Quakers work with other organisations, policy-makers and the public to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As weapons of mass destruction, they are immoral and illegal.

On 27 March 2017, negotiations began at the United Nations in New York for a new treaty that would ban the development, testing, production, financing, transferring, stockpiling, use and threat of use of any nuclear weapon. This is the biggest step forward on the nuclear disarmament front since the 1980s.

Contents

    Resource

    Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty - Briefing 2017

    The Network of Christian Peace Organisations has produced a new briefing to help those coming from a faith perspective to understand the nuclear ban treaty and how to take action in support of it.

    [QUOTE-START]

    We believe that no one has the right to use [nuclear] weapons in his defence or to ask another person to use them on his behalf. To rely on the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is faithless; to use them is a sin.

    - Meeting for Sufferings, 1955, Quaker faith & practice 24.41

    [QUOTE-END]

    A global nuclear ban?

    "Although nuclear weapons states may not sign up [to the new ban treaty], a treaty signed by the majority of countries will send a clear message that these weapons are morally and legally unacceptable". (Minute of the Peace, Education Campaigning and Networking sub-committee, QPSW PECAN/2016/44, 9 October 2016)

    UK participation

    The UK government, together with the US and most other NATO states, is boycotting the negotiations, despite long-standing UK government policy to support nuclear disarmament "through a multilateral process". Now is the time to hold our government to this commitment.

    Please write to your MP – and to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – to encourage the UK government to participate in the second round of negotiations that begin on 15 June and to live up to their commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament. There is an Early Day Motion to that effect (EDM 578) which MPs can be urged to sign.

    If you write to your MP or meet them, please let us know by using this form. This helps us to see what actions are being taken across the country.

    Sign the petition calling on the UK government to participate in the conference

    Quakers say "Rethink Trident"

    Parliament voted in July 2016 to begin the process of upgrading the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system to last well into the second half of this century at a colossal expense, estimated at over £200 billion. Quakers and millions of others in Britain continue to oppose Trident as unnecessary, unaffordable and utterly at odds with our commitment to peace, which allows no role for weapons of mass destruction.

    How did we get here?

    Britain detonated its first atomic bomb in 1952, and has retained nuclear weapons ever since. In 1968, Britain signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), committing to disarm in 'good faith' and 'at an early date'.

    The current Trident nuclear missile programme is expected to remain operational until the early 2030s, but which time the government now expects a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines to take their place. Meanwhile the Trident missiles themselves are being upgraded by the US and these will gradually replace the existing missiles. The nuclear warheads on top of the missiles are produced at Aldermaston, where there is a multi-billion pound programme already underway to design and develop a new set of warheads for the new submarines.

    International opposition to nuclear weapons

    [QUOTE-START]

    We pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders... in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.

    - The Humanitarian Pledge, Vienna, December 2014, adopted by United Nations General Assembly December 2015

    One hundred and thirty-two countries took part in the first week of negotiations that began on 27 March 2017. Japan voted against the negotiations going ahead, but still attended the first day of talks. Three NATO countries, including Italy, voted in favour of the negotiations but later stated that their votes were a 'mistake'. Netherlands abstained on the vote, as did China, India and Pakistan. Netherlands is attending the negotiations and there is still a possibility that China, India and Pakistan will join the next round of negotiations in June. More than 440 non-governmental organisations are supporting the ban treaty, including the World Council of Churches.

    Quaker opposition

    [QUOTE-START]

    “Nuclear weapons violate the principle of dignity for every human being that is common to each of our faith traditions."

    - Statement signed by 26 UK faith leaders, including the Recording Clerk on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting, 13 March 2015

    Quakers have an important role to play in the negotiations for a ban treaty, not only in trying to persuade the British government to attend and to play a constructive part, but also in helping to frame how nuclear disarmament can be achieved over the coming months and years. Having nonviolently opposed Britain's nuclear weaponry for over 60 years through public protest, direct action and political advocacy, Quakers are well known for their stance on disarmament. Today this continues with no less urgency.

    Working in partnership

    Millions of people oppose nuclear weapons, as independent opinion polls (offsite link) show. Quakers in Britain are helping to build the movement that will scrap Trident, as one of 44 organisations, religious groups and trade unions joining together to show the UK government needs to Rethink Trident (offsite link).

    Contact us

    Tim Wallis
    Peace & Disarmament Programme Manager
    020 7663 1067
    timw@quaker.org.uk
    @DisarmQuaker