World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Call for the dismantling of nuclear weapons

23 April 1999

Press release issued 23 April 1999.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on non-NATO nuclear weapon states to join in efforts for the rapid elimination of nuclear weapons. The WCC's appeal supports an initiative by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) on the occasion of NATO's fiftieth anniversary and the summit to be held in Washington, D.C., on 24-25 April. During the summit, NATO will review its strategic concept.

CEC, CCC and NCCCUSA wrote to the ministers of Foreign Affairs in March and early April, urgently requesting them to revise "NATO's present assertion that nuclear weapons ‘fulfil an essential role' and are the ‘supreme guarantee of the security of the allies'." The WCC endorses this appeal and has now extended it to include non-NATO nuclear weapon states.

In letters to diplomatic missions in Geneva, the WCC calls on the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, and India, which are not members of NATO, likewise to adopt the three recommendations addressed to NATO.

The appeal issued by CEC, CCC and NCCCUSA, and supported by the WCC, calls on NATO "to ensure that the new NATO strategic concept:

affirms NATO's support for the rapid global elimination of nuclear weapons and commits the Alliance to take programmatic action to advance this goal;

commits NATO to reducing the alert status of nuclear weapons possessed by NATO members, and to pursuing effective arrangements for the rapid de-alerting of all nuclear weapons possessed by member states; and

renounces the first-use of nuclear weapons by any NATO members under any circumstances, and commits NATO to the pursuit of equivalent commitments from other states possessing nuclear weapons."

The WCC has also written to the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, the National Council of Churches in India, the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Russian Orthodox Church, encouraging them to take appropriate steps in their countries to support the appeal.