On the eve of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, with Nagasaki, the symbolic city of the destruction that nuclear weapons can wreak, political and civil society initiatives for nuclear disarmament are also multiplying in Italy.
This morning [May 18, 2023] saw the Intergroup of the Chamber of Deputies meeting on nuclear disarmament, promoted by the Honorable Laura Boldrini as a venue for institutional discussion on this issue. The meeting was opened by a message from Florian Eblenkamp of the international staff of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Nobel Peace Prize 2017), who stressed the crucial importance of parliamentarians’ support for the Campaign because “as legislators, you have significant influence in shaping policy and advancing the cause of disarmament,” and also reminded how “cross-party and transnational collaboration is valuable on this issue.”
The success of this collaboration was evident at the first meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons TPNW in June 2022 in Vienna, which saw the launch of a Parliamentary Declaration with full support from states and civil society and contributed to the first categorical condemnation of Russian nuclear threats by a multilateral forum. More recently, in March 2023, in Oslo, Parliamentarians from 9 European countries urged their governments to participate as observers in the second meeting of States Parties to the TPNW as a preliminary step toward accession to this Treaty. And at the end of April, the G7 Parliamentary Forum held in Japan called on leaders to condemn nuclear threats, meet and listen to nuclear bombing survivors, end nuclear sharing agreements, and constructively engage with the TPNW, the only international legal instrument of broad consensus for the abolition of nuclear arsenals.
To highlight and coordinate the support of parliamentarians around the world for the TPNW Treaty, the ICAN Campaign launched the Pledge (“commitment”) a few years ago which is currently signed by more than 1,000 elected representatives in office. During previous Legislatures, over 240 Italian Parliamentarians had signed this document, which has recently been relaunched for the attention of Deputies and Senators with new signatures coming in addition to the 20 or so already collected.
The “Italia ripensaci” (Italy, think again) mobilization (promoted by the Italian Peace Disarmament Network and Senzatomica (without atoms)) was also present at the Intergroup meeting and stressed the importance of collaboration between institutions and civil society in order to put in place concrete paths for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
[This was also] a need highlighted in the meeting between Sardinian representatives of “Italia ripensaci” and a Peace Boat delegation, which arrived just today in the port of Cagliari. This is a Japanese civil society initiative now in its 40th year that has been fighting for many years for a nuclear-free world, for the abolition of nuclear weapons and to support all survivors of the nuclear chain by being part of the ICAN Campaign steering group. Peace Boat regularly invites Hibakusha (survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs) to travel on the ship to share their testimony. The 114th trip, which left Yokohama on April 7, is the first in three years due to the global pandemic and is also the first since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.The focus of the trip will be a call for peace and a humanitarian aid program.
All these actions have as their first goal a solicitation toward the G7 leaders, who from tomorrow [May 19, 2023] will, as mentioned, meet precisely in Hiroshima. The “Italy, Think Again” campaign calls on the Italian government, which will assume the rotating presidency for 2024, to maintain the working group on nuclear disarmament called for by Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, who specifically chose one of the two atomic bomb martyr cities as the venue for the summit. In the past year there has been a dramatic increase in nuclear risk, and therefore concrete steps toward disarmament must be a priority on the agenda: all G7 states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have nuclear weapons in their security policies (either as nuclear-weapon states or as host states for warheads or in nuclear protection).
For these reasons, the Italian Civil Society for Nuclear Disarmament also reiterates the demands made by ICAN to the G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima May 19-21: unequivocally condemn any threat to use nuclear weapons, formally recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, agree to end all programs to station nuclear weapons in third countries (so-called nuclear sharing) and commit Russia to cancel its plans to do so; and provide a plan to negotiate nuclear disarmament with all nuclear-weapon states by adhering to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons TPNW.