Churches urge Government to prioritise Arms Trade Treaty

Church leaders have written to William Hague asking him to prioritise negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Talks in July ended in stalemate but the issue returns to the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly this month.

The treaty is being drawn up to tighten regulation of the international trade in weapons.

Leaders of the United Reformed Church, the Methodist Conference and the Baptist Union of Great Britain welcomed the UK Government's support for the treaty and asked the Foreign Secretary to continue to make adoption of the treaty a priority.

“We join with others in calling for a treaty to be agreed as soon as possible with a text that is comprehensive in scope, incorporates controls on the sale of ammunition … and is unambiguous in its interpretation," they said.

The letter has been sent to Mr Hague ahead of the UN International Day of Peace on 21 September and Peacemaking Sunday, which is marked by churches each year on the Sunday closest to it.

Both days are an opportunity for individuals, communities and nations to focus on peace and peacemaking in the world and within their own lives.

Val Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church said: said: “Peacemaking is a Christian vocation - something not to be undertaken lightly, but rather to be at the centre of our thinking, actions and prayers throughout the year.

"Peacemaking Sunday and the United Nations’ Day of Peace highlight our need to pray for peace in the many areas of conflict across the globe, but also in our own lives and relationships.”

Ecumenical worship resources have been put together by the three Churches and include a meditation, prayers and biblical reflections.

The resources highlight the strife around the world, from riots, to wars and financial crises, as well as the church's response to them.

The Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain commented: “Peacemaking involves building relationships in our communities. Peacemaking Sunday gives us the opportunity to reflect again on the challenge of how we might respond to Jesus’ call to be peacemakers in our own context. Our prayers are with all those working to achieve a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty.”

The Rev Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference added: “Our churches continue to wrestle with applying principles from our rich Christian heritage to the complex issues of security in our world today.

"Today we are grappling with decisions over the future of Trident and with the ethics associated with the use of armed drones.

"We urgently need to create a culture of peace that deepens understanding and mutual respect – and I hope these resources will help Christians to affirm our fundamental commitment to seek peace in all our relationships.”