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Campaigners Call on States to Start Discussions for an International Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons


February 15, 2014
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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. 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.

http://www.icanw.org/campaign-news/ican-closing-statement-to-the-second-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/



ICAN Closing Statement to the Second Conference
On the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Ray Acheson, ICAN International Steering Group and Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

NUEVO VALLARTA, NAYARIT, Mexico (February 14, 2014) -- I am speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of over 350 organisations in 90 countries.

We have been given over the past two days a chilling reminder of what nuclear weapons are, and what they do.

They do not bring security. They bring death and destruction on a scale that cannot be justified for any reason.

The claim by some states that they continue to need these weapons to deter their adversaries has been exposed by the evidence presented at this conference and in Oslo as a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with our future.

The immediate effects of even a single nuclear weapon detonation are shocking and overwhelming. Its destructive force will cause nightmarish scenes of death and despair.

One detonation will cause tens of thousands of casualties and inflict immediate and irreversible damage to infrastructure, industry, livelihoods, and human lives. The effects will persist over time, devastating human health, the environment, and our economies for years to come. These impacts will wreak havoc with food production and displace entire populations.

As we have heard here from scientists and physicians, the use of less than one percent of existing arsenals against cities would have extreme and long lasting consequences for the Earth’s climate and for agriculture. This would put billions of lives in jeopardy.

The existence of nuclear weapons generates great risk. There have been numerous instances where the incidence of an accidental nuclear detonation has hung on a razor’s edge. And we have recently heard a number of reports of the declining operational atmosphere and disturbing behaviour of those in supposed “command and control” of these arsenals.

Such accidents are only made possible, however, because the military doctrines of the nuclear-armed states and some of their allies require preparations for the deliberate use of nuclear weapons – in many cases within minutes of an order being given. The risk of conflict between states possessing nuclear weapons is a direct consequence of possession and of nuclear deterrence relationships.

While nuclear weapons have not been used in acts of war since the United States dropped two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, they have nevertheless created health and environmental catastrophes around the world. Testing in the Pacific, Kazakhstan, the United States, Africa, South Asia, and China has caused profound damage to the environment and human health.

Nuclear weapons also undermine development and the achievement of global economic and social equality. The maintenance and modernisation of nuclear weapons diverts vast and essential resources needed to address real human needs, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Despite all this evidence about the horror, instability, and injustice generated by nuclear weapons, some insist that we will not see their elimination in our lifetime. That depends on whether we are willing to accept the risk we live with today. Unless we act, nuclear weapons will be used, either by accident, design, or miscalculation. The only questions are when, where, and how many.

Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological weapons – nuclear weapons are not yet subject to an explicit legal prohibition. Now is the time to address this anomaly, which has been allowed to persist for far too long.

Those countries that have renounced nuclear weapons—the overwhelming majority—have made the right decision for the security of their countries and their populations and for the survival of life on Earth. Those same countries have the opportunity now to advance not only the humanitarian agenda but also our human future by negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

We would welcome the participation of the nuclear-armed states. But most of them have demonstrated their unwillingness to constructively engage let alone lead in such a process.

History shows that legal prohibitions of weapon systems—their possession as well as their use—facilitate their elimination. Weapons that have been outlawed increasingly become seen as illegitimate. They lose their political status and, along with it, the money and resources for their production, modernisation, proliferation, and perpetuation.

For us, the announcement of the next meeting in Vienna indicates a willingness amongst governments to move from a discussion about the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons to a discussion about what must be done to make sure they can never be used again.

Ridding the world of nuclear weapons will take courage. It will take leadership by states free of nuclear weapons. Show that leadership and you will have the support of civil society. It is time. It is time to change the status quo. It is time we ban nuclear weapons.



Campaigners Call on States to Start Discussions for an International Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

WHAT:
At the international conference in Mexico, states, international organisations and civil society will meet to discuss the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. This conference is a follow-up to the international conference held in Oslo, Norway in March 2013.

At this conference, campaigners are calling on states to start talks for an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

WHY:
If a nuclear weapon was detonated, either as a result of intentional use or by accident, the consequences would be catastrophic. International organisations have said that they could not provide an adequate response to deal with the humanitarian emergency that would ensue.

Yet nuclear weapons currently remain the only weapon of mass destruction that has not been outlawed.

Over the past 60 years there has been limited progress in addressing this issue, but now there is renewed momentum for and recognition that an international ban on nuclear weapons is both needed and possible – even without the participation of states that possess nuclear weapons.

WHO:
Delegates from more than 100 states as well as several UN organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross / Crescent (ICRC) and representatives of civil society are expected to participate in the conference.
For a detailed programme please see here: http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/images/stories/cih/draftprogram.pdf

WHERE:
The conference will take place is Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico.
For more information about the venue see here: http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/date-and-venue. The discussions will be streamed.

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 350 partner organizations in 81 countries, and was launched in 2007.
CONTACT: Daniela Varano, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
daniela@icanw.org, +41(0)78 726 26 45, @nuclearban

Quotes
"Addressing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons will enable governments to reinforce and implement the NPT's core disarmament obligations and prevent these inhumane weapons being used and proliferated."
Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Acronym Institute

"The ground has been shifting on nuclear weapons in the past couple of years. As they did in Oslo last March, governments will meet in Mexico to consider the facts about these weapons of mass destruction.

"The fact that these weapons burn, blind and poison indiscriminately. The fact that they destroy entire cities. The fact that there can be no meaningful humanitarian response for the victims. These facts must be the basis for all discussions on nuclear weapons and the only credible response is to start negotiations for an international treaty to ban them."

Thomas Nash, Article 36

"The unacceptable harm that nuclear weapons are able to inflict to civilians -- should a bomb detonate either by accident or by design -- makes achieving a treaty to declare these weapons illegal a humanitarian imperative."
Grethe Østern, Norwegian People's Aid

"The world's largest humanitarian organisation, the global Red Cross /Red Crescent movement, has confirmed what the World Health Organization also concluded after expert assessment: no capacity exists or is possible to respond to the overwhelming humanitarian needs if nuclear weapons are used.

"No health service in the world would be capable of dealing with the aftermath of even a single nuclear weapon exploded in a city. The vast majority of those injured would die without even any comfort or relief of their agonising pain.The only approach to the health effects of nuclear explosions is the prevention of nuclear war. This requires the prohibition and eradication of nuclear weapons."

Dr. Tilman Ruff, IPPNW


Nayarit Point of No Return:
Mexico Conference Marks Turning Point
Towards Nuclear Weapon Ban

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit Mexico (February 13-14, 2014) -- 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."

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.


Point of No Return:
Mexico Conference Marks
Turning Point for Ban

Reaching Critical Will

The Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, concluded today with overwhelming agreement that consequences of any use of these weapons would be more acute and more widespread than ever recognised before.

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.

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. States must take this opportunity when they meet in Vienna.


"Point of No Return"
John Loretz / Peace and Health Blog

(February 14, 2014) -- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is playing in the conference hall in Nayarit following the chair's declaration that this conference has been "the point of no return" in the humanitarian initiative to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

Without getting overly specific, he called for an appropriate process in an appropriate forum that would have the goal of a legally binding instrument that would outlaw nuclear weapons by the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The ICAN campaigners erupted into applause at the conclusion of his statement. This is exactly what we wanted coming into Mexico, and we can now leave knowing that the road to Austria has been clearly marked.

More details in a more sober mood later. Now off the the ICAN party!!

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