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Religious Leaders, Legislators in Nuclear Abolition Call

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 29 2015 (IPS) - Leaders of major religious faiths and interfaith networks, joined forces with parliamentarians and mayors, to call on world leaders to “commit to nuclear abolition and to replace nuclear deterrence with shared security approaches to conflicts.”

A joint statement, presented to Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, calls specifically on world leaders to negotiate “a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements that eliminate nuclear weapons,” a proposal advanced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and supported by over 130 countries.

The joint statement was adopted in Hiroshima on August 6th – the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of that city, and is endorsed by religious leaders, mayors and parliamentarians from Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.

“The experience of Hiroshima reminds us of why nuclear weapons must be abolished,’ said Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace. ‘As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a Hibakusha (nuclear victim) at any time.’

The joint statement was coordinated and presented to the UN by Religions for Peace, Mayors for Peace and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, along with a nuclear abolition resolution adopted by the US Conference of Mayors in June this year.

‘We join together to highlight the continuing risks of a nuclear catastrophe – whether by accident, miscalculation or intent – and the moral and security imperative to achieve nuclear abolition,’ said Dr William Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace.

‘Nearly 16,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world’s arsenals costing $100 billion annually – funds that could instead be used to implement the Sustainable Development Goals,’ said Saber Chowdhury MP, Co-President of PNND and President of the Inter Parliamentary Union. ‘We reaffirm UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s description of the abolition of nuclear weapons as a “common good of the highest order.”

“In special ways mayors are responsible for protecting the safety and welfare of their citizens, as well as for preserving and promoting cultural and environmental values and heritages; parliamentarians for national policies and laws for the benefit of present and future generations; and religious leaders for advancing the shared moral principles and respect for the well-being of all people regardless of ethnicity, nationality or religion.

Together—as mayors, parliamentarians and religious leaders— we support the common good of nuclear abolition. We reject nuclear weapons, which threaten our humanity, contravene our moral principles, violate international law and thwart the safety and well-being of current and future generations.”

The joint statement was also presented to the United Nations in Geneva – the traditional locations for disarmament negotiations – at a special event on Sep22 to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
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