More than 130 countries are continuing negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons entirely. A second round of meetings began in New York on 15 June to draft a Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. If approved, this treaty would make it illegal to "develop, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire" nuclear weapons. The ban treaty is strongly supported by, among others, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the World Medical Association, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican.
"It is a tragedy and we believe a gross failure of duty, that the UK Government will take no part in these meetings, despite pleas and lobbying for months in advance of the meetings," said Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi.
"The permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the UK, have a responsibility to move the world beyond fear."
Negotiations have been boycotted by all existing nuclear weapons states, as well as many countries which have nuclear weapons located on their soil. In a joint statement the UK and USA argued that existing treaties provide a framework for disarmament, but other countries have moved ahead with the talks because they have not seen 'good faith' efforts by nuclear states to disarm.
In a joint statement, the Methodists, Baptists, United Reformed Church, Church of Scotland and Quakers said: "We believe that the possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons is a sin against God and humanity. We repent of our complacency in allowing this state of affairs to continue for so long … We affirm that the trillions of dollars being squandered on these weapons are, in the words of President Dwight D Eisenhower, 'a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed'."
A nuclear weapon ban would mirror the existing bans on other inhumane weapons systems, such as biological and chemical weapons.
Negotiations are covering not just the outlawing of nuclear weapons, but also how to monitor and verify compliance. International bans and treaties of this kind have had huge moral and legal significance in creating peace in our world.
Pope Francis, in his message to the March gathering which started the process stated "the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative. A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond fear and isolationism in many debates today."
The negotiations currently underway in New York for the proposed Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty included representatives from 132 UN member states in its first session in March 2017. The latest round of negotiations began on 15 June 2017 and will end 7 July 2017. The proposed text covers prohibitions, destruction of existing stockpiles, positive obligations of states, as well as institutional arrangements.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commits the five recognised nuclear powers (China, France, Russia, UK and USA) 'to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control' (Article VI).
Members of the Network for Christian Peace Organisations:
Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, Baptist Peace Fellowship, Campaign Against Arms Trade Christian Network, Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Christian International Peace Service, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Church and Peace ,Community of Reconciliation ,Congregational Peace Fellowship, Fellowship of Reconciliation Franciscan Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation, Martin Luther King Peace Committee Methodist Peace Fellowship, Northern Friends Peace Board , Pax Christi Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Student Christian Movement, United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship
See also: ICN 5 May 2017 Holy See renews call for nuclear disarmament - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/32471