Ecumenical cooperation brings hope for a nuclear ban treaty

By agency reporter
October 21, 2016

Pax Christi International, together with the World Council of Churches and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, are working with one voice in their attempts to ensure global support in the UN General Assembly later this month, for the resolution to “Take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations to convene a United Nations conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” 

The resolution has been submitted by the governments of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa. Forty nuclear-free states have already co-sponsored the resolution and work is now being undertaken to secure a ‘yes’ vote from more than 100 states.  Unfortunately, in spite of their ostensible commitment to multilateral disarmament, the USA, Russia, France and Britain are vigorously denouncing the ban resolution.

The British Section of Pax Christi has written to Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary and to Matthew Rycroft, UK Ambassador to the United Nations, strongly encouraging them to support the ban resolution.  Pax Christi has pointed out that the international community has already outlawed chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions because, like nuclear weapons, they are intrinsically inhumane and indiscriminate in their effects. The same can now be done with nuclear weapons. Pax Christi  also remind the Foreign Secretary and the Ambassador of the commitments already made by the UK Government under article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. Now is the opportunity to put these words into action.

At the same time, the World Council of Churches, Pax Christi International and others submitted a statement to the UN General Assembly on behalf of faith groups :"nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions, values which are also foundational elements in the development of international law: the right of people to live in security and dignity; the commands of conscience and justice; the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for current and future generations. Nuclear weapons manifest a total disregard for all these basic values and commitments."

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of the British Section of Pax Christi said that this joint work, of faith and secular groups cooperating in their advocacy and campaigning work, is essential as they represent the voices of hundreds of thousands of people around the world working to achieve abolition of nuclear weapons in their lifetime.

* More on the resolution here

* Read the faith community statement here

* Pax Christi


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