Paths to nuclear disarmament, a case of convergence in diversity

14.01.2015 - Centro Mundial de Estudios Humanistas

This post is also available in: Spanish

Paths to nuclear disarmament, a case of convergence in diversity
(Image by Pressenza)

Under this name, the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs held an international seminar, gathering together diverse views of nuclear disarmament experts in the fields of: nuclear-weapon-free zones; the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); the relationship between human security and international humanitarian law; the Ban Treaty proposed by civil society along with all other complementary measures such as reduction of alert status, security measures at nuclear power plants, etc.

In this context, and in the presence of some of the most relevant actors in the global disarmament debate such as Angela Kane UN High Representative for Disarmament, Juan Gomez gave the intervention that we transcribe below giving the point of view of the Humanist Centre of Studies.

“The Humanist Centre of Studies of Aletheia, Chile, part of the International Humanist Movement, has among its fundamental principles the placement of human beings at the centre of social attention and the objective of every human activity.

In this spirit we profoundly value everything which promotes security and protection of the human species and we reject with the same vigour everything that attacks its physical and psychological integrity. Therefore the Centre promotes the peaceful resolution of all conflicts and active nonviolence as a way of working for transformation and improvement of society.

The phenomenon of weapons spending in general terms represents for us a fundamental transgression of these concepts, as every time that the defence of human security is founded on weapons it is thereby transformed into a threat to the very security it tries to defend. In this scheme of things, a race is produced that turns violence and security into the real winners.

Nuclear weapons continue this same pattern trying to found the bases of global security on a system incapable of providing it, given that their use would mean the direct and indirect destruction of humanity in its entirety. So, their very existence represents insecurity for the entire human species, an unacceptable risk that is financed through poverty in many countries of the planet as around 300 million dollars are spent daily on their maintenance and development.

It’s from these human vices that humanism calls for liberation, from this germ that threatens the destruction of humanity, from the intrinsic violence that lives within, and that many times has built at the cost of other human beings who have not been recognised as such due to a blinding selfishness. This consideration of other people, or entire peoples, as another species or as second- or third-rate beings is what leads to discrimination that many times ends in armed aggression. Humanism recovers the utopian vision of a Big Universal Nation in which everyone is truly equal, independent of their place of birth, because nationalism divides and leads to disputes and confrontation.

Our Centre of Studies belongs to the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) that, made up 360 other organisations in over 90 countries, proposes the introduction of a legally binding treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Nearly half a century on from its entry into force, the lack of advance in the application of article VI of the NPT, which sets out the gradual and progressive nuclear disarmament of nuclear-weapon-states (NWS), is something unacceptable. This lack of progress rather seems to be a veiled attempt to perpetuate a state of power that ensures domination of the planet over the non-NWS, exercised through the UN Security Council.

The most dangerous weapons of mass destruction, those that violate all the sacred precepts of International Humanitarian Law, are only regulated through the NPT which has managed to avoid other countries developing them, but this has meant in turn that a handful of countries exercise military hegemony over the vast majority of people on the Earth, not allowing them to develop nuclear weapons to level their military power.

Personally, I fear that if we don’t create the necessary trust between nations currently disputing the hegemony of humanity, if they don’t give up their nationalistic intentions and if they don’t work in the direction of progress and development for the people, dealing with the threats that weigh on the planet, it will be difficult to reach total nuclear disarmament with only good faith as  established in article VI of the NPT.

While the human being and human security is not at the top of the value scale and remains subjugated to geopolitical and economic interests, through which countries try to extract the maximum advantage of the planet’s natural resources to the benefit of their businesses and fellow countrymen, backed up with military power; the mistrust and fear will continue to divide humanity into irreconcilable poles, a situation in which it will be difficult for us to aspire to a world voluntarily free from nuclear weapons.

As we don’t see any of the nuclear-weapons states giving up their weapons on the basis of goodwill in the short term, there doesn’t seem to be any other way out other than a legally binding treaty that prohibits and eliminates these weapons totally and definitively, or a convention that makes article VI of the current NPT obligatory.

ICAN considers that the only logical response to the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is to initiate a process of negotiation for their legal prohibition even if the NWS decline to participate. Such an instrument would be in accordance with the NPT and would strengthen it, creating the conditions for disarmament through the establishment of a clear norm against possession of such weapons; it would challenge the statement that nuclear weapons guarantee security; it would bring a strong moral incentive for NWS to eliminate their arsenals and it would thereby strengthen their aims of non-proliferation.

The Austrian government, as a corollary to the Vienna Conference, has given a formal pledge for the human security of us all and promoting the protection of civilians against the risks derived from nuclear weapons and calls on all States Parties to renew their commitment to urgent and total implementation of the existing obligations under article VI, to identify and start effective measures to fill the legal void for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, and is ready to work with all those who support this objective.

Austria has also called on NWS to take concrete measures to reduce the risk of nuclear detonations, reducing their operational status, taking the weapons from their launch positions and putting them into storage, reducing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines, and the rapid reduction of all kinds of nuclear weapons.

It reiterates that it is ready to cooperate with all relevant actors, States, International Organisations, the International Red Cross, parliamentarians and civil society, in an effort to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons given their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.

We are grateful for and we value this Austrian Pledge and as members of ICAN we call for endorsements of this proposal at all levels, governments, parliamentarians, judges, professionals, volunteers and civil society in general. Let’s leave this seminar with the commitment of raising awareness in our areas of influence of the imperative need to do away with this nightmare of nuclear weapons, before they do away with us.”


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