As the month-long review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) continued into its second week, a coalition of some 50 faith-based organizations (FBOs), anti-nuclear peace activists and civil society organizations (CSOs) was assigned an unenviable task: a brief three-minute presentation warning the world of the disastrous humanitarian consequences of a nuclear attack.
Accomplishing this feat within a rigid time frame, Dr. Emily Welty of the World Council of Churches (WCC) did not mince her words.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, she told delegates: “We raise our voices in the name of sanity and the shared values of humanity. We reject the immorality of holding whole populations hostage, threatened with a cruel and miserable death.”
And she urged the world’s political leaders to muster the courage needed to break the deepening spirals of mistrust that undermine the viability of human societies and threaten humanity’s shared future.
She said nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by respective religious traditions – the right of people to live in security and dignity; the commands of conscience and justice; the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for future generations.
“Nuclear weapons manifest a total disregard for all these values and commitments,” she declared, warning there is no countervailing imperative – whether of national security, stability in international power relations, or the difficulty of overcoming political inertia – that justifies their continued existence, much less their use.
Led by Peter Prove, director, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches, Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Program Manager PAX and Hirotsugu Terasaki, executive director of Peace Affairs, Soka Gakkai International (SGI), the coalition also included Global Security Institute, Islamic Society of North America, United Church of Christ, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi USA and United Religions Initiative.