RepositoryChurch of England Record Centre
Extent1372 entries
TitleDivision of International Affairs (DIA) and its predecessors
DescriptionArchives of the DIA and also papers relating to its predecessors: the Department of International Friendship (1942-1947); the International Department (1947-1963); the joint BCC/CBMS Department of International Affairs (1964-1974).

The papers reflect various issues, including the following:

South Africa - The had always campaigned against apartheid and for the need for fundamental political change through economic pressure designed to bring the system to an end. It has also tackled related issues such as the Homelands, arms sales, sporting links, etc.

Peace - The Department's consideration of issues in this area has mainly been addressed as British policy, although it has looked at wider questions of peacemaking and disarmament. In the 1970s its thinking was largely guided by the Council on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament and later by its Peace Forum founded in 1983. This latter body brought together representatives from the churches and peace organisations.

Human Rights - In this area, the Department's work has largely been concerned with the exposing of and protesting at abusive practices; although it has taken up individual cases which have been brought to its notice. The BCC set up a Human Rights Forum in 1975, this was replaced in 1988 by a Human Rights Advisory Committee which has concentrated on international human rights instruments.

Middle East - Here, the Department's main focus has been the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, it has also looked at the Iran-Iraq war.

East-West Relations - Here it has been advised by the East-West Relations Advisory Committee whose emphasis has been concerned with encouraging contacts with Soviet and East European churches and an understanding of their situation. It guided the production of 'Descretion and Valour'. The Department has always sought to maintain and develop contacts with churches in Eastern Europe mainly in the form of visits, and informal meetings.

Other issues: Other areas covered include the Falklands conflict. The DIA and the BCC were keen to foster contacts with the Argentinean churches and to work towards a reconciliation.

Subject to 30 year rule.
AppraisalMaterial to be kept permanently
AccrualsNo further accruals expected
CreatorNameBritish Council of Churches
AdminHistoryThe Division came into existence in 1974, following a comprehensive review of the BCC's structure. It replaced a Department of International Affairs (1964-1974), which had been appointed jointly by the BCC and the Conference of British Missionary Societies (CBMS). The Department of International Affairs had in 1964 replaced the International Department (1947-1963), which had in 1947 replaced the Department of International Friendship (1942-1947).

The DIA carried on the tradition of its predecessors, which was to undertake careful and informed work on a limited number of major and current international issues. For this the Department worked largely through a combination of specialist committees and ad hoc study groups. Both were able to draw widely on lay experts, whose contributions in its most successful operations enabled it to produce Reports, which gained the attention of the media, government and public.

The Department itself operated with a very small staff and shared CBMS executive staff who worked on Africa and Asia. Its approach to international affairs changed little including emphasis on Southern Africa, East-West Relations, the Middle East and Western Europe; as well as general issues such human rights, peace and disarmament.
PublnNoteThirty Years of the British Council of Churches, 1942-1972 by Ernest C. Payne
The work of the Boards volume 1, British Council of Churches Thirty Second Assembly, 96th meeting of the Council 1990 "Least spectacular but still important" the Division of Ecumenical Affairs 1974-1989.

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Related name records
GB/109/22223British Council of Churches; Division of International Affairs; 1974-19901974-1990
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