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Tackling a “Moral and Ethical Imperative”

The SGI joins faith groups to issue a statement to the U.N. calling for urgent steps toward nuclear disarmament.

The SGI joins faith groups to present a joint statement at the U.N. calling for nuclear abolition, New York, Oct. 16; (l–r) Kimiaki Kawai, SGI Director for Peace and Human Rights; Hayley Ramsay-Jones, Director of the Geneva Liaison Offi ce, SGI Offi ce for U.N. Aff airs; Marissa Edwards, Vice Chair of the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security; Kazuo Ishiwatari, SGI Executive Director for Peace and Global Issues; Dr. Emily Welty, Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches.Photo by SOKA GAKKAI.


U.N. Headquarters, New York. Photo by UN PHOTO / MANUEL ELIAS.

NEW YORK—On Oct. 16, Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons, a group of diverse faith-based organizations and individuals committed to nuclear abolition, presented a joint statement on the occasion of the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York. The initiative was led by PAX, Pax Christi International, the SGI and World Council of Churches (WCC).

Endorsed by 14 groups and individuals of varied Christian, Quaker, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the statement urges the General Assembly to address the issue of disarmament not only from a military and political perspective but also as a “moral and ethical imperative.” It reads, in part:

As people of faith, we advocate for the right of all people to live in security and dignity; we seek to heed the commands of conscience and the call to justice . . . The horrific destructiveness of nuclear weapons makes their abolition the only path to authentic human security.

Dr. Emily Welty, Vice Moderator of the WCC, commented, “Speaking collectively about how nuclear weapons violate the values at the core of our diverse faith traditions, working together to assist victims, restore the environment and demand that powerful governments care for human beings is what I believe we are called to do as people of faith.”

As people of faith, we advocate for the right of all people to live in security and dignity; we seek to heed the commands of conscience and the call to justice.

The statement is the 10th of its kind issued by the group since 2014. For the first time, this most recent statement stresses the dangers posed by the Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), a type of autonomous military robot that can independently search and engage targets based on programmed constraints and descriptions.

“No machine should ever have the right to decide on life and death,” said Kazuo Ishiwatari, the SGI Executive Director for Peace and Global Issues. “It is frightening to imagine any further advance in the automation of the processes controlling the targeting and launching of nuclear weapons.”

The statement brings to light the threat of a new international arms race and urges all States that have not yet signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to do so. In an important step toward a world free from nuclear weapons, the historic treaty was adopted by 122 governments in July 2017. The faith communities also asked the General Assembly to “heed the voices of the world’s hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors).”

The Buddhist perspective of human security.

On Oct. 17, together with the Interfaith Statement, the SGI submitted its own official statement to Marissa Edwards (Guyana), Vice Chair of the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. Ms. Edwards expressed her appreciation for the efforts made by faith communities and conveyed the statements to the Chair of the First Committee, Ion Jinga.

The SGI statement highlights:

At the heart of the issues of nuclear weapons and LAWS is the radical negation of others—of their humanity and of their equal right to happiness and life . . . Technological advances may expand the realm of what we can do—what is possible—but this cannot be allowed to obscure or obviate painful reckoning with the question of what we should do—what is right and what is wrong. As individuals and governments, we cannot avoid these questions, and grappling with them is essential to our humanity.

The article was adapted from a press release published by Religion News Service on Oct. 18 at religionnews.com. To read the entire SGI statement, visit www.sgi.org.

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