On Friday 122 countries at the United Nations voted to agree a treaty banning the development, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Sadly the UK and the eight other states which have nuclear weapons did not take part in the treaty. However, a clear signal has been sent by the rest of the world that continuing to hold on to weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century is not acceptable. This treaty brings international law on nuclear weapons closer into line with chemical and biological weapons which have long been banned.
Quakers in Britain have been observers at the UN in New York. Tim Wallis, Peace and Disarmament Programme Manager for Quakers in Britain, says:
“This is an imperfect treaty, but it is hugely significant as a step towards stigmatising and de-legitimising these weapons. And it will certainly go down in history as one of the most important nuclear disarmament treaties of all time.
The Ban Treaty is a sign to future generations that there is a realisable vision of security for all which transcends the madness of the nuclear paradigm.
Faith requires us to work out our differences without recourse to violence. Quakers regard nuclear weapons as faithless and we welcome the Ban Treaty.”
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has a petition calling on the UK government to stop boycotting the treaty. Successive UK governments have said that they wouldn’t disarm Trident unilaterally, but would engage in international negotiations. However, when this goldern opportunity to do so came along, the UK decided not to be at the table.
But this treaty is an importnat step forward. Hopefully, the fact that so many countries around the world have come together to say that nukes are not acceptable will begin to put pressure on the nine nuclear-weapons states. If you’d like to find out more, pop into Peace Hub to discuss the issues and how you can take action.