"The Jewish people as a whole will be its own Messiah. It will attain world domination by the dissolution of other races...and by the establishment of a world republic in which everywhere the Jews will exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the Children of Israel...will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition..." (Karl Marx in a letter to Baruch Levy, quoted in Review de Paris, June 1, 1928, p. 574)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Reflections of Hiroshima


Main Source: Nuclear Pathways

"...technological civilization has just reached its final degree of savagery. We will have to choose, in the relatively near future, between collective suicide and the intelligent use of scientific conquests." -- Albert Camus, French philosopher

"It was hell all over the city. I don't think I can describe a ten-thousandth of the reality by... telling a story. I think only those who experienced it can understand. Black rain was falling." -- Hamano Matsushita, A Hiroshima survivor

"I see that they are holding a trial for war criminals in Tokyo just now. I think they ought to try the men who decided to use the bomb and they should hang them all." -- Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, 1945

The Declaration of a Global Ethic

This interfaith declaration is the result of a two-year consultation among more than two hundred scholars and theologians representing the world's communities of faith.

On September 2-4, 1993, the document was discussed by an assembly of religious and spiritual leaders meeting as part of the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. Respected

leaders from all the world's major faiths signed the declaration as individuals, agreeing that it represents an initial effort: a point of beginning for a world sorely in need of ethical consensus.

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions and the persons who have endorsed this text offer it to the world as an initial statement of those rules for living on which the world's religions agree.

The world is in agony. The agony is so pervasive and urgent that we are compelled to name its manifestations so that the depth of this pain may be made clear. Peace eludes us . the planet is being destroyed . neighbors live in fear . women and men are estranged from each other . children die!

This is abhorrent! We condemn the abuses of Earth's ecosystems.

We condemn the poverty that stifles life's potential; the hunger that weakens the human body; the economic disparities that threaten so many families with ruin.

We condemn the social disarray of the nations; the disregard for justice which pushes citizens to the margin; the anarchy overtaking our communities; and the insane death of children from violence. In particular we condemn aggression and hatred in the name of religion.

But this agony need not be. It need not be because the basis for an ethic already exists. This ethic offers the possibility of a better individual and global order, and leads individuals away from despair and societies away from chaos.

We are women and men who have embraced the precepts and practices of the world's religions:

We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic.

We affirm that this truth is already known, but yet to be lived in heart and action.

We affirm that there is an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions. There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.

We Declare:
We are interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings, for people, animals, and plants, and for the preservation of Earth, the air, water and soil.

We take individual responsibility for all we do. All our decisions, actions, and failures to act have consequences.

We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. We make a commitment to respect life and dignity, individuality and diversity, so that every person is treated humanely, without exception. We must have patience and acceptance. We must be able to forgive, learning from the past but never allowing ourselves to be enslaved by memories of hate. Opening our hearts to one another, we must sink our narrow differences for the cause of the world community, practicing a culture of solidarity and relatedness.

We consider humankind our family. We must strive to be kind and generous. We must not live for ourselves alone, but should also serve others, never forgetting the children, the aged, the poor, the suffering, the disabled, the refugees, and the lonely. No person should ever be considered or treated as a second-class citizen, or be exploited in any way whatsoever. There should be equal partnership between men and women. We must not commit any kind of sexual immorality. We must put behind us all forms of domination or abuse.

We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice, and peace. We shall not oppress, injure, torture, or kill other human beings, forsaking violence as a means of settling differences.

We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. We must speak and act truthfully and with compassion, dealing fairly with all, and avoiding prejudice and hatred. We must not steal. We must move beyond the dominance of greed for power, prestige, money, and consumption to make a just and peaceful world.

Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed first.

We pledge to increase our awareness by disciplining our minds, by meditation, by prayer, or by positive thinking. Without risk and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation. Therefore we commit ourselves to this global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life.

We invite all people, whether religious or not, to do the same.

The Principles of a Global Ethic

Our world is experiencing a fundamental crisis: A crisis in global economy, global ecology, and global politics. The lack of a grand vision, the tangle of unresolved problems, political paralysis, mediocre political leadership with little insight or foresight, and in general too little sense for the commonweal are seen everywhere: Too many old answers to new challenges.

Hundreds of millions of human beings on our planet increasingly suffer from unemployment, poverty, hunger, and the destruction of their families. Hope for a lasting peace among nations slips away from us. There are tensions between the sexes and generations. Children die, kill, and are killed. More and more countries are shaken by corruption in politics and business. It is increasingly difficult to live together peacefully in our cities because of social, racial, and ethnic conflicts, the abuse of drugs, organized crime, and even anarchy. Even neighbors often live in fear of one another. Our planet continues to be ruthlessly plundered. A collapse of the ecosystem threatens us.

Time and again we see leaders and members of religions incite aggression, fanaticism, hate, and xenophobia-even inspire and legitimize violent and bloody conflicts. Religion often is misused for purely power-political goals, including war. We are filled with disgust.

We condemn these blights and declare that they need not be. An ethic already exists within the religious teachings of the world which can counter the global distress. Of course this ethic provides no direct solution for all the immense problems of the world, but it does supply the moral foundation for a better individual and global order: A vision which can lead women and men away from despair, and society away from chaos.

We are persons who have committed ourselves to the precepts and practices of the world's religions. We confirm that there is already a consensus among the religions which can be the basis for a global ethic-a minimal fundamental consensus concerning binding values, irrevocable standards, and fundamental moral attitudes.

I. No new global order without a new global ethic!

We women and men of various religions and regions of Earth therefore address all people, religious and non-religious. We wish to express the following convictions which we hold in common:

We all have a responsibility for a better global order.

Our involvement for the sake of human rights, freedom, justice, peace, and the preservation of Earth is absolutely necessary.

Our different religious and cultural traditions must not prevent our common involvement in opposing all forms of inhumanity and working for greater humaneness.

The principles expressed in this Global Ethic can be affirmed by all persons with ethical convictions, whether religiously grounded or not.

As religious and spiritual persons we base our lives on an Ultimate Reality, and draw spiritual power and hope therefrom, in trust, in prayer or meditation, in word or silence. We have a special responsibility for the welfare of all humanity and care for the planet Earth. We do not consider ourselves better than other women and men, but we trust that the ancient wisdom of our religions can point the way for the future.

After two world wars and the end of the Cold War, the collapse of fascism and Nazism, the shaking to the foundations of communism and colonialism, humanity has entered a new phase of its history. Today we possess sufficient economic, cultural, and spiritual resources to introduce a better global order. But old and new ethnic, national, social, economic, and religious tensions threaten the peaceful building of a better world. We have experienced greater technological progress than ever before, yet we see that world-wide poverty, hunger, death of children, unemployment, misery, and the destruction of nature have not diminished but rather have increased. Many peoples are threatened with economic ruin, social disarray, political marginalization, ecological catastrophe, and national collapse.

In such a dramatic global situation humanity needs a vision of peoples living peacefully together, of ethnic and ethical groupings and of religions sharing responsibility for the care of Earth. A vision rests on hopes, goals, ideals, standards. But all over the world these have slipped from our hands. Yet we are convinced that, despite their frequent abuses and failures, it is the communities of faith who bear a responsibility to demonstrate that such hopes, ideals, and standards can be guarded, grounded, and lived. This is especially true in the modern state. Guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion are necessary but they do not substitute for binding values, convictions, and norms which are valid for all humans regardless of their social origin, sex, skin color, language, or religion.

We are convinced of the fundamental unity of the human family on Earth. We recall the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. What it formally proclaimed on the level of rights we wish to confirm and deepen here from the perspective of an ethic: The full realization of the intrinsic dignity of the human person, the inalienable freedom and equality in principle of all humans, and the necessary solidarity and interdependence of all humans with each other.

On the basis of personal experiences and the burdensome history of our planet we have learned that a better global order cannot be created or enforced by laws, prescriptions, and conventions alone; that the realization of peace, justice, and the protection of Earth depends on the insight and readiness of men and women to act justly; that action in favor of rights and freedoms presumes a consciousness of responsibility and duty, and that therefore both the minds and hearts of women and men must be addressed; that rights without morality cannot long endure, and that there will be no better global order without a global ethic.

By a global ethic we do not mean a global ideology or a single unified religion beyond all existing religions, and certainly not the domination of one religion over all others. By a global ethic we mean a fundamental consensus on binding values, irrevocable standards, and personal attitudes. Without such a fundamental consensus on an ethic, sooner or later every community will be threatened by chaos or dictatorship, and individuals will despair.

II. A fundamental demand: Every human being must be treated humanely.

We all are fallible, imperfect men and women with limitations and defects. We know the reality of evil. Precisely because of this, we feel compelled for the sake of global welfare to express what the fundamental elements of a global ethic should be-for individuals as well as for communities and organizations, for states as well as for the religions themselves. We trust that our often millennia-old religious and ethical traditions provide an ethic which is convincing and practicable for all women and men of good will, religious and non-religious.

At the same time we know that our various religious and ethical traditions often offer very different bases for what is helpful and what is unhelpful for men and women, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. We do not wish to gloss over or ignore the serious differences among the individual religions. However, they should not hinder us from proclaiming publicly those things which we already hold in common and which we jointly affirm, each on the basis of our own religious or ethical grounds.

We know that religions cannot solve the environmental, economic, political, and social problems of Earth. However they can provide what obviously cannot be attained by economic plans, political programs, or legal regulations alone: A change in the inner orientation, the whole mentality, the "hearts" of people, and a conversion from a false path to a new orientation for life. Humankind urgently needs social and ecological reforms, but it needs spiritual renewal just as urgently. As religious or spiritual persons we commit ourselves to this task. The spiritual powers of the religions can offer a fundamental sense of trust, a ground of meaning, ultimate standards, and a spiritual home. Of course religions are credible only when they eliminate those conflicts which spring from the religions themselves, dismantling mutual arrogance, mistrust, prejudice, and even hostile images, and thus demonstrate respect for the traditions, holy places, feasts, and rituals of people who believe differently.

Now as before, women and men are treated inhumanely all over the world. They are robbed of their opportunities and their freedom; their human rights are trampled underfoot; their dignity is disregarded. But might does not make right! In the face of all inhumanity our religious and ethical convictions demand that every human being must be treated humanely!

This means that every human being without distinction of age, sex, race, skin color, physical or mental ability, language, religion, political view, or national or social origin possesses an inalienable and untouchable dignity, and everyone, the individual as well as the state, is therefore obliged to honor this dignity and protect it. Humans must always be the subjects of rights, must be ends, never mere means, never objects of commercialization and industrialization in economics, politics and media, in research institutes, and industrial corporations. No one stands "above good and evil"-no human being, no social class, no influential interest group, no cartel, no police apparatus, no army, and no state. On the contrary: Possessed of reason and conscience, every human is obliged to behave in a genuinely human fashion, to do good and avoid evil!

It is the intention of this Global Ethic to clarify what this means. In it we wish to recall irrevocable, unconditional ethical norms. These should not be bonds and chains, but helps and supports for people to find and realize once again their lives' direction, values, orientations, and meaning.

There is a principle which is found and has persisted in many religious and ethical traditions of humankind for thousands of years: What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others. Or in positive terms: What you wish done to yourself, do to others! This should be the irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions.

Every form of egoism should be rejected: All selfishness, whether individual or collective, whether in the form of class thinking, racism, nationalism, or sexism. We condemn these because they prevent humans from being authentically human. Self-determination and self-realization are thoroughly legitimate so long as they are not separated from human self-responsibility and global responsibility, that is, from responsibility for fellow humans and for the planet Earth.

This principle implies very concrete standards to which we humans should hold firm. From it arise four broad, ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in most of the religions of the world.

III. Irrevocable Directives.

1. Commitment to a Culture of Non-violence and Respect for Life.

Numberless women and men of all regions and religions strive to lead lives not determined by egoism but by commitment to their fellow humans and to the world around them. Nevertheless, all over the world we find endless hatred, envy, jealousy, and violence, not only between individuals but also between social and ethnic groups, between classes, races, nations, and religions. The use of violence, drug trafficking and organized crime, often equipped with new technical possibilities, has reached global proportions. Many places still are ruled by terror "from above;" dictators oppress their own people, and institutional violence is widespread. Even in some countries where laws exist to protect individual freedoms, prisoners are tortured, men and women are mutilated, hostages are killed.

a) In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not kill! Or in positive terms: Have respect for life! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: All people have a right to life, safety, and the free development of personality insofar as they do not injure the rights of others. No one has the right physically or psychically to torture, injure, much less kill, any other human being. And no people, no state, no race, no religion has the right to hate, to discriminate against, to "cleanse," to exile, much less to liquidate a "foreign" minority which is different in behavior or holds different beliefs.

b) Of course, wherever there are humans there will be conflicts. Such conflicts, however, should be resolved without violence within a framework of justice. This is true for states as well as for individuals. Persons who hold political power must work within the framework of a just order and commit themselves to the most non-violent, peaceful solutions possible. And they should work for this within an international order of peace which itself has need of protection and defense against perpetrators of violence. Armament is a mistaken path; disarmament is the commandment of the times. Let no one be deceived: There is no survival for humanity without global peace!

c) Young people must learn at home and in school that violence may not be a means of settling differences with others. Only thus can a culture of non-violence be created.

d) A human person is infinitely precious and must be unconditionally protected. But likewise the lives of animals and plants which inhabit this planet with us deserve protection, preservation, and care. Limitless exploitation of the natural foundations of life, ruthless destruction of the biosphere, and militarization of the cosmos are all outrages. As human beings we have a special responsibility - especially with a view to future generations-for Earth and the cosmos, for the air, water, and soil.We are all intertwined together in this cosmos and we are all dependent on each other. Each one of us depends on the welfare of all. Therefore the dominance of humanity over nature and the cosmos must not be encouraged. Instead we must cultivate living in harmony with nature and the cosmos.

e) To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means that in public as well as in private life we must be concerned for others and ready to help. We must never be ruthless and brutal. Every people, every race, every religion must show tolerance and respect-indeed high appreciation-for every other. Minorities need protection and support, whether they be racial, ethnic, or religious.

2. Commitment to a Culture of Solidarity and a Just Economic Order.

Numberless men and women of all regions and religions strive to live their lives in solidarity with one another and to work for authentic fulfillment of their vocations. Nevertheless, all over the world we find endless hunger, deficiency, and need. Not only individuals, but especially unjust institutions and structures are responsible for these tragedies. Millions of people are without work; millions are exploited by poor wages, forced to the edges of society, with their possibilities for the future destroyed. In many lands the gap between the poor and the rich, between the powerful and the powerless, is immense. We live in a world in which totalitarian state socialism as well as unbridled capitalism have hollowed out and destroyed many ethical and spiritual values. A materialistic mentality breeds greed for unlimited profit and a grasping for endless plunder. These demands claim more and more of the community's resources without obliging the individual to contribute more. The cancerous social evil of corruption thrives in the developing countries and in the developed countries alike.

a) In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not steal! Or in positive terms: Deal honestly and fairly! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: No one has the right to rob or dispossess in any way whatsoever any other person or the commonweal. Further, no one has the right to use her or his possessions without concern for the needs of society and Earth.

b) Where extreme poverty reigns, helplessness and despair spread, and theft occurs again and again for the sake of survival. Where power and wealth are accumulated ruthlessly, feelings of envy, resentment, and deadly hatred and rebellion inevitably well up in the disadvantaged and marginalized. This leads to a vicious circle of violence and counter-violence. Let no one be deceived: There is no global peace without global justice!

c) Young people must learn at home and in school that property, limited though it may be, carries with it an obligation, and that its uses should at the same time serve the common good. Only thus can a just economic order be built up.

d) If the plight of the poorest billions of humans on this planet, particularly women and children, is to be improved, the world economy must be structured more justly. Individual good deeds, and assistance projects, indispensable though they be, are insufficient. The participation of all states and the authority of international organizations are needed to build just economic institutions.

A solution which can be supported by all sides must be sought for the debt crisis and the poverty of the dissolving second world, and even more the third world. Of course conflicts of interest are unavoidable. In the developed countries, a distinction must be made between necessary and limitless consumption, between socially beneficial and non- beneficial uses of property, between justified and unjustified uses of natural resources, and between a profit-only and a socially beneficial and ecologically oriented market economy. Even the developing nations must search their national consciences.

Wherever those ruling threaten to repress those ruled, wherever institutions threaten persons, and wherever might oppresses right, we are obligated to resist-whenever possible non-violently.

e) To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means the following:

We must utilize economic and political power for service to humanity instead of misusing it in ruthless battles for domination. We must develop a spirit of compassion with those who suffer, with special care for the children, the aged, the poor, the disabled, the refugees, and the lonely.

We must cultivate mutual respect and consideration, so as to reach a reasonable balance of interests, instead of thinking only of unlimited power and unavoidable competitive struggles.

We must value a sense of moderation and modesty instead of an unquenchable greed for money, prestige, and consumption. In greed humans lose their "souls," their freedom, their composure, their inner peace, and thus that which makes them human.

3. Commitment to a Culture of Tolerance and a Life of Truthfulness.

Numberless women and men of all regions and religions strive to lead lives of honesty and truthfulness. Nevertheless, all over the world we find endless lies and deceit, swindling and hypocrisy, ideology and demagoguery:

Politicians and business people who use lies as a means to success;

Mass media which spread ideological propaganda instead of accurate reporting, misinformation instead of information, cynical commercial interest instead of loyalty to the truth;

Scientists and researchers who give themselves over to morally questionable ideological or political programs or to economic interest groups, or who justify research which violates fundamental ethical values;

Representatives of religions who dismiss other religions as of little value and who preach fanaticism and intolerance instead of respect and understanding.

a) In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not lie! Or in positive terms: Speak and act truthfully! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: No woman or man, no institution, no state or church or religious community has the right to speak lies to other humans.

b) This is especially true for those who work in the mass media, to whom we entrust the freedom to report for the sake of truth and to whom we thus grant the office of guardian. They do not stand above morality but have the obligation to respect human dignity, human rights, and fundamental values. They are duty-bound to objectivity, fairness, and the preservation of human dignity. They have no right to intrude into individuals' private spheres, to manipulate public opinion, or to distort reality; for artists, writers, and scientists, to whom we entrust artistic and academic freedom. They are not exempt from general ethical standards and must serve the truth; for the leaders of countries, politicians, and political parties, to whom we entrust our own freedoms. When they lie in the faces of their people, when they manipulate the truth, or when they are guilty of venality or ruthlessness in domestic or foreign affairs, they forsake their credibility and deserve to lose their offices and their voters. Conversely, public opinion should support those politicians who dare to speak the truth to the people at all times; finally, for representatives of religion. When they stir up prejudice, hatred, and enmity towards those of different belief, or even incite or legitimize religious wars, they deserve the condemnation of humankind and the loss of their adherents. Let no one be deceived: There is no global justice without truthfulness and humaneness!

c) Young people must learn at home and in school to think, speak, and act truthfully. They have a right to information and education to be able to make the decisions that will form their lives. Without an ethical formation they will hardly be able to distinguish the important from the unimportant. In the daily flood of information, ethical standards will help them discern when opinions are portrayed as facts, interests veiled, tendencies exaggerated, and facts twisted.

d) To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means the following:

We must not confuse freedom with arbitrariness or pluralism with indifference to truth.

We must cultivate truthfulness in all our relationships instead of dishonesty, dissembling, and opportunism.

We must constantly seek truth and incorruptible sincerity instead of spreading ideological or partisan half-truths.

We must courageously serve the truth and we must remain constant and trustworthy, instead of yielding to opportunistic accommodation to life.

4. Commitment to a Culture of Equal Rights and Partnership Between Men and Women

Numberless men and women of all regions and religions strive to live their lives in a spirit of partnership and responsible action in the areas of love, sexuality, and family. Nevertheless, all over the world there are condemnable forms of patriarchy, domination of one sex over the other, exploitation of women, sexual misuse of children, and forced prostitution. Too frequently, social inequities force women and even children into prostitution as a means of survival-particularly in less developed countries.

a) In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not commit sexual immorality! Or in positive terms: Respect and love one another! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: No one has the right to degrade others to mere sex objects, to lead them into or hold them in sexual dependency.

b) We condemn sexual exploitation and sexual discrimination as one of the worst forms of human degradation. We have the duty to resist wherever the domination of one sex over the other is preached-even in the name of religious conviction; wherever sexual exploitation is tolerated, wherever prostitution is fostered or children are misused. Let no one be deceived: There is no authentic humaneness without a living together in partnership!

c) Young people must learn at home and in school that sexuality is not a negative, destructive, or exploitative force, but creative and affirmative. Sexuality as a life-affirming shaper of community can only be effective when partners accept the responsibilities of caring for one another's happiness.

d) The relationship between women and men should be characterized not by patronizing behavior or exploitation, but by love, partnership, and trustworthiness. Human fulfillment is not identical with sexual pleasure. Sexuality should express and reinforce a loving relationship lived by equal partners. Some religious traditions know the ideal of a voluntary renunciation of the full use of sexuality. Voluntary renunciation also can be an expression of identity and meaningful fulfillment.

e) The social institution of marriage, despite all its cultural and religious variety, is characterized by love, loyalty, and permanence. It aims at and should guarantee security and mutual support to husband, wife, and child. It should secure the rights of all family members.

All lands and cultures should develop economic and social relationships which will enable marriage and family life worthy of human beings, especially for older people. Children have a right of access to education. Parents should not exploit children, nor children parents. Their relationships should reflect mutual respect, appreciation, and concern.

f) To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means the following:

We need mutual respect, partnership, and understanding, instead of patriarchal domination and degradation, which are expressions of violence and engender counter-violence.

We need mutual concern, tolerance, readiness for reconciliation, and love, instead of any form of possessive lust or sexual misuse. Only what has already been experienced in personal and familial relationships can be practiced on the level of nations and religions.

IV. A Transformation of Consciousness!

Historical experience demonstrates the following: Earth cannot be changed for the better unless we achieve a transformation in the consciousness of individuals and in public life. The possibilities for transformation have already been glimpsed in areas such as war and peace, economy, and ecology, where in recent decades fundamental changes have taken place. This transformation must also be achieved in the area of ethics and values!

Every individual has intrinsic dignity and inalienable rights, and each also has an inescapable responsibility for what she or he does and does not do. All our decisions and deeds, even our omissions and failures, have consequences.

Keeping this sense of responsibility alive, deepening it and passing it on to future generations, is the special task of religions.

We are realistic about what we have achieved in this consensus, and so we urge that the following be observed:

1. A universal consensus on many disputed ethical questions (from bio-and sexual ethics through mass media and scientific ethics to economic and political ethics) will be difficult to attain. Nevertheless, even for many controversial questions, suitable solutions should be attainable in the spirit of the fundamental principles we have jointly developed here.

2. In many areas of life a new consciousness of ethical responsibility has already arisen. Therefore we would be pleased if as many professions as possible, such as those of physicians, scientists, business people, journalists, and politicians, would develop up-to-date codes of ethics which would provide specific guidelines for the vexing questions of these particular professions.

3. Above all, we urge the various communities of faith to formulate their very specific ethics: What does each faith tradition have to say, for example, about the meaning of life and death, the enduring of suffering and the forgiveness of guilt, about selfless sacrifice and the necessity of renunciation, about compassion and joy. These will deepen, and make more specific, the already discernible global ethic.

In conclusion, we appeal to all the inhabitants of this planet. Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed. We pledge to work for such transformation in individual and collective consciousness, for the awakening of our spiritual powers through reflection, meditation, prayer, or positive thinking, for a conversion of the heart. Together we can move mountains! Without a willingness to take risks and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation! Therefore we commit ourselves to a common global ethic, to better mutual understanding, as well as to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and Earth-friendly ways of life.

We invite all men and women, whether religious or not, to do the same.

The Most Important Moral Issue of Our Time

by David Krieger

There are many reasons to oppose nuclear weapons. They are illegal, undemocratic, hugely expensive, and they undermine rather than increase security. But by far the most important reason to oppose these weapons is that they are profoundly immoral.

Above all, the issue of nuclear weapons in our world is a deeply moral issue, and for the religiouscommunity to engage this issue is essential; for the religious community to ignore this issue is shameful.

I have long believed that our country would become serious about providing leadership for the elimination of nuclear weapons in the world only when the churches, synagogues and mosques became serious about demanding such leadership.

The abolition of nuclear weapons is the most important issue of our time. I do not say this lightly. I know how many other important life and death issues there are in our world. I say it because nuclear weapons have the capacity to end all human life on our planet and most other forms of life. This puts them in a class by themselves.

Although I refer to nuclear weapons, I don't believe that these are really weapons. They are instruments of mass annihilation. They incinerate, vaporize and destroy indiscriminately. They are instruments of portable holocaust. They destroy equally soldiers and civilians; men, women and children; the aged and the newly born; the healthy and the infirm.

Nuclear weapons hold all Creation hostage. In an instant they could destroy this city or any city. In minutes they could leave civilization, with all its great accomplishments, in ruins. These cruel and inhumane devices hold life itself in the balance.

There is no moral justification for nuclear weapons. None. As General Lee Butler, a former commander in chief of the US Strategic Command, has said: "We cannot at once keep sacred the miracle of existence and hold sacrosanct the capacity to destroy it."

That nuclear weapons are an absolute evil was the conclusion of the President of the International Court of Justice, Mohammed Bedjaoui, after the Court was asked to rule on the illegality of these weapons.

I think that it is a reasonable conclusion - the only conclusion a sane person could reach. I would add that our reliance on these evil instruments debases our humanity and insults our Creator.

Albert Einstein was once asked his opinion as to what weapons would be used in a third world war. He replied that he didn't know, but that if there was a third world war a fourth world war would probably be fought with sticks and stones. His response was perhaps overly optimistic.

Controlling and eliminating these weapons is a responsibility that falls to those of us now living. It is a responsibility we are currently failing to meet.

Ten years after the end of the Cold War there are still some 36,000 nuclear weapons in the world, mostly in the arsenals of the US and Russia. Some 5,000 of these weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched on warning and subject to accident or miscalculation.

Today arms control is in crisis. The US Senate recently failed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the first treaty voted down by the Senate since the Treaty of Versailles. Congress has also announced its intention to deploy a National Missile Defense "as soon as technologically feasible." This would abrogate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a cornerstone of arms control. The Russian Duma has not yet ratified START II, which was signed in 1993.

Efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons are also in crisis. There is above all the issue of Russian "loose nukes." There is no assuredness that these weapons are under control. There is also the new nuclear arms race in South Asia. There is also the issue of Israel possessing nuclear arms -- with the implicit agreement of the Western nuclear weapons states -- in their volatile region of the world.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is also in crisis. This will become more prominent when the five year Review Conference for the treaty is held this spring. Most non-nuclear weapons states believe that the nuclear weapons states have failed to meet their obligations for good faith negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament. More than 180 states have met their obligations not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. The five nuclear weapons states, however, have failed to meet their obligations for good faith efforts to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

The US government continues to consider nuclear weapons to be "essential" to its security. NATO has referred to nuclear weapons as a "cornerstone" of its security policy.

Russia recently proposed that the US and Russia go beyond the START II agreement and reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,500 weapons each. The US declined saying that it was only prepared to go down to 2,000 to 2,500 weapons each. Such is the insanity of our time.

Confronting this insanity are four efforts I will describe briefly.

The New Agenda Coalition is a group of middle power states - including Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa -- calling for an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapons states for the speedy and total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. UN Resolutions of the New Agenda Coalition have passed the General Assembly by large margins in 1998 and 1999, despite lobbying by the US, UK and France to oppose these resolutions.

A representative of the New Agenda Coalition recently stated at a meeting at the Carter Center: "A US initiative today can achieve nuclear disarmament. It will require a self-denying ordnance, which accepts that the five nuclear weapons states will have no nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. By 2005 the United States will already have lost the possibility of such an initiative." I agree with this assessment. The doors of opportunity, created a decade ago by the end of the Cold War, will not stay open much longer.

The Middle Powers Initiative is a coalition of eight prominent international non-governmental organizations that are supporting the role of middle power states in seeking the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Middle Powers Initiative recently collaborated with the Carter Center in bringing together representatives of the New Agenda Coalition with high-level US policymakers and representatives of civil society. It was an important dialogue. Jimmy Carter took a strong moral position on the issue of nuclear disarmament, and you should be hearing more from him in the near future.

Abolition 2000 is a global network of more than 1,400 diverse civil society organizations from 91 countries on six continents. The primary goal of Abolition 2000 is a negotiated treaty calling for the phased elimination of nuclear weapons within a timebound framework. One of the current efforts of Abolition 2000 is to expand its network to over 2000 organizations by the time of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference this spring. You can find out more about Abolition 2000 at www.abolition2000.org

A final effort I will discuss is the establishment of a US campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has hosted a series of meetings with key US leaders in the area of nuclear disarmament. These include former military, political, and diplomatic leaders, among them General Lee Butler, Senator Alan Cranston, and Ambassador Jonathan Dean.

I believe that we have worked out a good plan for a Campaign to Alert America, but we currently lack the resources to push this campaign ahead at the level that it requires. We are doing the best we can, but we are not doing enough. We need your help, and the help of religious groups all over this country.

I will conclude with five steps that the leaders of the nuclear weapons states could take now to end the nuclear threat to humanity. These are steps that we must demand of our political leaders. These are steps that we must help our political leaders to have the vision to see and the courage to act upon.

1. Commence good faith negotiations to achieve a Nuclear Weapons Convention requiring the phased elimination of nuclear weapons, with provisions for effective verification and enforcement.

2. De-alert all nuclear weapons and de-couple all nuclear warheads from their delivery vehicles.

3. Declare policies of No First Use of nuclear weapons against other nuclear weapons states and policies of No Use against non-nuclear weapons states.

4. Ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and reaffirm commitments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

5. Reallocate resources from the tens of billions of dollars currently being spent for maintaining nuclear arsenals to improving human health, education and welfare throughout the world.

The future is in our hands. I urge you to join hands and take a strong moral stand for humanity and for all Creation. We do it for the children, for each other, and for the future. The effort to abolish nuclear weapons is an effort to protect the miracle that we all share, the miracle of life.

Each of us is a source of hope. Will you turn to the persons next to you, and tell them, "You give me hope," and express to them your commitment to accept your share of responsibility for saving humanity and our beautiful planet.

Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: The Need For A New Agenda

1. We, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden have considered the continued threat to humanity represented by the perspective of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states as well as by those three nuclear-weapons-capable states that have not acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the attendant possibility of use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The seriousness of this predicament has been further underscored by the recent nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan.

2. We fully share the conclusion expressed by the commissioners of the Canberra Commission in their Statement that "the proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never used - accidentally or by decision - defies credibility. The only complete defence is the elimination of nuclear weapons and assurance that they will never be produced again".

3. We recall that the General Assembly of the United Nations already in January 1946 - in its very first resolution - unanimously called for a commission to make proposals for " the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction." While we rejoice at the achievement of the international community in concluding total and global prohibitions on chemical and biological weapons by the Conventions of 1972 and 1993, we equally deplore the fact that the countless resolutions and initiatives which have been guided by similar objectives in respect of nuclear weapons in the past half century remain unfulfilled.

4. We can no longer remain complacent at the reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states and the three nuclear-weapons-capable states to take that fundamental and requisite step, namely a clear commitment to the speedy, final and total elimination of their nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capability and we urge them to take that step now.

5. The vast majority of the membership of the United Nations has entered into legally-binding commitments not to receive, manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. These undertakings have been made in the context of the corresponding legally binding commitments by the nuclear-weapon states to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. We are deeply concerned at the persistent reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states to approach their Treaty obligations as an urgent commitment to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.

6. In this connection we recall the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

7. The international community must not enter the third millennium with the prospect that the maintenance of these weapons will be considered legitimate for the indefinite future, when the present juncture provides a unique opportunity to eradicate and prohibit them for all time. We therefore call on the governments of each of the nuclear-weapon states and the three nuclear-weapons-capable states to commit themselves unequivocally to the elimination of their respective nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capability and to agree to start work immediately on the practical steps and negotiations required for its achievement.

8. We agree that the measures resulting from such undertakings leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons will begin with those states that have the largest arsenals. But we also stress the importance that they be joined in a seamless process by those with lesser arsenals at the appropriate juncture. The nuclear-weapon states should immediately begin to consider steps to be taken to this effect.

9. In this connection we welcome both the achievements to date and the future promise of the START process as an appropriate bilateral, and subsequently plurilateral mechanism including all the nuclear-weapon states, for the practical dismantlement and destruction of nuclear armaments undertaken in pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons.

10. The actual elimination of nuclear arsenals, and the development of requisite verification regimes, will of necessity require time. But there are a number of practical steps that the nuclear weapon states can, and should, take immediately. We call on them to abandon present hair-trigger postures by proceeding to de-alerting and de-activating their weapons. They should also remove non-strategic nuclear weapons from deployed sites. Such measures will create beneficial conditions for continued disarmament efforts and help prevent inadvertent, accidental or unauthorised launches.

11. In order for the nuclear disarmament process to proceed, the three nuclear-weapons-capable states must clearly and urgently reverse the pursuit of their respective nuclear weapons development or deployment and refrain from any actions which could undermine the efforts of the international community towards nuclear disarmament. We call upon them, and all other states that have not yet done so, to adhere to the Non-Proliferation treaty and take the necessary measures which flow from adherence to this instrument. We likewise call upon them to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay and without conditions.

12. An international ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices ( Cut-off) would further underpin the process towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. As agreed in 1995 by the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, negotiations on such a convention should commence immediately.

13. Disarmament measures alone will not bring about a world free from nuclear weapons. Effective international cooperation to prevent the proliferation of these weapons is vital and must be enhanced through, inter alia, the extension of controls over all fissile material and other relevant components of nuclear weapons. The emergence of any new nuclear-weapon state, as well as any non-state entity in a position to produce or otherwise acquire such weapons, seriously jeopardises the process of eliminating nuclear weapons.

14. Other measures must also be taken pending the total elimination of nuclear arsenals. Legally binding instruments should be developed with respect to a joint no-first use undertaking between the nuclear-weapon states and as regards non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states, so called negative security assurances.

15. The conclusion of the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok and Pelindaba, establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones as well as the Antarctic Treaty have steadily excluded nuclear weapons from entire regions of the world. The further pursuit, extension and establishment of such zones, especially in regions of tension, such as the Middle East and South Asia, represents a significant contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

16. These measures all constitute essential elements which can and should be pursued in parallel: by the nuclear-weapon states among themselves; and by the nuclear -weapon states together with the non-nuclear weapon states, thus providing a road map towards a nuclear weapon-free world.

17. The maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons will require the underpinning of a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument or a framework encompassing a mutually reinforcing set of instruments.

18. We, on our part, will spare no efforts to pursue the objectives outlined above. We are jointly resolved to achieve the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. We firmly hold that the determined and rapid preparation for the post-nuclear era must start now.


The numbering of the paragraphs in this Glossary corresponds to the relevant paragraphs in the Declaration.

1. The nuclear weapon states also known as the P5 are Britain, China, France, the Russian Federation and the US. Nuclear weapons-capable states are: India, Pakistan and Israel. They are not declared nuclear weapon states.

2. The Canberra Commission was an initiative of the Australian government and reported in 1996. The conclusions of the Report are considered a moderate and authoritative presentation of the case for nuclear disarmament in the post Cold War era. There are many parallels between its approach and that of the present Declaration.

3.(a) The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force in 1993. It represents a model for nuclear disarmament. The CWC is a total ban on development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of CW and includes a comprehensive verification mechanism to oversee its implementation by States Parties.

(b) The Biological Weapons Convention (BTWC) which was concluded in 1972 mans biological weapons but lacks a verification mechanism. Currently negotiations are taking place in Geneva to develop this Treaty in depth. Ireland is an original State Party to both the CWC and the BTWC.

4. The nuclear weapon states interpret their obligations under Article VI of the NPT as requiring nuclear disarmament in the context of general and complete disarmament. The non-nuclear states reject this. The language of the Treaty supports this interpretation. However, in view of the nuclear weapon states' interpretation, there is required - in addition to what is contained in the Treaty but without amending the Treaty - a statement of political commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons, as such a political commitment would require a novel approach to nuclear force reductions - each step being premised on elimination.

5. The adherence to the NPT and the halt of nuclear weapons development by the vast majority of states represented a restraint which was premised on rapid nuclear disarmament. The nuclear weapon states are clearly in default in the performance of their obligations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

6. The ICJ agreed that the nuclear weapon states were obliged to pursue negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. This obligation is not couched in terms of general and complete disarmament as the nuclear weapons states have attempted to interpret Article VI of the NPT, and it is therfore a landmark statement.

7. Nuclear weapons like other weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons will have to be prohibited in due course. The ICJ Opinion has undermined the arguments for the retention of nuclear weapons. The possibility of the use of nuclear weapons consistent with humanitarian law, the laws of neutrality etc, are presented in the Opinion as unreal and implausible. However, to adopt an approach that foresees the rapid abolition of these weapons will require a political decision, on the basis of which a legal framework giving effect to that inevitable conclusion can be begun.

8. The United States and the Russian Federation have by far the largest arsenals and they must therefore begin the process of force reductions premised on their rapid elimination. However, Britain, France and China will have to be integrated into this process at the appropriate time as once the US and RF reduce their nuclear forces to a certain point, the security of all the nuclear weapon states becomes interlinked in a more fundamental way. The most unstable period in nuclear disarmament will occur when nuclear arsenals are a minimum. It is therefore necessary to integrate the smaller nuclear states and the nuclear capable states into that process from the start. Appropriate arrangements relating to India, Pakistan and Israel will also have to be included in this process.

9. The Declaration does not follow recent approaches to nuclear disarmament which call for a programme with fixed time-frames for the complete dismantlement of existing nuclear weapons negotiated multilaterally. Instead, the Declaration proposes the use of existing bilateral machinery and its development to take account of the need to incorporate the other nuclear weapon states at an appropriate stage in the process.

10. The nuclear weapon states themselves have been considering what measures should be taken to stabilize existing nuclear weapon deployments. The most urgently needed of such measures are called for in the Declaration.

11. This paragraph is addressed expressly at the nuclear weapons-capable states, India, Pakistan and Israel to secure their renunciation of nuclear weapons. It includes a call to join the NPT - clearly with non-nuclear weapon status - as South Africa and the Ukraine have done in the wake of democratization and to take the necessary measures, such as submitting to full-scope safeguards and dismantling their nuclear weapons capability. They are also called upon to sign and ratify the CTBT without conditions. Israel has signed but not ratifed the CTBT.

12. The control of fissile material has always been central to the process of nuclear disarmament. In a nuclear weapons-free world, all fissile material will be controlled by the IAEA as is now the case with the fissile material in Ireland and other non-nuclear weapons states. The negotiation of a cut-off of the production of fissile material is an obvious first step.

13. This paragraph develops paragraph 12 and emphasizes that the verification regime which will be required to secure the world free from nuclear weapons will require controls on all fissile material and controls over all other relevant components of nuclear weapons and weapons systems. The emergence of any new nuclear weapons-capable states (or the acquisition of a nuclear device by terrorists) during this process clearly jeopardizes the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, leaving as it does a state or entity with a capacity to threaten at the same time as that capacity is being relinquished by the existing nuclear weapon states.

14. Negative security assurances or guarantees by the nuclear weapon states that they will not attack any non-nuclear weapon state, are considered important as interim measures which should be in place during the process of nuclear disarmament. There are currently different approaches by the nuclear weapon states in this regard and indications from some that they are moving away from earlier more comprehensive assurances in this regard.

15. The conclusion of nuclear weapon-free zones is considered to be an important contributory step in preventing proliferation at regional level. The two areas of tension where there are no such zones are the Middle East and South Asia. Nuclear weapon-free zones are an incremental means of preventing nuclear armaments' development and deployment.

16. The multilateral negotiating structures required to elaborate the treaty or treaties that will make up the regime to prohibit and destroy nuclear weapons for all time, is not outlined here in detail. However, there is clearly a role for multilateral diplomacy in nuclear disarmament. The final abolition and prohibition of nuclear weapons will require a non-discriminatory Convention prohibiting these weapons, and this will have to be negotiated by sovereign states in equality and in a multilateral environment.

17. While the Declaration does not define the types of treaty or conventions required, it is clear that there will be a legal instrument or set of instruments to prohibit these weapons. Many proposals have been put forward, including the possibility of amending the NPT or adding protocols, or even the elaboration of a single nuclear weapons convention.

18. This Declaration represents a call for the launching of a reinvigorated process. It acknowledges the efforts that have been made but it also recognizes that these have been inadequate and that the international community needs to proceed with a novel commitment to nuclear disarmament. This initiative will be followed up at the General Assembly of the United Nations later this year.

Is a little nuclear comfort worth a major catastrophe?

Race to Avert Multiple Nuclear Meltdowns

Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to 'combat' the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home