UNFOLD ZERO thanks everyone who took action on September 26 to commemorate the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The variety and scope of actions around the world was inspiring. Here we report on a few of them. And we give a short update on what’s happening on nuclear abolition at the United Nations.
Public actions – how many nukes in the world?
On September 26, nuclear abolition campaigners took to the streets to ask people ‘How many nuclear weapons do you think are in the world?’ and ‘How many nuclear weapons should there be?’ UNFOLD ZERO showed a compilation video of some of these responses in the United Nations.
Parliamentarians around the world added their support to the nuclear abolition day through joint statements, parliamentary resolutions, video messages and social media promotion. In the European Parliament, members from six of the seven political groups in parliament signed a joint statement welcoming the day, highlighting ‘the risk that these weapons could be used by accident, miscalculation or intent especially in times of heightened conflict;’ and ‘urging the EU Council to discuss and adopt a sound Common Position well ahead of the 2015 nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review conference which aims to initiate complete nuclear disarmament. In North East Asia, parliamentarians from Japan and the Republic of Korea (from government and opposition) signed a similar joint statement. Parliaments in several other countries adopted resolutions supporting the day. The Inter Parliamentary Union (166 member parliaments including those of most of the nuclear-armed States) adopted a resolution which supports the day and released a statement calling on parliamentarians to join the UNFOLD ZERO campaign.
UN commemoration event in Geneva
UNFOLD ZERO organised a commemoration event at the United Nations in Geneva that was cosponsored by the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs; the governments of Indonesia, Kazakhstan and New Zealand; and around 100 non-governmental organisations and networks engaged in peace, disarmament, human rights, environment, interfaith, democracy and sustainable development. The event included the presentation of parliamentary statements and resolutions supporting the day to the Director-General of the United Nations. The event was supposed to preview the movie ‘The Man Who Saved the World’ – a documentary about an incident on Sep 26, 1983 in which we nearly had a nuclear weapons exchange through faulty communications technology. A fault in the equipment at the UN commemoration event set off fire alarms and prevented the movie preview from being shown. It also reinforced the argument that nuclear disaster could still occur through accident or faulty technical equipment (see ‘To disarm’ must be in present tense, says senior UN rep in Geneva).
UN events in New York
Sep 26: Indonesia chaired an informal 3-hour session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to commemorate the day. The session was primarily for government statements. However, UNFOLD ZERO presented in one of the two NGO speaking slots. Click here to see the inspiring video of the presentation of Jonathan Granoff on behalf of UNFOLD ZERO.
Oct 28: UNFOLD ZERO organised a follow-up event at the UN to report on the International Day and to discuss new approaches and initiatives at the UN for nuclear disarmament. The event was co-sponsored by the governments of Costa Rica, Finland, Indonesia and Kazakhstan and by the NGO Committee on Disarmament. It focused on new opportunities at the UN Security Council, the upcoming UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, the proposal to criminalise nuclear weapons through the International Criminal Court and the Nuclear Zero case in the International Court of Justice.
Nuclear abolition campaigners around the world organised a variety of other events to commemorate the day. This included workshops, exhibitions, nuclear abolition bike-rides, origami crane-folding, concerts, film showings, a twitter campaign directed to US President Obama, and media promotion. Click here to read about some of these events.
The UN General Assembly met during the month of October to consider a range of peace and disarmament proposals and resolutions. Amongst these was the Report of the UN Secretary-General on ‘Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations’, following up the UN Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament (OEWG), and a resolution by the same title that was adopted by the overwhelming majority of 152 in favour, 4 against and 22 abstentions. Proposals discussed in the OEWG included a nuclear weapons convention and a ‘building blocks’ approach. UNFOLD ZERO partners PNND and the Global Security Institute held a session on the building blocks approach. See Using “Building Blocks” To Construct a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.