Peace

Are we going to have a world without war? Make war impossible!

by Rev. Paul Lansu
Senior Policy Advisor

Can war and violent conflict be eliminated forever? In this article, I reflect about war, which is de facto about peace. War should be abolished forever. In the past 75 years, we have seen at least three transformations related to armed conflicts: the Cold War (1946-1991); the post-Cold War (1991-2011); and this last period of time (post-post) in which we see events happening – a bewildering present – Arab Spring, theo-terrorism, globalisation of migration, in many cases culminating in civil wars or at least feeding fragile states.[1]

Events determine politics

We live in exciting times. Events often determine the outcome of elections. It happens that certain world leaders create events and express themselves with tactless statements.[2] The commotion on the status of Jerusalem is a recent example. Consequences of these statements are not always calculated.

Officials are expected to cover more than ever the “events policies”. Urgent events happening create pressing responses to act. Examples are the refugee or migration crisis; terrorist acts related to the Islamic State (Daesh); and the rising trend of extremist and exclusive political nationalism related to a populist mentality and/or authoritarian nationalism. Citizens expect their political leaders to act consequently and urge them to immediately deal with these challenges: result-oriented.

Some of the powerful still believe in war making

In my opinion, war has no future. Wars are no longer declared, they simply begin. Wars happen because the ones who start them think they can win them. Wars usually start with at least one side confident about the outcome. Campaigning to go to war always presents a glorious victory within reach!

You cannot abolish war by continuing to wage war. War does not solve conflicts. Enough is known to get on with the business of outlawing war and finding better means to resolve disputes. War should be abolished just as slavery was eradicated centuries ago.

The contradiction we live in today is that states continue to prepare for war while professing to wish to legislate it out of existence. A recent example is the fact that political leaders want to get rid of nuclear weapons and, at the same time, decide to modernise their nuclear arsenals to be significant for the next two generations or so. Nuclear weapons states decided to modernise their arsenals. At the most recent count, the Russian Federation has 1,796 nuclear warheads and 508 missiles; the USA has 1,367 warheads and 681 missiles.[3] Both are upgrading relatively old systems. The financial costs of such a modernisation are huge.

War is inherently immoral

We need more focus on the conviction that war is inherently immoral because of its costs to human well-being. Over the last century around 0.7 % of the world’s population died in armed conflicts. There are over 65 million refugees forced to flee their homes and their livelihood. Perhaps 600,000 people have died since 2011 by civil wars in Syria (including more than half a million), in Yemen, in Libya and Iraq, and 17 million people from that region have been displaced from their homes. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan (and partly Iraq) are hosting most of the Syrian refugees.

                                                          Photo courtesy of the Aleppo Media Centre.

The laws defining the conditions whether to go to war – ius ad bellum – and the laws defining how to deal within a war – ius in bello – (proportionality and distinct combatancy/non-combatancy or military/civilian for instance), did not seek to make war illegal. They did try instead to make it less miserable. With the phenomenon of “collateral damage”, we see that there is such a thing as “non-combatants immunity” — that means that civilians should be spared but also that even weapons directed at purely military targets could affect people with no combat role.

Rapid evolution in technology and communication

Efficiency in transport, speed and communications make war more likely. From 1850, weaponry techniques and the speed of projectiles began to transform military confrontation into a truly inhumane event. The then industrial principles of mass production were converted to martial arts and put at the service of mass destruction. The German victory over France in 1871 for instance was made possible by impressive mobilisation of its forces, appreciating the role of railroads in getting men to the front. The railway infrastructure made the movements of troops during the First World War practical. During the Second World War, highways, especially in Germany, made the fast mobility of tanks and troops possible.

The Second World War resulted in unprecedented levels of killings, with conflicts in Asia and Europe merging, the murder of millions of civilians on an industrial scale, and every type of warfare — naval encounters, massive air raids, lightning offensives, dogged defending, and partisan resistance, concluding with atomic bombs. This was total warfare!

Militarism meant allowing military figures, arms manufacturers, and patriotic themes to dominate public life. Manufacturers want to make money, profits. Arms dealers view every new type of weapon, from machine guns to torpedoes, from heavy artillery to the Kalashnikovs, from drones to killer robots, as a business opportunity.

Weapons kill, even if they are not used!

Disarmament is urgently needed. Vast sums are spent on preparing for war. The total military expenditures for 2016 according to SIPRI[4] are 1.69 trillion dollars. That is 0.4 % higher compared with 2015. Weapons kill, even if they are not used! Saudi Arabia spends 10.4 % of its GDP on defence; Iran has 3 % and Israel spends 5.8 % on defence. The Middle East has a high security risk with Israel having nuclear weapons and having the Saudis (Sunnis) and Iranians (Shiites) as the two major opponents in the region.

Military expenditure is wasteful. Weaponry absorbs tax revenues, and contributes to scarce resources. Armament firms encourage conflict to increase demands for their products, frequently based on feelings of distrust, fear, exclusive nationalism or patriotism. Extreme nationalism is a driver of conflict and war. Some political and public opinion makers see their national sovereignty as a god — and nationalism as a religion. That can result in the rejection of international cooperation. The main motive is “Si vis pacem, para bellum” – “if you want peace, prepare for war”.

Research in warfare is main driver of change

Technology and the development of research and new findings in modern warfare are the main drivers of change in warfare. New types of weapons make war more possible. Atomic bombs were used for the first time in August 1945 when they were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, obliterating both and most of their residents. This is seen as a steep change in warfare. The then driving argument of using the atomic bomb was to stop the war. Over the next decade, with tests of new and even more powerful weapons, the likely character of a nuclear war became clear. The humanitarian impact of the use of atomic bombs and of nuclear tests in all their dimensions is immense. The possibility of accidental war has becoming prominent.

Our history has seen the possible intentional use of nuclear weapons, as for instance during the Korean War in early 50’s, the Berlin Crisis in 1961, the Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962, the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the latest in Ukraine in 2014. The distinction between rhetoric and bluff and the way sometimes-foolish politicians are dealing with or thinking about nuclear weapons make it all very dangerous.

Further possible proliferation of atomic bombs, human errors, miscalculations or mechanical malfunction of these weapons of mass destruction became also a main driver for diplomats to come to a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons[5] in July 2017. The strategy of nuclear deterrence became unbelievable because of the real risks were out of control. Nuclear deterrence can no longer be tolerated. The use of, the threat with and the possession of nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral.

The world is much safer when treaties for global disarmament are reached. But that is not enough. We have seen treaties on anti-personnel mines, the so-called Ottawa Treaty[6] and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[7] The main challenges remain to have key players signing and ratifying these treaties and at the same time have them implemented in a constructive way. Treaties do not guarantee the outlawing of war making in general.

Who are the masters of modern warfare? Drones for instance brought together many critical technologies: highly efficient regimes, advanced sensors, global positioning systems, and instantaneous communications. Their operators could identify, monitor, and then strike a target thousands of miles away, without putting lives in direct danger. War making takes place from a distance — such as drone pilots. These pilots could live a normal life. A pilot can visit his wife who just gave birth to a child in the maternity ward after just killing someone on the other side of the planet. Unmanned systems kill without seeing the other. Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams talks about “it” as doing the killing. It is not me or you who kills; it is a neutral body, an “it”. Almost everything is delegated to machines.

Duration of civil wars has extended

The days of armed conflict between nation-states are ending – although it still happens and is still possible. The number of civil wars or intrastate conflicts has increased. The duration of civil wars has extended. Civilians are part of the struggle and many of them are the victims of it. Some of these civil wars are rather “regional war zones” where certain groups and their actions moved without regard for national boundaries. Borders have become progressively less relevant.

About 4 % of civil wars were internationalised in 1991; 40 % had become so in 2015. This is certainly true of the Middle Eastern civil wars, all of which began as local conflicts, but have become internationalised which made possible solutions of these conflicts even more complicated! Wars in Iraq and Syria are examples. In its 17th year, the campaign in Afghanistan is the longest in U.S. military history and the Taliban are resurgent.

Peacekeeping and policing  

The only reason for nations to have a military capacity is for the capacity of peace missions and in cases of self-defence under strict criteria. For two decades, France has headed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.[8] China is bidding to take over the lead of this. There is a good reason for China doing so. It is the second largest funder of peacekeeping operations, paying 10 % of the 8 billion dollars budget, and it deploys more blue helmets (2,639 at present) than the other four permanent Security Council members combined.

Although here we can make an argument that some military capacity can be required for purposes of both national and international policing. Policing is not the same as war making. Some nations have no armies,[9] and have a good functioning police system instead.

I believe that war, all war, can be abolished. Bombing cannot win wars! War is a terrible way to settle disputes: there are far better forms of settlement and they now need to be applied. States should be encouraged more than ever to seek for arbitration, mediation, negotiations, dialogue and diplomacy instead of war to solve disputes. Political problems should only be solved by political means.

Need for quality governance

Part of the problem is the quality of those states that are malfunctioning. Disturbing phenomena are so-called failed states. They are also called collapsed states, troubled states, fragile states, states-at-risk or weak states. Sometimes these countries have fragmented populations, weak political institutions and a propensity for rule by violence. A fragile state mostly lacks representation and accountability, stable legal standards, and checks to coercive action by the state, combined with an inability to control territory and borders. Fragility is concentrated especially in cities. Failed states cannot end violence. A degree of political stability is needed. Success means strengthening institutions, ensuring that no minority is excluded and all enjoy opportunities for political and cultural expression, competent economic management, an absence of corruption, and responsive administration.

Some states (of the total of 193) are a danger to themselves and their neighbours and need to be put into an international equivalent of intensive care. Several of these states in crisis are the breeding ground for more violence, chaos and anarchy. The United Nations or intergovernmental bodies such as the Organisation of American States or the African Union have, in my opinion, a role to play in policing those states. Development of peacekeeping forces (composed partly of civilians, police and military) for both inter-state as well as civil wars is a mechanism that can work effectively, if there is enough ground to keep the peace! Some 47 UN peacekeeping missions were initiated between 1991 and 2011, nearly three times as many as during the previous four decades.

Ethnic cleansing, mass killings or genocides remain a serious challenge in our world. A few examples are the killing fields in Cambodia in the 70’s, Rwanda in 1994, Srebrenica in 1995 and Rohingya in 2017. How to prevent these? The international community has the responsibility to prevent crisis and armed conflict and to protect civilians. The General Assembly of the UN agreed to take the responsibility to protect (RtoP)[10] populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Efforts should be made to resolve the underlying root causes of armed conflict that includes fundamental security, well-being, and justice for all its citizens. Needless to say, this is an unfinished agenda!

____________

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fragile_state
[2] For instance US President Trump on the status of Jerusalem: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/world/middleeast/trump-jerusalem-israel-capital.html
[3] https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/
[4] https://www.sipri.org/research/armament-and-disarmament/arms-transfers-and-military-spending/military-expenditure
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Prohibition_of_Nuclear_Weapons
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Treaty
[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_Cluster_Munitions
[8] https://peacekeeping.un.org/en
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_armed_forces
[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_to_protect

Photo courtesy of the Aleppo Media Centre.

Peace

Report from Vatican conference on nuclear disarmament

by Rev. Paul Lansu
Senior Policy Advisor

[Ed. Note: The following is a brief symposium report from Rev. Paul Lansu who took part in the Pax Christi International delegation at the Vatican-sponsored conference, “Prospects for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament,” in Vatican City, 10-11 November 2017.]

Possession of nuclear weapons is illegal and immoral

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development organised an international conference on “Prospects for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” at Vatican City on 10 and 11 November 2017.

The Vatican conference represented the first global gathering on atomic disarmament after the approval of the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, signed by 122 countries of the international community (including the Holy See) in New York on 7 July 2017, and opened to signatures 20 September 2017, in the same city. The conference was organised at the right moment and wants to push the legally binding instrument by signing and ratifying the treaty by all nations. The Holy See was one of the first to sign and ratify.

The theme of the conference is related to the concerns of the Holy See on critical issues related to the human family today: development, human rights, disarmament and ecology. The conference gave special attention to the needs of the victims of armed conflicts, whose dignity is endangered. The Holy See keeps promoting peace in general and the ban of all nuclear weapons particularly.

Pax Christi International well represented

About 350 participants were registered. Pax Christi International was represented by Msgr. Kevin Dowling and Marie Dennis, Co-Presidents; Jonathan Frerichs, UN representative in Geneva; Mary Yelenick, UN representative in New York; Susi Snyder, Programme Manager for PAX in the Netherlands; Pat Gaffney, Coordinator Pax Christi UK; Msgr. Marc Stenger, Fr. Alain Paillard and Michel Drain, Pax Christi France; Sr. Filo Hirota, Former Board Member of Pax Christi International and National Commission Justice and Peace of Japan; Selma van Oostwaard, Youth Delegate PAX from the Netherlands; Fr. Renato Sacco, Secretary Pax Christi Italy; Msgr. Luigi Bettazzi, Former President Pax Christi International; Msgr. Allwyn D’Silva, Former Coordinator of the Documentation, Research and Training Centre, member organisation in Mumbai, India; Prof. Tom Sauer, Pax Christi Flanders; Fr. Paul Lansu, Senior Policy Advisor, Pax Christi International.

Among the participants were eleven Nobel Peace Prize winners and key church leaders as well as advisors of different bishops’ conferences and delegates from international (governmental) organisations, academic institutes and civil society. The conference has been presided over by H. Em. Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery. H. Em. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness the Pope, introduced the issue of perspectives for a world free from nuclear weapons and for integral disarmament. Susy Snyder from PAX spoke about the role of civil society in educating and mobilising citizens for integral disarmament and by advocating or influencing politicians and diplomats to work for the international ban treaty being implemented.

Modernising and developing new nuclear weapons is a great expense

On Friday 10 November 2017, Pope Francis received the participants in a special audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace where he gave an official address. On different occasions the Holy Father has mentioned the threat of peace by nuclear arms and the waste of resources that could be used to fight poverty and promote development. The Holy Father lamented that the “escalation of the arms race continues unabated,” noting that modernising arms and developing new nuclear weapons is a great expense for nations and takes away the ability to address “real” priorities: “The fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and healthcare projects, and the development of human rights.”

Focus on the “real” problems

In this symposium you have met to discuss issues that are critical both in themselves and in the light of the complex political challenges of the current international scene, marked as it is by a climate of instability and conflict, the Pope said. A certain pessimism might make us think that “prospects for a world free from nuclear arms and for integral disarmament” appear increasingly remote. Indeed, the escalation of the arms race, the Pope stated, continues unabated and the price of modernising and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations.

If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned. They exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race. International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security, the Holy Father specified.

Recently, the Pope continued, for example, in a historic vote at the United Nations, the majority of the members of the international community determined that nuclear weapons are not only immoral, but must also be considered an illegal means of warfare. This decision filled a significant juridical lacuna, inasmuch as chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-human mines and cluster bombs are all expressly prohibited by international conventions. Even more important is the fact that it was mainly the result of a “humanitarian initiative” sponsored by a significant alliance between civil society, states, international organisations, churches, academies and groups of experts.

In many statements during this Conference the position of the Holy See on nuclear disarmament of 7 December 2014 has been reaffirmed stating that the use, the threat and the possession of nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral.

On Saturday 11 November 2017, a Eucharistic Concelebration took part in the Saint Peter’s Basilica presided over by H. Em. Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson. The Mass was followed by a Homage to St. John XXIII, author of the encyclical Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963).

New Momentum on Sunday 10 December 2017

In conjunction with the World Council of Churches, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Pax Christi International, it was suggested to Pope Francis and to the Dicastery to call on Sunday 10 December 2017 all parishes and communities worldwide to pray and reflect on nuclear disarmament on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Award ceremony in Oslo. The focus should be on respecting human rights and to act in favour of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In Oslo on 10 December 2017, Jonathan Frerichs is representing the World Council of Churches and Pax Christi International; Willem Staes of Pax Christi Flanders will also attend the ceremony in Oslo.

Prior to the conference, Pax Christi International issued a press release. The movement congratulated the Holy See in planning such a big event in order to enforce the commitment for a world free of nuclear weapons and calling all the churches worldwide to join these efforts. Disarmament, human rights and development should be the central pillar of international diplomacy.

Peace, Peace Spirituality

Noyau d’éthique

par Dominique Lang, aa
Aumônier Pax Christi France

La paix et la stabilité internationale ne peuvent être fondées sur un faux-sens de la sécurité, sur la menace d’une destruction réciproque d’un anéantissement total, sur le simple maintien d’un équilibre des puissances.

Une fois encore, la parole du pape François parle haut et clair. Du coup, cinq mois après cette déclaration, le Saint Siège s’est prononcé début juillet pour l’interdiction totale des armes nucléaires. Et il a pu le faire par un vote – une première dans son histoire – aux Nation unies, la convention négociant le traité sur l’interdiction des armes nucléaires ayant décidé d’accorder ce droit à ce micro-Etat qui n’a qu’un statut d’observateur à l’ONU.

Cette clarté doit nous interpeller, nous qui vivons dans un pays dont la doctrine de défense militaire repose en grande partie sur le maintien d’un bouclier nucléaire. Les annonces récentes sur la progression des budgets militaires ne doivent pas faire oublier qu’une très grande partie d’entre eux serviront à l’entretien et au renouvellement de nos ogives et de nos sous-marins porteurs d’ogives. Et bien que l’Histoire nous montre que cette doctrine est celle d’un autre temps, n’ayant aucune prise sur la violence terroriste ou la polarisation grandissante des forces géopolitiques, aucun homme politique majeur n’a remis en cause le paradigme nucléaire gaulliste au cours des dernières élections.

D’ailleurs, même au sein de nos communautés chrétiennes, peu de voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer cette gabegie financière et cette hérésie morale. Le Magistère n’a pas réussi à unifier la voix des Eglises locales dans ce domaine. Tout au long de la guerre froide, certains représentants ecclé-siaux se sont ainsi exprimés pour justifier l’équilibre de la terreur comme un moindre mal, tout en décriant les conséquences de l’usage de telles armes.

Au sein de Pax Christi, de nombreux militants, eux, sont mobilisés de longue date sur ce sujet. Non sans difficulté, car comment arriver au désarmement nécessaire des Etats nucléaires? Un pays comme la France doit il montrer l’exemple pour sortir des logiques mortifères? Ou faut-il faire le pari d’un lent travail diplomatique, pour faire baisser, peu à peu, les équipements nucléaires à travers le monde? Mais les tensions actuelles entre les USA et la Corée du Nord montrent que ce peut être là un pari risqué, et qui n’empêche pas la prolifération
nucléaire dans les réseaux non-officiels et non-contrôlés.

L’ “impératif moral et humanitaire” est clair désormais pour chacun.

Ne cessons pas de prier et de nous informer pour que nous ne désarmions pas intérieurement notre lutte personnelle et collective contre ces équilibres de la terreur qui bouchent nos horizons.

Peace

Building a nuclear weapon-free world

by Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International Co-President

Note: The following remarks were delivered by Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis in her position as a panelist at the “Building a Nuclear Weapon-Free World” conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, 28-29 August, 2016. Ms. Dennis was invited by the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). The conference of parliamentarians, mayors, religious leaders, government representatives and disarmament experts was held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the closing the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

anti-nuclear-logoPax Christi, a global Catholic peace movement with 120 member organizations on 5 continents, was founded at the end of the Second World War to support efforts at reconciliation between the French and the Germans after decades of bitter fighting.  As people around the world struggled to rebuild their lives and relationships, a monstrous legacy of that war – nuclear weapons – became increasingly visible and Pax Christi with many others began the long struggle to eliminate them.

For most of these 70 years, any discussion about the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons was subordinated to the debate about national security and deterrence. Yet it is precisely there – before the disastrous human and ecological effects of nuclear weapons production and potential use, whether by intent or accident, that Pax Christi and most faith communities engage.

Let me say a few words this afternoon from the Catholic perspective – although all of the work that we do is with people of many faith traditions and with all people of good will committed to abolishing nuclear weapons.

First, who are we? From which perspective do we approach this challenge?

  • We are part of a local Church – from Hiroshima and (especially) Nagasaki and the Marshall Islands; from communities where uranium miners and downwinders live; from impoverished communities, who, as Pope Francis said, “Pay the price” when resources are squandered on nuclear weapons. (Dec 7, 2014)
  • We are part of a Church with a long track record of working for nuclear disarmament. In December 2014, the Holy See’s statement to the Vienna Conference revoked moral justification for nuclear deterrence and therefore for the design, development or possession of nuclear weapons. At the United Nations last year, Pope Francis said, “An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as “nations united by fear and distrust”. There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.”
  • We are part of a global Church that brings to the effort for nuclear disarmament some important resources:
  • A values based way of life that is rooted in respect for the dignity of every person and the integrity of the natural world; the values we cherish are well articulated and very useful in the political arena/the public square
  • Broad, even global, networks of members or followers. In the Catholic tradition this network includes parish and diocesan structures that span many of the nuclear weapons states, hundreds of religious communities most of which work internationally, and international Catholic movements and organizations like Pax Christi International
  • Educational institutions and resources – colleges and universities, high schools, grade schools, seminaries – as well as networks of these institutions (Jesuit universities, Franciscan universities, Catholic universities etc.) – and formal or informal educational opportunities in local congregations
  • Communities of prayer and study – every week around the world we, like other people of faith, gather for a time of prayer that includes a message, a sermon, a homily about living our faith in the world today
  • Communication – we have capacity for publishing, broadcasting and social media
  • Access to every sector of our societies – from national political decision-makers to media personalities to scholars to business leaders to opinion-makers to local leaders.

The recently reframed discussion around nuclear weapons, the humanitarian initiative, is a real sign of hope that citizens of the world – all of us who will be irrevocably harmed in any nuclear weapons exchange – are taking back the nuclear disarmament initiative. This, exemplified in last week’s recommendation from the Open Ended Working Group to begin in 2017 negotiations toward a nuclear ban treaty, is a tremendous sign of hope. And it is an effort that we, as a Catholic peace movement fully support.

The humanitarian impact debate forces states to do some soul-searching about the role for nuclear weapons in their national security strategies, whether or not they now possess nuclear weapons. That, I think points directly to the questions that we as faith communities are askingWhat kind of people are we of the 21st century?  What values shape our political priorities; how do we represent them on the global stage; and what do they say about our concern for future generations?

Nuclear weapons are in essence inhumane and unethical. Only an ethic rooted in solidarity and peaceful coexistence is a worthy project for the future of humanity. Pax Christi International fully supports the position of the Holy See stated so clearly at the Humanitarian Consequences conference in Vienna in December 2014:

“World leaders must be reminded that the commitment to disarm embedded in the NPT and other international documents is more than a legal-political detail, it is a moral commitment on which the future of the world depends…Responsibility for the abolition of nuclear weapons is an essential component of the global common good.”  (Pope Francis, 7 December 2014)

As an international Catholic peace movement we will continue to highlight the ethical imperative for a nuclear-weapons-free world. We recall the noble principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which enjoin the international community, individually and collectively, to spare no effort in promoting a world where all peoples may enjoy freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom to live in dignity. Yes, a nuclear-weapons-free world is a global public good of the highest order serving both national and international security interests.

To that end, in coalition with ICAN and many other international, regional and national organizations, Pax Christi International will (1) support the process recommended by the Open Ended Working Group; (2) work for a WMDFZ in the Middle East; (3) oppose modernization of nuclear arsenals; (4) promote Don’t Bank on the Bomb.

  1. We will support the recommendation of the Open Ended Working Group to the UN General Assembly to convene “a conference in 2017 open to all states, international organizations, and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination.” We will engage in that process to the greatest extent possible. Our representative at the OEWG noted that the results of the OEWG process – the clear action, the broad support and the definite timeline – represent “a milestone in the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament.”

Thanks to our geographic spread, the ecumenical advocacy in which Pax Christi actively participates, will engage states on all sides of the issue: states for a ban, states against a ban, and states in the middle. Our goals are to:

  • Help bring governments which rely on nuclear weapons to accept consensus and not vote “No”, or to move from “No” to “Abstain”, or move from “Abstain” to “Yes”.
  • Encourage more of the nuclear-free states to join the debate and demonstrate the majority support, which is the ban’s best asset.
  1. We will work for the creation of a weapons of mass destruction-free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, including the 21 state-members of the Arab League plus Iran and Israel. We believe that Turkey should also be included in a WMDFZ in the Middle East. This would require the withdrawal of NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons from Turkish territory – a move we fully support. In fact, member organisations of Pax Christi International in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy have campaigned for decades to get US nuclear weapons out of Europe.
  1. We will oppose modernization of nuclear arsenals, especially in Europe and the United States. We fully agree with Pope Francis that “the production, maintenance and deployment of nuclear weapons continue to siphon off resources that otherwise might have been made available for the amelioration of poverty and socio-economic development for the poor. The prolongation of the nuclear establishment continues to perpetuate patterns of impoverishment both domestically and internationally.” (Time for Abolition, December 2014)
  1. And we will promote the growing international campaign, Don’t Bank on the Bomb, which was initiated by our Dutch member organization, PAX, to engage the public in an effective nonviolent campaign to undercut bank participation in the production or refurbishing of nuclear weapons.

Between July 8th (20th anniversary of the World Court case against nuclear weapons) and October 2nd (International Day for Nonviolence, Gandhi’s birthday), as part of Chain Reaction 2016, Pax Christi International and its member organisations are sponsoring a series of nonviolent actions at nuclear-weapons and nuclear-disarmament related sites and political offices around the world to demonstrate that people want peace and nuclear abolition.

The example of Kazakhstan, that dismantled and destroyed Soviet weapons systems and facilities left on its territory following the break up of the Soviet Union and that, in its first decade of independence, signed major international nonproliferation treaties, gives hope to the world that the abolition of nuclear weapons is possible.

Again, to quote Pope Francis: “to achieve nuclear abolition, we need to resist succumbing to the limits set by political realism… The fear that drives the reluctance to disarm must be replaced by a spirit of solidarity that binds humanity to achieve the global common good of which peace is the fullest expression.” (Time for Abolition December 2014)