Civil society statement to the UN high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament - Delivered by Joseph Gerson
26 September 2013, New York
Delivered by Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee on behalf of civil society
"...[T]here are no good nuclear weapons and no right hands for them, just as there are no good chemical or biological weapons. The nuclear deterrence policies, belied in large measure by first-use doctrines, are predicated on the willingness and capacity to inflict genocidal or omnicidal destruction. Nuclear weapons do not and cannot bring security. They bring the threat of death and destruction – including for those downwind from nuclear tests and those who do the work of constructing and dismantling the weapons. Nuclear weapons drive proliferation, thus increasing the likelihood of nuclear war. They divert vast and essential resources needed to address real human needs – including the Millennium Development Goals...
This high-level meeting has provided an opportunity to governments to take these proposals to the next level. Action to implement them needs to begin now. The recent Russian-US agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons stocks serves as a reminder of what urgent and committed diplomacy can achieve. Nuclear weapons abolition, which is essential for human survival, should be pursued with the same sense of urgency and dedication.
Here are some key steps:
- In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, Presidents Gorbachev and Bush achieved a massive and reciprocal removal of nuclear weapons from deployment without the laborious and obstacle-filled process of treaty negotiation. That is a model to emulate. Such parallel reductions, reinforced by the dealerting of their nuclear arsenals, would greatly reduce the nuclear threat and stimulate the process of multilateral nuclear weapons abolition by all nuclear-armed states.
- All modernization of nuclear forces and infrastructure should cease.
- Comprehensive negotiations for the abolition of nuclear weapons should be commenced without delay. They need not and should not await steps like entry into force of the nuclear test ban treaty and negotiation of a fissile materials treaty.
- The conference for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Middle East should be convened, and the world’s Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaties should be reinforced by commitments to fully respect them.
- States free of nuclear weapons have a role and responsibility to demand and work for nuclear abolition. Norway’s and Mexico’s examples of organizing conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons provide one model. Another is divestment from companies that produce nuclear weapons and their components, a policy now in effect in Norway and New Zealand and introduced as legislation in Switzerland. No one should profit from the production of inhuman, genocidal, and potentially omnicidal weapons.
- The NPT recognizes that progress in the reduction of military tensions, elimination of biological and chemical weapons, and limitations of so-called “conventional” weapons complements nuclear weapons abolition. Looking forward, limitations on anti-missile systems, cyber warfare, and other high-tech capabilities will also facilitate the complete elimination of all nuclear arsenals and nuclear weapons capabilities.
Each of us, whether head of state, minister, ambassador, activist, or scholar, has agency. Each of us is responsible to our loved ones and to future generations to protect human lives and to preserve the human species. Each of us – to different extents – can impact our nations’ policies. On behalf of the world’s NGOs working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I urge you to remember your humanity and take bold actions to eliminate the danger of nuclear war and annihilation. If there are to be No More Hiroshimas, No More Nagasakis, No More Hibakushas, there must be No More Nuclear Weapons!!"