On September 19th International Association of Peace Messenger Cities organizes International Live Streaming event for the fourth time. As in previous years, youth from various parts of the world will have an unique opportunity to meet their peers from different countries. One of the main aims of the UN’s International Day of Peace is to commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. In the upcoming weeks, viewers will be able to watch on IAPMC YouTube channel ( www.youtube.com/user/IAPMC ) videos from celebrations of this event.
As the President of IAPMC I would like to inform you about misery and tragedy that touched Bosnia and Herzegovina. The capital – the city of Sarajevo is a member of the International Association of Peace Messengers Cities since 2005, and actively participates in all meetings and initiatives of the Association. For many years we meet with representatives of Sarajevo in conferences organized by our Association.
In recent weeks, floods and landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused damage which effects will be dealt which for many years. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands were left with no roof over head. Therefore, I feel obliged to notify all the member cities of the Association of the tragedy which touched the country whose capital is one of the member of IAPMC.
I appeal with fervent request to assistance to victims in the cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the degree that you can. All interested in providing assistance in property or finance, kind or financial, please contact the city of Sarajevo: e-mail: email@example.com, tel. +387 33 214 841, fax +387 33 208 341.
Yours in Peace,
The President of the IAPMC- Płońsk, POLAND
Honorable Mayors of the Peace Messenger Cities, Members of the IAPMC,
Over the past few months we have had an opportunity to be witnesses of the dramatic events which have taken place in Ukraine. Dire events in Kiev’s Maidan led to death of over 70 people. As the President of the IAPMC I believe that only dialogue between all parties concerned is able to prevent further escalation of violence. IAPMC strongly condemns all acts of violence aimed at civilians. In the interest of the whole world is to stabilize the situation in the Ukraine. In the face of this situation it is extremely important to support civil society.
Therefore, I appeal to all cities – Messengers of Peace, to commemorate the victims that have died so far. We should remember that even the simplest gestures of solidarity can mean
a lot for this country trying to recover from a deep crisis.
Yours in Peace,
President of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities
Report from Nayarit Conference
Ray Acheson, Beatrice Fihn, and Katherine Harrison*
Momentum for a ban
“Nayarit is a point of no return,” concluded the Chair of the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held from 13–14 February in Nayarit, Mexico. In his summary of the meeting, he called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally-binding instrument. The time has come, he argued, for a diplomatic process to reach this goal, within a specified timeframe. He called for this process to conclude by the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This summary, coupled with the announcement by the Austrian government before the conference that it will host the next meeting in the humanitarian initiative, marks a turning point in the process to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. During the conference itself, the vast majority of the 146 governments present demanded concrete political and legal action against nuclear weapons, with more than ever before calling specifically for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
As with Oslo before it, the conference in Nayarit exposed nuclear weapons as dangerous and destructive. The evidence presented by UN agencies, academics, former military officials, and civil society organizations clearly revealed that the continued possession and deployment of nuclear weapons is a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with the future of humanity and the planet.
The expert panelists presented information and analysis on the likely impact of a nuclear weapons detonation on economic and social infrastructure, public health, the climate, agriculture, and more. They also assessed the risk of the use of nuclear weapons, either by accident or design. The conclusion of these panels was overwhelmingly clear: the immediate and long-term effects of even a single nuclear weapon detonation, let alone a nuclear exchange, would be catastrophic.
The evidence presented also demonstrated that the mere existence of nuclear weapons generates great risk. Some of the studies presented at the conference explored numerous instances where the incidence of an accidental nuclear detonation has hung on a razor’s edge. Such accidents are only made possible, however, because the military doctrines of the nuclear-armed states and some of their allies require preparations for the deliberate use of nuclear weapons—in many cases within minutes of an order being given.
Yet some of these countries continue to believe that nuclear weapons bring them security and stability. Despite the evidence about the horror, instability, and injustice generated by nuclear weapons, a handful of nuclear-dependent states such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, and Turkey spoke with trepidation about any new initiatives to confront the challenges posed by nuclear weapons. Signaling once again their inclination to stand outside the growing norm in favor of taking concrete action even without the nuclear-armed states, they argued that “simply banning” nuclear weapons will not guarantee their elimination. They also argued that such initiatives were more likely to “antagonize” the nuclear-armed states than to bring them into a multilateral process.
Yet the path they prefer—pressing for implementation of the NPT action plan, continuing to promote the “step by step” approach to nuclear disarmament, and insisting on the participation of nuclear-armed states—also does not guarantee the elimination of nuclear weapons. In fact it has failed to achieve this goal. Incremental steps that have been agreed to over the past twenty years have not been implemented and the actions of some nuclear-armed states have actually resulted in steps backwards. Under prevailing domestic and international political circumstances, the nuclear-armed states are unlikely to support any serious efforts towards the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.
This is why more governments than ever have expressed interest in trying something new. Rather than repeating the same approach to try to force a grand, comprehensive step-by-step solution, nuclear weapon-free states are calling for a new approach. The call for a ban on nuclear weapons overcomes the dilemma posed by placing the onus on the nuclear-armed states to lead a process for nuclear disarmament. Emboldened by the discourse on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which not only allows but even demands the participation of all countries in the world, these countries are indicating a growing willingness to take action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
“It seems clear to us that inevitable and unavoidable policy implications arise from what we now know about the extent of the risks involved,” argued the Irish delegation. In this vein, most governments taking the floor during the conference argued that it now time to examine ways forward that, as New Zealand’s representative said, do not simply rely on implementation of the NPT or a hope of compliance with international humanitarian law.
For at least 20 governments participating in the conference, the way forward is a ban on nuclear weapons. And despite the concerns of some of the nuclear-dependent governments, a treaty banning nuclear weapons should not be seen as antagonistic towards nuclear-armed states. It would constitute a coherent approach to setting the conditions and framework for nuclear disarmament and overcoming some of the inertia undermining the elimination of nuclear weapons.
History shows that legal prohibitions of weapon systems—their possession as well as their use—facilitate their elimination. Weapons that have been outlawed increasingly become seen as illegitimate. They lose their political status and, along with it, the money and resources for their production and modernization. Banning nuclear weapons also addresses the anomaly that nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction not subject to an explicit legal prohibition.
The Thai representative described the Mexico conference as a call to action to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. From civil society’s perspective, the conferences in Oslo and Mexico have created our best opportunity to start the process to achieve this world. States must embrace this opportunity when they meet in Vienna later this year.
We face a daily risk that a nuclear weapon will be detonated, either by accident, miscalculation, or design. Thus the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is an imperative that should be approached with the utmost urgency. The momentum created this week by the Austrian government’s announcement and the Mexican government’s conference summary must be carried forward with conviction and courage.
Summary of discussions
At least 20 delegations, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Morocco, Jordan, Zambia, Palestine, Mongolia, Tanzania, Malawi, Slovakia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Holy See, Iran, Cuba, Chile, Nigeria, and Malaysia, supported by the ICRC, explicitly called for a ban on nuclear weapons.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, led the charge, stating that nuclear weapons must be banned and the world’s safety cannot rely on weapons of mass destruction. Costa Rica called for the negotiation of an instrument to ban nuclear weapons, emphasizing that the humanitarian focus on the impact of nuclear weapons was the right approach to spearhead our efforts. Morocco stated that Nayarit presented an important phase through which to launch a concrete political message and that the next phase of political action to obtain “the noble goal of banning nuclear weapons” is now needed.
Zambia made a strong appeal for a ban on the use, production, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, saying that a comprehensive ban had “gained grip” in the international system over the past couple of years. A ban is the preferred first step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, it said. Palestine gave its support for the adoption of a blueprint in Nayarit with the objective of banning nuclear weapons and eliminating them within a concrete timeframe. Jordan said it joined the call for an early start of negotiations on a legally binding instrument for a ban on nuclear weapons.
Mongolia noted a growing trend to ban nuclear weapons was underway and expressed its hope that the upcoming conference in Austria would lead to concrete talks on a ban. Tanzania and Nigeria expressed concern that there is no international treaty banning these weapons of mass destruction and stressed the absolute necessity to abolish them from earth. Malawi stated that the conferences in Nayarit and Oslo have cemented the conviction among states that nuclear weapons must be banned once and for all and that it is the duty of states to start the negotiations of a legally-binding ban. Slovakia pledged its full support for a legally-binding instrument on the elimination of nuclear weapons and called for the substantive engagement of nuclear-armed states to translate a ban into the elimination of nuclear arsenals.
Kiribati on behalf of six pacific island states, Samoa, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea, stated that a treaty banning nuclear weapons is long overdue. The island states appealed to all non-nuclear weapons states not to sit back and wait for the nuclear-armed states to lead the way but instead to set the agenda for concrete steps towards the negotiation of a legally-binding treaty.
The Holy See said it is high time to take the next steps and use the momentum of the Nayarit conference to launch a plan of action towards the development of an international norm and legal ban on nuclear weapons for the benefit of humanity.
Iran called for the development of a roadmap and action plan with objective of banning nuclear weapons, which are an existential threat that cannot be tolerated. Cuba laid out five concrete steps in a process towards an international ban and the total eradication of nuclear weapons. Chile likewise said nuclear weapons should be banned in a legally-binding instrument and urged all countries to share this vision.
Over 50 states from every region of the world made statements unequivocally calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the achievement of a nuclear weapons free world, including the Philippines, Belarus, Colombia, Guatemala, Jordan, Cuba, Peru, Austria, Ukraine, Ireland, Holy See, Japan, Malawi, Slovakia, Iraq, Indonesia, Laos, the Czech Republic, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Iran, Nicaragua, Morocco, El Salvador, Thailand, Vietnam, Palestine, India, Netherlands, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Nepal, Myanmar, New Zealand, Tanzania, Nigeria, Comoros, Kiribati and the pacific island states, Malaysia, Jamaica, and Hungary. Others were equally clear in their calls for a convention on the elimination of nuclear weapons or a new legally binding instrument, including Egypt, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Mongolia, New Zealand, Lebanon, Switzerland, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Iran, Chile, Jordan, and Slovenia.
There was overwhelming support for Austria’s announcement to hold the next meeting of what is now clearly established as an international diplomatic process on nuclear weapons. Over 40 delegations, including Ireland, Guatemala, Algeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Holy See, Mozambique, Iran, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Finland, Lebanon, Jordan, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Zambia, Palestine, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Tanzania, Nigeria, Macedonia, Egypt, the Netherlands, India, Laos, Bhutan, Iraq, Malawi, Congo, Malaysia, and Hungary, as well as the ICRC and ICAN, expressed their appreciation of Austria’s offer and their support for the continuation of the process.
The sense of momentum established in Nayarit was palpable for all present. Many delegations, including Morocco, Colombia, Cuba, Brazil, Iran, Palestine, Ethiopia, Peru, Kiribati on behalf of the Pacific island states, New Zealand, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Bhutan, Jamaica, and Comoros emphasized that Nayarit was a milestone on a clear path towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. Many referred to Nayarit and the coming meeting in Vienna as a road map, plan of action, blueprint, and concrete steps in a process forward. Bhutan even called the conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons an “Oslo Process.” The feeling of progress was tangible.
There were however a few detractors, mainly states relying on nuclear weapons in their military doctrines’ conception of security, against the overwhelming tide of support for action to rid the world of these weapons. Clearly on the defensive, Pakistan, Finland, Australia, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, India, the Czech Republic, and Hungary expressed skepticism about the possibility of a ban on nuclear weapons. The delegations of Australia, Canada, and Germany argued that “simply banning nuclear weapons” will not guarantee the elimination of nuclear weapons, setting the bar for any initiative on nuclear weapons rather high.
Despite the fact that neither the 2010 NPT Action Plan nor the Group of Governmental Experts on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty guarantee the elimination of nuclear weapons, these were considered the only appropriate ways forward by nuclear reliant states like Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.
In stark contrast to the evidence presented throughout the conference, a few delegations such as Canada, Pakistan, India, Netherlands, and Germany chose to highlight the security implications of nuclear weapons. Germany pointed out the central role that nuclear weapons have in the international community and argued that nuclear weapons had greatly contributed to keeping peace during the Cold War. Together with Australia, Germany also expressed worry about “antagonizing” those with nuclear weapons.
Those kinds of arguments seemed particularly hollow against the testimonies of countries that have experienced the disastrous humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, such as the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan, Belarus, New Zealand, Ukraine, and Algeria. These states presented harrowing statistics on the extent of the impacts of nuclear testing on and near their territories, causing severe ecological, economic, and public health impacts, and untold suffering to civilians. The most poignant testimonies however came from five Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who told their stories of the nightmarish devastation inflicted on those cities and their inhabitants. Their presence was a powerful reminder of the urgency and overwhelming importance of the need to ensure that these weapons are never used again.
*This report was written by Ray Acheson and Beatrice Fihn of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF and Katherine Harrison of Norwegian People’s Aid. Both organisations are partners of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Reaching Critical Will thanks NPA for their assistance with notetaking and preparation of this report.
Resources from the conference
Civil society and the humanitarian impact, presentation of Beatrice Fihn
ICAN statement, delivered by Ray Acheson
Declaration by the Haifa Conference for a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East held in Haifa 5-6 December 2013
Declaration by the Haifa Conference for a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East held in Haifa 5-6 December 2013
Frightened by the immediate threat of another catastrophic war in the Middle East, with its resources that underlie the economies of major global powers, and the derailed Helsinki conference that would have created a process for precluding such a war, an historic Conference was initiated by Israeli citizens under the slogan, “If Israel won’t come to Helsinki, Helsinki will come to Israel.” A coalition of current and former Israeli parliamentarians and local and international peace and human rights activists met in Haifa, Israel, on 5, 6, to call for a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East and for a world free of nuclear weapons.
In a letter of greeting sent to the Conference, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote: “A middle East free of weapons of mass destruction is a reasonable and attainable goal.” And he added: “I commend the conference organizers on this important initiative and call on all states in the region to take immediate steps to rid this volatile part of the world of these dangerous weapons.”
The Haifa Conference affirmed support for prompt convening of the Helsinki Conference on creating such a WMD-free zone:
- Unanimously mandated by the NPT Review Conference at the
- United Nations (UN) in New York in 2010;
- Reaffirmed by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2013; and
- Endorsed by the Non Aligned Movement.
Demanded by most of the High Level representatives of governments meeting on nuclear disarmament at the UN in New York in September 2013;
We recognize the importance of the two agreements that for now avoid war: Syria to abolish its chemical weapons; and Iran with the international group of nations, to diplomatically address their differences over Iran’s nuclear program. We welcome the upcoming negotiations in Geneva to end the war in Syria and the ongoing negotiations with Iran.
The Haifa Conference welcomes the formation of the Israeli Coalition for Nuclear Weapons and WMD Disarmament in the Middle East that was built in the process of preparing this conference. The Israeli coalition will take upon itself the responsibility to broaden its circles of activity and bring more participants into this new public discourse, while forging relationships with similar-minded organizations in the region and the world. The members of the coalition believe that the time of nuclear ambiguity has long since passed, and that the global and regional circumstances demand a new policy. This policy would recognize the end of the Israeli nuclear monopoly. With two options posed before us – either nuclear weapons for all , or complete WMD disarmamament in the region , including Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and others- our choice is very clear: we stand for a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The coalition rejects all racist phrase-mongering and threats of regional wars, rejects all encouragements about the usage of violence or WMDs.
Fifty years having passed since the Dimona Reactor was built, the Israeli coalition believes that now is the time for new anti-nuclear thinking that will save citizens in Israel and the peoples of the region from the horror of nuclear weapons – not only in the case that Israel is attacked with these weapons, but also in the case that it becomes the attacker. We endorse the demands of the coalition on the state of Israel:
- Determined and persistent activity to achieve a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and all WMD;
- Constructive, good faith participation in the Helsinki Conference;
- Attendance at the February 2014 Mexico Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons;
- Accession to and ratification of all treaties and instruments related to nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction;
- Cessation and prohibition of acquisition, production, stockpiling, threat or use of nuclear weapons;
- Subjecting all nuclear facilities to International Energy Agency safeguards, monitoring and verification;
- Full public disclosure of radioactive and toxic contamination by the Dimona facilities of the air, soil and ground water, endangering the health and environment of Israelis, Palestinians and the peoples of all neighboring countries and the Mediterranean Sea;
- Closure, decommissioning, containment, remediation and full public disclosure of all other weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities;
- The nuclear disarmament and complete halt of all plans to develop nuclear weapons throughout the region , must be a very essential part of achieving peace. And should help ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories as part of a just , peaceful and lasting solution.; and
- The equal participation of women at all levels of discussion, advocacy and diplomacy in implementation of these demands.
We call upon the international community to support the above demands of the Israeli coalition and to further the campaign for a Nuclear Weapons and WMD Free Zone in the Middle East by:
- Publicizing the existence of the Israeli coalition;
- Circulating this Declaration;
- Circulating the petition calling for the UN to promptly hold the Helsinki conference; and
- Promoting implementation of the above demands.
With profound sorrow this Conference learned of the death of Nelson Mandela. We consider our efforts to be a continuation of the goals to which he dedicated his life – liberation, reconciliation and nuclear abolition.
All of these efforts in this critical time will help lead to the global elimination of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, thus reducing the tensions and disputes that lead to war. We accept the obligation to implement this Declaration.
For more details and return address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Issam Makhoul Chairperson of Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies Former MK
Avraham Burg Senior Fellow and International Coordinator in Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, Former Speaker of Israeli Knesset
Prof. Naomi Chazan Dean of School of Government and Society in the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo
Dr. Dov Khenin, MK
Mossi Raz Former MK, Chairperson of the of the “Israeli Anti-Nuclear Movement”
Tamar Gozansky President of the Movement of Democratic Women in Israel, Former MK
Gideon Spiro Journalist and Member of the Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological and Chemical Weapons
Dr. Ruchama Marton President and Founder of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Prof. Colman Altman Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Aida Touma-Sliman Director of Women Against Violenc, Editor of Alitihad
Sharon Dolev Director of the Israeli Anti-Nuclear Movement
Prof. Avishai Ehrlich Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo
Dr. John Assi An-Najah University, Director of the UNESCO Chair
Akiva Eldar Al-monitor, Journalist
Adam Keller Gush Shalom
Michael Warshivsky Alternative Information Center
Dr. Edna Gorney Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center
Fathia Sageer General secretary of the Movement of Democratic Women in Israel
Dr. Asher Davidi Tel Aviv University
Prof. Dani Filc Ben Gurion University
Dr. Ishai Menuchin Director of The Public Committee Against Torture.
Dr. Ahmad Massarwi
Dr. Ofer Cassif Hebrew University
Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Hillel Schenker Co-editor of Palestine-Israel Journal
Uri Weltmann Teacher
Alfred Marder Honorary President of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities (USA)
Prof. Tadatoshi Akiba Former Mayor of Hiroshima and Chairperson of the Middle Powers Initiative (JAPAN)
Jacqueline Cabasso Director ofWestern States Legal Foundation Working for Peace & Justice in a Nuclear Free World (USA)
Michelle Demessine French Senate member
Wolfgang Gehrcke Member of the German Bundestag
Dr. Henry Lowendorf US Peace Council
Dusan Stojanovic Deputy Secretary General of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities (SLOVENIA)
Prof.Fanny-Michaela Reisin President of the International League for Human Rights – FIDH/AEDH (GERMANY)
Mathilde caroly Communist Party of France, Foreign Relationships
Aymeric Duvoisin Communist Party of France
Irene Eckert Working Circle for Peace Policy (GERMANY)
Mamadou Diop Mouvement Senegalais de la Paix, Secretaire aux relations exterieures (SENEGAL)
Cathy Goodman US Peace Council (QATAR)
Odile Hugonot Haber The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,Co-chair of the Middle East Committee (USA)
Mario Franssen Mouvement Intal Beweging (BELGIUM)
Giorgos Koukoumas AKEL (CYPRUS)
Harri Gruenberg Die Linke (GERMANY)
Zisis Zannas SYRIZA (GREECE)
Edouard Brion, Mouvement Chretien pour la Paix (BELGIUM)
Madelyn Hoffman Executive Director of NJ Peace Action (USA)
Jeffrey Klein MA Peace Action (USA)
Olivette Mikolajczak AMPGN (IPPNW) (BELGIUM)
Teodora Velichkova Youth Organization of Socialist Party of Bulgaria
On Tuesday, the 3rd of December the President of IAPMC and Mayor of Płońsk – Andrzej Pietrasik and District Governor of Płońsk signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The main objective of the Convention established on December 13th 2006 is to ensure the disabled the same rights and responsibilities as other members of society. Important points of the Convention are equality, non-discrimination and equality before the law. According to the document, people with disabilities should be entitled to freedom and security, the right to freedom of movement, education, health care and jobs.
In his speech, Mayor Andrzej Pietrasik – as mayor and President of the IAPMC – highlighted the fact that Płońsk respects Universal Declaration of Human Rights and cares about the rights of people with disabilities.
By signing the Declaration, representatives of city and district pledged that the problems of people with disabilities will be a priority for them.
Please check out the following article:
Few days ago in one of our member cities – Volgograd, Russia, a great tragedy has occurred.
A scandalous act of violence which has taken away lives of 6 innocent people. This sad event only proves the necessity of functioning an organization like ours. We as Mayors – members of the IAPMC, can not allow for this kind of actions. Therefore, on behalf of myself and all members of the IAPMC I would like to condemn these and other cowardly acts taken by the terrorists and aimed against the residents of our cities.
Yours in Peace,