Celebrate with us as nuclear weapons are banned under an international treaty

Today is a
day of celebration for the Joint Public Issues Team and other advocates for
peace around the globe, as the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
(TPNW) comes into legal force.

For the 86
countries who have signed the Treaty, and for any more who decide to do
so in the future, this means a stringent commitment to a nuclear-free state.
That means signatories cannot develop, test, produce, manufacture, transfer,
possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons, or allow them to be
stationed on their territory.

But critics
say that because none of the nuclear powers have signed this treaty, it will have
a negligible effect. We disagree.

international treaties have a huge moral weight, and are able to shift the
conversation around humanitarian issues like nuclear weapons. The TPNW has
support from the majority of countries in the world, and dismantles the myth
that nuclear weapons are universally popular among countries. This is the first
step towards nuclear weapons states taking another look at their stockpiles,
and asking – can we continue to justify this?

It’s also
still possible for nuclear weapons states to start engaging with this treaty at
any time. It’s worth remembering that when the treaty to ban landmines was
first proposed, the UK Government was ardently opposed; but eventually became a
major advocate.

Government has actually committed to disarmament before, as well. In 1968 the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was introduced, and by signing it,
the UK committed to “pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion
negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and
effective international control.” So we need to remind our leaders about this
obligation and encourage them to fulfil it by engaging with multilateral
agreements like the TPNW – especially as the UK Government frequently reaffirm
their commitment to the NPT.

Finally, a leaked memo
from the US mission to NATO states that the TPNW would have a direct impact on
NATO and its allies, making it harder to transport nuclear-related materials,
and undermining the concept of ‘deterrence’ in the minds of the general public.

There is
work to do, but the TPNW is far from without impact.

To celebrate, the Joint Public Issues Team have taken part in an interfaith statement celebrating the introduction of the Treaty. As people of faith, we stand together for a more peaceful world, which is why we call on the UK Government to engage with the TPNW. You can watch that statement here.

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It can feel tricky to take personal steps which will help
the mission of the TPNW in creating a world free from nuclear weapons. But
there’s plenty that individuals can do to help. One really great action is to
read the report produced by
the UK Nuclear Weapons Financing Research Group about where banks and pension
funds invest your money. You can take action on this report by writing to your
financial institution to let them know about the TPNW, and ask them to review
their policy about investing your funds in nuclear weapons-producing companies
in light of the changed international situation. The action has been made really easy here.

This is a time for celebration and a time for action. We thank God for the tangible change in the campaign for a more peaceful world, and pray for guidance in planning the next stages of building a world free from nuclear weapons.

You can read more from our denominations here:

The URC: Activists Welcome the Nuclear Ban

The Church of Scotland welcomes the TPNW


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