Nuclear Disarmament and the Conservation of the Earth´s Resources
6 August 2023
Bahá’u’lláh expounds a world view which acknowledges that the “earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens” and He calls for the promotion of “the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth”.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá draws attention to the increasing interdependence of the world and the fact that “self- sufficiency” is no longer possible. He envisages that the trend towards a united world will increase and will manifest itself in the form of “unity of thought in world undertakings” and in other important realms of existence. One critical area for unified action is that of preserving the resources of the planet.
Shoghi Effendi links the preservation and reclamation of the earth’s resources with both the “protection of [the] physical world and [the] heritage [of] future generations”. He affirms that the work of such groups as the Men of the Trees and the World Forestry Charter is “essentially humanitarian”, and he applauds their “noble objective” of reclaiming the “desert areas [of] Africa”.
It is interesting to note that among the “powers and duties” of the Universal House of Justice are “the advancement and betterment of the world” and “the development of countries” (https://www.bahai.org/).
However, the majority of the world´s inhabitants are unfortunately still not fully aware of how important a global vision is in regard to the advancement and betterment of the world or in respect to the development of countries or nations or even in the conservation or preservation of the earth´s resources.
Despite the fact that we are living in a fully globalised and interdependent world, there is a total lack of unity and very little trust in order to encourage a more fruitful and flourishing set of relationships.
This absence of unity and trust is reflected in the massive military expenditures that have taken place over recent years and which are now being stoked further by the immediate threat of global conflict. Universal and Complete Disarmament is urgently needed and will help divert vital financial resources away from weapons of mass destruction towards areas of expenditure that would help alleviate the effects of climate change, help relinquish world poverty and allow us to fulfil the 17 Sustainability goals of the UN.
What follows is an overview on how far progress may or may not have been made in this direction.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (https://www.iaea.org) (Signatories 189.) founded in New York in 1970 is currently regarded by its supporters as… “the corner stone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and as an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
It was extended indefinitely in 1995 and hit a stalemate in 1996. The next review conference will be held in 2026.
It´s stated aim, which was constantly repeated during the 2023 conference by state parties and others is to create “A world free of nuclear weapons”.
The above illustration however, by the Federation of American Scientists (https://www.fas.org) illustrates the fact that this has yet to be achieved, as there are now well over 12,500 nuclear warheads currently in existence.
According to the Women´s League for Peace and Freedom (https://www.wilpf.org) in their conference newsletter Reaching Critical Will: - “This meeting provides an opportunity for all concerned states to discuss and negotiate a way through the nuclear quagmire. In times of grave peril, as we are facing now, dialogue is essential to preventing catastrophe. While the first Preparatory Committee is not usually a space for making binding commitments, it is an opportunity for governments to chart a path forward. Waiting until the Review Conference (2026) to make progress in nuclear disarmament and reducing nuclear dangers is (however) not an option.” (https://reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/publications-and-research/re…).
In fact, the whole long drawn-out review process (VCDNP doc. An Explainer. https://www.vcdnp.org) has created a quagmire that is now extremely difficult for the various state parties to climb out of. No real progress has materialised to date. The obvious frustration of many people present at the conference was openly reflected in their personal statements. This you are now able to observe for yourself thanks to UN Web TV (https://media.un.org/en/webtv).
One of the greatest overall concerns was the immediate risk of nuclear warfare and the sheer devastation that this could unleash in Ukraine and elsewhere if it were to happen and what consequences it would bring, even if it was confined to a limited conflict over the many nuclear facilities present there. This was amply demonstrated through the research findings of numerous bodies such as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (https://www.ippnw.org).
In addition, the strong presence of many Japanese delegations from Nagasaki and Hiroshima in particular, provided a constant reminder of what this actually meant in terms of the scale of humanitarian suffering that would be experienced if this risk was to be seriously overlooked.
`Mayors for Peace´ for example (https://www.mayorsforpeace.org) an NGO which has formed an ever-expanding global network of municipalities with 8,271 cities from 166 countries and regions, set out their vision in full display of all the participants, which transcends much more than just a world without nuclear weapons and goes as far as to seek a peaceful transformation to a more equitable and sustainable world.
The epic movie `Oppenheimer´ currently showing in a number of different cinemas in Vienna at the same time, brought home these risks more widely to the general public in a very creative, timely, dramatic and impactful way.
Regardless of these obvious dangers and risks, the diplomatic statements presented by a sizeable number of state parties present, especially from the 9 Nuclear States, were far from ingenious, harmonious or even encouraging the necessary consensus.
There were some rays of hope on offer with the presence of more determined individuals and representatives from other organisations and NGOs, such as ICAN who received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work (https://www.icanw.org) in 2017 for encouraging the development of `The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons´. (TPNW Signatories 92. Parties 68) which outlaws not just the use of nuclear weapons but also their production and testing.
Unfortunately, the fact that the complimentary `Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty´ whose representatives were also present and which was introduced in 1996 following the stalemate of state parties (https://www.ctbto.org) (Signatories 186. Parties 196) is still yet to enter into force and to become universally binding, held back by a small handful of nations.
In addition, the presence of a number of supporters and signatories to the growing number of treaties establishing Nuclear Weapons Free Zones throughout the world was also very encouraging (https://www.iaea.org) Nuclear-Weapon-Free -Zones.
Will all these deliberations eventually lead to “A world free of nuclear weapons”. This is anybody´s guess, let´s hope that it eventually does so.
Last updated 6 August 2023