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"Forget the Rest" blog

 

14 February 2014

Dear Press colleagues,

Late this evening saw the conclusion of the Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons here in Nayarit, Mexico.  I have pasted below here the official media release of the civil society representatives from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ican).

The conference ended on a very strong, upbeat note with 147 countries, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and 120 civil society representatives participating over the last two days.

Most of the morning session yesterday was dedicated to a panel of Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  They gave their heart-wrenching testimonies of the terrible inhumanity, pain, death, and destruction caused by the U.S. bombing of their cities while all of us in the room silently and respectfully listened.

During the conference I was taking notes and tweeting as the delegations were speaking.  Over and over again the cry came for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  There was no wiggle room in the statements of the majority of countries and certainly civil society.  Their messages were crystal clear -- nuclear weapons are indiscriminate killers of all humanity, they are illegal, immoral, inhumane, and must be banned immediately before there is either a nuclear accident, or worst of all -- a nuclear war. 

As you might have seen in the news, the Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, made the announcement that a "Paradigm Shift in Nuclear Disarmament is overdue" and has offered to host the 3rd International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons later this year in Vienna.

As you can see, the momentum toward a ban of nuclear weapons has grown substantially just in this past week.

You may contact me by email until Monday when I will be back in the office at: 505-265-1200.  Or you may contact the ican team.  Please find their contact information in their press release below.

Thank you,

Trish Williams-Mello
Operations Director
Los Alamos Study Group
Albuquerque, NM


ican logo

PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release

Nayarit point of no return: Mexico conference marks turning point towards nuclear weapon ban

(14 February 2014, Nayarit), Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico—The Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, concluded today with a call from the Mexican hosts for states to launch a diplomatic process to ban nuclear weapons. Over 140 governments participated from all regions of the world.

With a large group of countries calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons the meeting marked a turning point in the process to outlaw and eliminate these weapons of mass destruction.  Austria announced that it would host the next meeting in Vienna later this year.

“The evidence is clear.  The impact would be horrific and we could not respond. The risk of a detonation is significant.  That is why we have heard growing support this week for a ban,” said Liv Tørres, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid.  “We expect states to commit to negotiations at the next meeting in Vienna.”

In his closing summary, the Chair called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally binding instrument. The time has come, he noted, for a diplomatic process to reach this goal, within a specified timeframe, identifying the most appropriate forum and on the basis of a clear and substantive framework. Calling for this process to conclude by the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Chair described Nayarit as “the point of no return”.

The meeting in Nayarit saw presentations from UN agencies, renowned academics, former military officers and the UK’s Chatham House on the likely impact of a nuclear weapon detonation on the planet’s climate, agriculture, human health and social and economic infrastructure.  Yet whilst other weapons of mass destruction - chemical and biological - have already been clearly declared illegal, the same is not true for nuclear weapons.  In response to the evidence presented on humanitarian impact, many states recognized the need to put in place a ban as the next step towards elimination.

“A ban on nuclear weapons is long overdue and the conferences in Oslo and here in Mexico have created an opportunity for us to put it in place,” said Ray Acheson of WILPF. “States must take this opportunity when they meet in Vienna. Civil society is already mobilizing to make that happen.”

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The Mexico conference is the latest step in a process that has changed the way nuclear weapons are discussed at the international level. Since 2010, when states parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty recognized “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” a new narrative has emerged in which the actual effects of these weapons are the basis for renewed actions to address them. The Red Cross movement, United Nations relief agencies, civil society and the majority of the world’s nations have endorsed this humanitarian initiative. In October 125 states joined a statement by New Zealand at the United Nations noting that “the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.”

Among civil society representatives that addressed the Conference in Mexico were several atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“Hibakusha”). US climate scientist Professor Alan Robock, physician Dr. Ira Helfand, and Richard Moyes of Article 36 presented recent research on the effects of nuclear detonations on the planet’s climate, agriculture, human health and social and economic infrastructure.  Renowned author of “Command and Control” Eric Schlosser, former US military officer Bruce Blair, and Chatham House Research Director Dr. Patricia Lewis addressed nuclear weapons risks, miscalculations and accidents.

Interviews

For interviews with ICAN spokespeople, please contact:

  1. •      Daniela Varano +41 78 7262 645 daniela@icanw.org
  2. •      Magda Coss +52 1 55 340707 77 magda@24-0.mx 

About ICAN

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. It has 359 partner organizations in 92 countries, and was launched in 2007.

Details available at:

http://www.icanw.org 


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