'Mutual cooperation, not mutual destruction' say Churches

  • Over 100 Nations pledge to "stigmatise, prohibit and eliminatenuclear weapons" - UK and other nuclear weapons states continue tooppose.
  • Government urged to address divisions in Europe overdisarmament.

An unprecedented 107 nations have signed a pledge to"stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light oftheir unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks"at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on theNon-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York. Four majorUK Churches have welcomed the news, but called on the UK Governmentto unblock discussion of new multilateral disarmamentinitiatives.

The 107 governments who have signed the humanitarian pledge callfor new legally binding treaties to prohibit the use and threat ofuse of nuclear weapons. As we approach the70th anniversary of the devastation of Hiroshima (6August), Governments supporting the humanitarian pledge haveaffirmed "that it is in the interest of the very survival ofhumanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under anycircumstances".

The 2015 NPT Review Conference has failed to agree an outcomedocument due to a lack of consensus on how to move forward on aWeapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. But theconference also revealed the depth of divisions in Europe overapproaches to disarmament:

  • France and the UK previously boycotted a conference hosted bythe government of Norway on the humanitarian impact of nuclearweapons.
  • Ireland and Austria insist that there must be a new legallybinding treaty to place nuclear weapons on a par with biologicaland chemical weapons; however, this position is opposed by theUK.
  • Several European states have joined 159 other countries inurging that the humanitarian agenda should underpin all efforts toachieve disarmament and that all states share the responsibility ofpreventing the modernisation of nuclear arsenals, whilst the UKproposes spending £25 billion on upgrading Trident.  

Speaking on behalf of the four UK churches, policy adviser SteveHucklesby said:

"Faith groups in the UK are united in their conviction that anyuse of nuclear weapons would violate the sanctity of life and theprinciple of dignity core to our faith traditions. To address thesecurity challenges that we face today, we must build relationshipsbased on mutual cooperation rather than the threat of mutualdestruction.

We now have a serious division in Europe on nuclear weapons.Ireland and Austria insist that we must have new legal treaties toachieve a world free of nuclear weapons, and other states in Europemay be willing to join the call. Sadly the UK remains intransigent,boycotting or blocking any effective forum for the discussion ofnew multilateral disarmament initiatives. This further risksundermining trust in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UK must actto restore confidence in the direction of travel on nucleardisarmament."

In March of this year, senior leaders of the Baptist Union ofGreat Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and theUnited Reformed Church were among 26 UK faith leaders to call on the UK Government to support a robust plan ofaction on nuclear disarmament.

Churches across the UK are being encouraged to pray forand writeto their MPs in response.


  1. The Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on theNon-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is an annual gatheringof representatives from across the United Nations. For moreinformation, click here.
  2. Click here to read the letter published in The Times from26 UK faith leaders calling for the UK Government to support arobust plan of action on nuclear disarmament.
  3. On Saturday 9 May, the Mission Council of the United Reformed Church endorsedthe call for a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty and requested that themission committee bring an appropriate resolution to the 2016General assembly.
  4. On Tuesday 19 May, The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debatednuclear weapons and passed a resolution to urging the UK Governmentnot to proceed with the renewal of the Trident Nuclear Weaponssystem.