(New York, 7 July 2017)
On 7 July 2017, Religions for Peace (RfP) joined more than 120 UN member states, parliamentarians, mayors, and civil society organisations in celebrating the adoption of a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination (read the treaty document here). The preamble of the new treaty highlights the role of religious leaders in raising public conscience on the principles of humanity.
Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of RfP International, applauded the adoption of the treaty. He stated, “The moral imperatives against the use or possession of nuclear weapons arise from the depths of human conscience. Nuclear weapons, as indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, are intrinsically evil. Thus, even the development and possession of nuclear weapons is morally disordered. Today’s Nuclear Ban Treaty is a categorically normative declaration that the possession, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons are illegal under international law.”
On 30 June 2017, as UN member states negotiated for a historic Nuclear Ban Treaty, religious leaders, parliamentarians and mayors jointly presented a statement calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons to the UN Under Secretary General of Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu. During that meeting, Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General of RfP International, shared RfP’s continued commitment to educate, mobilize, and engage the world’s religious communities and discussed with Ms. Nakamitsu the “critical need for nuclear weapons states, umbrella states and those who supported the treaty to come and work together for the total elimination of nuclear weapons after the adoption of this Nuclear Ban Treaty.”
Religions for Peace finds strength in its opposition to nuclear weapons through its strategic, action-oriented, multi-stakeholder partnership among religious leaders, parliamentarians and mayors. In Augst 2015, this partnership–Religions for Peace, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Mayors for Peace–produced a joint statement called A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Our Common Good to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The joint statement called on world leaders to commit to nuclear abolition and declare the importance of advocacy by religious leaders, parliamentarians, and mayors specifically in this critical issue.
The Revd. Kyoichi Sugino stated, “Nuclear weapons present an existential threat to humanity. The number of states possessing nuclear weapons continues to grow. The possibility of terrorists making or acquiring nuclear weapons increases. The technology designed to manage these weapons cannot be made foolproof and the possession of these weapons thereby exposes the human family to potentially devastating accidents. The vast amount of money spent on these weapons robs genuine development. And a security framework that includes the threat of annihilating our neighbours eats away at our ethics and thwarts our efforts to build cooperative human security.”
In August 2016, RfP convened religious leaders, disarmament experts, UN representatives and political leaders at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan for the 20th Anniversary of the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. Judge Christopher Weeramantry, the Vice President of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), presented the 1996 Advisory Opinion and reflected on RfP’s unique position in the fight for disarmament when he said, “[the current notion of security is driven by] the short term perspectives that dominate our lives as opposed to the repositories of wisdom contained in the world’s religions.”
As for the importance of youth in disarmament, the RfP Arms Down!Campaign–the fist global, youth-led, multifaith campaign advancing disarmament–collected 21 million signatures for its petition focusing on redirecting military spending to funding the (then-MDGS, and now) SDGs. The effort is continuing with RfP Global Interfaith Youth Network members such as Ms. Linnet Ngauy (pictured left), representing the African Council of Religious Leaders-RfP, taking leadership and offering support for ICAN.
RfP plans to build upon the adoption of today’s nuclear ban treaty and continue momentum by mobilizing and engaging our networks at all levels–from senior religious leaders to the most-grassroots level, working towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.
RfP advocates for signing and ratification of the treaty. It will be open for signature on 20 September 2017 during the General Assembly. The treaty will formally enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 states. RfP anticipates participation in the 2018 High-Level Conference on Disarmament. Founding members of RfP previously spoke at three UN Special Sessions for Disarmament in 1978, 1982, and 1988.
By strengthening collaboration in new and existing partnerships and by creating new confidence and dialogue among countries, RfP believes this is the time to completely eliminate nuclear weapons.
Religions for Peace Resource Guide on Nuclear Disarmament for Religious Leaders and Communities
Religions for Peace/ICAN Nuclear Ban Treaty Negotiations Handbook