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October – November 2016

27 October – Pax Christi sign open letter to Boris Johnson urging the UK to support nuclear ban treaty

Nineteen UK based NGOs, including Pax Christi,  have signed an open letter to Boris Johnson on the day when discussion opens at the UN General Assembly on setting in place negotiations for  a nuclear weapon ban treaty.    Among others things the letter says:

Far from being a leader on multilateral disarmament, the UK government is choosing to retain its nuclear arsenal and upgrade associated systems, as well as currently refusing to support new multilateral negotiations towards a global ban treaty. The UK is rapidly losing its claim to credibility on nonproliferation and disarmament: the government must reevaluate
whether it will support the UN ban process or end up on the wrong side of history.

The existence of nuclear weapons poses a dangerous threat to global security; any intended or unintended detonation will have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences. The international community has already outlawed other inherently
inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, from chemical and biological weapons to antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. A ban on nuclear weapons is long overdue – and the UK must be part of that process. We expect and urge the Government to reverse its position before voting begins on 26 October 2016.

Full text of the letter here

17 October – Ecumenical cooperation brings hope for a nuclear ban treaty

Pax Christi International, together with the World Council of Churches and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, are working with one voice in their attempts to ensure global support in the UN General Assembly later this month, for the resolution to “Take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations to convene a United Nations conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”  This has been submitted by the governments of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.

40 nuclear-free states have already co-sponsored the ban resolution and work is now being undertaken to secure a ‘yes’ vote from more than 100 states.  Unfortunately, in spite of their ostensible commitment to multilateral disarmament, the USA, Russia, France and Britain are vigorously denouncing the ban resolution.

The British Section of Pax Christi has written to Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary and to Matthew Rycroft, UK Ambassador to the United Nations, strongly encouraging them to support the ban resolution.  Pax Christi has pointed out that the international community has already outlawed chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions because, like nuclear weapons, they are intrinsically inhumane and indiscriminate in their effects. The same can now be done with nuclear weapons. Pax Christi  also remind the Foreign Secretary and the Ambassador of the commitments already made by the UK Government under article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. Now is the opportunity to put these words into action.

At the same time the World Council of Churches, Pax Christi International and others submitted a statement to the UN General Assembly on behalf of faith groups : nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions, values 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. Nuclear weapons manifest a total disregard for all these basic values and commitments.

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of the British Section of Pax Christi said that this joint work, of faith and secular groups cooperating in their advocacy and campaigning work, is essential as they represent the voices of hundreds of thousands of people around the world working to achieve abolition of nuclear weapons in their life-time.

For more information on the UN gatherings:  Faith community statement  and International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons 


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