NEW YORK, NY July 7, 2017– Despite a boycott by the U.S. and other nuclear-armed countries, the UN adopted a treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide.
Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference on prohibiting nuclear weapons was jubilant. “We all feel very emotional today. We feel that we are responding to the hopes and to the dreams of present and future generations — that we undertake our responsibility as a generation to do whatever is in our hands to achieve and to move the world toward the dream of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived. This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima blast, was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when she was near to the hypocentre of the explosion on August 6, 1945. “I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” she told the Japan Times. “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
“While the treaty itself will not immediately eliminate any nuclear weapons, the treaty can, over time, further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based group that supports the treaty.
The treaty requires of all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons.
“The heart of this treaty is the prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons.”
Retired British Royal Navy Cmdr. Rob Green, who flew nuclear strike aircraft and is now co-director of the Peace Foundation’s Disarmament and Security Center, said earlier this week that “the heart of this treaty” is the prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Richard Moyes, managing director of Article 36, a British-based organization that works to prevent harm from nuclear and other weapons, said it isn’t plausible to think the world can maintain security based on mutually threatening to incinerate hundreds of thousands of people with nuclear weapons “when we know there have been near-misses, errors of judgment — there’s been accidents — and there’s a degree of instability in the political leadership in the world.”
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said 15,000 nuclear weapons around the world have not managed to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and a new approach is needed starting with prohibition as the first step to eliminate nuclear arms.
Jeff Carter, the Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility – an organization that mobilizes health professionals to address the gravest dangers to human health – released the following statement:
“The adoption of the nuclear weapons ban treaty marks an historic turning point in the centuries-old battle to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are suicidal, indiscriminate killing machines that risk delivering a catastrophic shock to our interconnected planet. Moreover, the ongoing development, production, and testing of these weapons continues to inflict grave health consequences to those communities across America that are host to noxious production sites and neglected radioactive waste.
“The ban treaty is a direly needed corrective measure that should motivate nuclear-armed countries to move more aggressively toward abolition. Right now, the U.S. government defies its existing disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty by planning to fund an extensive buildup of its nuclear arsenal. The ban treaty is the start of a new worldwide movement that gives the United States an opportunity to break from its self-destructive nuclear weapons policy.
“In the twenty-first century, we can no longer pretend that these doomsday devices are instruments of security. The active conscience of the American health community calls on the United States to sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty to ensure that we safeguard our world for the next generation. It’s past time that we part from this untenable path. Prohibiting and eliminating these weapons of mass destruction is the only responsible course of action for U.S. nuclear weapons policy.”
More than 130 nations participated in the negotiations. The nuclear ban treaty will enter into force after it is brought to the UN General Assembly and 50 nations ratify the treaty.
Hibakusha appeal at the United Nations for a strong treaty to ban nuclear weapons
Jun 29, 2017 — Historic negotiations for “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” are now taking place at the United Nations in New York. Civil society representatives from around the world are gathered there to urge all nations to work in good faith to achieve the strongest, most effective treaty possible.
Amongst the civil society present in New York include many Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the only people who have ever experienced the devastation of nuclear war, the voices of the Hibakusha carry a heavier weight than most on the topic of global nuclear proliferation. They are mentioned directly in the preamble of the revised treaty draft released earlier this week, which states that participating countries are “mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (Hibakusha) as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.”
On June 16, representatives of the Hibakusha personally handed over a total of 2,963,889 signatures from the appeal to the president of the UN Conference, Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte.
The following day, a delegation of Hibakusha currently travelling around the world on board Peace Boat flew to New York to attend the ban treaty negotiations, where they spoke at various events and reminded attendees of the significance and urgency of nuclear weapons abolition.
“The voices of the hibakusha and survivors of nuclear testing around the world have been absolutely crucial in this process … that is so powerful it makes the case as to why these weapons must be banned,” said Tilman Ruff, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, as reported by Kyodo News.
It is expected that the treaty will be concluded in July 7. Please continue to follow the journey of the Hibakusha online, and support their efforts by encouraging friends and family to sign the Hibakusha Appeal now. Join your voice with those of the Hibakusha to say “Never Again.”
Follow us on Twitter @HibakushaAppeal.
Ban nuclear weapons!