A Call for Arms Control and Nuclear Disarmament
from the World Conference of Religions for Peace
The World Conference of Religions for Peace is one of the largest global coalitions of religious leaders and communities committed to multi-faith action for peace, justice and security. Based on a firm conviction of the intrinsic value of every individual person, the fundamental unity of the human family, and a belief that love, compassion, selflessness, and the force of inner truthfulness are more powerful than hate, enmity and selfishness, Religions for Peace works to create a sustainable future for all. The ongoing menace posed by the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons is incompatible with such a future. Moreover, the claim of several states to a unique right to have and threaten to use these horrific devices is the greatest stimulus to their proliferation.
Only an unequivocal commitment to adhere to the legal commitments embodied in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including those of the nuclear weapons states, to constrain the spread of nuclear weapons and obtain their universal and total elimination will set the world on a secure course. Otherwise, eventually by accident or design nuclear weapons will be used with devastating consequences to human life and the very fabric of civilization. We cannot be silent in the face of such peril.
Men and women of goodwill must unite to advocate for policies consistent with principles rooted in law, reason and morality and in keeping with religious or spiritual values and convictions.
There are many positive steps that can be taken immediately. For example, we can:
- Mobilize public opinion by educating our communities about the continued threat posed by nuclear weapons and the need for nuclear abolition.
- Advocate immediate measures toward threat reduction, including removing all nuclear forces from high-alert, and a legal commitment never to use nuclear weapons first.
- Speak out against any efforts to increase the political and military value of nuclear weapons, particularly calls for building new, smaller, more usable nuclear weapons and so called "bunker busters."
- Call on all 189 members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to uphold their commitments in preparation for its 2005 Review Conference by implementing promises already made such as the banning of nuclear testing by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and making cuts in nuclear arsenals irreversible and verifiable.
- Strengthen the capacity of international agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency to safeguard dangerous nuclear materials.
- Advocate the creation of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones in the Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
- Encourage our communities and organizations — religious or otherwise — to make a public calls for nuclear disarmament.
- Urge our governments to comply with the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice that called for negotiations on a convention abolishing nuclear weapons everywhere.
- Designate the production, sale, and use of weapons of mass destruction as crimes against humanity with judicial mechanisms for holding offenders accountable.
- Ensure that weapons are never deployed in space as part of military strategies that would expand the scope of war.
- Stop the production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes and convert the huge existing stocks for peaceful uses.
- Raise awareness in our communities of the enormous waste in money and intellectual resources in the irrational pursuit of security by threatening to annihilate millions of innocent people. Create new ways of advocating for the elimination of nuclear weapons as a moral imperative.
Call for Commitment
The hope for an end to the arms race at the conclusion of the Cold War and the beginning of the new millennium have been overshadowed by new and ongoing conflicts, increased military budgets, development of new weapons and their delivery systems, the continued sale and transfer of weapons and systems, and the weakening of long-standing efforts in the international community for arms control and disarmament. More than ten trillion dollars has been spent on military expenditures since the end of the Cold War. More than $100 million dollars are expended each day on nuclear weapons alone. Neither the security among states nor the capacity to overcome terrorism is advanced by these dangerous trends. In fact, the dangers of widespread warfare resulting in mass destruction both through conventional and unconventional weapons are rising, not diminishing. All who value human life have a responsibility to change this course quickly. The gravity of risk posed by nuclear weapons makes it incumbent upon us to act.
At this critical time, Religions for Peace calls upon all religious and spiritually aware people and their communities, as key instruments of civil society, to promote arms control and disarmament through their own structures and in cooperation with other organizations. It calls upon governments and intergovernmental bodies at all levels to pursue substantial reductions in military spending with increased support for domestic and international programs designed to improve human security.
Only through an affirmation of our most fundamental human values and a renewed commitment to the wellbeing of all humanity can security be restored and hope fulfilled. We ask you to join us in this work.
For further information, contact
Robert F. Smylie, Director, Disarmament and Security Program,
World Conference of Religions for Peace
777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
Religions for Peace is a non-sectarian and non-political organization that operates programs locally, nationally, regionally and internationally — every level at which religions are organized. Working through its network of affiliated Inter-Religious Councils in 51 countries and Regional Councils of Religious Leaders in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, Religions for Peace is present on every continent, including some of the most troubled places on earth. Please visit www.religionsforpeace.org for links to websites with information on disarmament issues and religious activism.