This week Christian CND delegates have been in Geneva for meetings on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty has been the foundational international statute for many decades and contains provisions for nuclear-armed states to negotiate away their weapons as well as aiming to stop the spread of the weapons.
In recent years talks at these meetings have become deadlocked, with the nuclear -armed states unable to agree on a way forward. Moves towards nuclear disarmament have been given fresh impetus with the agreement of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last July. Many of the states who spoke in Geneva hailed the new Treaty.
Christian CND attends these meetings to play our part in the civil society effort on the fringe of the meetings. As well as observing the main hall and the national speeches we met with diplomats to discuss international developments. Much of this work follows on from our Embassies Walk which took place in March.
On Tuesday morning Christian CND delegates joined others in gathering outside the venue to pray for the success of the talks. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life”. It was our joy to able to do just that at such an important time.
The UK representative in Geneva said that it would remain a nuclear-armed state “for the foreseeable future”. Describing the UK as a “responsible nuclear weapons state” the spokesperson said the UK remained “determined to make progress” on negotiations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty towards disarmament, but said that actions from other states are undermining the chances. No talks have been held under the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty for many years.
Later in the week we were able to join others in meeting Matthew Rowlands, the UK Ambassador attending. We hope that we will be able to have further meetings with officials back in London.
One of the other diplomats our delegation was able to meet with was representing the Holy See, also known as the Vatican. During that meeting we were able to thank the Holy See for the leadership the Pope has displayed on this issue, including many positive statements during the negotiation of the Ban Treaty and the conference which the Vatican hosted in November 2017.
At the CND fringe meeting Labour Shadow Minister Fabian Hamilton acknowledged that the majority of Labour members want the Ban Treaty to be a success and want the UK to sign. CND Chair Dave Webb spoke of the injustice in spending £205billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons while food bank usage has soared and people are waiting record times in hospitals.
One of our last meetings included a testimony from a Hibakusha, a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The speaker was only 7 at the time of the bombing, and poignantly reminded the young audience that they will be the last generation to be able to hear first-hand from nuclear bomb survivors.