Above: “Campaign Director, Aaron Tovish (right), addresses the UN-ODA and UNfold Zero event to mark the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. From left to right: Mr. Alyn Ware of PNND; Amb. Triyono Wibowo of Indonesia; Ms. Anda FIlip of IPU: Mr. Ivor Fung and Ms. Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack of UN-ODA.“
September 26th marked the first ever International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The day was initiated to help build public support for the UN’s First Committee resolution of a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to be scheduled ‘no later than 2018.’
The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs and UNFOLD ZERO, (of which the 2020 Vision Campaign is a partner) decided to mark the event a day early because many disarmament diplomats leave Geneva after the final Thursday session of the Conference on Disarmament. The event, co-sponsored by several organizations, heard from the Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, the Inter Parliamentary Union, a representative of OPANAL, and the Ambassadors of Indonesia, Kazahkstan, Mexico, and New Zealand. Naturally, Mayors for Peace were keen to mark this historic event, with Aaron Tovish, Campaign Director of Mayors for Peace, invited to address the gathering. Here he spoke passionately about the two compelling reasons cities are determined to contribute to the success of the 2018 High-Level Conference.
The first reason is well known: Nuclear weapons are the most effective means of destroying cities and slaughtering their inhabitants. The second reason is that nuclear warfare make cities the unwilling agents of catastrophic climate disruption. After a nuclear detonation, the thousands of small fires ignited by the blast and fireball, coalesce into a vast firestorm that completely incinerates the core of the city in a matter of hours. The super-high temperature of the conflagration propels a dense column of smoke up into the stratosphere. Climatologists can tell us the likely impact of the smoke from 100 Hiroshima-sized firestorms on global temperatures and precipitation; using these projections, agronomists can tell us the likely impact on crop productions and prices; in turn, nutritionists can tell us the impact on people currently living hand-to-mouth and on countries heavily dependent on food imports.
The use of as few as twenty modern nuclear weapons against large metropolises would kill about 10 million people outright, while the global toll would climb during the next two decades of climate disruption to 1-2 billion.
Cities are thus in a strong position to warn the world about the extraordinary recklessness of maintaining nuclear arsenals, and to condemn the gross negligence of the nuclear powers in not assiduously pursuing their elimination. The 2020 Vision Campaign is dedicated to eliciting good faith efforts by all countries for the establishment of a nuclear weapon free world.
The fate of children was the topic of the Friday press briefing organized by the UN-Accredited Correspondents Association (ACANU) on the 2020 Vision Campaign’s “I was her age.” Project. The project was introduced to journalists by Aaron Tovish, and then by Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat via skype, who had marked the day in Tokyo with a students’ seminar on “Can we really achieve nuclear disarmament?” in which the “I was her age.” project was introduced to the invited Japanese media.
Both media events featured the five cities which have already agreed to host the “I was her age.” Hibakusha when they visit their country during next year’s 87th Global Peace Voyage of the Peace Boat. They are, in the order they will be visited: Kochi, India; Gonfréville l’Orcher, France: Ypres, Belgium; Gdansk, Poland; and St, Petersburg, Russia. It is anticipated that the number of host cities will be doubled by the end of November. A brief video message from the Mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, was played for the journalists. (This can be viewed on the Project’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/IWasHerAge)
By the time of the 2nd International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons next September, the Peace Boat and social media aspects of the “I was her age.” Project will have been wrapped up. Hopefully, this activity will have succeeded in drawing even greater attention to the 70th anniversary commemorations of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And also hopefully, an international coproduction team will be hard at work editing a feature-length documentary of the Project to be premiered in early 2016.