign policy.


Galtung[2] proclaims – opposing the general trend – a disconnection instead of a coupling of the first and the third world. According to him, the current economic cycles and other patterns of dominance need to be disrupted.


  1. Human rights

There is also a Europeanisation of the stance towards violations of human rights. In the United Nations, the Netherlands recently voted against a resolution of disapproval, directed at the EC countries that provide weapons to South Africa. In 1973, Minister Van der Stoel[3] was admonished for his positive stance regarding Israel. Since then we seem to walk better in line with the partners.

Human rights should not just to be interpreted personally. The right of groups and peoples are included too, for example the right of a region to refuse – on moral grounds – to participate in a Communal decision.

The problem of “Selective Indignation”[4] fits in this paragraph too.


Ad III. The Churches. The IKV has announced that its points of view must be directed especially also to the churches. This final chapter therefore could describe the position and possible role of the churches and church members, with respect to the earlier identified problems. Biblical/theological notions could be explicitly explored here once again.

The stance of the churches in the EC could be discussed. Likewise the relation with the churches in Eastern European and in the Third World. To what extent do these relations resemble each other?

We could ask some help from ERE[5] and from the Ecumenical Centre for Church and Society in Brussels.

Ecumenical activities regarding militarism (PCM), development problems (EDF and EDCS[6]) and human rights could also be discussed. Moreover there should be a full consideration of the possibilities at a local level.


2 December 1976

Mient Jan Faber.


[1] Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation from 1973 to 1977. His policy is summarized in the next section.

[2] Johan Galtung is a Norwegian sociologist and founder of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies.

[3] Max van der Stoel was the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1973 to 1977.

[4] With this, Faber refers to the selectivity of some people in being outraged about ‘world problems’.

[5] Ecumenical Research Exchange.

[6] European Development Fund (of the EEC) and Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society (of the World Council of Churches).

This "first attempt at an outline" is the start of a process to compose a new, general vision for the IKV, first one after the Sta of 1972. Important themes other than the nuclear arms race include development cooperation and human rights.

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International Institute for Social History, Amersterdam, Archief Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad, Notulen en Vergaderstukken 1976, Box 12.


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