Red Cross Red Crescent at UN Disarmament Conference: elimination of nuclear weapons cannot wait any longer
At the 25th United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues taking place in Hiroshima, Japan, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement reiterated its call for governments to take urgent action to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons through a binding international agreement.
Held in Japan since 1989, the conference is an important forum to discuss disarmament and security related issues facing the international community. This year’s meeting takes place only weeks after the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and three months after the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons failed to reach agreement on ways to advance nuclear disarmament.
Today, decades after the atomic bombings of 1945, many thousands of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki still need continuous medical care for radiation-related diseases. They are a testament to the long-term suffering that nuclear weapons can inflict on human beings. New research has also highlighted the impact that the use of such weapons would today have on public health, global temperatures, food production, and the world’s economy.
“There can be no way to deny the devastating impact of the use of nuclear weapons on people and the environment” said Tadateru Konoe, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), who is heading the Movement’s delegation at the conference. “The fallout from a nuclear explosion would be so catastrophic, the devastation so complete, that there is very little we can do to mitigate the consequences. The only conscionable step we can take is to eliminate them once and for all”.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has called for the prohibition of nuclear weapons since 1948. In 2011, one year after 190 States party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons officially recognized the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”, the Movement, which comprises 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, their IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross, appealed to governments to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used. It did so based on strong concerns about the ‘incalculable human suffering that can be expected to result from any use of nuclear weapons’, and ‘the lack of any adequate humanitarian response capacity’ in most countries and at the international level.
“Seventy years after the nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the commitment to disarm remains unfulfilled and, given the stockpiles of nuclear weapons today, it is particularly important to find a way to move from this commitment to concrete acts,” commented Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “In recent years, opportunities have arisen to advance nuclear disarmament. We must make the most of these opportunities, to find ways to translate existing commitments into real, meaningful action”.