09 August 2020

Secretary-General's message to Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony on the 75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

Delivered by Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under Secretary-General and United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs


Brave hibakusha, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a privilege to greet the Peace Memorial Ceremony, commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

This city is a true example of resilience, recovery and reconciliation. Citizens of Nagasaki are not defined by the atomic bombing, but they are dedicated to ensuring such a catastrophe never befalls another city or people. The international community remains grateful for that dedication to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. 

I want to pay tribute to the hibakusha, the survivors who have endured decades of health, economic and social tribulations. Rather than be held captive by that suffering, you have transformed your plight into a warning about the perils of nuclear weapons and an example of the triumph of the human spirit. 

Your example should provide the world with a daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Sadly, three-quarters of a century after this city was incinerated by an atomic bomb, the nuclear menace is once again on the rise.

The prospect of nuclear weapons being used intentionally, by accident or miscalculation, is dangerously high. Nuclear weapons are being modernized to become stealthier, more accurate, faster and more dangerous. And the relationships between nuclear-armed States are precarious – defined by distrust, a lack of transparency and dearth of dialogue. Nuclear sabres are being rattled, with bellicose rhetoric not seen since the Cold War.

Meanwhile, the historic progress in nuclear disarmament is in jeopardy, as the web of instruments and agreements designed to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and bring about their elimination is crumbling. This alarming trend must be reversed.

The international community must return to the understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. There is an urgent need to stop the erosion of the nuclear order. All countries possessing nuclear weapons have an obligation to lead.

We must use the tenth review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to restart our joint efforts. We must continue to uphold the norm against nuclear testing. And we must protect and further strengthen the international nuclear disarmament regime. I look forward to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an important new element.

Seventy-five years is far too long not to have learnt the lessons of the nuclear horror and the hibakusha. I take this opportunity to pledge that the United Nations will carry forward the message of these courageous individuals so that the entire world can see the human face of the cold logic of nuclear strategy. Connecting this history with the youth of today – tomorrow’s peacebuilders – must be our goal to help future generations move out from under the shadow of nuclear apocalypse.

On this day, I say, once again, there can be no more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis.