From Paris to Pakistan, Orlando to Myanmar, Iraq to Nigeria, each day witnesses conflict and violence perpetrated in the name of religion or committed against persons because of their religious identity.
Mere days after terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, the theme of an interfaith meeting of Christians and Muslims at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on “Religion, Peace and Violence” was entirely appropriate, said participants.
Important votes at the United Nations (UN) in early November give an indication of how much of the world wants new action to eliminate nuclear weapons, and how determined the main nuclear powers and their allies are to resist such long-overdue change.
Seventy years after nuclear fireballs exploded over two Japanese cities, an ecumenical group of pilgrims has come to Hiroshima to listen to those who survived and renew the struggle against their own countries’ continued reliance on nuclear weapons.
“It is time to abandon all support for retaining nuclear weapons. It is time to refuse to accept that the mass destruction of other people can be a legitimate form of protection of ourselves,” said Bishop Mary Ann Swenson at the Peace Memorial Cathedral in Hiroshima.
Church leaders from seven countries currently making historic choices for or against outlawing nuclear weapons will embark on a pilgrimage in early August to the two Japanese cities that were decimated by atomic bombs 70 years ago.
The prospect of armed robots taking human lives, and whether to ban autonomous weapons before they are made, concentrated the minds of governmental and non-governmental delegates at a United Nations forum in Geneva in mid-April.
After a concerted examination of the evidence presented at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons and two earlier conferences, 44 of the states present called for a ban on nuclear weapons. The host government Austria added momentum with a specific, cooperative pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons” and eliminate them.
A reflection on the recent United Nations meeting on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, by Jonathan Frerichs, WCC programme executive for peace building and disarmament, and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The WCC Executive Committee has condemned the use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles saying that they pose “serious threats to humanity” and the “right to life” while setting “dangerous precedents in inter-state relations”.