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For a world without nuclear weapons

· International meeting in Geneva organized by the World Council of Churches ·

Nuclear weapons constitute a threat to the future of man, a crime against humanity. They should be eliminated from the face of the earth. The World Council of Churches (wcc) in Geneva re-launched their international commitment to peace and cooperation, exhorting governments around the world to create conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. Representatives of nearly 2,000 civic organizations which aim to abolish nuclear weapons participated in the recent meeting in Geneva organized by the wcc, to examine international prospects for nuclear disarmament. The need for the progressive elimination of nuclear weapons on the European continent appears increasingly urgent, as does the need to implement cooperation amongst world powers to actively contribute to weapons control, non-proliferation and disarmament.

The wcc supports the total elimination of nuclear arms and is taking concrete steps towards such an objective on six continents. According to Jonathan Frerichs, wcc programme executive for peace building and disarmament and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 65 years after the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear bombs still terrorize humanity and hinder a lasting peace. Since 1945, the world is still divided into two camps: a few powerful countries assert their right to possess weapons of mass destruction and the majority of other countries do not have them. Such inequality is not and cannot be part of the patrimony of humanity.

During the Geneva meeting, the wcc emphasized that religious faith is a factor which can make a decisive contribution in the battle for a denuclearized world. In many countries around the world, they said, people of faith unite together to ask for a world without nuclear arms. The wcc and participating religious organizations from Australia to the African continent have helped governments to establish denuclearized zones that are now operative in 116 countries and cover more than half of the world’s surface.

The ecumenical community is working at the international level without pause to construct a peace which leaves no room for nuclear arms that endanger human life and the very survival of the planet. In 2009, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the nato constitution, leaders from various communities belonging to the wcc made two distinct appeals asking for a revision of the politics of deterrence. In 1983, during the general assembly of the wcc, it was emphasized that “nuclear weapons do not protect us from enemies — they are the enemies; they do not protect us from evil, they are evil”. At the same time, international agreements in favour of disarmament were greeted with satisfaction. In 2010, on the occasion of the signing of start2 between the United States and Russia, it was observed that “a new trust” was born between the countries. Unfortunately, despite this comforting progress achieved by tireless effort, it was revealed that far from ceasing, the arms production and the maintaining of nuclear arsenals is on the rise, in a world increasingly interconnected and interdependent weapons.

An international convention which bans nuclear weapons is therefore urgent. Organizations and groups from civil society must unite forces and commit themselves to “challenging nuclear arms on the basis of international human rights”. One fact brings hope for the future according to participants at the wcc meeting: politicians of various nations, former generals who are now elderly, have changed their previously held convictions and now declare themselves in favour of atomic disarmament. On various continents, parliamentarians, professionals and scientists are asking for the abolition of nuclear arms.

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St. Peter’s Square

June 18, 2019

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