Hibakushas pledge to Swedish government
May 29, 2015
The time has come to prohibit nuclear weapons. This was the clear message from a majority of the NPT member states at the 2015 NPT Review Conference that recently ended at the UN in New York. Today, survivors of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki visited Stockholm and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs with a clear pledge: it’s time for Sweden to work for a ban on nuclear weapons. Despite pressure from atomic bomb survivors and disarmament campaigners from all over the world, Sweden has not yet endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge. The Pledge, initiated by Austria in 2014, now gathers 107 states that have committed to work for a new legally binding instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
Hiroe Kamada, who was three years old when the atomic bomb destroyed her hometown Hiroshima, met with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs today. Kamada, now 73, spoke about the horrific scenes as the bomb fell, and about the difficult life after the catastrophe in 1945. She asked why Sweden has not yet endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge to work for the prohibition of nuclear weapons on the basis of their catastrophic humanitarian consequences.
“As a survivor of a nuclear weapon attack, and as someone who has faced the consequences and designated my whole life to work for a world free from nuclear weapons, I am pledging to Sweden to join the Humanitarian Pledge and work to ban these weapons”, said Kamada.
Despite it being five months since the Humanitarian Pledge opened for states to endorse, the Swedish government did not give an answer to Hiroe Kamada. “It remains unclear whether or not Sweden will place itself on the right side of history and join the majority of states ready to develop a new legally binding instrument on nuclear weapons. Or will Sweden miss this opportunity for leadership and stay outside the growing movement to prohibit nuclear weapons?” asked Sofia Tuvestad, Policy and Advocacy Officer of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Sweden.
Based on the evidence of the catastrophic humanitarian impacts from any nuclear weapon detonation and an acknowledgment of the increasing risk of use of nuclear weapons, the Humanitarian Pledge reflects a fundamental shift in the international discourse on nuclear disarmament over the past five years. It is the latest indication that governments are preparing for diplomatic action after the NPT Review Conference.
After a change in government in October 2014 that placed a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Green Party in power, the Swedish government announced it would scale up its efforts for nuclear disarmament and support the humanitarian approach. While Sweden joined the humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons in 2014, it has not joined the growing number of states that are calling for a prohibition, nor has it endorsed the humanitarian pledge.
“Foreign Minister Margot Wallström moved fast to ensure Sweden joined the humanitarian initiative, but has not yet taken the next logical step – to support a prohibition of nuclear weapons on the basis of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences”, said Josefin Lind, Secretary-General of Swedish Physicians against Nuclear Weapons and member of the ICAN International Steering Group. “We are disappointed that Sweden is not showing more leadership. We sympathise strongly with the atomic bomb survivors today as they are pledging to Sweden to join the 107 states that have committed to work for a new legally binding instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” Lind concluded.Swedish Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Sweden