Representatives of nine Christian groups working on peace issues have written to the Foreign Secretary ahead of the second anniversary of the entry into legal force of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The letter stressed the importance of making meaningful progress towards global nuclear disarmament and urged the UK to co-operate with Pacific nations seeking information on the legacy of 1950s nuclear testing.
The signatories, all members of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, delivered the letter to the Foreign Office ahead of the anniversary on 22 January, which will see campaigners around the world calling on nuclear-armed states to engage with the Treaty.
The TPNW was negotiated in 2017, since when 92 states have signed and 68 have become states parties. The Treaty recognises the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, in the same way that such recognition led to the banning of chemical and biological weapons. There is also provision within the Treaty for reparations to be paid for the environmental damage caused by nuclear weapons, including those testing by the United Kingdom in the Pacific.
The United Kingdom has yet to engage with the TPNW and failed to send an observer to the First Meeting of States Parties, which took place in Vienna last year. The government repeatedly claims that the TPNW is not the correct vehicle to pursue nuclear disarmament, despite the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty having failed to make progress for many decades
Russell Whiting, Christian CND Development Manager, said “The success of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, with support from every continent, shows that the vast majority of the world want to live in the world without nuclear weapons. So do a majority of people in the UK. If the UK government is serious about wanting a nuclear weapons-free world they should be using every available avenue to achieve it.”
John Cooper, Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, said: “Britain’s development of nuclear weapons has left a long-lasting legacy in the Pacific. Reports of health problems passed down through generations and stories of destroyed habitats are a hidden part of our history. It’s time for Britain to face up to its past and provide information and reparations to all affected”
The full list of signatures to the letter is
Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia
Sue Claydon, Chair, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship
Ann Farr, Chair, Pax Christi England and Wales
Andrew Fox, British Isles Mission Centre President, Community of Christ
Rev Dr Barbara Glasson, President, Methodist Peace Fellowship
Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship, Quakers in Britain.
Peter Speirs, Clerk to Trustees, Northern Friends Peace Board
Bridget Tiller, Co-Chair, Christian CND
Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, Chair of the Fellowship of Reconciliation