August 14, 2015 Lawrence Downes / The New York Times & The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
The horror of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, 70 years ago this month, is receding in human memory. With distance comes the peril of ignorance and indifference. Here is a jolting antidote -- a poem worth eight minutes of your day. And the Humanitarian Pledge against nuclear war presented at the international conferences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna.
Ferlinghetti on Nagasaki Lawrence Downes / The New York Times
(August 10, 2015) -- The horror of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, 70 years ago this month, is receding in human memory. With distance comes the peril of ignorance and indifference.
Here is a jolting antidote, worth eight minutes of your day.
It’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading "Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower," a poem he wrote in 1958 as a warning and rebuke to presidents about the dangers of nuclear war.
Mr. Ferlinghetti witnessed what he was talking about. A Navy sailor in World War II, he entered Nagasaki a few weeks after it was bombed on Aug. 9, 1945. He once described the devastated city as "three square miles of mulch" piled with bones and hair.
The experience made him a lifetime pacifist.
His poem, linked from the website of his San Francisco bookstore, City Lights, is an incantation, about "the strange rain" and "that perverted pollen, blown on sunless seas," about nationalism, "the idiotic superstition which would blow up the world," and about the symbolism of mushroom soup.
It’s enthralling, a timeless period piece. Ry Cooder says on Twitter that Mr. Ferlinghetti puts the "cat" in "cataclysm," and he is right.
In light of the important facts and findings that have been presented at the international conferences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna, and after careful consideration of the evidence,
We, the States supporting and/or endorsing this pledge, have come to the following inescapable conclusions and make the subsequent pledge to take them forward with interested parties in available fora, including in the context of the NPT and its 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 andneeds 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,
Cognisant 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 go beyond 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,
We regard it as our responsibility and consequently pledge 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 2015 and in the UN framework, as they should be at the centre of all deliberations, obligations and commitments with regard to nuclear disarmament,
We pledge to follow the imperative of human security for all and to promote the protection of civilians against risks stemming from nuclear weapons,
We call 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 we pledge to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal,
We Call 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,
We pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, States, international organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, parliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.
List of states that have pledged to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons
4. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Cabo Verde
18. Central African Republic
23. Cook Islands
24. Costa Rica
25. Côte d’Ivoire
30. Dominican Republic
33. El Salvador
65. Marshall Islands
76. Papua New Guinea
81. St. Kitts and Nevis
82. St. Lucia
83. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
85. São Tomé and Príncipe
86. San Marino
87. Saudi Arabia
91. Sierra Leone
94. South Africa
95. Sri Lanka
102. Trinidad and Tobago
106. United Arab Emirates
110. Viet Nam
(Last updated 14 July 2015. Latest states to join:
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Congo)
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.