On September 26 2019, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Peace Boat joined other partners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to attend the High-Level Plenary Meeting commemorating and promoting this day. Also on this day, a special High-Level Ceremony was held, whereby 12 states took the significant step towards achieving this goal by signing or ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Peace Boat's Statement to the High-Level Meeting, delivered by International Coordinator Meri Joyce, can be read in full below. Statements on behalf of ICAN, by second generation Hibakusha Mitchie Takeuchi and Executive Director Beatrice Fihn, can be read on ICAN's web site here.
Peace Boat Statement to the United Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
United Nations, New York, 26 September 2019
Your excellencies, distinguished delegates, and colleagues,
Thank you for the opportunity today to speak on behalf of the Japan-based international NGO, Peace Boat. Peace Boat has worked for the past 36 years for disarmament and sustainable development, including through our education programme, Global University. Launched as a youth-led organization, I would like to today highlight the vital role that young people play in creating a better world. This has been vividly demonstrated this week, by the hundreds of thousands of youth - and particularly young women - leading and joining climate actions around the world, and the Youth Climate Action Summit here at the United Nations.
In this respect we are glad to work together with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in the “Youth for Disarmament” initiative, connecting young people with experts in order to provide them more ways to become involved in today’s international security challenges. We are excited to co-host projects together here at the United Nations and onboard Peace Boat’s ship during the upcoming First Committee next month.
A further way in which youth are now taking the lead is working together with Hibakusha, the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using their creativity and innovation to ensure that their experience and testimony are passed on to future generations and beyond national borders. Peace Boat has worked with over 180 Hibakusha and hundreds of youth to this end, inviting them to travel together onboard global voyages to convey the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the imperative to prohibit and eliminate them. Through these voyages we also highlight the need to connect the Hibakusha and youth of Japan and of other countries who share the common legacy of suffering as a result of nuclear development, such as the traditional owners of land in Australia impacted by uranium mining and nuclear testing, and the peoples of the Pacific islands driven away from their homes due to the ongoing environmental, health and social impacts of hundreds of nuclear bombs.
The message of these Global Hibakusha is manifested in the International Signature Campaign in Support of the Appeal of the Hibakusha for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which now has over 9.4 million signatories from around the world.
Let us highlight the fact the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 expressly referred to the suffering of Hibakusha and to the importance of continued engagement of Hibakusha, NGOs, the Red Cross and wider civil society in the nuclear disarmament process. As civil society, and as a member of the international steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), we are committed to working with governments and international organizations to advance the goal of the treaty.
This treaty will serve to promote peace and disarmament, and provide a platform for trust-building and dialogue in regions with clear and present nuclear threats, including Northeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.
We welcome that more than 70 countries have signed and now 32 have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, with many having just joined their numbers today and more to come. We call on all governments that have not yet done so, particularly those that do not possess nuclear weapons of their own but rely on the nuclear weapons of others, to shift their policies and also sign. Ensuring entry-into-force of the treaty is our top priority. We urge you to heed the message of youth and of the Hibakusha, to stop being accomplices under the so-called “nuclear umbrella,” and to stand on the right side of history, for the sake of future generations.