The public meeting will be held on Saturday 5th March at Warwick Road United Reformed Church and is entitled the ‘Nuclear Threat to the World’.
It will feature contributions from two well-known local figures – the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth and Zarah Sultana, Member of Parliament for Coventry South. There will also be questions and answers and open floor discussion.
The event has been organised by the Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation and will be chaired by our own Paul Maddocks who is currently Chair of the Committee.
Both speakers will bring a wealth of insight, expertise and passion from their experiences of campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
In 2020 Bishop Cocksworth led a group of 30 Church of England Bishops in calling on the UK government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Since then, he has been pressing the government to engage constructively with the Treaty on the Probibition of Nuclear Weapons and to make adequate preparations for the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to be held at the United Nations in New York in August 2022.
Zarah Sultana MP has also called on the Foreign Secretary to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, for a global ban on nuclear weapons and for Trident (the UK’s nuclear weapons programme) to be decommissioned.
The meeting comes at a critical time for the nuclear weapons landscape. The systems put in place to reduce the risk of nuclear-weapons use, to prevent their proliferation, and above all, to ensure disarmament, are extremely fragile and in many cases already crumbling. The nuclear threat has rarely been as severe as it is now, and yet the issue has limited political traction in our own country.
Despite this, it is a critical time for civil society to make its voice heard amongst those in power, since this year many decisions are being taken at the highest level. In August, the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is expected to take place. This treaty, to which the UK is a party, is the pillar of the global nuclear ‘order,’ intended to prevent new states acquiring nuclear weapons while committing states which possess nuclear weapons to disarm.
Although the treaty commands widespread global support (with 191 states signed up), many states and other groups are growing increasing frustrated with its lack of progress on disarmament. The world’s nuclear powers, especially our own government (which has recently endorsed the possibility of expanding our nuclear arsenal) will therefore have a lot to answer for at the Review Conference. Its success is far from guaranteed, given the precarious state of international politics.
Meanwhile, channelling frustration with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and injecting urgency into global disarmament efforts is the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It seeks to fundamentally stigmatise the possession of nuclear weapons by any state because of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that their use, intentional or accidental, would have on the entire planet. 2022 is an important year for this treaty, since the first Meeting of States Parties is expected to take place in late March 2022.
Civil society has always been a major driving force in the global campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, and especially in promoting the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.. Coventry, as a city of peace and reconciliation, is ready to take part in this urgent conversation. The Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation is therefore inviting everyone with a concern, an interest and a desire to learn more about the nuclear threat to attend this public meeting on 5th March.
Speaking from his years of caring for people on many levels, Bishop Christopher has two reflections as we approach his speaking on 5th March in Coventry – ‘We need to encourage our governments to consider the ethical implications of nuclear deterrence, and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use.’ The best deterrence to war is the gift of peace itself. That’s the witness of Coventry.’ And secondly ‘As we look on the world through the eyes of Jesus we can unite in deep concern about the existence and expansion of nuclear arsenals that threaten the eradication of human life on an unimaginable scale’
The meeting is being held on Saturday 5th March 2022 from 10.30am to 12 midday at the Church Meeting Room at Warwick Road United Reformed Church.