A Special Session of the RfP International Standing Commission on Disarmament and Security at the United Nations University on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
(3 August 2016 | Tokyo, Japan) More than 100 religious leaders, parliamentarians, diplomats, civil society leaders from 11 countries, as well as “Hibakusha” (survivors of nuclear bombing) and high school students representing the younger generation, convened at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan on 2-3 August 2016 to advance multi-religious, multi-stakeholder and inter-generational partnership for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
This special session of the RfP International Standing Commission on Disarmament and Security (Chair, Ven. Gijun Sugitani) was held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which declared that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law…there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects.” The special session also coincided with the commencement of the final round of deliberations at the UN Open-ended Working Group to adopt a report to the UN General Assembly (GA), leading to a possible UNGA resolution in October 2016 to advance a global treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Ms. Aika Tokuhisa, 16-year-old high school student, addressing the RfP Special Session on Disarmament and Security at the United Nations University on 3 August 2016
High school students Ms. Aika Tokuhisa (age 16) and Ms. Hinako Ogawa (age 17), third generation Hibakusha from the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Messengers, joined the session to expressed their earnest longing for the abolition of nuclear weapons. “After hearing the statements given by the victims of the nuclear bombs and about the many terrible consequences of nuclear war, I strongly feel that my generation has a responsibility to strive for a world where people do not live in fear of nuclear weapons,” stated Ms. Tokuhisa.
Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice President of ICJ, in his message, noted that “these are the short term perspectives that dominate our lives as opposed to the repositories of wisdom contained in the world’s religions which we profess to follow in theory but totally neglect in practice. It is time for us to discard these selfish thoughts and realize that no generation since the human race began has acted so regardless of the rights of our children and the generations yet to come. One of our greatest duties is the duty we owe to our children and relatives of our children’s children who are unable to speak for themselves. Every religion stresses this and the nuclear weapon contradicts this in shattering terms.”
Honorable Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and RfP International Co-President, said “when Gandhi-ji called for Satyagraha, he said that he was not calling for docile peace, but he was calling for an active resistance to evil wherever we see it. Gandhi-ji said that to accept injustice is to condone it.”
Mr. Terumi Tanaka, a “Hibakusya” (survivor of atomic bombs), said that “it is our strong desire to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world in our lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.” Participants supported the international petition campaign on nuclear abolition recently launched by Hibakusya. Ms. Annette N. Note, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Japan and a third-generation Bikinian, shared her personal testimony about her late husband, Nishma Jamore, Mayor of Bikini Atoll, who passed away last year at the age of 42. Bikini Atoll was used by the US to carry out nuclear testing programs from 1946 to 1958.Devastatingly, today, even 70 years later, radiation still continues to kill our people one by one,” she noted. On 24 April 2014, the Marshall Islands filed applications in the ICJ against the nine nuclear-armed states, claiming they have violated their nuclear disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.
Fr. Michael Czerny, representing the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace at the Vatican Quoted Pope Francis’ following words: “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty” … “The security of our own future depends on guaranteeing the peaceful security of others, for if peace, security and stability are not established globally, they will not be enjoyed at all” [Message of Pope Francis on the Occasion of the Vienna Conference of Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons]. Mr. Jonathan Frerichs, Senior Representative of the World Council of Churches and Pax Christi, said “[Our]hope is a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Many states want negotiations to begin in 2017. We must advocate with them. We must not fail to invite the 31 nuclear-umbrella states to join this common path towards greater equal security for all.”
Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, RfP International said that “nuclear weapons-as indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction-are intrinsically evil. Thus, even the development and possession of nuclear weapons is morally disordered. The moral imperatives against the use or possession of nuclear weapons arise from the depths of human conscience, which is itself more primordial than the technical debates over the legality of nuclear weapons.”
The Final Statement committed participants to further raising awareness of disarmament issues, supporting coordinated advocacy efforts, and engaging and empowering religious leaders and communities to more effectively partner with other civil society, governmental and inter-governmental actors in actions to abolish nuclear weapons.
Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace by working to advance multi-religious consensus on positive aspects of peace as well as concrete actions to stop war, help eliminate extreme poverty and protect the earth. The global Religions for Peace network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional inter-religious bodies and more than ninety national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Interfaith Youth Network.