Secretary-General, in Message to Mayors for Peace, Reiterates Five-Point Nuclear Non-Proliferation Plan, Underscoring Insufficiency of Deterrence, Sanctions

4 May 2010

Secretary-General, in Message to Mayors for Peace, Reiterates Five-Point Nuclear Non-Proliferation Plan, Underscoring Insufficiency of Deterrence, Sanctions

4 May 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Message to Mayors for Peace, Reiterates Five-Point Nuclear

Non-Proliferation Plan, Underscoring Insufficiency of Deterrence, Sanctions

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to Mayors for Peace, in New York today, 4 May:

First of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation.  I have been looking forward to this meeting for a long time.

I know your role is not simply important.  It is essential.  Absolutely essential.  Building a more peaceful world does not start in meeting rooms in New York or Geneva.  It starts from the ground up, in neighbourhoods, in communities.  It starts with enlightened leaders in cities and towns around the world.  It starts with you.  And you are leading.

We all worry about proliferation.  We worry about proliferation and nuclear materials.  But we welcome one new form of it at the United Nations.  That is the global proliferation of support for nuclear disarmament.  This support is spreading rapidly and Mayors for Peace is guiding the way.

I understand that your ranks now include some 4,000 mayors and other city officials from throughout the world.

Soon, this year, it could reach 5,000, representing 1 billion people around the world.  That is the kind of solid political foundation we need to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

I congratulate Mayors for Peace for your success.  I particularly admire your “Cities are Not Targets” project and the “2020 Vision” campaign.  I agree with your approach.  We should act in a time frame so that at least some hibakusha will live to see the end of all nuclear weapons.

The closer one looks at the terrible humanitarian, economic, and environmental consequences of a nuclear attack — or an accident — the clearer it becomes that we must disarm now.  The 2000 NPT Review Conference put it clearly:  “The total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.”  And the nuclear weapon States agreed.  They called it an “unequivocal undertaking”.

Leaders from the smallest towns to the largest international organizations recognize this truth.  They know the severe limitations of business-as-usual.  They understand that half measures will never make us fully secure.  They know there is no alternative to the call that has gone out from right-thinking people everywhere:  Disarm Now!

Nuclear deterrence?  Senior statesmen have increasingly criticized it as dangerous and out of date.  Export controls?  They have not prevented countries from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Sanctions?  They have a role to play in discouraging proliferation, but they offer no lasting solution.

Non-proliferation efforts are necessary.  But they are not sufficient.  They work best when they are combined with disarmament measures.  That is why, in October 2008, I proposed my five-point plan on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  I thank the Mayors for Peace for your strong support for these practical, common-sense proposals.

First, disarmament must enhance security.  That is why I urged the Security Council to strengthen disarmament efforts and enhance protection for non-nuclear-weapons.  This helped lead to the Summit meeting on nuclear security last September, but that should not be a one-time event.

Second, disarmament must be reliably verified.  I proposed that negotiations should begin on either a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of separate, mutually reinforcing instruments.  I am pleased that Mayors for Peace has called for a similar initiative in its Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol.

Third, disarmament must be rooted in legal obligations.  That means universal membership in multilateral treaties and regional nuclear-weapon-free zones.  It also means a new treaty on fissile materials, and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty — CTBT.  And, as I said yesterday, we need to think very seriously about setting a time frame for ratification — and about an alternative mechanism that might get us there.

Fourth, disarmament must be visible.  We still do not know precisely how many nuclear weapons exist worldwide.  Countries with nuclear weapons should share more about what they are doing to fulfill their disarmament commitments.  I welcome yesterday’s announcement by the United States and the Secretary of State, and urge continued efforts by all.

Fifth and finally, disarmament must address dangers from other weapons.  I urge progress in eliminating all weapons of mass destruction and limiting missiles, space weapons and conventional arms — such efforts are needed for a safer, more secure world.

This is my plan — five sensible steps to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.  It is grounded in this understanding:  We reduce the risk of nuclear weapons to zero by reducing the number of nuclear weapons to zero.

Since this is truly a global goal, I believe the United Nations should be the new “ground zero” for nuclear disarmament.  This is the message I take with me everywhere I go.  And it is this message that I will carry with me when I visit Hiroshima in August.

I am humbled to be the first Secretary-General in United Nations history to personally participate in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.  I feel that it is my responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed or injured by those attacks.  And I feel an equal responsibility to future generations.  I feel a deep duty to advance, by any practical means I can, the great cause of nuclear disarmament, so that nobody ever needs to fear another such attack.

These great goals cannot be accomplished alone.  It will take each and every one of us.  Thank you for widening the circle of commitment and action.  Thank you for mobilizing a constituency of conscience for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

But as much as you have already done, I urge you to do even more.  Write articles.  Mobilize people.  Call leaders to account.  Tell them — plainly, simply:  How long should we wait?

How long should we watch precious resources diverted for weapons instead of people?  How long should we hear the same excuses that take us in the same circles?  How long should we stand by and see threats grow?

We have waited long enough.  Now is the time for action.  I have hope.  That hope is not based on wishful thinking.  It comes from what I have seen and heard — from global leaders, from civil society, from students and senior citizens, and most importantly, from you here today.  Your wisdom.  Your voice.  Your energy.

Let’s keep going.  A safer world, a more just world, a more secure world, is in our sights.  Let us take our children there.

Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.