From February 22-26, governments and civil society will meet at the United Nations in Geneva for the first session of a newly-established Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament (OEWG).
Chaired by Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand, the OEWG is tasked to undertake substantive work on the legal measures and norms required to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, and also to make recommendations on interim measures to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons being used by accident, miscalculation, unauthorized access or intent.
The OEWG is open to participation by all UN member states and to representatives of international organisations and civil society groups working on nuclear disarmament issues.
The OEWG could pave the way for the commencement of multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament, which have been stalled since 1996. However, this will require political commitment and participation by governments in the OEWG – especially governments currently relying on nuclear weapons in their security doctrines.
In September last year, Religions for Peace, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and Mayors for Peace presented a joint statement A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Our Common Good to the President of the UN General Assembly in order to support nuclear disarmament proposals – in particular the one to establish an OEWG.
The statement has been endorsed by influential legislators and religious leaders from around the world. The proposal to establish the OEWG was subsequently adopted by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.
Now that the OEWG is about to start its substantive sessions, Religions for Peace, PNND and Mayors for Peace are gathering additional endorsements and will then present the statement to the OEWG in the week of Feb 22-26.
‘We join together to highlight the continuing risks of a nuclear catastrophe – whether by accident, miscalculation or intent – and the moral and security imperative to achieve nuclear abolition,’ said Dr William Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace. ‘The Open Ended Working Group is where this imperative can be implemented through dialogue, diplomacy and determination.’
‘The experience of Hiroshima reminds us of why nuclear weapons must be abolished,’ said Mr Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace. ‘The international community must come together at the Open Ended Working Group to start the collective process for world-wide nuclear disarmament. There must be no more Hibakusha (nuclear victim) at any time.’
‘The risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are unacceptable,’ said PNND Co-President Senator Laura Rojas, Chair of the Mexican Senate Committee on External Relations and International Organisations. ‘Diplomacy has worked to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran and to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions. Now we must use diplomacy to abolish nuclear weapons globally.’
Encourage your mayor, parliamentarian or local religious leader/s to endorse the joint statement A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Our Common Good.