For those of you in or near NYC, or planning to be there around the NPT PrepCom, please consider attending this conference on Saturday, May 3. Peace Action is a co-sponsor, and Field Director Judith Le Blanc and PANYS Executive Director Alicia Godsberg will be among the speakers.
Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War
A Conference on the Centenary of World War I
Saturday, May 3, 2014 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Assembly Hall, Judson Memorial Church
229 Thompson St., Manhattan
South of Washington Square Park
9:30-11:00 Looking forward, looking backward: WWI, today’s risk of great power war, peace movements, and disarmament.
• Dr. Erhard Crome, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.
• Zia Mian, Princeton University.
• Andrew Lichterman, Western States Legal Foundation.
11:30-12:45 Risks of Great Power War: Regional Perspectives
• Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
• M.V. Ramana, Princeton University
• Irene Gendzier, Boston University.
12:45-1:45 Lunch (See registration information below)
1:45-3:00 The Risk of Great Power War: Regional perspectives: BRICs, Sub-Imperialisms, and Post-Cold War conflicts
• Michael Klare, Hampshire College
• Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies
• Paul Lansu, Pax Christi Europe.
3:00-4:15 Limits of the Moral Imagination: Industrialized Warfare, Moral Thresholds, and the Forgotten History of Arms Control:
John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Paul Walker, Global Green
Götz Nuneck Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg.
4:15-5:30 Disarmament Movements, Peace Movements, and What Is To Be Done.
• Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
• Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat
• Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
To Register: Write to Jennifer Sherys-Rivet at JSherysr@afsc.org. For more information, call 617-661-6130. (Lunch available with pre-registration $10)
Conference conveners and Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Peace and Economic Security Program; International Peace Bureau; and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its U.S. affiliates, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Western States Legal Foundation, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. Endorsing Organizations: Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, Peace Action
The Pentagon is ready to use a “slush fund” to do an end run on budget cuts. They will take some of the money for wars called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. And it is not the first time.
This year Congress agreed to the use of the OCO to save the Pentagon base budget from sequestration or the across- the- board budget cuts that are ransacking domestic programs. They plan to do the same thing next year.
There is no such “slush fund” to protect food stamps, transportation or public education.
The wars are coming to an end, yet the OCO is being ramped up.
We need Congress to put an end to these budget shenanigans. No more behind the scenes, back room deals to protect the Pentagon budget!.
57% of the annual federal discretionary budget goes to the Pentagon, and the U.S. spends almost as much on the military as the rest of the world. Time to have a transparent debate on national spending priorities. We need to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund invest in jobs, human needs and diplomacy!
Readers discuss what kind of armed forces we need to face the threats of the 21st century.
To the Editor:
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s plan to reduce the size of the Army is a step in the right direction. It underscores the fact that waging a large-scale ground war in Iraq and a major counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan were tragic mistakes that should not be repeated.
Critics of the proposal will argue that it will hobble our ability to wage two ground wars at once, without acknowledging that it was not in our interest to do so in the early 2000s and will not be in our interest to do so in the foreseeable future, if ever. This is particularly true with respect to the current situation in Ukraine, where it makes no sense for the United States to take military action regardless of the size of our armed forces.
I hope that Mr. Hagel’s move will set off a larger debate: What kind of armed forces do we need to face the most likely threats of the 21st century?
Given that the most urgent threats we face, from climate change to cyberattacks, cannot be solved with military force, we should substantially downsize our armed forces across the board and invest some of the resulting savings in diplomacy, targeted economic assistance and other nonmilitary foreign policy tools.
WILLIAM D. HARTUNG
New York, March 4, 2014
The writer is director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
Mr. Hartung poses an important question — what sort of armed forces do we need to deal with 21st-century threats to the United States? — and leaps to unwarranted conclusions in trying to provide an answer.
His assertion that it will not be in our interest to wage simultaneous large ground wars “in the foreseeable future, if ever” is particularly brazen. Can he state with confidence that the complex and evolving geopolitics of this century will not produce a situation in which the United States must take on two large adversaries at once? I might on the contrary suggest that the relative decline of America, along with the rise of China and other assertive new powers, makes such a situation increasingly plausible.
Mr. Hartung claims that the most significant threats of the present and future, “from climate change to cyberattacks, cannot be solved with military force.” It is true that larger numbers of soldiers will not solve these problems. But dealing with cyberattacks, for example, requires not a diminution of military forces but a repurposing of those forces to take on new foes in new ways.
Climate change is not in itself a military problem, but science tells us that it will likely lead to a world of overstretched resources, increased natural disasters and displaced populations — a world, that is, in which wars and conflicts are ever more likely to break out. This is not a convincing argument for a reduction in the armed forces.
It is common sense to think about the future security challenges we face, and how best to adapt to them; but it is nonsense to assume that, in the 21st century, we no longer have to worry about land wars and threats of a more traditional nature.
DAVID A. McM. WILSON
Brookline, Mass., March 5, 2014
The true issue that should be addressed is not whether we can fight one small war or two but rather, under our nation’s current financial constraints, whether we can continue to afford our existing military establishment. If we opt for the quick solution of fewer “boots on the ground,” it will simply further reduce our capability to respond militarily in settings varying from local weather disasters to major geopolitical conflicts.
What is really required is an attack by the Defense Department on the gross overlapping of military responsibilities, and the concomitant bureaucratic conflicts, delays and simple waste of scarce financial and human resources.
Numerous obvious opportunities exist. Does the Army treat wounds differently from the Navy? Does a chaplain say Mass differently in the Air Force? Are the rules for procurement different? If not, why are these functions not consolidated?
Indeed, does there remain any logic, other than simple hubris, for separate services?
FRANKLIN L. GREENE
Loudon, Tenn., March 5, 2014
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.
I agree that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plan to draw down the Army is a step in the right direction. As Mr. Hartung says, the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were catastrophic mistakes that should not be repeated, so there is no reason to keep the Army at its current size.
But even if we did repeat those mistakes in the future — sadly, not a wholly implausible prospect, given that less than 30 years separated the fall of Saigon from our invasion of Afghanistan — that possibility would still not be an argument for keeping the Army at its present size. Historically, we’ve drawn down our forces after wars, without thinking that we weren’t going to have similar wars in the future. When we decided to go to war again, we increased the size of the Army again.
Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy
Urbana, Ill., March 5, 2014
The proposed reduction in troop levels could be the beginning of a new direction of American foreign policy by reducing our capacity for ground wars and occupations. If the reductions were enacted, it would restrict future presidents from pursuing land wars, which would be welcomed by a war-weary public.
Unfortunately, the debate over reducing troop levels is usually derailed by fear mongering on national security. Never has the argument supporting troop reductions been stronger.
The Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon’s strategy document, issued this month, outlines an approach that relies on multilateral military actions, with allies as partners in addressing security issues or natural disasters.
National security and most pressing global issues, such as the climate crisis or cyberattacks or civil conflicts, cannot be solved through military action, or through the action of one country alone. Multilateral action and cooperation are crucial. The situation in Ukraine is yet another example of that reality.
JUDITH LE BLANC
New York, March 5, 2014
The writer is the field director for Peace Action.
Mr. Hartung asks, “What kind of armed forces do we need to face the most likely threats of the 21st century?”
If this had been asked a hundred years ago, in March 1914, what would the answer have been? No one knew that World War I would soon break out, nor could anyone have anticipated World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan or any other military actions that we have been involved in.
Besides, unanticipated world events that changed our military needs have arisen without warning, or our ability to control them — the Communist revolutions in Russia and China, the violent tensions in the Middle East. Is there any reason to think that war game policy planners can find the answer to Mr. Hartung’s question today?
Do we still wish to be a world power, and, if so, what defines that role today and tomorrow? This is what we need to ask before we determine the new size of our armed forces.
Easton, Pa., March 5, 2014
The writer is a professor of sociology at Lafayette College.
The Writer Responds
The responses strike a good balance in asking not just how large our armed forces should be, but also how we should prepare for an uncertain future and what role the United States should play in the world.
Mr. Wilson asserts that it is “increasingly plausible” that the United States might have to fight two large adversaries at once. But he does not say who those adversaries might be. No American leader would be reckless enough to engage in a land war against Russia or China, and there are no other large adversaries on the horizon.
Mr. Schneiderman points out that it is extremely hard to predict the next war. But the most damaging and costly American wars of the past half century — Vietnam and Iraq — should have never been fought. Opponents of these conflicts rightly predicted that they would have disastrous consequences. And as Mr. Naiman indicates, the United States has increased the size of our forces at times of war rather than keeping the Army on a permanent war footing between conflicts. Uncertainty is not a valid reason for giving the Pentagon nearly half a trillion dollars a year.
American foreign policy needs to move beyond a narrow focus on military solutions and invest more in civilian institutions and programs that can help address pressing problems like extreme poverty, climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. The United States can’t be the world’s policeman, but it can be a leader in addressing the most urgent threats to America and the world.
Here’s an easy quiz for you. According to an article in the Washington Post over the weekend , the Obama Administration is considering four options regarding leaving U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year. What do you think the number should be?
A. 10,000 (favored by U.S. military commanders, unsurprisingly)
B. A somewhat smaller number, unspecified
VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013
By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director
The International Peace Bureau’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is April 15, US Tax Day. Peace Action is convening a cross section of peace and community, faith-based national groups who are supporting local actions across the country on Tax Day. Tax Day will be a day to shine a light on the Pentagon budget and how it drains the resources needed for our communities.
Not only does our government allocate a majority of the discretionary spending every year on the Pentagon at the expense of human needs and diplomacy, it also is one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.
The Tax Day actions are a call for changing national spending priorities, it is also a day of solidarity with all those who suffer from US wars past and present and the presence of over 1,000 bases around the world. The actions will call attention to the domestic impact of continuing to pour money into the Pentagon budget while community services are cut.
The recent Congressional budget deal delayed the next round of ”sequestration” or across the board budget cuts. Federal budget cuts were made but the Pentagon came out the big winner. In fact, the Overseas Contingency Operations account got bumped up while the war in Afghanistan is winding down creating a slush fund to blunt the impact of cuts!
Initial reports are that the Pentagon will announce their budget on February 24 and will include a $26-28 billion dollar “investment fund.” Yet another maneuver to add money to the budget and relieve the pressure to cut the Pentagon budget!
The April 15 Tax Day local actions will focus on Congress. In April, the Congress will be in the midst of working on the federal budget.
We will send a clear message to our Congressional representatives: ”Move the Money” from wars and weapons to human services and convert military industries into civilian use.
We have commitments from 10 Peace Action affiliates to work with their community allies to organize Congressional lobby visits, town hall meetings, and vigils, leafleting, banner drops or other visibility actions. Please post your event here.
Soon a US website will be up with materials, information and organizing tips. Find out more about what is going on around the world at http://demilitarize.org/
For more information email: JLeBlanc@peace-action.org.
Last week, we asked you to contact the Senate to oppose new economic sanctions on Iran, which could scuttle the promising nuclear deal and lead to the unthinkable, another Middle East war. The good news is the bill, S. 1881 sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), is not moving forward to a vote in the Senate, even though it has 59 co-sponsors. Your calls have made a difference; White House and Senate staffers have expressed appreciation for our grassroots pressure (so don’t let anyone tell you your voice doesn’t count anymore in Washington!).
Unfortunately (but as we suspected), the Republican House leadership is considering a vote to pass the Senate sanctions bill’s language. We need to head this off with a nonviolent “pre-emptive strike” on the House!
Please call your U.S. Representative now at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927)* and tell her or him no new Iran sanctions, don’t undermine diplomacy.
You can reference the Menendez (D-NJ) – Kirk (R-IL) Senate bill, that you don’t want that language passed in the House, but it’s not necessary. You can just tell your Representative you want no new sanctions on Iran. The U.S. and its allies agreed not to sanction Iran further while negotiations over its nuclear program are ongoing, so Congress should stay out of this and support diplomacy. It’s that simple.
Humbly for Peace,
P.S. I’m sure you are busy, but one phone call to your Representative, toll-free, at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927)* telling her or him to give diplomacy a chance and oppose any new sanctions on Iran, will make a huge difference, as it already has!
*Toll-free number generously supplied by the Friends Committee on National Legislation
When it comes to war, the American public is remarkably fickle.
The responses of Americans to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provide telling examples. In 2003, according to opinion polls, 72 percent of Americans thought going to war in Iraq was the right decision. By early 2013, support for that decision had declined to 41 percent. Similarly, in October 2001, when U.S. military action began in Afghanistan, it was backed by 90 percent of the American public. By December 2013, public approval of the Afghanistan war had dropped to only 17 percent.
In fact, this collapse of public support for once-popular wars is a long-term phenomenon. Although World War I preceded public opinion polling, observers reported considerable enthusiasm for U.S. entry into that conflict in April 1917. But, after the war, the enthusiasm melted away. In 1937, when pollsters asked Americans whether the United States should participate in another war like the World War, 95 percent of the respondents said “No.”
And so it went. When President Truman dispatched U.S. troops to Korea in June 1950, 78 percent of Americans polled expressed their approval. By February 1952, according to polls, 50 percent of Americans believed that U.S. entry into the Korean War had been a mistake. The same phenomenon occurred in connection with the Vietnam War. In August 1965, when Americans were asked if the U.S. government had made “a mistake in sending troops to fight in Vietnam,” 61 percent of them said “No.” But by August 1968, support for the war had fallen to 35 percent, and by May 1971 it had dropped to 28 percent.
Of all America’s wars over the past century, only World War II has retained mass public approval. And this was a very unusual war – one involving a devastating military attack upon American soil, fiendish foes determined to conquer and enslave the world, and a clear-cut, total victory.
In almost all cases, though, Americans turned against wars they once supported. How should one explain this pattern of disillusionment?
The major reason appears to be the immense cost of war — in lives and resources. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, as the body bags and crippled veterans began coming back to the United States in large numbers, public support for the wars dwindled considerably. Although the Afghanistan and Iraq wars produced fewer American casualties, the economic costs have been immense. Two recent scholarly studies have estimated that these two wars will ultimately cost American taxpayers from $4 trillion to $6 trillion. As a result, most of the U.S. government’s spending no longer goes for education, health care, parks, and infrastructure, but to cover the costs of war. It is hardly surprising that many Americans have turned sour on these conflicts.
But if the heavy burden of wars has disillusioned many Americans, why are they so easily suckered into supporting new ones?
A key reason seems to be that that powerful, opinion-molding institutions – the mass communications media, government, political parties, and even education – are controlled, more or less, by what President Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex.” And, at the outset of a conflict, these institutions are usually capable of getting flags waving, bands playing, and crowds cheering for war.
But it is also true that much of the American public is very gullible and, at least initially, quite ready to rally ‘round the flag. Certainly, many Americans are very nationalistic and resonate to super-patriotic appeals. A mainstay of U.S. political rhetoric is the sacrosanct claim that America is “the greatest nation in the world” – a very useful motivator of U.S. military action against other countries. And this heady brew is topped off with considerable reverence for guns and U.S. soldiers. (“Let’s hear the applause for Our Heroes!”)
Of course, there is also an important American peace constituency, which has formed long-term peace organizations, including Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and other antiwar groups. This peace constituency, often driven by moral and political ideals, provides the key force behind the opposition to U.S. wars in their early stages. But it is counterbalanced by staunch military enthusiasts, ready to applaud wars to the last surviving American. The shifting force in U.S. public opinion is the large number of people who rally ‘round the flag at the beginning of a war and, then, gradually, become fed up with the conflict.
There would certainly be less disillusionment, as well as a great savings in lives and resources, if more Americans recognized the terrible costs of war before they rushed to embrace it. But a clearer understanding of war and its consequences will probably be necessary to convince Americans to break out of the cycle in which they seem trapped.
Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com), syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is “What’s Going On at UAardvark?” (Solidarity Press), a satirical novel about campus life.
By Harry Wang and Rebecca Griffin
Special to The Bee
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 – 12:00 am
We all know that Congress has a lower approval rating than cockroaches and the much-maligned rock band Nickelback. Now we can add another thing to the more-popular-than-Congress list: the recently negotiated deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. This historic diplomatic achievement has widespread support from the American public. The question now is whether Congress will ruin a popular plan that Americans understand is the right one.
Sacramento-area Rep. Ami Bera can have a powerful voice on this issue as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He should use it to support the negotiations and ensure his colleagues don’t scuttle a long-term diplomatic deal.
If you want to avert war and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, it’s hard not to like this first-step deal negotiated between the United States and its partners and Iran. In exchange for modest sanctions relief, Iran reins in its nuclear activity, making it much more difficult to get anywhere near a nuclear weapon. Its facilities will be open to daily inspections, the most intensive inspections program ever. This deal offers an opportunity to build confidence on both sides as they work toward a more permanent arrangement that will make the world safer.
Smart people around the world are lining up behind this reasonable, realistic approach to addressing nuclear proliferation concerns. The deal was negotiated with major allies such as Britain and France who have been part of the administration’s ongoing pressure campaign on Iran. Experts from Brent Scowcroft to Madeleine Albright to a group of former U.S. ambassadors to Israel have lined up in support.
Still, there are people who resemble those stalwart Nickelback fans, raising their lighters to the old song about bombing Iran. Some can be dismissed as delusional, like Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com, who described a deal that largely skews toward U.S. interests as “worse than Munich.” But there are people with actual power in Congress who are tenaciously working to undermine this deal.
Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are trying to push through another round of sanctions despite opposition from the Obama administration. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., described the deal as dangerous and may bring a bill to the floor this week to put unwieldy restrictions on the agreement and undermine the diplomatic process. We’re still waiting for any of these opponents to offer a viable alternative.
It might be tolerable to let these members of Congress spout their hawkish rhetoric if the situation weren’t so delicate. The United States and Iran are working through decades of tension. The countries have talked more in the past three months than in the last three decades. Congressional belligerence will empower hard-liners in Iran who want to scuttle negotiations and could shatter the fragile trust that is being built.
If that trust is shattered, sanctions alone won’t stop Iran’s enrichment program and pressure will increase for U.S. military action. Every member of Congress who acts to undermine the current diplomatic process is tacitly supporting either allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium unobserved or launching a costly military attack that experts believe would at best only delay Iran’s nuclear program.
As White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed out, “The American people justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this agreement, if it’s achieved, has the potential to do that. The alternative is military action.”
After the diplomatic Hail Mary to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and this historic agreement with Iran, the American people are finally getting a chance to see diplomacy work. It turns out they like it, as polls show the public supporting the deal by a 2-to-1 ratio and wanting Congress to hold off on new sanctions. The lack of appetite for another war after more than a decade of fighting is abundantly clear.
If this deal is going to turn into a stable long-term solution, there are tough months of negotiating ahead. Congressional leaders must step up and do everything they can to make that process a success. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have expressed their support for a deal. Feinstein said she is baffled that Congress would think of ratcheting up sanctions at this time.
In an embarrassingly misinformed hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Bera exceeded the low bar set by his colleagues by acknowledging that we have to at least try negotiating with Iran. But the political moment calls for more forceful leadership in favor of smart diplomacy.
Dr. Harry Wang is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento. Rebecca Griffin is the political director of Peace Action West.
‘Iraq Replay’: Kerry Demands Immunity for US Troops in Afghanistan
Suraia Sahar: ‘Immunity is just another extension of occupation’
- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
US troops set out on a patrol in Paktika province, Afghanistan. There are currently 87,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including 52,000 U.S. troops.(Photo: David Furst/AFP/Getty Images)Secretary of State John Kerry is demanding immunity for U.S. military service members in Afghanistan as a precondition for a ‘bi-lateral security agreement,’ which would allow 10,000 U.S. troops in the country past the 2014 withdrawal date.
Critics are slamming this as another example of U.S. refusal to account for war crimes as it pushes for continuing military occupation in Afghanistan. “I don’t believe these occupiers should be protected from prosecution for war crimes,” Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice told Common Dreams. “Immunity is just another extension of occupation.”
U.S. officials say that jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. service members in Afghanistan remains an unresolved potential deal-breaker in negotiations whose most recent round started late Friday. Karzai stated that he will refer the issue of immunity to the loya Jirga, a body of elders and leaders in Afghanistan.
On the U.S. side, in contrast, the agreement does not have to be run by the Senate, because it is made with executive powers, Al Jazeera Americareports.
The issue of immunity for U.S. troops has long been a point of contention for the Afghan people in a U.S.-led occupation characterized by a staggering civilian death toll and high-profile atrocities. The 2012 Panjwai massacre, in which 16 Afghan civilians were gunned down and killed, and 6 wounded by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, added fuel to calls from within Afghanistan for those accused of war crimes to stand trial in Afghanistan. Despite these demands, Bales was whisked out of Afghanistan to face trial in the U.S.
“This has been brewing for a while,” Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, toldCommon Dreams. “This is what they were trying to do in Iraq, but the U.S. couldn’t get Iraq to agree. This is almost an exact replay.”
Kerry sought to assure the Afghan government that the U.S. will thoroughly prosecute war crimes, drawing on similar agreements in South Korea and Japan where immunity exists.
Yet, critics scoffed at these examples. “These are not very good agreements,” Martincontinued. “The people of Okinawa are furious at rape and sexual assault by U.S. troops.”
“This is part of our country’s sickness and addiction to militarism,” he added. “There is no reason the people of Afghanistan should accept immunity.”
Many hope that the disagreement over immunity will hasten a U.S. withdrawal from an occupation that continues to bring death and destruction to the people of Afghanistan. “It’s in the best interest of Americans and Afghans for US troops to withdraw as soon as possible. The Afghan people must have the space to decide their own future,” Rebecca Griffin from Peace Action West told Common Dreams. “The disagreement about jurisdiction over US troops may help speed along that process.”
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Exciting news from Peace Action’s sister organization Gensuikyo!
The delegation of Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) in New York met Ms. Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi of Lybia, the Chair of the First Committee, on October 9 respectively and submitted them 3,286,166 signatures in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons”.
The chair encouraged the delegation’s activity, saying that he would report to the First Committee that he received the signatures representing the voice of civil society in favor of a world without nuclear weapons.
The following is the “Letter to the United Nations and Member Governments”. Based on the letter, the delegation is actively meeting with the delegations of nuclear weapons states, governments of Non-Aligned Movement and New Agenda Coalition, etc.
The delegation meets with UN High Representative Angela Kane.
Letter to the United Nations and Member Governments October 7, 2013
Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo)
We cordially extend our heartfelt greetings to the officials of the United Nations and the representatives of national government delegations. We express our high respect to you for your tireless effort to realize the ideals of the U.N. Charter.
First of all, we are pleased to report to you that the number of signatures we have been collecting in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” have reached 3,286,166 as of today. These signatures include those of 1,167 mayors and deputy mayors as well as 859 speakers and vice-speakers of local assemblies.
This signature campaign started on February 15, 2011, in response to the agreement reached at the NPT Review Conference of May 2010 to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The petition calls on “all governments to enter negotiations without delay on a convention banning nuclear weapons.” Through the signature campaign, we are trying to further develop public support for a total ban on nuclear weapons, and to demonstrate their desire, we will submit the collected signatures to the 9th NPT Review Conference in 2015.
We also would like to inform you that the 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs held from August 3 to 9 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki achieved a great success, with the participation of about 10,000 people, including 89 overseas delegates from 20 countries. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane kindly sent messages of support, and many heads of states and senior government officials sent their messages or representatives to the Conference. Taking this opportunity, we again express our sincere gratitude to the U.N. and these governments for their warm support and solidarity extended to the World Conference against A and H Bombs.
The International Meeting of the 2013 World Conference unanimously adopted the Declaration of the International Meeting. Having been held in the A-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki since 1955, the World Conference once again focused on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The “Declaration” pointed out that “the use of nuclear weapons is a serious crime against humanity” and stated, “they have to be banned without any further delay.”
The “Declaration” called on all governments, and those of the nuclear weapon states in particular, to implement the agreement for “achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” by starting negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention as the framework of it.
Now that 68 years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the world there are only 9 countries possessing nuclear weapons. Out of 189 States parties to the NPT, 184 countries have placed themselves an obligation not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons as the “non-nuclear weapon states.” The four countries of them, including those not parties to the NPT, too, express their support to the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.
Now is the time that the United Nations, with the founding objective “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” should play its role and the nuclear superpowers in particular must fulfill their due responsibility.
In light of the above, we hereby request all government delegations to make special efforts in the current session of the United Nations, to confirm that the use of nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity, build a consensus on a total ban on nuclear weapons and agree to start negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention as the legally-binding “framework” to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons”.
Last but not least, what would guarantee international peace and security of peoples of the world is not nuclear weapons, but their abolition and the rule of peace under the U.N. Charter. Attempts to legitimate nuclear weapons as the “guarantee of security” or “deterrence” would only encourage nuclear possession and proliferation, which may lead to a second or third Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use must be known to the world, especially to the future generations. To this end, we ask all the governments to cooperate in our efforts to inform and educate people of the world about the damage caused by nuclear weapons, through the testimonies of the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the victims of nuclear tests as well as photo exhibitions on the A-bomb damage.