09 August 2018

Secretary-General's Press Conference at Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall

It is impossible to visit this museum and this memorial, not to feel deeply, deeply sad. Sad because of the enormous suffering that is so eloquently demonstrated in these rooms. Sad because it is possible in humanity to have tragedies like this, but also with an enormous admiration for the resilience of the people of Nagasaki.
I have seen several survivors. I was deeply humbled and deeply impressed by the hibakusha – by their courage, by their capacity to stand up, to rebuild their lives. And when one comes today to Nagasaki, there is an enormous admiration for the people of Nagasaki for their enormous resilience to build a vibrant community that is the city of today, built over the ashes of an atomic bomb.
And the clear message that we call can extract from what we see is that it is a moral duty of everybody in the world to do everything to make sure that Nagasaki will not happen anymore, anywhere. That no atomic bomb will ever be used.
And that we commit ourselves to a strong push for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and effective disarmament to make sure that we will reach the objective that I believe should be a central objective of humankind: a world free of nuclear weapons. And I think nobody that sees this museum and sees this memorial can tolerate the idea that you will not be able to make our world one day be free of nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much. Arigato.
Q: On the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Secretary-General: The objective to make sure that the world will become one day free of nuclear weapons will force us to act on many fronts. We believe that the enormous frustration because of the fact that disarmament negotiations and disarmament achievements that were common in the end of the last century have no longer happened, that we see the risks of non-proliferation again, has been the main reason motivating the Treaty, the ban.
And of course, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I fully support the Treaty and I hope that the Treaty will enter into force. But, of course, the Treaty is in itself not enough and I have to pay tribute to Japan’s efforts in many areas, from the non-proliferation initiative, looking at the review that will take place in 2020, to have different aspects in relation to disarmament activities, and Japan has affirmed its support to the agenda for disarmament that I have presented in Geneva less than two months ago which is a comprehensive approach to disarmament. First of all, disarmament to save humanity, aiming at a world free of nuclear weapons, but also in relations to chemical and biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction that, unfortunately, even if they are banned, we see that they are still being used in wars today. But also disarmament to save lives in relation to conventional weapons – when we see them being used in cities, in urban centers, and killing civilians, serving no military purpose and disarmament for future generations, when we see that there is a risk of systems of weapons being built that will escape completely the control of human beings, in total impunity and a total lack of responsibility and accountability, which is entirely unacceptable.
So there is a large front of initiatives in which we all need to be fully engaged for a world free of nuclear weapons, for a world free of chemical weapons and biological weapons, and for a world in which disarmament on all fronts will allow us to live with more security.
Disarmament is not just a humanitarian objective – disarmament is also a way to guarantee more security in today’s world.
Q: On the Secretary-General’s impressions of his visit and his expectations of the hibakusha
SG: First of all, I was very humbled to meet the hibakusha. I was High Commissioner for Human Rights for ten years and I have seen horrible suffering around the world, but I never witnessed anything similar to what they were able to describe of the tragedy of Nagasaki, the human suffering that they witnessed, seeing [for] themselves the bomb, and seeing themselves, members of their family being killed and the level of destruction of their city, their homes and their schools. This level of suffering is something I would like to underline, expressing my deep solidarity and at the same time my enormous admiration.
I think they are heroes. They represent the best of humankind for their resilience, their courage, for their capacity, as I mentioned, to rebuild their lives against all odds and to rebuild this vibrant city of Nagasaki.
And I think that their message is very clear and their message needs to be assumed by young people. Sometimes the memory in the world tends to disappear, the memory of what happened in Nagasaki cannot disappear.
The young people must be fully aware of what has happened and I join my voice to the voice of the hibakusha saying, “no more Nagasaki, no more Hiroshima, no more bombs being used,” and it is very important young people understand that there is a risk that these things might happen if we do not act. We are seeing recently the crisis in relation to North Korea, we see the crisis of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] in relation to Iran, so there is indeed still the nuclear threat so the memory of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be kept alive.
It is for the young generations to keep that memory alive and to make us all assume our responsibility to avoid, at all cost, any kind of nuclear explosion in the future.
Q: On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)
SG: I think it is a central objective of the whole international community – as the Security Council of the United Nations has clearly underlined and I fully support, also Security Council resolutions – our objective must be very clearly, the whole international community must assume that objective: the total denuclearization in a way that is verifiable, that cannot happen again, of the Korean Peninsula, North Korea in particular.
And I strongly support the efforts of negotiation that are now taking place between the United States and North Korea. I know that it will be difficult. I know there will be hiccups, there will be problems to solve but I think we all must be determined, determined to make sure that the denuclearization is indeed achieved.
Q: On the United States’ support for the United Nations
SG: Until now, the United States has not put into question the assessed contributions to the United Nations. There have been decisions to withdraw support from different agencies whose work is not agreed by the United States, but there has not been a disruption of the funding from the assessed contributions, both for the normal function of the Secretariat and of peacekeeping. And, of course, we are doing everything we can in order to make sure that we can overcome the difficulties that have happened in relations to agencies like UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency] or UNFPA [UN Population Fund] that we consider to have a very important function that needs to be maintained.