I am pleased to welcome all participants to the Mayors for Peace 2015 Assembly in New York.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were thriving municipalities before being destroyed by atomic bombs seventy years ago. Today, thousands of infinitely more powerful nuclear weapons are present in national arsenals, many of them on hair-trigger alert. The devastation of August 1945 could befall another city as long as this threat remains.
Five years ago, I was deeply moved by the Peace Memorial Ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seeing visitors there paying their solemn respects to the victims of the atomic bombings strengthened my resolve to pursue nuclear disarmament.
I was especially impressed by the resilience and vitality of the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima who have reconstructed their cities from total devastation to vibrant modern metropolises enjoying remarkable prosperity. The contrast between the destruction of the past and the success of those cities today underscores the importance and fragility of peace.
That is why I wholeheartedly welcome the initiative by the Mayors for Peace to protect the lives and property of their citizens in light of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. Your new initiative constitutes a response to growing international concern over the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. This movement, which seeks to ground the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in international law, has prompted many governments to renew their commitment to eliminate these devastating weapons and step up their efforts to realize the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
The three conferences held on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons – in Oslo, Norway in 2012, and Nayarit, Mexico, and Vienna, Austria in 2014 – raised awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and served to forge new coalitions and solutions to bring about their elimination.
In their joint statement issued at the First Committee of the General Assembly last October, 155 Member States noted that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons affect not only governments, but also each and every citizen of our interconnected world. These countries represent nearly 80 percent of the United Nations’ membership. They cannot be ignored. I count on them to play a leading role at the NPT Review Conference now underway.
I have urged all States parties to this important Treaty to cross their divides and stand united in their common goals to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to define a clear path towards their abolition – for the sake of our common future.
The United Nations, throughout its history, has made a priority of working toward the abolition of nuclear weapons as an essential part of our mission to create a safe and secure world.
Fresh ideas for promoting nuclear disarmament are essential for achieving this shared goal. I applaud members of the Mayors for Peace for launching this new initiative and accelerating the momentum for nuclear disarmament.
I commend your commitment to protect the lives and property of your cities, and will endeavour to amplify your voice at the 2015 NPT Review Conference so that we may advance toward realizing our vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world.