On May 2, a group of diverse faith-based organizations issued a powerful interfaith statement highlighting the moral and ethical imperatives for the abolition of nuclear weapons, to mark the second session of the 2016 UN Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (OEWG) being held in Geneva between May 2 and 13.
The statement reads: “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions—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 future generations.”
The statement, which was presented to OEWG Chair Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand on May 3, urges the working group to focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, for all states to participate in nuclear disarmament efforts in good faith, and the early adoption of a legal framework that will facilitate the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons under strict international control.
PAX, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association and the World Council of Churches (WCC) took the lead in drafting the statement, which is titled “Faith Communities Concerned about the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons.”
Hirotsugu Terasaki, SGI’s Executive Director of Peace and Global Issues, comments, “It is our sincere hope that the discussions during the OEWG will pave a concrete roadmap leading to ‘the beginning of the end’ of the nuclear weapons age.”
Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for PAX, adds: “We encourage all participants to begin from the foundation of moral, ethical and humanitarian perspectives. Our opposition to nuclear weapons must be bigger than words, and should be made binding through a new legal instrument prohibiting them once and for all.”
Dr. Emily Welty, Acting Moderator of the WCC Commission on International Affairs, explains WCC’s position: “Our deepest held convictions and faith call us to reject security that is dependent on the threat of nuclear weapons. They should be seen as a sinful misuse of our resources.”
Endorsed so far by more than 30 diverse groups and individuals, the full statement can be read here.
This statement builds on previous interfaith statements on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons issued in Washington D.C. (April 2014), Vienna (December 2014) and New York (May 2015).
Faith groups and individuals wishing to add their names to the statement can do so by emailing y-matsuoka [at] soka.jp.
The Open-ended Working Group was convened by the United Nations General Assembly based on a resolution adopted in December 2015 to substantively address concrete effective legal measures, provisions and norms needed to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. Its first meeting was held in February 2016.