On September 26, 2016 the United Nations celebrated the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, established in 2013, the day calls for the urgent commencement of negotiations to prohibit the possession, development, production, acquisition and testing of nuclear weapons.
The high-level informal meeting commemorating the event was opened by the Deputy Secretary-General and attended by over seventy state delegations and non-governmental organizations. The Deputy Secretary-General noted that “recent developments have proved that nuclear weapons do not ensure peace and security. Rather, their development and possession has become a major source of growing international tensions.”
His remarks were followed by a statement from H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly in which he pledged to “support all meaningful international efforts to bring us closer to a day when nuclear weapons are only a chapter in our history books.”
Forty-two Member States took the floor to make statements, four at the ministerial level and six deputy ministers. Several Member States called for the universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and welcomed a conference to create a legally-binding treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Two notable statements came from the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Marshall Islands, as countries that experienced nuclear explosions and their aftereffects from testing. The Republic of Kazakhstan celebrated the ten year anniversary of the Treaty on a Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) and highlighted its Government’s accomplishments in utilizing e-campaigns to advocate for a weapons test ban. The Marshall Islands, the site of 67 large scale nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958, welcomed the Security Council resolutions on the risks associated with nuclear weapons, and called for a realistic approach to disarmament.
Members of two non-governmental organizations delivered statements in advocacy of nuclear disarmament. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in a statement delivered by Susan Southard, highlighted the profoundly negative after effects of the atomic bombing in Nagasaki. Her organization also welcomed the pledge made by the Republic of Austria to convene a conference in 2017 to create a legally-binding treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The Ban All Nukes Generation, in a statement delivered by Christian Ciobanu, overviewed a statement from the perspective of youth and reviewed the consequences of nuclear weapons on the citizens of the Marshall Islands; and also welcomed the proposed 2017 conference on legal prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Text by Anthony Musa