Irish FM Underlines Importance of Nayarit Conference

March 21, 2014

In response to a Parliamentary Question from Member of Parliament Eoghan Murphy about whether Ireland would take an active role at the Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons (the “Nayarit Conference”) hosted by Mexico in February, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore affirmed Ireland’s strong support of international efforts to focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and promised the keen engagement by Irish officials at the conference.

FM Gilmore noted that Ireland has been a consistent advocate for the humanitarian initiative in recent years, being one of the original 16 states to deliver a joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons at the 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee. Ireland has since supported subsequent joint statements at the preparatory committee and at the meetings of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, in addition to participating at the 2013 Oslo conference.

In FM Gilmore’s words, “I believe that discussion of the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear detonation offers a basis for reframing the nuclear disarmament debate in such a way that the catastrophic consequences so evident in Hiroshima and Nagasaki guide international efforts to eliminate nuclear arsenals entirely.”

In Nayarit, officials from the Irish delegation at the conference delivered a statement praising Mexico for its leadership in hosting the conference and challenging governments and policymakers to consider what can be done to bring forward the discussions. Ireland therefore welcomed the announcement by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to host a follow-up conference in 2014 to further explore the risks posed by the continued possession of nuclear weapons and to consider potential avenues to break the untenable status quo.

Civil society organisations in Ireland, including the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND), have played an instrumental role by encouraging the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to continue its support of the humanitarian initiative and to take on a leading role in the months leading up to the follow-up conference in Austria.

According to David Hutchinson Edgar of Irish CND, “Ireland was motivated by humanitarian concerns when it pressed for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the late 1960s.  It is motivated by the same concerns in pressing for action to address the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons and to fully implement the NPT. The fact-based discussions at Oslo, Nayarit and, later this year, Vienna demonstrate the urgent need for effective and binding measures to achieve complete nuclear disarmament.  They also paint a stark picture of the possible consequences of failure to achieve it.”

Later this month, on 28 March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will host a symposium in association with the Japanese Embassy in Ireland and University College Cork. The event will bring together policy makers, practitioners, academics and civil society to consider historical and current disarmament issues, and features a strong speakers list including keynote addresses by Ms Setsuko Thurlow, Dr Patricia Lewis of Chatham House and Dr Rebecca Johnson of Acronym Institute and ICAN’s International Steering Group.

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