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Nobel Peace Laureates Call for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

By J Nastranis

Image credit: World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.Image credit: World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

NEW YORK (IDN) – Ten Nobel Peace Laureates and 30 organisations bestowed that honour have expressed profound concern that 74 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons “continue to pose an existential threat to humankind”, reiterated the warning of “the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war”, and accentuated the need to strengthen basic freedoms. [2019-09-30]

In their Declaration titled ‘Make Your Mark for Peace’ emerging from the 17th Nobel Peace Summit, they also express “deep concern” over the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union. Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement was reached after 20 months of "arduous" negotiations.

The Nobel Peace Laureates are also vexed over the withdrawal of the United States and Russia from the 1987 Intermediate Forces (INF) Treaty – which gives precise definitions of the banned ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles: An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ground-launched ballistic or cruise missile having a range capability between 1,000 and 5,500 kilometres.

President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Treaty on December 8, 1987. It required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

The Treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and employ extensive on-site inspections for verification. As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty's implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

The Nobel Peace Laureates say, “threats to international peace do not come only from nuclear weapons”. They are extremely concerned about “escalating expenditure on conventional arms and the development of new and deadly weapons systems,” as the Declaration of the summit in Mérida, Mexico on September 22, 2019, states.

The Peace Laureates say they took note of the letter received from the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and fully support his call to “all leaders of nuclear-weapon powers to reaffirm without delay the proposition that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” and to “return to the negotiating table to agree on reducing and eliminating the nuclear arsenals”.

The Declaration implores in particular:

  • India and Pakistan to resolve their differences peacefully and to foreswear any use of nuclear weapons. “We call on the entire international community to help to avoid a nuclear disaster in South Asia”;
  • the international community to call on states to become parties to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW);
  • all states to implement to the full their obligations in terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to support the formal entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT);
  • all states to cut massively expenditure on armaments and to divest themselves of all weapons of mass destruction;
  • ban pre-emptively the use of fully autonomous weapons or “Killer Robots”. Weapons beyond human control would be by their very nature, illegal;
  • stop the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas;
  • all states to join and fully implement the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and on non-state actors to abide by the norms these conventions represent;
  • promote a policy of a nuclear weapons-free world, inviting countries and individuals to make strong commitments to reverse proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and
  • stress the need for transparent information and further education on the impact and status of nuclear weapons.

The Declaration also emphasises the need for “a renewed understanding of the concept of peace”. After the devastation of two World Wars and a series of ideological, religious and civil wars, the relative absence of war has been mistaken as the achievement of peace.

But the fact is that as long as basic freedoms are violated and gross corruption, violence, extreme poverty, inequality, racism, modern-day slavery and trafficking of persons, discrimination, and discrimination phobias exist, there can be no true peace. “We proclaim that true peace is inseparable from the achievement of true justice,” the Nobel Peace Laureates declare.

The ten Laureates who attended the summit in Mérida included: former President Frederik Willem De Klerk of South Africa; former President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia; and former President Lech Walesa of Poland.

Other participants were: Iranian human rights activist Dr Shirin Ebadi; Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman; Northern Irish politician Lord David Trimble; American political activist Prof Jody Williams, known for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; children's rights activist from India, Kailash Satyarthi; and political and human rights activist from Guatemala, Rigoberta Menchú. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 September 2019]

Image credit: World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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