First day of negotiations “an historic and essential step”
Day 1 at the ban treaty negotiations:
ICAN campaigners on the floor of Conference Room 4 counted 115 states participating, a really encouraging number that we hope to increase during the week. After high-level opening statements delivered on behalf of the Secretary General and Pope Francis, and from UN High Representative of Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo, ICRC president Peter Maurer, and atomic bomb survivor Toshiko Fujimori, the conference heard opening statements from 24 individual states and five regional groupings. A list of states who spoke and copies of their statements, when available, are on the Reaching Critical Will website.
Peter Maurer, in his video message, said:
“The historic significance of this Conference cannot be overstated. More than seven decades after calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons were first made, States are finally meeting at global level to prohibit these weapons under international law.
“As with chemical and biological weapons, a clear and unambiguous prohibition is the cornerstone of their elimination. …So it is in the name of humanity that I appeal to delegates at this Conference to work with urgency and determination, to adopt a clear and unambiguous prohibition of nuclear weapons, grounded in international humanitarian law. In doing so, you will take an essential and historic step towards bringing the era of nuclear weapons to an end.”
Atomic bomb survivor, Mr. Toshiko Fujimori:
“Despite being the only country in the world that experienced the wartime use of nuclear weapons, the Japanese government voted against the UN resolution 71/258, which established this negotiating conference.
“As a Hibakusha, and as a Japanese, I am here today heartbroken. Yet, I am not discouraged.”
Fujimori noted that the international signature campaign initiated in April of last year by Hibakusha now has more than one million seven hundred twenty thousand signatures.
Just before the lunch break, the Future of Life organization presented an appeal to the president of the conference, Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica, signed by more than 3,000 scientists from 84 countries. Max Tegmark brought a really impressive posterboard version to the NGO room.
The statements from the delegations were almost all very constructive, and frequently offered very specific lists of substantive elements they would like to see in a ban treaty draft, very consistent with what ICAN has called for. Several delegations expressed concerns that the treaty language acknowledge the importance of the NPT, the CTBT and other agreements, be seen to complement and reinforce those, and not present an opportunity to withdraw from them. There was widespread agreement in the room that this could easily be done.
Those of us from IPPNW were especially happy to hear Venezuela cite nuclear famine findings in detail during its statement.
Japan was the big disappointment of the day, using its statement to reassert its adherence to the unproductive, step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that has led nowhere for decades, and announcing that Japan would not participate in the negotiations, a question that had remained open until yesterday.
I’ve already written about US ambassador Nikki Haley’s star turn on “Celebrity Moms for Nukes.” The photos showed her surrounded by diplomats who apparently represented supportive states, but as of last night we didn’t know who any of them were, and none of the likely states who were asked were willing to admit that they were there. Will let you (and their parents) know if we find any of them.