NEW YORK — On March 28, religious groups urged governments to make decisive progress toward establishing a framework for complete elimination of nuclear weapons in a statement read on the second day of a historic UN conference to begin negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.
Jasmin Nario-Galace of Pax Christi Pilipinas read the joint statement on behalf of Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons before representatives of some 120 governments taking part in the negotiations at UN Headquarters that will continue until March 31. Afterwards, she stated, “As various faith communities working for a world without nuclear weapons, we aim to show that we share the same aspirations for peace and for a world where people live without fear.”
Signatories include more than twenty individuals representing diverse faith groups from Pax Christi and the World Council of Churches to Islamic organizations, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association, the Quakers in Britain and Religions for Peace.
The groups stress that nuclear weapons manifest a total disregard for the shared ethical values of religious faiths. They condemn the theory of deterrence and the catastrophic humanitarian impact of any nuclear weapon use, stating: “We reject the immorality of holding whole populations hostage, threatened with a cruel and miserable death. We applaud the world’s political leaders that have demonstrated the courage to begin these negotiations.”
The statement also urges those states not participating in this round of the negotiations to reexamine their positions and commit to joining the June-July session in good faith. The statement and list of endorsers can be read here.
Kazuo Ishiwatari, SGI Executive Director of Peace and Global Issues, comments, “To be successful, a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons must heed, reflect and embody the voices of the entire human family… SGI will call for an even greater enlistment of the power of individual and collective conscience in order to support, strengthen and enrich the negotiation process.”
Signatory Mustafa Cerić, Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia and President of the World Bosniak Congress, adds, “Man’s ability to trust in God is his ability to trust in Man. Hence, we don’t need Nuclear Weapons if we trust in God. Indeed, if we trust in Man.”
The interfaith statement builds on previous statements issued by some of the same individuals and groups on the occasion of key negotiations related to the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons held in Washington DC (April 2014), Vienna (December 2014), New York (May 2015) and Geneva (May 2016).
The working paper argues that the goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons should be understood as integral to the larger effort to demilitarize international relations and develop nonviolent conceptions of the state. It quotes SGI President Daisaku Ikeda who stresses: “The inhumanity of nuclear weapons is found not only in their overwhelming destructive power. It lies in their potential to instantaneously obliterate and render meaningless the painstaking efforts of generations of human beings… They are a denial and rejection of our very humanity.”
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association links over 12 million members around the world. It has been engaged in efforts to support the abolition of nuclear weapons for sixty years.