News Archive
Dec 17, 2014 - Peace Boat participates in global call to ban nuclear weapons
ICAN Civil Society Forum

On December 6-7, 2014 the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) held the largest ever civil society meeting on the abolition of nuclear weapons. Some 600 campaigners from over 70 countries, representing more than 100 different organizations, gathered in Vienna, Austria to attend this a Civil Society Forum and discuss all aspects of the nuclear weapons debate, from their catastrophic consequences, to their perceived utility, the (insufficient) international legal framework and the way forward to ban them.

ICAN is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. ICAN represents over 360 organisations in more than 90 countries. Peace Boat has been involved with ICAN since 2009, playing a key role in coordinating the campaign within Japanese groups and the public, as well as internationally. Executive Committee Member Kawasaki Akira serves on the ICAN International Steering Committee.

Participants at the civil society forum heard political and expert presentations, as well as testimonies of survivors of atomic bombings (Setsuko Thurlow, a regular guest educator on Peace Boat voyages) and nuclear tests (Prime Minister Tony de Brun of the Marshall Islands, Karipbek Kuyukov from Kazakhstan and Sue Coleman-Haseldine from Australia). They also engaged in a number of smaller workshops, including on lessons learned from other campaigns, the role of the media, divestment, and more. It was a great opportunity for many member organizations to present their work and projects. Peace Boat's Hibakusha Project and the upcoming 'I was her age' initiatives were among those presented at the forum.

International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

158 states gathered at Hofburg Palace to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental.
158 states gathered at the famous Hofburg Palace - including for the first time, delegations from the United States and United Kingdom - as well as more than 300 representatives of international organizations, civil society, parliamentarians and academia, to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental. In addition to statements by Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, survivors of nuclear bombs and tests in Japan, Australia, the US and the Marshall Islands gave powerful testimonies, and experts presented data and research on the devastating and long-lasting effects of nuclear weapons, their associated risks, as well as on the norms under existing international law pertaining to their humanitarian consequences.

The evidence-based discussion was followed by more than 100 statements by governments and civil society. ICAN forcefully called for the start of a diplomatic process, open to all and blockable by none, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.

"The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting", said Peace Boat Executive Committee member Kawasaki Akira. "The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now," he added. This view was shared by 44 governments, which explicitly called for a prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Austria concluded with a strong a Chair's Report and Summary of findings Chair's Report and Summary of findings and a powerful "Austrian pledge" , in which it committed to work to "fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons" and "to cooperate with all stakeholders, states, international organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, parliamentarians and civil society to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks." "Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start", said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.

"Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons", said said Beatrice Fihn, ICAN Executive Director, who called on "all states committed to nuclear disarmament [to] join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons."

More Information

- Read more about Peace Boat's work on disarmament and nuclear abolition , including its involvement with ICAN and the Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project here.
- Download all Conference proceedings and outcome documents here.
- Find a general report (and links to pictures) of the ICAN Civil Society Forum here.
- View ICAN's video presented at the government conference here.
- Read the report by Reaching Critical Will for more information about more about both the ICAN Civil Society Forum and the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons here.

Documents for download