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Pax Christi urges UK government to attend UN nuclear disarmament talks

Source: Pax Christi

Today, a YouGov poll indicates that 75% of UK adults think the Government should be represented at the up-coming negotiations at the United Nations in New York to work towards a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons. The Government have indicated that they will not attend.

Since the negotiations at the end of 2016, Pax Christi British section and members, together with Pax Christi International, have been lobbying the non-supporting countries, urging that they take part in the negotiations.

Pax Christi British section has written to the Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and to the UK Permanent Disarmament representative to the UN, Matthew Rowland, suggesting that a nuclear weapon ban would bring us in-line with other bans and prohibitions on other inhumane weapons systems - bans that the UK has affirmed, biological, chemical and so on. International bans and treaties of this kind have huge moral and legal significance in creating peace in our world.

Under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the UK Government has already promised to negotiate 'in good faith' the total elimination of our nuclear weapons. In 2010 the UK Government gave an unequivocal undertaking that it was committed to fulfilling this promise.

Responses have been extremely disappointing. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi reports that the UK Government will not take part in the negotiations. The Government argues that "productive results on nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through a consensus-based approach". Pax Christi argue that consensus based approached have failed to date to achieve results and that even the NPT was not negotiated in a consensus manner.

Ms Gaffney said "This decision gives a very poor message to the majority countries who support the ban negotiations. Nuclear Weapon States surely have an even greater responsibility to be around the table and take a legal and moral lead. A ban treaty will create clear structures and timetables for multilateral disarmament and so greatly increase the goal of nuclear weapon abolition".

Call for a ban has also been articulated clearly by Pope Francis on the occasion of the 2014 Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons: "I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned
once and for all, to the benefit of our common home. The security of our own future depends on guaranteeing the peaceful security of others, for if peace, security and stability are not established globally, they will not be enjoyed at all."

The meetings are due to begin on 27 March. Pax Christi International has NGO status at the UN and will participate in events around the Negotiation meetings.

Pax Christi International statement on Nuclear Weapons Ban Negotiation www.paxchristi.net/news/statement-nuclear-weapons-ban-negotiations-four-calls-governments-human-centered-treaty/6582#sthash.AlEv0Kzk.dpbs

Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Briefing http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2017-NCPO-Nuclear-Ban-briefing-VF-ed.pdf