Call from Quakers for global treaty to ban nuclear weapons

By staff writers
December 19, 2014

Quakers in Britain are calling on politicians to find the moral courage and political leadership to work for a nuclear ban treaty.

They are encouraging the UK government to meet all those who are actively working towards a world free of nuclear weapons, following strong calls from Scotland and Wales .

The appeal comes in an open letter to Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Phillip Hammond, MP.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, writes: "[We] condemn unreservedly the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons and the policy of nuclear deterrence which relies on the threat to use them. We add our voice to growing demands for a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, echoing the interfaith statement issued on 9 December [2014] in Vienna, calling for 'the commencement of negotiations on a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons without further delay and in a forum open to all states and blockable by none.'

"The UK government is obligated by Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue multilateral negotiations in good faith. Yet we are witnessing a string of decisions which commit the UK to possessing nuclear weapons for another 50 years.

"Quakers are aware that the UK government is pursuing what it calls a 'step by step' approach to nuclear disarmament. We would welcome information about what those steps are, and what the timetable is for such disarmament.

"Quakers note but reject the position taken by the UK towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons as stated by the UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, at the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna 8-9 December. She stated that it 'jeopardises the stability and security which nuclear weapons can help to ensure'. It is our view that the current deployment and potential immediate use of nuclear weapons puts humanity at enormous risk. For us stability and security must come from other sources than the permanent threat of nuclear destruction.

"The Austrian government created an 'Austrian Pledge' calling for “states to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”. This is an opportunity for Britain to demonstrate moral courage and political leadership.

"Quakers in Britain call on the UK government to respond positively to this pledge. [We also] strongly encourage you to engage with all those who are actively working towards a world free of nuclear weapons and would welcome a meeting to discuss ways in which we can work together towards this end."

* Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. *
Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their "commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change."

[Ekk/3]

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