At the May session of the UN working group in Geneva, a small number of nations extolled the supposed “security value” of nuclear weapons and spoke out against a ban. ICAN protested at the diplomatic missions of some of these nations on 12 May.
Five campaigners wore nuclear bomb outfits and held banners reading “Ban me! I’m immoral!” and “Legal or illegal?” Around 20 other campaigners joined in the peaceful demonstrations.
One of the most outspoken defenders of the status quo is Canada, a member of NATO. It argued at the working group that there is no “legal gap” in the existing regime regarding nuclear weapons. The Canadian mission was the first stop on our route.
Norway – also a member of NATO – was the next stop. A majority of Norwegian parliamentarians have called on the government to support long term a prohibition on nuclear weapons. But the government says that now is not the right time for negotiations.
We then went to the Japanese and Australian missions, which are side by side. Australia has a caretaker government until 2 July, and officially neither supports nor opposes a ban at present. We called on it to embrace the ban.
We then went to the Japanese mission, where we chanted “Japan, support a ban!” Despite having suffered from the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Japan argues that US nuclear weapons are essential for its defence.
Many Japanese media outlets attended the protests. Regrettably, the Japanese mission contacted the police, who held us for more than 40 minutes in the rain and threatened to fine us for our peaceful protests. Among the protesters were three atomic bomb survivors.