This working group highlights the connections between peace, climate protection, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and disarmament (especially nuclear disarmament).
The UN Charter (Article 26) recognises the connection between disarmament and sustainable development. Article 26 requires the UN to facilitate disarmament ‘in order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources.’
More recently the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that there can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development. In addition, Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, the disarmament agenda released in 2018 by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, outlines the links between disarmament and many of the SDGs.
Despite this, the global SDG communities and the global disarmament communities are generally separate with very little cooperation between them. The goal of this working group is to build such cooperation thus enhancing both issues – disarmament and sustainable development. This includes advancing the Climate – Nuclear Disarmament Nexus. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the working group has also addressed the connections between disarmament (including nuclear disarmament), public health and pandemics.
Climate – Nuclear Disarmament Nexus
The connections between climate change and nuclear weapons/disarmament include:
- The impacts of climate change emissions and the use of nuclear weapons are trans-border and transgenerational. They cannot be contained in either time nor space – impacting globally and far into the future.
- Neither issue can be resolved solely at national levels, but require international cooperation and the building of common security.
- Climate change stimulates conflicts that could spill over into nuclear conflict, while any use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict would create catastrophic climatic consequences, compounding the current impact of climate change emissions.
- The human and financial resources currently devoted to nuclear weapons are desperately required to instead be invested in assist carbon emission reduction and climate stabilisation.
These connections are expressed more fully in the PNND page The Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus, and in publications of PNND and World Future Council, such as:
- The Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Exploring the linages between the climate and nuclear threats. Released in November 2015, in time for the Paris Climate Change Conference and updated in April 2016 to reflect the outcomes of that conference as well as include updates on climate change litigation.
- Disarmament, climate and sustainable development, Chapter 5 of Assuring our Common Future, a parliamentary guide on disarmament for sustainable development.
Disarmament, public health and pandemics
Weapons testing, trade and use impact considerably people’s lives and wellbeing, killing or severely injuring hundreds of thousands of people annually. In addition, the high levels of human and economic resources invested in weapons deprive health and social systems of the resources needed for resilience and universality. The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased and accentuated this reality. As the pandemic began spreading around the world in early 2020, it became increasingly clear that societies in armed conflict, and those that had prioritised investment in military security, were less able to contain and address the pandemic than societies experiencing peace and social cohesion, and that had given priority to measures of human security and sustainable development, such as public health and education.
In March 2020, the UN Secretary general launched a global ceasefire initiative and provided additional support for UN special envoys to reinforce diplomatic action, help create conditions for the delivery of lifesaving aid, and bring support to populations that are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abolition 2000 and its members/affiliates have promoted these initiatives. One example is the Appeal for a Nuclear Weapon Free World which makes these links. Another example is the PNND webinar organised in November 2021 on Disarmament, public health, and pandemics.
Global week of action on Peace, Climate, SDGs and Nuclear Abolition
- Sep 21: UN International Day for Peace;
- Sep 23: UN Climate Summit;
- Sep 24-25: Summit on SDGs;
- Sep 26: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Together these dates comprise a Global week of action on peace, climate, SDGs and nuclear abolition. A principle focus of the working group is to promote cooperation amongst civil society, governments and the UN on observance of this week. In addition, there is an initiative led by Peace Accelerators to make UN International Day for Peace to be a global holiday.
For background and action ideas see Global Week for Peace, Climate, SDGs and Nuclear Abolition Sep 21-27 flyer and 7 Days to Save the Planet Sep 21-27, 2019.
In 2020, the objectives of the workig group were advanced through the establishment of a new platform #WeThePeoples2020: Our United Nations for
#WeThePeoples2020 brought together a network of civil society organisations making the links and building cooperation on key UN issues of peace, disarmament, the climate, sustainable development and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. A key focus of the network was a series of actions and events for civil society engagement in the period of UN High Level meetings from the International Day of Peace (Sep 21) until International Day for Non-violence (Oct 2).
#WeThePeoples2020 followed up the week of action with Protect People and the Planet: Appeal for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. The appeal calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for nuclear weapons budgets and investments to be re-directed to support the climate, COVID-19 recovery and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Click here to endorse the appeal.
Tasks of the working group
- To outreach to organisations working on peace, climate, SDGs an nuclear abolition to inform them of each other’s events and actions and encourage them to work together;
- To encourage those planning SDG events, campaigns and processes to include the disarmament agenda, and vice versa. See: Comprehensive list of SDG, peace and disarmament events in 2019 and 2020;
- To encourage civil society and governments to take action on any of the days of Global Week of Action on Peace, Climate, SDGs and Nuclear Abolition, and refer in their actions to both the main issue on which they are taking action and also to the other three related issues;
- To encourage the various UN departments responsible for managing these international observance dates to build cooperation in their promotion and events for the days.
Developments and progress
The PeoyongChang Global Peace Forum (PGPF), meeting on the first anniversay of the Korean Olmpic Peace initiative at the PeoyongChang Winter Olympics, adopted a Five-Point Action Plan which included Action 2: SDGs and disarmament and Action 5: Global Week for Peace, SDGS and Nuclear Disarmament.
The PGPF Action Plan provided the basis for the establishment of this Abolition 2000 working group, and serves as a basis for cooperation between Abolition 2000 and the participants of the PGPF.
For details see the PGPF 2019 Outcome Documents which include the Five-Point Action Plan.
UN Program of Action on a Culture of Peace
Peace, disarmament, climate protection and sustainable development should not be confined to the Global Week, but can be promoted any day of the year. In 1999, the UN adopted a Declaration and Program of Action for a Culture of Peace and followed this with an International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). The program of action, which was reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly again in 2018, calls on governments, civil society and UN bodies such as UNESCO to advance peace and nonviolence at all levels of society with a strong emphasis on peace education. It refers to a number of relevant UN days, but highlights in particular the International Day for Peace (September 21) and the International Day of Nonviolence (October 2).
On September 13, 2019 the UN will hold a High Level Political Forum on the Culture of Peace marking the 20th anniversary of the start of the Decade for a Culture of Peace.
Civil society platforms
- Peace One Day
Peace One Day is a global platform to share, find out about or join actions for Peace Day. In addition, Peace One Day will hold a major Peace Day event with civil society leaders and celebrities that will be live-streamed globally.
- UNFOLD Zero
UNFOLD Zero is a global platform for promoting United Nations initiatives for nuclear disarmament including the International Day fo the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and the International Day Against Nuclear Tests (August 29). UNFOLD Zero includes suggestions of actions that civil society can take to commemorate these days and advance nuclear abolition.
- Billion acts for peace
Billion Acts for Peace is a platform for listing peace actions and events on any day of the year.
Working group co-chairs
Anselmo Lee, PeoyongChang Global Peace Forum, Republic of Korea
Alyn Ware, Word Future Council, Basel Peace Office, New Zealand/Czech Republic
Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative, USA
Working group members
Jim Anderson, Peace Action New York, USA
Jutta Bertram Nothnagel, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, USA
John Burroughs, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, USA
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, Mayors for Peace, USA
Susanna Choe, Peace Accelerators, USA
Anthony Donovan, Catholic Worker, Veterans for Peace NY, USA
Melvin Hardy, Peace Action, USA
Jeffrey Huffines, UN2020/CIVICUS, USA
Frank Jackson, Abolition 2000 UK. Executive Committee, Labour Action for Peace. UK
Andrew Lichterman, Western States Legal Foundation, USA
Diane Perlman, Transcend, USA
Mounir Zahran, Council on Foreign Relations, Egypt
For more information or to join the working group contact Basel Peace Office