24 March 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In Solidarity with Atomic Bomb Survivors, Secretary-General Says at Dedication

Ceremony He Is Proud to Join Global Call for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the dedication ceremony for the exhibit of petitions from “Mayors for Peace”, in New York, 24 March:

Thank you all for coming today.  I am especially grateful to welcome the Hibakusha, who are atomic bomb survivors.  Mr.  Ri [Sil Gun] was so kind to receive me in Hiroshima last year.  I was deeply moved by you and the other Hibakusha I met there.  I am especially appreciative for all of you coming here at such a difficult time for Japan.  Your inspiring example of courage and conviction is more important than ever.

Allow me also to say a few words about Mayor [Tadatoshi] Akiba of Hiroshima, the President of Mayors for Peace.  Although he could not join us at this event because of the events in Japan, he is here in spirit.  He will be retiring soon and I wish him all the best.  I am grateful for his leadership and vision to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

As Japan continues to grapple with the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the international community must take stock of its nuclear emergency response framework.  I am consulting with all my senior advisers on the implications of this unfolding event.  I am also looking forward to the summit meeting on nuclear safety in Kyiv next month.

These 1 million signatures demanding an end to the nuclear threat are the voice of the world’s people.  This movement brings together mayors and mothers, like-minded citizens and peace groups.  They all understand that nuclear weapons make us less safe, not more.

This is a landmark occasion.  We are adding to this permanent disarmament installation the first exhibit which emphasizes the importance of our partnership with a global non-governmental organization.  The disarmament movement earned this distinction.  For decades, citizens who have banded together to campaign against specific weapons and categories of weapons have succeeded in moving their Governments to act.  The landmine ban is one shining example.

Now we need progress on the nuclear front.  The new START Treaty [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] between the Russian Federation and the United States has just entered into force.  The 2010 NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] Review Conference ended successfully.  We have to build on this international momentum.  There are also major events planned for 2012, including the Second Nuclear Security Summit and a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.

At all of these gatherings, and everywhere I go, I will repeat my strong, consistent and clear call for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  I will carry the message of the million petitioners represented here today, and the many millions more around the world seeking to end the nuclear threat.  Together, we can rid the world of nuclear weapons and answer the call of these Hibakusha, who survived a nuclear attack and dedicated themselves to making sure no one else would ever suffer the same fate.  In solidarity with them, and with all of the petitioners, I am now proud to add my name to this global call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Thank you very much.

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For information media • not an official record