Euro-Mediterranean Forum reaffirms the necessity of a nuclear weapons ban
July 7, 2014
On June 21-22, over 70 individuals from 23 countries attended the Euro-Mediterranean Forum in Ankara, Turkey. The forum was organised by ICAN and ICAN Turkey, and was attended by activists, experts, survivors, and government representatives.
Speakers highlighted the humanitarian imperative to ban nuclear weapons, pointing to the catastrophic harm that would result from a nuclear detonation. Speakers also discussed the regional implications of nuclear weapons and importance of nuclear disarmament. Aytuğ Atıcı, a Turkish MP, pointed out that Turkey itself hosts 90 American nuclear weapons as part of a cooperation agreement under NATO. This makes Turkey uniquely poised to lead the discussion on nuclear weapons in highlighting their presence and their possible risks within the region.
The conference also included practical workshops where campaigners shared ideas about campaign management, advocacy, and outreach. Workshops also considered regional challenges and opportunities, prospects for collaboration between different campaigns, and key objectives looking toward the Vienna conference.
Also lending their experiences and expertise to the forum were Branislav Kapetanović, Spokesperson for the Cluster Munitions Coalition, and Karipbek Kuyukov, Ambassador for the ATOM Project. Both have firsthand experiences about the effects of weapons that cause indiscriminate harm. Their presentations cut to the heart of the matter – that weapons whose effects are unacceptable by any moral, ethical or humanitarian standard must be banned and eliminated. Past experiences, such as the convention which banned cluster munitions, should encourage and inspire us. As Mr Kapetanović said, “There is no reason not to succeed in an action to ban nuclear weapons whose consequences are unimaginably bigger and more monstrous”.
Arielle Denis, ICAN Campaign Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, highlighted the importance of these forums, as civil society is the main driver for change in this area. “The ICAN Euro-Med Forum was really inspiring in demonstrating that anyone can push their country to take action on a ban on nuclear weapons,” says Denis. “You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to care about our planet and become part of the momentum.”
Arife Köse, coordinator of ICAN Turkey, also pointed out the importance of the humanitarian initiative, and how it continues to pave the way for a ban on nuclear weapons. She particularly pointed out the importance of the humanitarian initiative in mobilizing civil society and being the focal point of previous civil society forums in Oslo and Nayarit. “The Euro-Med conference followed this path and called all the states in the region to attend the third conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons which will be held in Vienna in December 2014,” says Köse. “This is particularly important to have full participation of all states because we are passing through a very important process in the nuclear disarmament.”
Köse also restated the urgency of pushing towards a ban. “Since the Oslo conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the international community has been discussing the deadly and irreversible effects of these weapons. We need to build momentum and work together, because banning these weapons is not an option but an obligation of all humanity.”