Hiroshima a reminder of the urgent need to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons

April 11, 2014

Update (April 13, 2014): The participating foreign ministers issued a declaration on the final day of the meeting. ICAN’s response (available also in Japanese) describes the meeting as “a wasted opportunity” to advance a ban on nuclear weapons.

As foreign ministers from eight nations meet today in Hiroshima as part of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is urging greater leadership in global efforts to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

The NPDI, a cross-regional, ministerial-level group initiated by Australia and Japan in 2010, comprises Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A senior official from the US government, as well as the Indonesian foreign minister, will also participate in the meeting.

The NPDI was set up to support implementation of the consensus outcomes of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, which includes the “objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons”. Since that conference, international talks on nuclear disarmament have increasingly focused on the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

All NPDI members participated in both the March 2013 conference in Norway and the February 2014 conference in Mexico on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and ICAN hopes that the outcomes of those conferences will be reflected in the statement resulting from the NPDI meeting today in Hiroshima.

ICAN representatives attending the meeting wrote to the participating ministers last month setting out a list of recommendations. They urged them to “support the growing international call for negotiations in the near term on a treaty to ban the use, deployment, production, stockpiling and transport of nuclear weapons, and require their total elimination”.

They wrote that “it is wholly unacceptable that the very worst weapons of mass destruction are the only ones not yet prohibited by clear, treaty-based international law”. This reflects the chair’s summary from the conference in Mexico this February, which noted that “in the past, weapons have been eliminated after they have been outlawed”.

The ICAN letter points out that seven of the NPDI nations continue to subscribe to the notion of “extended nuclear deterrence” in their security strategy, including both Japan and Australia, and three of the NPDI nations host US nuclear weapons on their territory – a practice that undermines efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

According to an Australia-wide Nielsen poll released today, 84 per cent of the 1,500 people surveyed think that Australia should support current efforts for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Japan and other NPDI members have also come under intense pressure in recent years to support a ban.

“There is an urgent public health imperative to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons before they are ever used again,” said Australian-based ICAN co-chair Dr Tilman Ruff. “The people of Japan – especially the people of Hiroshima – are really expecting a strong statement,” ICAN co-chair Akira Kawasaki, from Tokyo, informed the media yesterday.

ICAN partner organization Pax, based in the Netherlands, issued a report last month written by disarmament campaigner Susi Snyder highlighting the important role of the NPDI in advancing a nuclear-weapon-free world. It sets out a series of recommendations for the Hiroshima meeting, including that the ministers should support a ban.

  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate