LONDON – The second highest ranking cleric in the Church of England has called on G-20 leaders gathering in London this coming week to up their spending on conflict prevention.
In an address to mark the launch of the Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security, Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said there was a "moral imperative" to prevent conflict and guarantee human security.
"Without human security the continuing tragedies that we see unfolding in Darfur and Zimbabwe will continue whilst 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," he said.
Sentamu 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 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," he added.
Starting Thursday, leaders from the world's 20 biggest economies will meet in London to discuss how better regulation, help for international trade and extra spending could help pull the world out of the worst recession since the 1930s.
In the last quarter of 2008, the world economy shrank for the first time since 1945, throwing millions of people out of work. On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said the world economy is expected to contract in 2009 for the first time in 60 years.
In his address, Sentamu warned that the global economic turmoil could fuel more conflict worldwide unless the G-20 started to invest in conflict prevention.
"We need to act and act decisively now," he said. "The U.N. 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. We need to act now."
Though the archbishop also acknowledged the government's substantial investment in the Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty, he warned that the results could be undone if government leaders fail to address conflict.
"Conflict can serve to rob us of these achievements if the causes of conflict are not addressed and prevented," he said.
"Conflict prevention is far more cost effective than trying to solve conflicts once they have broken out," the archbishop added.
This Thursday's meeting will gather representatives of the 20 members of the G-20, which include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. The European Union is comprised of 27 member states.
Christian Post reporter Aaron Leichman in Washington contributed to this article.