The international Catholic peace movement Pax Christi has given new Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) recommendations for policy action in the key areas of nonviolence, a nuclear weapons ban, a stop to extractivism in Latin America and a “just peace” for Israel and Palestine.
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In a press release last week, Pax Christi announced that it had shared with the MEPs elected in May four factsheets on its advocacy priorities.
That was on the occasion of the formation of some key European Parliament Committees and Sub-committees.
On the subject of nonviolence, Pax Christi denounced that “too often policymakers overlook nonviolent approaches to sustaining peace and security that have repeatedly been proven to be effective in reducing violence and conflict in contexts around the world”.
“Instead of spending huge amounts on military and defence, the EU and its member states could use its budgets for the billions needed annually to reach the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), which they have committed to implement by 2030”, the organisation said.
With regard to a nuclear weapons ban, Pax Christi denounced that “nine countries, including the UK and France, together possess some 14,000 nuclear weapons. The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Germany also host US nuclear weapons and are prepared to use them in war as part of NATO”.
“Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction not subject to a comprehensive ban despite their catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences”, the movement added, explaining that the legal gap is finally being filled by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Pax Christi said that some EU states support the TPNW, “most European countries currently oppose the prohibition of nuclear weapons due to their reliance on NATO extended deterrence”.
That’s the reason why the movement urged new MEPs to push for full EU support for the Treaty.
With regard to extractive industries, Pax Christi denounced that transnational companies’ exploitation of Latin America’s natural resources “generates irreversible impacts on the livelihoods, ecosystems and human rights of local communities”.
“Some of these companies have European owners, shareholders and clients”, the organisation lamented.
In that sense, Pax Christi called on new MEPs to condemn the threats to and killings of Latin American land and environmental defenders, and to force transnationals to comply with sustainable development clauses in trade agreements, among other measures.
On the subject of a “just peace” for Israel and Palestine, the peace movement warned that “the US Middle East peace plan threatens to further undermine respect for human rights and international law considerations in Israel/Palestine”.
“Now is the time for the EU and its member states to lead on Israel/ Palestine with a human rights-based approach and reject any plan which does not embrace these basic principles”, Pax Christi added.
Pax Christi also drew attention to its “The Europe We Want” manifesto, published just before last May’s elections.
In that text, the organisation reaffirmed its faith in the idea of “Europe” as a “peace project”, as a “beacon of justice”, as a “land of humanity”, and as a “continent with a future”.
“We cannot accept that such a generous project – peace, solidarity, participation – be stopped because of fear: fear of the unknown future, fear of the diverse humanity knocking at our door, fear of a looming ecological disaster”, Pax Christi said, urging support for the “Europe we want”: “a peaceful, fraternal, forward-looking Europe for all women and men of good will”.