Over 150 Countries Gather in Vienna for World Conference on Banning Nuclear Weapons
December 9, 2014
The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons & Celine Nahory / Peace Boat
In a show of overwhelming support from the global community, representatives from more than 150 countries met in Austria,for the Third International Conference aims to examine the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. More than 500 activists are participating in the largest gathering of civil society on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. believing "We are confident that governments have the will to undertake a diplomatic process to develop a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons."
Special to Environmentalists Against War
Over 150 Countries Gather in Vienna for World Conference on Banning Nuclear Weapons
International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
VIENNA, Austria (December 8, 2014) -- In a show of overwhelming support from the international community, representatives from more than 150 countries met in Vienna, Austria, for the Third International Conference aims to examine the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
Before the talks, more than 500 activists gathered at the largest gathering of civil society on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. "We are closer than ever to start negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons", Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said. "We are confident that governments have the will to undertake a diplomatic process to develop a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons," Fihn said.
In previous conferences of this process, held in Norway and Mexico, it was concluded that there could be an appropriate response if one or more nuclear weapons were detonated, either intentionally or accidentally.
These global talks have represented an exercise of collective rethinking that has fundamentally changed the way the issue of nuclear weapons is discussed internationally.
The Vienna meeting will be the first time that an intergovernmental conference on the testimonies of survivors of nuclear tests and long-term effects of nuclear explosions on human health are highlighted. Vienna also be the first time that States have the opportunity to completely fill the gaps in international law by which nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction that are not subject to international ban treaty.
"The evidence presented during this process so far has been overwhelming. The impact of nuclear weapons is even worse than it had previously considered and the risk of their use is even greater than that governments have admitted" said Thomas Nash representative of ICAN and director of the NGO to monitor weapons based in UK, Article 36. "We hope that States respond to this evidence be moving toward a ban on nuclear weapons for the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, next August," said Nash.
Of the 150 States that will participate in the Vienna conference, the nuclear weapon states like the United Kingdom and the United States who have previously boycotted the talks in the process, participate with India and Pakistan.
"Even those states that have qualified these conferences as 'a distraction' a few months ago, have changed their minds and are coming to Vienna to discuss the unacceptable consequences of its nuclear weapons. No one can ignore this humanitarian initiative against weapons nuclear. It must be the starting point for all discussions on nuclear weapons in the future, "said Ray Acheson of ICAN and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Austria's conference is the last step in a process that has changed the way that nuclear weapons are discussed internationally. Since 2010, when the States Parties to the NPT acknowledged "the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons", has emerged a new narrative in which the real impacts of these weapons are the basis for addressing the new shares.
The movement of the Red Cross, aid agencies of the United Nations, civil society and most of the world's nations have supported this humanitarian initiative. In October, 155 states joined the statement of New Zealand at the United Nations in which they noted that "the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons should underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament. "
Among the representatives of civil society attending the Vienna Conference, the survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima ("hibakusha") Setsuko Thurlow, and for the first time several survivors of atomic tests including Karipbek Kuyukov, who will is his testimony on the experience of surviving the nuclear exposure. The renowned author of "Command and Control" (Command and Control), Eric Schlosser, and former US Army officer Bruce Blair addressed the risks of nuclear weapons, miscalculations and accidents.
Camille Francois Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the School Harvard Law School and Columbia University will present the difficulties of securing nuclear facilities cyber threats. The ICRC President Peter Maurer, and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz will give an introduction about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global coalition of civil society organizations working to mobilize citizens around the world to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to start negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons. It has 360 partner organizations in 93 countries, and started operations in 2007. More information available at: http://www.icanw.org
Background: Final Document of International Conference:
"Dimensions to Create a Nuclear-Weapon Free Northeast Asia"
Celine Nahory / Peace Boat & International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Dear ICANers, As we are preparing for the Vienna conference, I am writing to share the final document produced at the International Conference "Dimensions to create a Nuclear-Weapon Free Northeast Asia" held in Ulaanbaatar on November 26, organized by the Global Partnership on the Prevention of Armed Conflict - Northeast Asia (GPPAC-NEA) and Blue Banner, under the auspices of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I hope you will find it useful. Warm regards and looking forward to see many of you in Vienna shortly!
Final Document of International Conference:
"Dimensions to create a Nuclear-Weapon Free Northeast Asia"
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (November 26, 2014) --
1. The International Conference: "Dimensions to create a Nuclear-Weapon Free NEA" was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on 26 November 2014. It was organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia and Blue Banner, Ulaanbaatar Focal Point of GPPAC, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development of Mongolia.
2. Over 60 people, including civil society representatives and scholars from Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Pyongyang, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar and Vladivostok, as well as representatives of the GPPAC Global Secretariat in the Hague, gathered in Ulaanbaatar. They discussed the challenges that the world and East Asia were facing.
These included especially nuclear security; the feasibility and need to establish a Northeast Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone (NEA-NWFZ); the impact of military alliances, foreign military bases and expenditure; and the threats currently posed to Article 9, the peace clause of the Japanese Constitution. In this regard they considered different proposals and ideas, including a comprehensive approach to this region's security.
They also considered Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status and the role that the country could play in promoting greater confidence, stability and non-proliferation in the region. The participants reaffirmed their commitment to conflict prevention, peace-building and non-proliferation in the region, as reflected in the previous statements of GPPAC Northeast Asia in the 2005 Tokyo Agenda, the 2006 Mt Kumgang Action Plan, and the 2007 and 2010 Ulaanbaatar statements.
3. The participants believed that addressing issues of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons detonation, accidental or intentional, was an important and timely measure that would allow the international community to maintain high awareness of the urgency of nuclear disarmament by deepening the understanding of the devastating consequences of nuclear detonation. Hence they welcomed the holding of two conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo, Norway in 2013 and in Nayarit, Mexico in 2014, and the civil society involvement therein.
The Oslo conference addressed the consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation through a humanitarian lens, while the Nayarit conference allowed a deeper understanding of such consequences focusing on long-term effects as well as effects on public health, environment, climate change, food security, displacements and development.
They believed that the third conference, to be held in Vienna this December, would highlight further the urgency of abolishing nuclear weapons by hearing further testimonies, looking at consequences of nuclear weapon tests, and the risks of human and technical error and would contribute to starting negotiations aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons. Therefore they called upon civil society organizations to take an active part in both the governmental conference and the civil society forum in Vienna.
4. Participants reaffirmed their conviction that the only effective guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their complete prohibition and elimination through conclusion of international legally-binding instrument to this effect. Thus they rejected modernization of existing nuclear weapons and development of new types of such weapons as acts inconsistent with the goals and obligations of nuclear disarmament.
They welcomed the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations to designate 26 September as International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, the convening in 2013 of a high level meeting on nuclear disarmament and its outcome, and called upon states to convene the second meeting not later than 2018 so as to identify concrete measures and actions to eliminate nuclear weapons in the shortest possible time.
In the interim, they called on the international community to commence negotiations and adopt without delay a universal and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances. The conference also expressed its support for the Republic of the Marshall Islands' efforts "Nuclear Zero" lawsuits, holding the nine nuclear-armed nations accountable for failing to comply with their obligations under the NPT.
5. During the discussion due attention was given to the preparations for the 2015 Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which was the cornerstone of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. They called upon nuclear-weapon states to fully comply with their obligations to nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the NPT, and fully implement the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed upon at the 2000 NPT Review Conference as well as the Action Plan adopted at the 2010 Review Conference, in particular Action 5.
6. The participants reaffirmed the important role that NWFZs play in strengthening regional and international security, and expressed support for strengthening the existing ones. In that respect they expressed concern that despite the agreements reached by the states parties to the NPT in 1995, 2000 and 2010, the international conference on the establishment of a Middle East NWFZ had not been held and expressed the hope that such a conference would be held before the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
7. The participants expressed concern over the persisting tensions in the Northeast Asian region, including on and around the Korean peninsula. They believed that the Six Party Talks still could play an important role in addressing some of their causes, and that other forms of dialogue to contribute to a permanent peace regime be sincerely pursued.
The participants believed that confidence-building measures to improve relations and a broad approach to addressing this issue, including the feasibility of establishing a NEA-NWFZ, were practically useful, and that the nuclear umbrella and extended nuclear deterrence needed to be given up altogether.
8. They welcomed the Mongolian President's proposal to promote the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security as an effective way to reduce mistrust and promote mutual understanding and greater confidence.
They believed that civil society needed to play its role in promoting understanding and dialogue in the region and reiterated their commitment to continue cooperation of civil society organizations with a view to developing and strengthening a shared vision for a peaceful and stable Northeast Asia, as the Ulaanbaatar Process proposed by GPPAC Northeast Asia in 2007 and currently in preparation.
The potential agenda for future dialogue sessions was to focus not only on traditional peace and security issues, but also include more comprehensive aspects such as economy, the environment, sustainability, disaster relief, gender, human security, the potential role of civil society, etc.
9. The participants welcomed Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free zone policy both as a concrete contribution to regional stability, and as an innovative approach to addressing nuclear threat-related issues. They welcomed the joint declaration of the five nuclear-weapon states whereby the latter pledged to respect Mongolia's status and not to contribute to any act that would violate it. The participants expressed the hope that Mongolia's example would be an inspiring example in addressing similar cases.
10. The participants reaffirmed their support for global efforts to promote nuclear disarmament and conflict prevention in which civil society could play an important role. Thus they supported various civil society led campaigns and efforts such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Mayors for Peace, the various national and international campaigns to end the Korean War, and those to protect and promote Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
The importance of engagement between civil society from the Northeast Asian region and that of the United States was also highlighted. They also reiterated their commitment to the goals of GPPAC and expressed their resolve to promote them at the global, regional and local levels. http://www.peaceboat.org/english/?page=view&nr=36&type=23&menu=62
Preparations for the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Conference in Vienna
On September 27, 2014, a Peace City Event was held at the Titirangi Memorial Hall in Auckland in collaboration with The Peace Foundation and the Whau and Waitakere Ranges Local Boards.
This new 10-minute film shows the 'UN Nuclear Abolition Day' event in Titirangi on 27th September. The event was supported by the Peace Foundation in conjunction with the Whau and Waitakere Ranges Local Boards. It was also a celebration of Auckland Peace City and Nuclear Free New Zealand in our West Auckland area.
It is the first year to celebrate the United Nations International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which is being honored throughout the world. It is an opportunity for civil society to reinforce determination to achieve the goal of a world free from the threat of nuclear war and annihilation. We are thinking globally and acting locally.
There is a major focus on ICAN and the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Best wishes for the Conference in Vienna Austria coming up December 8-9, 2014. I am grateful for the support of the Peace Foundation plus the time and film editing technical skills of our Youth Coordinator Lucy Stewart.
For more information on The Peace Foundation, visit www.peace.net.nz