UK faith leaders call for new initiatives to bring an end to nuclear weapons

  • 26 UK faith leaders sign statement to end nuclear weapons
  • Read the full statement  here    
  • Read the signatories' letter published in The Times newspapertoday (paywall)       

Faith leaders across the UK have signed a statement calling onnuclear weapons states to join with other states to implement newapproaches to eliminate nuclear arsenals.  

Ahead of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ReviewConference meeting from 27 April to 22 May 2015, seniorrepresentatives from eight faiths in the UK, including Christian,Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist, have given their backing to astatement calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The faithleaders argue that nuclear arsenals "violate the principle ofdignity for every human being that is common to each of our faithtraditions".

The statement urges nuclear weapons states to "develop a robustplan of action that will lead us to a nuclear weapon free world"and stresses that "it is necessary to move beyond the division ofour world into recognised nuclear and non-nuclear weaponsstates".

The statement has been supported by the Revd Dr Chris Ellis,President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Rt Revd JohnChalmers, Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, theRevd Kenneth G. Howcroft and Gill Dascombe, President andVice-President of the Methodist Conference; John Ellis, Moderatorof the United Reformed Church and Paul Parker, Recording Clerk forQuakers in Britain.

Other signatories include the Most Revd Malcolm McMahon,Archbishop of Liverpool; Maulana Shahid Raza OBE, British MuslimForum; Bharti Tailor, The Hindu Forum of Europe;  Lord(Indarjit) Singh of Wimbledon, Network of Sikh Organisations andVen B. Seelawimala, London Buddhist Vihara.

In recent years, the UK government has strongly resistedproposals for negotiation of a new treaty that would lead to theelimination of nuclear weapons. In 2010, the UK, along with the US,Russia, China and France, rejected an invitation from the UNSecretary General for talks around a five-point plan on nucleardisarmament. In 2013, the same states stayed away from the UnitedNations Open-Ended Working Group to develop proposals to takeforward multilateral nuclear disarmament.  

The statement from UK faith leaders follows the pledge of theGovernment of Austria to work to fill the gap in international law with respect to nuclearweapons. Fifty other states have also indicated their intention fornuclear weapons to be treated in a similar way to chemical andbiological weapons under international law.

The Revd Kenneth G. Howcroft, President of the MethodistConference, said: "The joint statement demonstrates to the UKgovernment the strong desire on the part of faith communities forconcerted action on nuclear weapons. His Holiness, Pope Francis,has recently spoken of the need to declare such weapons asillegitimate under international law. As faith communities, we urgethe UK government to use its considerable influence to buildsupport for new initiatives on disarmament."  



1.The full text of the statement is here and the list of signatories can be read here.

2. Some of those supporting this statement do so in theirpersonal capacity and not on behalf of the faith group to whichthey are affiliated.

3. In December, an international faith leaders statementcalled for a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weaponswithout delay.

4. Read the signatories' letter published in The Times on13 March 2015 here (paywall).

5. Kenneth Howcroft is available for interview.