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Wasting no time in Nayarit

February 13, 2014
Setsuko Thurlow offers Hibakusha testimony

Setsuko Thurlow offers Hibakusha testimony

The Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons opened in Nayarit, Mexico this morning, and the initial speakers wasted no time in expressing their conviction that an understanding of what nuclear weapons can do requires that we ban and eliminate them.

If there was any lingering doubt that Mexico convened this conference as a springboard to action, that doubt was removed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, who said the abolition of nuclear weapons should have happened yesterday.

We heard testimonies from five Hibakusha from three generations, who offered their personal stories of surviving Hiroshima and Nagasaki and told how the experience had compelled them to work for a world without nuclear weapons. Setsuko Turlow, fighting back tears, said that she was overjoyed by the acceptance of this message in Nayarit, and appealed to the participating States that they leave the conference ready to begin work on a ban treaty.

The work of IPPNW on the medical consequences of nuclear war has already been cited more than once, with particular reference to the importance of our nuclear famine findings and the science on which it is based. Alan Robock, who was sitting in the civil society section and will present the data after lunch, is finally getting the recognition and validation that his work has deserved for some seven or eight years.

Tim Caughley of UNIDIR summed the morning up nicely by saying that in the journey from Oslo to Nayarit, “the groundwork has been laid, the case has been made, and the knowledge we have about nuclear weapons trumps all other considerations.” The time to decide what we do with this knowledge has come, he said, and “the Nayarit conference seems well poised to take us to that decision point.”

ICAN's Bea Fihn makes the case for civil society — and for the ban treaty

ICAN’s Bea Fihn makes the case for civil society — and for the ban treaty

Beatrice Fihn of WILPF and ICAN closed the session with a powerful statement about civil society’s role in getting us to Nayarit and about ICAN’s determination to pursue a nuclear weapons ban once we leave. The fact that we now know the next destination is Austria before the end of the year ensures that the momentum Bea described is only going to increase.

The only problem so far is internet connectivity. So many people in the room are trying to use WiFi all at once that the system has crashed. All thoughts of using Twitter have flown. I’m posting this from another location during the lunch break, and will try to have more at the end of the day.

Alan, Masao, and Ira are up this afternoon. This already feels like a big success.

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