John Loretz / IPPNW & Akira Kawasaki / Peace Boat & Takashi Okuma / Asahi Shinbum & Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 2014-12-11 00:48:55
Vienna Disarmament Conference Concludes with Call for Nuclear Abolition
John Loretz / International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
(December 9, 2014) — The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluded today with a major step forward for ICAN and all those States that are now ready to join in a political process to ban nuclear weapons.
The Austrian government closed the Conference with an unexpected and extraordinary pledge: to cooperate with all stakeholders “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” (which can only mean one thing), and “to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, States, International Organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, paliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks” (which means exactly what it says).
“The Austrian Pledge” means that we can now begin the real work of bringing willing States together around a political process to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. At least 42 States signaled their readiness to join such a process during the general debate today, and others are likely to do so once an actual process begins to take shape.
The first step defined by Austria will be to bring the conclusions of the three HINW conferences — Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna — into the 2015 NPT Review Conference this May, and urge the NPT to take up the urgent and long overdue task of fulfilling Article VI as a humanitarian imperative on the basis of those conclusions. In the meantime, ICAN will be working with as many States as possible to ensure that the process goes forward regardless of the venue.
The Chairâ€™s summary is a powerful and persuasive document, spelling out in precise language all of the evidence and key conclusions of the three HINW conferences. And while it reflects the full range of views that were expressed during the discussions about how to deal with this evidence, it also indicates which of those views had substantial support.
By the end of the conference, more than enough States had taken up ICANâ€™s call for a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons to make a start down that road.
Here are a few key excerpts from the Chairâ€™s summary:
“Many delegates expressed concern about the limited progress in nuclear disarmament and stressed the view that humanitarian considerations should no longer be ignored but be at the core of all nuclear disarmament deliberations.”
“Many delegations noted that the discourse on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has revealed that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk, that this risk is higher than commonly understood and that it continues to increase over time.”
“Many delegations reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the most effective way to prevent their use.”
“The majority of delegations underscored that the final elimination of nuclear weapons should be pursued within an agreed legal framework, including a nuclear weapons convention.”
“Many delegations stressed the need for security for all and underscored that the only way to guarantee this security is through the total elimination of nuclear weapons and their prohibition. They expressed support for the negotiation of a new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons constituting an effective measure towards nuclear disarmament, as required also by the NPT.”
We had a short campaigners debriefing this evening, and came away confident that “the Austrian Pledge” completes the transition from learning about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons to acting upon the evidence and pursuing a ban treaty as the real “game changer” that will deliver a world without nuclear weapons.
I have to pack, get some sleep, and fly home tomorrow, but I donâ€™t want to end this post without a few words about the really amazing campaign team ICAN has recruited. They are young (and not so young), smart, professional, full of energy, and more diverse than any group of nuclear abolition campaigners Iâ€™ve ever seen in 30 years of working on this issue. And there are lots of them. They worked the floor hard for two days, and it showed in the results.
Nadja Schmidt of ICAN Austria delivered our final statement with conviction and composure. All of this was noticed by the States weâ€™ll be partnering with over the next several months, and they now know that ICAN has delivered the civil society backing they need to take the next courageous steps.
Courage was the theme we brought to Vienna — the courage to ban — and it looks like there just may be enough courage to go around as we leave. Take the Austrian Pledge and run with it. The game is on.
Nuclear Conference Closes, Differences Highlighted
Akira Kawasaki / Peace Boat & NHK
(December 10, 2014) — An international conference has highlighted the differences between nuclear and non-nuclear nations over creating a legal framework to ban nuclear arms. The 3rd conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons closed its 2-days of discussions in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday.
Nearly 160 countries took part. Non-nuclear countries called for continued efforts toward formulating a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. But the nuclear powers Britain and the United States, attending the meeting for the first time, opposed. They said imposing a ban on nuclear weapons ignores the stability and security the arms bring about.
The nuclear powers argued disarmament should take place gradually. Japan said opinions could differ on how to pursue the goal of a creating a world free of nuclear weapons but the participating countries should focus on the views they hold in common. The chair country Austria also said there are various opinions on ways to promote nuclear disarmament. An official of a Japanese association of A-bomb victims took part in the meeting to share his experiences.
Terumi Tanaka, who survived the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, is the secretary general of Nihon Hidankyo. Tanaka recounted how bodies were scattered all around Nagasaki City after the bombing, and said he still remembers the dreadful sight. He said no one else in the world should go through the agonies suffered by the victims and survivors, and called for immediately starting the process toward banning and abolishing nuclear arms.
Japan’s envoy on nuclear disarmament, Toshio Sano, said after the meeting that he appreciated the opportunity for nuclear and non-nuclear countries to talk face-to-face. But he said there is a need to build further momentum toward nuclear disarmament ahead of next year’s international conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Hibakusha Shares Horrific Account from Hiroshima
At Vienna Conference on Nuclear Weapons
Takashi Okuma / Asahi Shinbum
VIENNA (December 9, 2014) — A woman who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the age of 13 gave a spellbinding account and powerful statement at an international conference on nuclear weapons here, sharing her horrific experiences with attendees.
“Today, 69 years later, people are still dying from the delayed effects of one atomic bomb,” said Setsuko Thurlow, 82, a resident of Canada, at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons on Dec. 8. “Humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist indefinitely.”
Representatives from the United States and Britain joined their counterparts from 155 countries at the two-day conference that began on Dec. 8, the first time either nation has attended the sessions. Chinese experts were also in attendance. Thurlow said delivering a speech to drive home the importance of a nuclear-free world at the conference was an opportunity she has long been looking forward to.
“We hibakusha became convinced that no human being should ever have to repeat our experience of the inhumane, immoral, and cruel atomic bombing, and that our mission is to warn the world about the reality of the nuclear threat and to help people understand the illegality and ultimate evil of nuclear weapons,” she said.
Born in Hiroshima in 1932, Thurlow was a witness to the destruction unleashed by the nuclear blast on Aug. 6, 1945. She was working in the city at that time after being mobilized for a student work unit. Thurlow survived after being pulled out of the rubble of a collapsed building, but not her older sister and her nephew. They were so badly burned that they died from their injuries.
In 1954, Thurlow moved to the United States on a study program. She made her residence in Toronto after marrying a Canadian in 1955. Since then, Thurlow has campaigned against nuclear weapons by recounting her experiences in English and by organizing photo exhibitions in a large number of cities.
Thurlow said she has felt discomfort whenever world leaders discussed the nuclear issue only from a perspective of deterrence. But she said she sees some progress in the movement toward a world without nuclear weapons as, at long last, global attention has begun focusing on the humanitarian aspect.
“It gives me great satisfaction that these conferences have renewed the focus on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear weapons, the fundamental issue, yet long neglected by the shifting of the world’s attention to the doctrine of deterrence in the name of national and international security,” she said.
In concluding her address, she expressed her determination to turn Vienna into a landmark venue where opponents of nuclear weapons begin negotiating a ban treaty toward their objective. “Here in Vienna let us move forward, courageously, by concretizing our vision so that we can make the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the appropriate milestone to achieve our goal: to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons,” she said.
Meanwhile, Toshio Sano, head of the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, sparked controversy the same day as he called for a more positive view on nuclear weapons at the conference. The diplomat was referring to an opinion reaffirmed at the session that disastrous consequences, which the global community could not deal with, would follow a nuclear blast. He called the belief too pessimistic. But anti-nuclear groups took exception with his comments, saying such a remark should not come from a representative from Japan, which experienced the disastrous consequences of the 1945 atomic bombings.
Vienna Nuclear Abolition Conference: Closing Statements
International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
VIENNA (December 10, 2014) — 158 states participated in the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons. The United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, civil society organizations and academia participated in the Conference. The Vienna conference was the third in a series of meetings known as the Humanitarian Initiative on Nuclear Weapons, initiated by Norway. Previous gatherings were held in Norway in 2013 and Mexico in February of this year.
Vienna Conference on the
Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
December 8 to 9 2014
Report and Summary of Findings of the Conference
Presented under the sole responsibility of Austria
The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons took place from 8 to 9 December 2014. It addressed the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, including effects on human health, the environment, agriculture and food security, migration and the economy, as well as the risks and likelihood of the authorized or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, international response capabilities and the applicable normative framework.
Delegations representing 158 States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, civil society organizations and academia participated in the Conference.
The UN Secretary General and Pope Francis conveyed messages to the Conference. The President of the ICRC addressed the participants. Hibakusha, the survivors of the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and victims of the effects of nuclear testing also participated in the Conference and gave their testimonies and experiences. Their presence and contributions exemplified the unspeakable suffering caused to ordinary civilians by nuclear weapons.
The Vienna Conference built upon the fact-based discussions at the first and second Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held respectively in Oslo and Nayarit, and contributed to a deeper understanding of the consequences and the actual risks posed by nuclear weapons. Moreover, these further discussions underlined the extreme challenges for humanitarian response in the event of nuclear weapon explosions in populated areas. Furthermore, it presented a “birdâ€™s eye view” on international norms and the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Key conclusions from the substantive sessions included the following:
â€¢ The impact of a nuclear weapon detonation, irrespective of the cause, would not be constrained by national borders and could have regional and even global consequences, causing destruction, death and displacement as well as profound and long-term damage to the environment, climate, human health and well-being, socioeconomic development, social order and could even threaten the survival of humankind.
â€¢ The scope, scale and interrelationship of the humanitarian consequences caused by nuclear weapon detonation are catastrophic and more complex than commonly understood. These consequences can be large scale and potentially irreversible.
â€¢ The use and testing of nuclear weapons have demonstrated their devastating immediate, mid-and long-term effects. Nuclear testing in several parts of the world has left a legacy of serious health and environmental consequences. Radioactive contamination from these tests disproportionately affects women and children. It contaminated food supplies and continues to be measurable in the atmosphere to this day.
â€¢ As long as nuclear weapons exist, there remains the possibility of a nuclear weapon explosion.
Even if the probability is considered low, given the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation, the risk is unacceptable. The risks of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional use of nuclear weapons are evident due to the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to human error and cyber-attacks, the maintaining of nuclear arsenals on high levels of alert, forward deployment and their modernization. These risks increase over time.
The dangers of access to nuclear weapons and related materials by non-state actors, particularly terrorist groups, persists.
â€¢ There are many circumstances in which nuclear weapons could be used in view of international conflicts and tensions, and against the background of the current security doctrines of States possessing nuclear weapons. As nuclear deterrence entails preparing for nuclear war, the risk of nuclear weapon use is real.
Opportunities to reduce risk must be taken now, such as de-alerting and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines. Limiting the role of nuclear weapons to deterrence does not remove th epossibility of their use.
Nor does it address the risks stemming from accidental use. The only assurance against the risk of a nuclear weapon detonation is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
â€¢ No state or international body could address in an adequate manner the immediate humanitarian emergency or long-term consequences caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in a populated area, nor provide adequate assistance to those affected. Such capacity is unlikely ever to exist. Coordinated preparedness may nevertheless be useful in mitigating the effects including of a terrorist event involving the explosion of an improvised nuclear device. The imperative of prevention as the only guarantee against the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use was highlighted.
â€¢ Looking at nuclear weapons from a number of different legal angles, it is clear that there is no comprehensive legal norm universally prohibiting possession, transfer, production and use. International environmental law remains applicable in armed conflict and can pertain to nuclear weapons, although it does not specifically regulate these arms.
Likewise, international health regulations would cover effects of nuclear weapons. The new evidence that has emerged in the last two years about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons casts further doubt on whether these weapons could ever be used in conformity with IHL. As was the case with torture, which defeats humanity and is now unacceptable to all, the suffering caused by nuclear weapons use is not only a legal matter, it necessitates moral appraisal.
â€¢ The catastrophic consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation event and the risks associated with the mere existence of these weapons raise profound ethical and moral questions on a level transcending legal discussions and interpretations.
General views and policy responses States, international organisations, UN entities, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and civil society representatives recalled their deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. They welcomed the convening of the Vienna 3Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. Participants appreciated the testimonials of survivors of nuclear weapons use and testing, including for educating and raising awareness among youth.
Many delegates expressed concern about the limited progress in nuclear disarmament and stressed the view that humanitarian considerations should no longer be ignored but be at the core of all nuclear disarmament deliberations. They welcomed the broad participation, including by several nuclear weapons possessor states.
They also considered that the discussions would contribute to the implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan and earlier undertakings and the achievement of a meaningful outcome to the 2015 NPT Review Conference that takes nuclear disarmament efforts forward. Moreover, they reiterated the importance of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a key element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Many delegations expressed their concern that military doctrines in several States continued to set forth rationales and operational planning for the use of nuclear weapons. Many delegations noted that the discourse on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has revealed that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk, that this risk is higher than commonly understood and that it continues to increase over time.
Protection of civilians is a fundamental duty of States and requires particular care on their part. Many delegations affirmed that in the interest of the very survival of humanity nuclear weapons must never be used again, under any circumstances.
Many delegations consideredt hat the existence and possible use of nuclear weapons and the resulting unacceptable consequences raise profound moral and ethical issues. In light of sustainable development challenges, concern was expressed about the diversion of funds for nuclear weapons.
Many delegations considered that the growing understanding of the risk posed by nuclear weapons, including the likelihood and devastating humanitarian consequences of their use, underscores the urgent need for all States to pursue effective measures for the achievement of nuclear disarmament.
States expressed various views regarding the ways and means of advancing the nuclear disarmament agenda. A range of legally binding collective approaches to achieving progress toward a world without nuclear weapons was discussed.
Many delegations reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the most effective way to prevent their use. Many delegations expressed appreciation for the important contribution of civil society and researchers in all aspects of advancing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.
The necessity of a multilateral and inclusive approach in pursuing this objective was highlighted by many delegations. The majority of delegations underscored that the final elimination of nuclear weapons should be pursued within an agreed legal framework, including a nuclear weapons convention.
A number of delegations argued that a step-by-step approach was the most effective and practical way to achieve nuclear disarmament, referring in particular to the entry into force of the CTBT and a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
These delegations also noted that the global security environment needs to be taken into consideration in discussions about nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. In this connection, they promoted various unilateral, bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral, building blocks that should and can be taken in the near-to mid-term in support of a world without nuclear weapons.
Many delegations stressed the need for security for all and underscored that the only way to guarantee this security is through the total elimination of nuclear weapons and their prohibition. They expressed support for the negotiation of a new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons constituting an effective measure towards nuclear disarmament, as required also by the NPT.
It was recognized that the obligation to pursue effective measures for nuclear disarmament, as expressed in article VI of the NPT, resides with each State Party, and that there are practical steps that States can take now to pursue such measures in good faith. A number of delegations considered that the inability to make progress on any particular step was no reason not to pursue negotiations in good faith on other effective measures to achieve and maintain a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Such steps have been taken very effectively in regional contexts in the past, as evidenced by nuclear weapon free zones. Participants at the Vienna Conference were conscious that 2015marks the 70th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that calls for nuclear disarmament in this connection have been palpable and poignant. They considered that it is critical to sustain partnerships among States, the Red Cross Movement, international organizations, Parliamentarians and civil society with a view to translating the widespread concerns about the risks and consequences associated with nuclear weapons into concerted steps to achieve a world without these armaments.
The overwhelming majority of NPT States Parties expects that the forthcoming 2015 NPT Review Conference should take stock of all relevant developments, including the outcomes of the Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, and determine the next steps for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon
Austria Pledges to Work for
A Ban on Nuclear Weapons
Humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons
must initiate treaty process in 2015
VIENNA (December 9, 2014) — After 44 states called for a prohibition on nuclear weapons at a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.”
“All states committed to nuclear disarmament must join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons”, said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
“Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, Fihn added.
States that expressed support for a ban treaty at the Vienna Conference include:
Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
These announcements were given at a two-day international conference convened in Vienna to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether international or accidental.
Survivors of the nuclear bombings in Japan and of nuclear testing in Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States, gave powerful testimonies of the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. Their evidence complemented other presentations presenting data and research.
“The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting”, said Akira Kawasaki, from Japanese NGO Peaceboat. “The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now,” Kawasaki added.
For decades, discussions on nuclear weapons have been dominated by the few nuclear-armed states – states that continue to stockpile and maintain over 16,000 warheads. The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has prompted a fundamental change in this conversation, with non-nuclear armed states leading the way in a discussion on the actual effects of the weapons.
Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological — nuclear weapons are not yet prohibited by an international legal treaty. Discussions in Vienna illustrated that the international community is determined to address this.
In a statement to the conference, Pope Francis called for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”.
The host of the previous conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Mexico, called for the commencement of a diplomatic process, and South Africa said it was considering its role in future meetings.
“Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start”, said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.
ICAN is an international civil society campaign with 360 partner organisations in more than 90 countries www.icanw.org
Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Europe Integration Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry, Republic of Austria
(December 8-9, 2014) — Having hosted and chaired the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons from 8-9 December 2014 and in light of the important facts and findings that have been presented at the international conferences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna, Austria, solely in her national capacity, and without binding any other participant, wants to go beyond the summary just read out.
After careful consideration of the evidence, Austria has come to the following inescapable conclusions and makes the subsequent pledge to take them forward with interested parties in available fora, including in the context of the NPT and its upcoming 2015 Review Conference:
Mindful of the unacceptable harm that victims of nuclear weapons explosions and nuclear testing have experienced and recognising that that the rights and needs of victims have not yet been adequately addressed,
Understanding that the immediate, mid-and long-term consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion are significantly graver than it was understood in the past and will not be constrained by national borders but have regional or even global effects, potentially threatening the survival of humanity,
Recognizing the complexity of and interrelationship between these consequences on health, environment, infrastructure, food security, climate, development, social cohesion and the global economy that are systemic and potentially irreversible,
Aware that the risk of a nuclear weapon explosion is significantly greater than previously assumed and is indeed increasing with increased proliferation, the lowering of the technical threshold for nuclear weapon capability, the ongoing modernisation of nuclear weapon arsenals in nuclear weapon possessing states, and the role that is attributed to nuclear weapons in the nuclear doctrines of possessor states,
Cogniscent of the fact that the risk of nuclear weapons use with their unacceptable consequences can only be avoided when all nuclear weapons have been eliminated,
Emphasizing that the consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and the risks associated with nuclear weapons concern the security of all humanity and that all states share the responsibility to prevent any use of nuclear weapons, Emphasizing that the scope of consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and risks associated raise profound moral and ethical questions that gobeyond debates about the legality of nuclear weapons,
Mindful that no national or international response capacity exists that would adequately respond to the human suffering and humanitarian harm that would result from a nuclear weapon explosion in a populated area, and that such capacity most likely will never exist,
Affirming that it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances,
Reiterating the crucial role that international organisations, relevant UN entities, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, elected representatives, academia and civil society play for advancing the shared objective of a nuclear weapon free world,
Austria regards it as her responsibility and consequently pledges to present the facts-based discussions, findings and compelling evidence of the Vienna Conference, which builds upon the previous conferences in Oslo and Nayarit, to all relevant fora, in particular the NPT Review Conference 2015and in the UN framework, as they should be at the centre of all deliberations, obligations and commitments with regard to nuclear disarmament,
Austria pledges to follow the imperative of human security for all and to promote the protection of civilians against risks stemming from nuclear weapons, Austria calls on all states parties to the NPT to renew their commitment to the urgent and full implementation of existing obligations under Article VI, and to this end, to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and Austria pledges to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal,
Austria calls on all nuclear weapons possessor states to take concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon detonations, including reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons and moving nuclear weapons away from deployment into storage, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines and rapid reductions of all types of nuclear weapons,
Austria pledges to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, States, International Organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, paliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Statement to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
VIENNA (December 9, 2014) — I am speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of over 360 organisations in more than 90 countries. We are a global campaign determined to achieve the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. We organised the weekend forum for over 600 people on the courage to ban nuclear weapons.
The conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons hosted by Norway, Mexico, and now Austria have clearly explained and documented these impacts. We have heard alarming evidence about the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. We have heard about the risks of detonation, either accidental or intentional. We have heard that no effective response is possible.
We have also heard the stories of people that have survived the use or testing of nuclear weapons. Their stories illustrate that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and should clearly therefore be prohibited. But these stories also illustrate the need for legal provisions to assist victims and to ensure the fulfilment of their rights.
What stands out from the session on legal frameworks is that we are currently lacking an instrument that explicitly characterises nuclear weapons as unacceptable under international law. Our next step as supporters of the humanitarian initiative should be to explore the best way to address this legal deficit.
The chair of the Nayarit conference concluded that, in light of the devastating immediate and long-term effects of nuclear detonations, the time has come to start a diplomatic process to negotiate a legally-binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.
This is not a radical proposal. Indiscriminate weapons get banned. We have done it before with other weapon systems, including biological and chemical weapons.
This should not be a controversial proposal. An international prohibition is the logical outcome of an examination of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons detonation. A new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons would constitute a long overdue implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This is a meaningful proposal. It would establish a comprehensive set of prohibitions and provide a framework under which the elimination of nuclear weapons can be pursued.
This is a feasible, achievable proposal. It can be negotiated now, and have normative and practical impacts.
We have heard some say that the calls for a new legal regime on nuclear weapons fail to take into account security interests. But, as New Zealand said, those countries must explain what they mean. Whose security are they talking about?
Where such a treaty is negotiated is less important than ensuring that the process is open to all and blockable by none. That includes the nuclear-armed states. It would be better for all states to participate. But this seems unlikely at the present time. While we must keep working towards that goal with absolute determination, we believe states should put a prohibition in place now. The 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks is the appropriate milestone to launch such a process.
This will take courage. We have confidence that the overwhelming majority of states will join this process. And we look forward to accompanying you along the road to a treaty banning nuclear weapons.