By Jamshed Baruah
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – While welcoming the adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “as a vital step toward the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons”, Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons have in a ‘public statement’ called for its universal acceptance and implementation.
The Treaty, adopted on July 7, 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York, lays out detailed provisions stipulating a comprehensive ban on the development, production, possession, stockpiling, testing, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is the result of intensive negotiations at the UN involving more than 120 governments and many civil society representatives.
Some 40 faith groups and individuals recognize in the statement issued together with Pax, the World Council of Churches and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) their special responsibility to awaken public conscience to the dire humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
The statement declares: “Having repeatedly voiced our grave concerns about the humanitarian and environmental consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, we wholeheartedly welcome the adoption of this Treaty as a vital step toward the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons.”
It points out that the respective faith traditions of the signatories of the statement advocate the right of people and all living beings to live in security and dignity.
“We believe in the commands of conscience and justice; we seek to honour our duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for future generations,” vows the statement, and declares: “Nuclear weapons are entirely incompatible with these values and commitments, and manifest a total disregard for the principles of humanity.”
The faith communities applaud the courage demonstrated by the states represented in the negotiations, the invaluable efforts by the world body and other international organizations, as well as of civil society, which have resulted in the realization of this Treaty.
“We offer our particular respect to the hibakusha (a-bomb survivors), victims of nuclear tests and others suffering from the effects of radiation from the manufacture of nuclear weapons and environmental degradation of their homelands, whose experiences and advocacy have demonstrated that the fundamental purpose of this Treaty must be to prevent the unacceptable suffering and harm they have endured from being visited on any other individual, family or society,” the faith groups say.
The statement considers it vial that that the principles and norms of the Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons are widely disseminated among the world’s peoples in order to achieve its universal adoption and implementation.
“As people of faith we accept as our special responsibility the work of raising awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations, awakening public conscience to build a global popular constituency in support of the Treaty in order to achieve and sustain a world free from nuclear weapons,” the statement concludes.
The endorsers of the statement include: Buddhist Relief, the Buddhist Council of New York, Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, the Church of Sweden, and the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces.
Friends Committee on National Legislation, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, International Buddhist Committee of Washington DC, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Peace Fellowship, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Pax Cristi International, Pax Cristi USA, and Pax have also endorsed the statement.
While the complete list of endorsers is available on page 2 at http://www.sgi.org/content/files/resources/ngo-resources/peace-disarmament/ptnw-joint-statement-july-2017.pdf some of the other others are: Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Religions Initiative, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, Quakers in Britain, the World Bosniak Congress, and the World Council of Churches. [IDN-InDepthNews – 8 July 2017]
Photo: Faith groups’ representatives in front of the Isaiah Wall across the street from the United Nations Building in New York City with the Bible verse “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Credit: ICAN
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