Christian CND was pleased to be able to join the Quakers, CND and others in sponsoring a meeting at Friends House in London on Thursday 4 January. The discussion on how to bring nuclear-armed states into the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty was the ideal way to start what is set to be a busy year of campaigning.
The meeting, chaired by Bruce Kent and well attended, heard first from CND General Secretary Kate Hudson. Kate spoke of the UK government’s previous statements on the Ban Treaty, including Michael Fallon saying that it would “never” sign. Kate said that while the government is opposed, many political parties are supportive including the Lib Dems, Greens and SNP. Kate finished by calling for a popular mobilisation in support of the Ban Treaty, similar to those seen throughout the decade of campaigning against Trident replacement.
The next speaker was friend of CCND Tim Wallis, who has recently relocated to the United States where he is campaigning on the Treaty. He said that while no politician has come out in support, or even congratulated ICAN on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, there are the beginnings of grass roots efforts to campaign, including consumer boycotts like the successful ones from the 1980s.
Janet Fenton spoke about the actions being taken in Scotland, where a majority of parliamentarians and the Scottish Government support the Treaty and highlighted an international rally taking place at Faslane in September this year, which will certainly be a date for our diaries.
The next speaker was Rebecca Johnson, who spoke of her pride at ICAN winning the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the entire anti-nuclear movement. Rebecca shared Kate’s disappointment with the government position but recalled that few people outside anti-nuclear campaigners ever thought a Treaty would be negotiated, and yet it was agreed by 122 UN member states. Rebecca reported that ICAN is campaigning to bring the Treaty into force within the next 1000 days.
The final speaker was CCND Development Manager Russell Whiting, who spoke about the urgency in engaging Christians in this campaign. Christians have been at the forefront of campaigning on social justice issues throughout history, and there is no bigger issue than weapons which threaten the existence of God’s creation. CCND has secured public statements from Christian leaders in support of the Ban Treaty and had worked with other faiths to promote the Nobel Peace Prize. Russell finished by saying the CCND would continue to work not only to envision Christians to take action but for churches to support the Treaty through mobilising grass roots support. He reminded the audience that Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, and the best way to prepare for peace is to get rid of nuclear weapons.