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Call for the unilateral nuclear disarmament by France

mardi 23 avril 2013, par Administrateur

As early as 1961, it has been clearly asserted by the UN that any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime : « Any state using nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of the United Nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization. » (resolution of 24 November 1961). Too few states have drawn the logical conclusion of this resolution : if the use of nuclear weapons is a « crime against humanity », the threat of resorting to their use is already a criminal act. But it is precisely this threat which is the basis of so-called « nuclear deterrence » strategies.

Admittedly, the moral argument will probably not sway political and military leaders. In this field as in so many others, purported realism will always claim to carry more weight than purported moralism. It is therefore necessary to convince decision-makers that nuclear weapons are strategically in-operative as well as im-moral : it is simply a matter of realism to recognize that nuclear weapons protect us from none of the potential threats to our security. They are in particular quite incapable of deterring terrorism in any form. On the other hand, the mere possession of nuclear weapons constitutes a threat not only for other peoples but for ourselves.

In reality, the true motivation behind nuclear deterrence is not the defence of populations, but the wish to give the State a semblance of power, of a power consisting exclusively of the ability to destroy and to annihilate.

By maintaining and modernizing its nuclear weapons systems, France can only encourage global proliferation : if it claims that nuclear weapons guarantee the security of the French nation, how can the French state ask nations not equipped with nuclear weapons to renounce any claim to possess them ?

It follows that nuclear disarmament would meet the demands both of the « ethics of conviction » and those of the « ethics of responsibility ». And both sets of demands are equally compelling.

Nuclear deterrence, furthermore, requires citizens to abandon their destiny to the sole decision of the President of the Republic. Nuclear weapons accordingly imply, by an organic necessity, « the solitary exercise of power ». The whole process of developing nuclear deterrence systems has always been and remains hermetically closed to any citizen-based control.

Lastly, the state’s nuclear weapons equipment swallows up huge sums of money. The estimated cost of the French nuclear arsenal from 1945 to 2010 is 228.67 billion euros. Even as we are told that the country is in the throes of a serious crisis, the law on military spending (2009-2014) foresees an annual budget of 3.3 billion euros for nuclear deterrence : 2.3 billion to modernize the weapons themselves, and 1 billion euros to maintain and to deploy them. These investments, directly financed by taxation, are not socially useful. They are amongst the least job-creating investments. So it is not demagogy to assert that these sums would be better used in other sectors of the economy, in particular in public services aimed at people’s needs, which are currently under threat.

In conclusion, nuclear deterrence is immoral, unrealistic, dangerous and costly

Many people are convinced of this and share a hope for a world without nuclear weapons. But this hope runs a serious risk of disappointment : it might seem necessary to wait for all nuclear powers to agree to general abolition. This is to forget our responsibility as citizens of a nuclear-armed country : we are not directly responsible for world disarmament, but we are fully responsible for the nuclear disarmament of our own country. It is incumbent on us to build peace and security within a France without nuclear weapons.

That is why, without waiting for the general abolition of nuclear weapons under an international convention which remains hypothetical, we consider that for us, as French citizens, it is our responsibility to call right now for : unilateral nuclear disarmament by France.

Unilateral disarmament by our country is possible if French people wish it. But up to now, they have never had the possibility of debating the issue to say whether they want nuclear disarmament or not ; it is urgent to provoke that debate now. The French people must be able freely to express their will to renounce nuclear weapons.

In order for French citizens genuinely to exercise this power of decision, it is necessary to consider holding a referendum based on popular initiative, since that is, in a democracy, the only way of giving the sovereign people the possibility to express themselves on a vital question.

First signatories :

Olivier ABEL philosopher
Guy AURENCHE honorary lawyer
Maria BIEDRAWA president of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
Paul BLANQUART sociologist, writer
Bernard BOUDOURESQUE priest of the Mission de France, former scientist at the Commissariat de l’Énergie Atomique (CEA)
José de BROUCKER journalist
Thierry CASTELBOU director of publications at the Gardarem lo Larzac newspaper
Bernard DANGEARD responsible leader of the French-speaking community of l’Arche de Lanza del Vasto
Bernard DRÈANO president of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA, France)
Hélène DUPONT secretary of the association Partenia 2000
Isabelle FILLIOZAT psychologist, psychotherapist, writer
Dominique FONTAINE vicar general of the Mission de France
Bernard GINISTY philosopher
Étienne GODINOT president, l’Institut de Recherche sur la résolution Non-violente des Conflits (IRNC)
Françoise HÈRITIER anthropologist, honorary professor at the Collège de France
Stéphane HESSEL ambassadeur de France
Albert JACQUARD geneticist
Patrick JIMENA initiator of the Festival Camino Agir pour la non-violence
Gustave MASSIAH economist
Olivier MAUREL writer
Christian MELLON jesuit, member of the Centre de recherche et d’action sociales (CERAS)
Philippe MEIRIEU professor at Lyon II university
Jean MERCKAERT chief editor of the Projet journal
Edgar MORIN philosopher and sociologist
Jacques MULLER former senator
Jean-Marie MULLER philosopher, writer, spokesperson of the Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violente (MAN)
Antoine NOUIS director of publication of the Réforme journal
Jean-Paul NUNEZ pastor, vice-president of IFOR
Richard PÈTRIS director of the École de la Paix, Grenoble
Bernard QUELQUEJEU Dominicain, philosopher
Pierre RABHI French farmer, writer and philosopher of Algerian origin
Alain REFALO teacher, founder of the Centre de ressources sur la non-violence de Midi-Pyrénées
Matthieu RICARD Buddhist monk, writer
Alain RICHARD Franciscan monk at Toulouse
Jacques RICHARD Medical doctor
Lama Denys RINPOCHÈ Father superior of the Buddhist community Dachang Rimay
Jean-Pierre SCHMITZ President of the Réseaux du Parvis federation
Antoine SONDAG priest
Bernard STÈPHAN Managing Director of Témoignage Chrétien
Alain TOURAINE Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
Marlène TUININGA journalist, member of the Ligue internationale des Femmes pour la Paix et la Liberté (WILPF)
Didier VANHOUTTE former president of the Réseaux du Parvis federation
François VAILLANT Chief Editor of the Alternatives Non-Violentes journal
Paul VIRILIO philosopher, writer
Patrick VIVERET philosopher, writer

Contact : Jean-Marie Muller – tél. : 33 -(0)2 38 75 04 60

Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violence (MAN) :

The text of a citizens’ petition in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament by France can be found on the site of the campaign led by the MAN :

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