9 December 2014, Vienna
I am speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to
Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of over 360 organisations in more than 90
countries. We are a global campaign determined to achieve the prohibition and
elimination of nuclear weapons. We organised the weekend forum for over 600
people on the courage to ban nuclear weapons.
conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons hosted by
Norway, Mexico, and now Austria have clearly explained and documented these impacts.
We have heard alarming evidence about the devastating effects of nuclear
weapons. We have heard about the risks of detonation, either accidental or
intentional. We have heard that no effective response is possible.
also heard the stories of people that have survived the use or testing of
nuclear weapons. Their stories illustrate that nuclear weapons are
unacceptable and should clearly therefore be prohibited. But these stories
also illustrate the need for legal provisions to assist victims and to ensure
the fulfilment of their rights.
stands out from the session on legal frameworks is that we are currently
lacking an instrument that explicitly characterises nuclear weapons as
unacceptable under international law. Our next step as supporters of the
humanitarian initiative should be to explore the best way to address this legal
of the Nayarit conference concluded that, in light of the devastating immediate
and long-term effects of nuclear detonations, the time has come to start a
diplomatic process to negotiate a legally-binding instrument prohibiting
This is not a radical proposal. Indiscriminate weapons
get banned. We have done it before with other weapon systems, including
biological and chemical weapons.
This should not be a controversial proposal. An international prohibition is
the logical outcome of an examination of the risks and consequences of nuclear
weapons detonation. A new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear
weapons would constitute a long overdue implementation of the Non-Proliferation
This is a meaningful proposal. It would establish a
comprehensive set of prohibitions and provide a framework under which the
elimination of nuclear weapons can be pursued.
This is a feasible, achievable proposal. It can be
negotiated now, and have normative and practical impacts.
We have heard some say that the calls for a new legal
regime on nuclear weapons fail to take into account security interests. But, as
New Zealand said, those countries must explain what they mean. Whose security
are they talking about?
Where such a treaty is negotiated is less important than ensuring
that the process is open to all and blockable by none.
That includes the nuclear-armed states. It would be better for all states to
participate. But this seems unlikely at the present time. While we must keep
working towards that goal with absolute determination, we believe states should
put a prohibition in place now. The 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima
and Nagasaki attacks is the appropriate milestone to launch such a process.
This will take courage. We have confidence that the
overwhelming majority of states will join this process. And we look forward to
accompanying you along the road to a treaty banning nuclear weapons.