Kumar Sundaram

Next week, around 130 governments, UN agencies and civil society organisations are gathering in Nayarit where the Mexican government is hosting a conference on the humanitarian consequence of nuclear weapons. This is a follow up of the Oslo Conference last year in which attracted 120 governments. The fact that this initiative, facilitated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons(ICAN), has received such wider support is a testimony to the fact that abolishing nuclear weapons remains a deeply popular aspiration. The initiative focuses on the problem of nuclear weapons, not in military and geopolitical terms, as has been done for decades, but through the lens of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

India and Pakistan are the only two nuclear-armed countries that have registered for this conference which is encouraging, in the backdrop of the major 5 nuclear weapons states not choosing not to participate. The ICAN and other key international civil society organisations such as the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have been highlighting the unacceptable and inhumane consequences of nuclear weapons in recent years, and demanding a new global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, much like the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Conventions, the Cluster Munitions and the Land-mines Treaty. The world must move beyond the NPT and take concrete steps for banning the use, production and possession of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are inherently immoral as they do not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had called these weapons an expression of ultimate terror.

time to ban sign petition

Over the past 60 years, the progress on nuclear disarmament has been really limited. While positive steps like prohibition of nuclear testing, reductions of nuclear weapons by the US and Russia and non-proliferation initiatives have helped, thousands of nuclear weapons continue to threaten the very human existance and the nuclear-armed nations are further advancing their nuclear arsenal, including introduction of battlefield n-weapons and billions of dollars invested in upgradation programmes. In all international meetings, abolition of nuclear weapons enjoys wide-ranging support from nuclear-free countries but the challenge of outlawing these weapons still remains.

In the recent years, the demand for banning nuclear weapons has gained substantial momentum. In October 2013 UNGA First Committee, 125 states endorsed the joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Worldwide, eminent scholars, activists and civil society groups have supported the call for an early ban on nuclear weapons. In India, the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), a coalition of more than 600 grassroots peace organisations formed after the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, has supported the ban and has joined the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons as a regional partner. CNDP organised a national conference in New Delhi in October last year to raise citizens’ voice for nuclear abolition in which eminent intellectuals, political leaders, students and activists actively participated.

Although the Indian government’s participation in the Mexico conference is a welcome development, it must go beyond mere words and should actively support the call for a global ban on nuclear weapons. The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons as inhuman and irreversible. The continued suffering of the victims of nuclear tests worldwide, the widespread cancer and other diseases among people near uranium mining sites, the prospects of devastating impacts in the case of accidental or intentional use, the recent studies about nuclear weapons exchange leading to immense damage to the climate and food chain – all this must force our collective consience to ban and get rid of the nuclear weapons. No notion of national security can justify such grave threat to human existence.

Here is the international website specially designed for the conference: http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014

It has some very important informations and resources on the devastating effects of nuclear weapons and the ongoing initiative calling for a nuclear ban. The website also has an e-petition which people from across the world are signing to highlight the cause: www.goodbyenuke.es Detailed updates and background information can also be accessed at the ICAN website and CNDP website.