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Churches’ body hails treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons as an “historic achievement”

In what churches have hailed as an “historic achievement”, more than 120 of the world’s governments have adopted a treaty which declares nuclear weapons illegal.

Some 122 governments agreed to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last Friday despite a boycott by the nine countries with nuclear weapons and other nations during the month-long negotiations.

Recognising that “the catastrophic consequences” of nuclear weapons “cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national boundaries, pose grave implications for human survival” and are the responsibility of all states, the treaty bans the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear arms as well as the stationing of nuclear arms in their territory and requires that states provide assistance to victims of nuclear weapons use and testing.

Dr Emily Welty, vice moderator of the World Council of Churches’ Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, described the move as an “historic achievement”. “The treaty sets a course to ensures that nuclear weapons will never be used under any circumstances,” she said. 

Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC secretary general, welcomed the treaty “with great thanksgiving”. “It is designed to protect all countries and the planet that is our home. It could ultimately save millions of lives.”

Rev Dr Tveit said churches around the world can now help with the next step by urging governments to sign and ratify the treaty and see it implemented.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has also welcomed the treaty, saying it is anticipiated to “have an impact on all states, whether they join immediately or not, by stigmatising nuclear weapons and making the continued maintenance, development, and possession of nuclear weapons unacceptable”.

ICAN’s Beatric Fihn told The Guardian that the prohibition was in line with other prohibitions on weapons of mass destruction. “We banned biological weapons 45 years ago, we banned chemical weapons 25 years ago, and today we are banning nuclear weapons.” 

The 10 page treaty will be open to sign by UN member states from 20th September.



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