Multinational Open Letter in Support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Gordon Edwards / Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
MONTREAL (January 24, 2021) — Background: The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on Friday, January 22, 2021. The Treaty is the first to call explicitly for a ban on all nuclear weapons everywhere. The text was approved by 122 member states of the UN in 2017.
The nine states known to have nuclear weapons have not yet signed the Treaty, nor have the member states of NATO, nor have countries who are especially dependent on the good will of nuclear weapons states.
Canada is one of those countries who have not yet signed the Treaty. Nevertheless, the following open letter urging that all nations sign and ratify the Treaty, written in September 2020, has been signed by two former Prime Ministers of Canada as well as former Canadian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of National Defence.
The letter is also endorsed by former high officials from a number of other countries that have not yet signed on to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, all speaking with one voice in solidarity for the benefit of the entire human race and not just for the advantage of selected nations.
Please distribute this letter widely among your family members, your neighbours, your friends and colleagues, your schools and churches, your contacts on social media, and your elected representatives at all levels — municipal, provincial, national.
Gordon Edwards, PhD, is the president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
Montreal Declaration: www.ccnr.org/declaration_WSF_e_2016.pdf
Open Letter in Support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
(September 21, 2020) — The coronavirus pandemic has starkly demonstrated the urgent need for greater international cooperation to address all major threats to the health and welfare of humankind. Paramount among them is the threat of nuclear war.
The risk of a nuclear weapon detonation today — whether by accident, miscalculation or design — appears to be increasing, with the recent deployment of new types of nuclear weapons, the abandonment of longstanding arms control agreements, and the very real danger of cyber-attacks on nuclear infrastructure. Let us heed the warnings of scientists, doctors and other experts. We must not sleepwalk into a crisis of even greater proportions than the one we have experienced this year.
It is not difficult to foresee how the bellicose rhetoric and poor judgment of leaders in nuclear-armed nations might result in a calamity affecting all nations and peoples. As past leaders, foreign ministers and defence ministers of Albania, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey — all countries that claim protection from an ally’s nuclear weapons — we appeal to current leaders to advance disarmament before it is too late.
An obvious starting point for the leaders of our own countries would be to declare without qualification that nuclear weapons serve no legitimate military or strategic purpose in light of the catastrophic human and environmental consequences of their use. In other words, our countries should reject any role for nuclear weapons in our defence.
By claiming protection from nuclear weapons, we are promoting the dangerous and misguided belief that nuclear weapons enhance security. Rather than enabling progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons, we are impeding it and perpetuating nuclear dangers — all for fear of upsetting our allies who cling to these weapons of mass destruction. But friends can and must speak up when friends engage in reckless behavior that puts their lives and ours in peril.
Without doubt, a new nuclear arms race is under way, and a race for disarmament is urgently needed. It is time to bring the era of reliance on nuclear weapons to a permanent end.
In 2017, 122 countries took a courageous but long-overdue step in that direction by adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — a landmark global accord that places nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons and establishes a framework to eliminate them verifiably and irreversibly. Soon it will become binding international law.
To date, our countries have opted not to join the global majority in supporting this treaty. But our leaders should reconsider their positions. We cannot afford to dither in the face of this existential threat to humanity. We must show courage and boldness — and join the treaty. As states parties, we could remain in alliances with nuclear-armed states, as nothing in the treaty itself nor in our respective defence pacts precludes that.
But we would be legally bound never under any circumstances to assist or encourage our allies to use, threaten to use or possess nuclear weapons. Given the very broad popular support in our countries for disarmament, this would be an uncontroversial and much-lauded move.
The prohibition treaty is an important reinforcement to the half-century-old Non-Proliferation Treaty, which, though remarkably successful in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries, has failed to establish a universal taboo against the possession of nuclear weapons.
The five nuclear-armed nations that had nuclear weapons at the time of the NPT’s negotiation — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — apparently view it as a licence to retain their nuclear forces in perpetuity. Instead of disarming, they are investing heavily in upgrades to their arsenals, with plans to retain them for many decades to come. This is patently unacceptable.
The prohibition treaty adopted in 2017 can help end decades of paralysis in disarmament. It is a beacon of hope in a time of darkness. It enables countries to subscribe to the highest available multilateral norm against nuclear weapons and build international pressure for action.
As its preamble recognizes, the effects of nuclear weapons “transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation”.
With close to 14,000 nuclear weapons located at dozens of sites across the globe and on submarines patrolling the oceans at all times, the capacity for destruction is beyond our imagination. All responsible leaders must act now to ensure that the horrors of 1945 are never repeated. Sooner or later, our luck will run out — unless we act. The nuclear weapon ban treaty provides the foundation for a more secure world, free from this ultimate menace. We must embrace it now and work to bring others on board. There is no cure for a nuclear war.
Prevention is our only option.
• Lloyd AXWORTHY — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
• BAN Ki-moon — Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea
• Jean-Jacques BLAIS — Former Minister of National Defence of Canada
• Kjell Magne BONDEVIK — Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
• Ylli BUFI — Former Prime Minister of Albania
• Jean CHRÉTIEN — Former Prime Minister of Canada
• Willy CLAES — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and Secretary General of NATO
• Erik DERYCKE — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
• Joschka FISCHER — Former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany
• Franco FRATTINI — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Vice-President of the European Commission
• Ingibjörg Sólrún GÍSLADÓTTIR — Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
• Bjørn Tore GODAL — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of Norway
• Bill GRAHAM — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Canada
• HATOYAMA Yukio — Former Prime Minister of Japan
• Thorbjørn JAGLAND — Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
• Ljubica JELUŠIČ — Former Minister of Defence of Slovenia
• Tālavs JUNDZIS — Former Minister of Defence of Latvia
• Jan KAVAN — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and President of the UN General Assembly
• Alojz KRAPEŽ — Former Minister of Defence of Slovenia
• Ģirts Valdis KRISTOVSKIS — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, and Minister of the Interior of Latvia
• Aleksander KWAŚNIEWSKI — Former President of Poland
• Yves LETERME — Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
• Enrico LETTA — Former Prime Minister of Italy
• Eldbjørg LØWER — Former Minister of Defence of Norway
• Mogens LYKKETOFT — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
• John McCALLUM — Former Minister of National Defence of Canada
• John MANLEY — Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
• Rexhep MEIDANI — Former President of Albania
• Zdravko MRŠIĆ — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia
• Linda MŪRNIECE — Former Minister of Defence of Latvia
• Fatos NANO — Former Prime Minister of Albania
• Holger K. NIELSEN — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
• Andrzej OLECHOWSKI — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
• Kjeld OLESEN — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of Denmark
• Ana de PALACIO Y DEL VALLE-LERSUNDI — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
• Theodoros PANGALOS — Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece
• Jan PRONK — Former Minister of Defence (Ad Interim) and Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands
• Vesna PUSIĆ — Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia
• Dariusz ROSATI — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
• Rudolf SCHARPING — Former Federal Minister of Defence of Germany
• Juraj SCHENK — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia
• Nuno SEVERIANO TEIXEIRA — Former Minister of National Defense of Portugal
• Jóhanna SIGURÐARDÓTTIR — Former Prime Minister of Iceland
• Össur SKARPHÉÐINSSON — Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
• Javier SOLANA — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and Secretary General of NATO
• Anne-Grete STRØM-ERICHSEN — Former Minister of Defence of Norway
• Hanna SUCHOCKA — Former Prime Minister of Poland
• SZEKERES Imre — Former Minister of Defense of Hungary
• TANAKA Makiko — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
• TANAKA Naoki — Former Minister of Defense of Japan
• Danilo TÜRK — Former President of Slovenia
• Hikmet Sami TÜRK — Former Minister of National Defense of Turkey
• John N. TURNER — Former Prime Minister of Canada
• Guy VERHOFSTADT — Former Prime Minister of Belgium
• Knut VOLLEBÆK — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
• Carlos WESTENDORP Y CABEZA — Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
January 25 Webinar: The United Nations and Nuclear Abolition
Monday 11:00-12:30 Eastern USA time; 8:00-9:30 Pacific time; 17:00-18:30 Central Europe time. Click here to register.
(January 23, 2021) — Last January, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the Doomsday Clock to 100 Seconds to Midnight, indicating how close humanity was to a nuclear disaster — by accident, miscalculation or conflict escalation. Amidst the gloom of the pandemic, 2021 dawns with some new rays of light for nuclear disarmament.
Join us for an international event on Monday January 25 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1 (1) — the very first resolution of the United Nations — which established the global goal for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The event will include discussion by experts and activists on the political openings for global nuclear disarmament and the vital roles being played by the United Nations and civil society. It will also include presentations of some global civil society appeals for nuclear abolition. Click here to register (if you have not already done so).
Civil Society Appeals
There are a number of civil society appeals which are being circulated to governments in conjunction with the TPNW entry-into-force and the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1 (1), and which will be presented at the January 25 event. They are:
• Protect People and the Planet: Appeal for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, launched by #WeThePeoples2020 and endorsed by over 700 representatives of civil society including parliamentarians, mayors, former military leaders, youth, religious leaders, academics, former UN and government officials and heads of nongovernmental organizations. Click here to see the list of endorsers. Click here to endorse;
• Abolish nuclear weapons to assure a sustainable future: Joint statement by World Future Council members and Right Livelihood Laureates on the occasions of the Entry-into-Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1
• It’s time to wrap up the nuclear era! Statement of the Abolition 2000 Coordinating Committee on the occasions of the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1 (1).