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Friday, 27 November 2020 11:27

SVD signs on to nuclear weapon ban campaign


Nuclear ban treaty is ratified ICANW 650The Divine Word Missionaries AUS Province recently joined the anti-nuclear fight by signing up to ICAN, the international body campaigning for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The move came as the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reached the required 50 states parties for its entry into force, after Honduras ratified just one day after Jamaica and Nauru submitted their ratifications.

The treaty will enter into force 90 days after the October 24 signing, cementing a categorical ban on nuclear weapons, 75 years after their first use.

Prior to the treaty’s adoption, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not banned under international law, despite their catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, says it was important for the SVD to take a stand, along with other faith organisations, against the use of nuclear weapons.

“We don’t have to think too hard to understand the seriousness of nuclear war if it ever takes place,” he says.

“We are now one of the 600 partner organisations to help spread the word to countries such as Australia that are yet to sign the treaty.”

Fr Rass, who is from Fiji, says that for him there is a personal aspect to the campaign against nuclear weapons.

“It’s personal for me because of the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific in past years by both the Americans and the French,” he says.

“The Pacific is still feeling the effects of that.

“We need to be learning from the past, from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (where nuclear bombs were dropped at the end of World War II), and resolving to do better for the future.”

ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn welcomed the historic moment of ratification of the treaty banning nuclear weapons.

“This is a new chapter for nuclear disarmament. Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned," she said in a statement.

Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty”.

In 2017, Australia’s Religious joined other faith and community organisations in supporting an open letter to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, calling for the Australian Government to sign a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Catholic Religious Australia and more than 50 other faith groups, including religious congregations, signed an open letter in solidarity with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW), urging the Government to act. The Australian Government is yet to sign the treaty.

PHOTO: Campaigners for the international treaty to ban nuclear weapons celebrate its adoption (ICAN, Aude Catimel).