On Jun 20 2014, the Inter Press Service (IPS) reported on a unique event at the United Nations – one which highlighted a fresh approach to break the deadlock between governments on nuclear disarmament.
Noting the political divisions that have prevented states from reaching any significant agreements on nuclear disarmament, IPS reported that a new approach is perhaps required – one focusing less on political issues and more on a moral and ethical framework for nuclear abolition.
On April 30, the Global Security Institute (GSI) brought religious leaders from multiple faiths together at the United Nations to discuss the development of a global moral compass that could facilitate progress. See Nuclear Weapons and the Moral Compass.
With recent surveys revealing that approximately 84% of the world’s population subscribe to a religious faith, the influence of religious norms and leadership could be very influential in shifting the framework of political debate and leading to global cooperative action. So far religious leaders have not used their profound influence to address the nuclear abolition agenda, according to GSI president Jonathan Granoff.
“Religious voices can help set the moral compass for the community but they have thus far not exercised their moral persuasion sufficiently. However, the United Religious Initiative and the Religions for Peace have a large network with many religious leaders. Working together they could make a much greater impact, especially when they are jointly engaged in key abolition processes such as those at the United Nations.’
During the panel discussion H.E. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, urged religious leaders to join the dialogue for the sake of “future generations” because the issue of nuclear weapons concerns the very “future of humanity.”
“Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities, along with their population, is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.” He called for renewed attention to the Secretary-General’s Five Point Plan, in particular its call for a nuclear weapons convention or framework of instruments leading to a global ban on nuclear weapons, which he called “a clear cut goal” that can be understood and supported by people worldwide.
Dr. Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, circulated a Resource Guide for Religious Leaders and Communities on Nuclear Disarmament, which provides facts, religious statements and examples of nuclear abolition initiatives to assist religious communities become more engaged in the issue. He noted that ‘Neither the concept of “state security” or the concept of “human security” is enough. Rather, we need to advance a framework of shared security, which is based on the concept that “we are no more secure than the most vulnerable among us,” a concept that is both practical and moral.
U.N High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), Angela Kane was one of the featured speakers. “We (UNODA) don’t [necessarily] target religious groups, but we have very strong partners in civil society and we really rely on them to be a multiplying factor,” Kane told IPS.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Fiqh Council of North America, illustrated that nuclear weapons are forbidden (haram) under Islamic law. He cited their indiscriminate nature and their disproportionate infliction of destruction in both time and space. He said they present “many other problems” such as their great expense, their vulnerability to “human or technical error” as well as “accidents or natural disasters.”
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Central Conference of American Rabbis, said that no matter what sacred tradition one practices, nuclear weapons and the threat to use them are “an anathema to any right thinking human being who is concerned about the future of humanity, our planet, and its fragile ecosystem.”
“I long to see a day when every pope, every sermon, [and every] synagogue around the world is trumpeting that these weapons of mass destruction are an instrument of the devil and an instrument of sin,” said Ambassador Cabactulan, president of the 1995 NPT review conference and one of the speakers at the Moral Compass event.
- The Moral Compass Photo Gallery
- “Call to Conscience: A Ban on Nuclear Weapons“This is a working group within the world’s largest interfaith organization, United Religions Initiative.
The following were distributed at the event:
– Resource Guide on Nuclear Disarmament, Religions for Peace
– Call to Conscience: A Ban on Nuclear Weapons, United Religions Initiative
– Nobel peace laureates’ statement: nuclear abolition is a humanitarian imperative, World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates