NEW YORK — On October 12, a joint statement by religious organizations calling for abolition of nuclear weapons was introduced during the civil society presentations at the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
Dr. Emily Welty, Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs, introduced the Public Statement in Support of the Multilateral Negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Ban in 2017, which reads in part: “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions 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… ”
This is the fifth time the group, calling itself “Faith Communities Concerned about the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons,” has issued such a statement. On this occasion, individuals representing 11 faith-based organizations from the Christian, Buddhist and Islamic traditions have signed the statement so far. The statement can be read in full here.
Mr. Kazuo Ishiwatari, Executive Director of Peace and Global Issues for Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which has been involved in this group from the start, commented: “The challenge of abolishing nuclear weapons is a truly global enterprise. It is our sincere hope that the negotiations for the prohibition of nuclear weapons will begin in 2017, and we will continue to make every effort to contribute to a constructive discussion particularly from a moral and ethical perspective, as Buddhists upholding the value and dignity of life.”
Dr. Welty added: “Despite the rich differences in our faith traditions, it is extremely significant that we are united in our clear denouncement of nuclear weapons and our fervent belief that banning nuclear weapons is a prophetic step towards making the world a safer place for all humanity. As people of faith, we must act with courage and a clear moral drive to call on all people of conscience to speak out against the forces of violence that divide us.”
Ms. Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for Pax, stated, “The broad support for the start and conclusion of negotiations on a new legally binding instrument on nuclear weapons is reflected in this statement. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all governments to be on the right side of history.”
In conclusion, the statement calls on the General Assembly to: heed the voices of the world’s hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) urging the abolition of nuclear weapons, vote in support of the resolution submitted by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa that calls for convening of a United Nations conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, and ensure that civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, can participate in the conference and negotiation process.
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a community-based Buddhist organization with over 12 million members around the world. As an NGO in consultative status with the UN ECOSOC, SGI and its members have been engaged in awareness-raising and advocacy calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons for over 50 years.
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