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Nuclear Ban Week in Vienna

Posted on June 15, 2022, by Mary Ann McGivern SL

Banner by Robert Strobridge CoL

It’s finally happening, the first Meeting of States Parties to the U.N. Ban Treaty! Eighty-six countries have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and 61 states have ratified it! The states parties are meeting in Vienna along with civil society: the people who have worked for a decade to make manufacture and possession of nuclear weapons illegal.

Next week, June 18-23, begins with a two-day Nuclear Ban Forum with more than 50 sessions planned. The nation-states meet from June 20-23. This is an opportunity for the states and civil society to commit to concrete actions to implement the treaty. All will begin to set goals and make plans to measure progress.

The week is an opportunity to set the tone and pace for global disarmament and to begin a plan to remediate contaminated environments from nuclear weapons use and tests. There will be featured speakers who are survivors of nuclear radiation.

“Nuclear weapons offer us nothing but a balance of terror, and a balance of terror is still terror.” 

George Wald

The Loretto Peace Committee received the following message from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN): “This is the first time we’ve had a chance to bring people together to talk about nuclear weapons, to meet those who have been directly impacted and to demand a difference in years. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be at this monumental event, where we are planning the end of nuclear weapons. We hope you will be there.” Alas, we, the Peace Committee members, are all staying home, but we are paying attention. 

ICAN will livestream and record events at Vienna. You can browse the program and the weekday government presentations here.

Banner created by Robert Strobridge CoL

In August, the United Nations will hold a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France and England. These countries have pledged to reduce stockpiles and also pledged to neither develop new weapons nor enhance and redesign the old ones. Sadly, the U.S., Russia and China are all in violation of the treaty. India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan all also manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons but are not signers of the NPT.

In speeches at the August NPT review, U.N. diplomats may give lip service to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Yet it is also possible that governments that have signed the treaty to ban nukes will make blistering attacks on nuclear states such as Germany and Turkey that, as NATO members, provide launching bases and harbors for bombs and missiles. At the Vienna meeting treaty signers will strategize ways to universalize the treaty. Civil society will join governments in New York in August for the NPT. We in Loretto are part of that civil society that demands the abolition of nuclear weapons.

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Mary Ann McGivern SL

Mary Ann is a member of the board of the Peace Economy Project and chairs Empower Missouri’s Criminal Justice Task Force. Additionally she serves on several Loretto committees. She is an editor of Loretto’s "Interchange" and the St. Louis Catholic Worker’s Round Table. She also writes for the National Catholic Reporter. She has been a Sister of Loretto since 1960.
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