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No boredom in Oslo: ICAN Civil Society Forum day 2

March 4, 2013

“We’ve been listening to the same story about nuclear weapons since the 1950s…and we’re getting bored.”

So said Jacob Romer of Germany, one of 10 ICAN campaigners from as many countries who talked about bringing the abolition message to their national decision makers and to the public during a fast-paced session on the closing day of ICAN’s civil society forum in Oslo.

Two things about Jacob: he’s barely into his twenties but is already a veteran of the abolition movement, having started as a teenager conducting interviews for NPT-TV some eight years ago; and he didn’t exactly stand out from the crowd of 500 people in the Chateau Neuf auditorium. This event has been characterized by a youthful energy among the participants and the organizers. In fact, the story of this forum may well be that a new generation has taken this issue to heart and is determined to rid the world of nuclear weapons now, so that they can get on with their lives without the threat of annihilation hanging over their heads.

Nothing boring about that!

Day two opened with an informative look at the ways in which the treaty making process has worked in other campaign contexts, including global warming, landmines, small arms, and human rights. This was a valuable opportunity to discuss the common problems faced by States and their civil society partners in developing international legal instruments, as well as the need for flexible — and sometimes different — strategies for achieving an effective outcome. These will be important issues to grapple with as we campaign for a treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, because of the need to break the deadlock that has been caused by the nuclear-weapons states and their unwillingness to engage in meaningful disarmament negotiations so far.

The conference closed on a very high note with presentations from campaigners in 10 different countries — all of them young, creative, excited, and determined to eliminate these weapons and the threat they pose to their futures. There was a palpable sense in the room that by combining the knowledge, experience, and commitment of long-time activists with the energy and impatience of those whose parents may not even have been born when nuclear weapons first came into the world, we might actually get the job done this time around.

Stay tuned.

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  1. Looking back at the week in Oslo | IPPNW peace and health blog

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