As government and civil society delegations rolled into Conference Room XIX of the Palais de Nations (Geneva) today for the first session of the UN Open Ended Working Group, they were welcomed with gifts of origami cranes from UNFOLD ZERO.
The OEWG was established by the United Nations General Assembly to take forward nuclear disarmament obligations. It will meet for eight sessions (3 hours each) this week, plus another 20-22 sessions to be held during May and August. It is open to the participation of all governments, as well as relevant international organisations and civil society organisations. (See UNFOLD ZERO webpage on the OEWG).
The origami crane (bird) is folded from paper, and represents the hope and common interests for a nuclear-weapon-free world. It has been popularized by the story of Sadako Sasaki – a child victim of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Children around the world fold origami cranes – and gift them to people – in memory of Sadako and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons to protect current and future generations.
The UNFOLD ZERO cranes included a message of welcome inside, and an invitation to OEWG delegates to unfold the crane to find the message – and then to refold the paper into the crane.
The crane includes many folds, some done in three-dimensions. Many delegations found the task nearly as difficult as establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world. UNFOLD ZERO made an intervention to the formal session of the OEWG explaining the crane and encouraging delegations to persevere with their attempts to unfold and re-fold the crane – perhaps with the assistance of civil society representatives – just as they should persevere in the difficult task of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Such difficulties can be overcome – as was emphasized by the Ambassador Patricia O’Brien from Ireland in the opening session of the OEWG. ‘Diplomatic courage, persistence and determination can deliver results, even in the most challenging of circumstances. I speak here of the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action with Iran, a tribute to the hard work and imagination of all concerned. I say imagination because no achievement can be reached unless it has first been imagined. No negotiation can be a success if those entering it do so in the expectation of failure.’
UNFOLD ZERO joins Ireland in encouraging delegations at the OEWG to imagine success and build for it.
Mayors for Peace presents Open letter to OEWG Chair
Also today, Yasuyoshi Komizo, Secretary-General of Mayors for Peace, presented an Open letter to the OEWG on behalf of the one billion citizens in their member cities. The letter calls on all governments to participate actively in the OEWG to pave the way for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The letter appeals, in particular to the nuclear umbrella countries and the nuclear-armed countries to develop plans for their security without reliance on nuclear deterrence, in order to enable universal agreement on nuclear abolition.