124 Countries Take a Firm Stance Against Nuclear Weapons: Will there be a Positive Outcome?

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On a proposal from New Zealand, on October 21 at the meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, 124 countries supported the so-called “Humanitarian Initiative,” which, condemning the devastating effects of the use of nuclear weapons, promotes the eradication of all nuclear weapons.

The “Humanitarian Initiative” is the fourth in a series of joint statements on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament that, starting in 2012, several countries have launched at the international level after the initial stimulus of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Following Switzerland and South Africa, this time it was the turn of New Zealand in the re-launch an initiative. New Zealand worked to emphasize the “concern for the serious humanitarian consequences arising also from the mere existence of nuclear weapons.”

Among the 80 states that so far have adhered to the “Humanitarian Initiative” there are members of the European Union (Ireland, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta), NATO members (Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway) and other European countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) in addition to the Holy See, who holds a permanent observer position in the UN. And it was only until a few days ago that Japan, which has U.S. nuclear protection, announced that its membership be reflected in the course of this week, during the First Committee.

For the presentation of this official document, which already received the support prior to its circulation of 103 countries around world, the role of the United Nations is not of small importance. “Preventing that could be a new humanitarian catastrophe after Hiroshima and Nagasaki was always a commitment of the newly formed UN: the first resolution of January 1946 already expressed all concerns of the international community on the use of nuclear weapons ” said Lisa Clark Blessed, of the Peace and International Steering of the International Peace Bureau (Nobel Prize for Peace in 1910).

After the ruling of the International Court of Justice in 1996 (which adjudged the illicit use and threat of use of nuclear weapons), the Member States and non-governmental organizations in favor of a Convention which would prohibit the construction, possession and use have sought to promote alternative ways to break the deadlock in the Conference in Disarmament in Geneva.

“Today – said Francesco Vignarca, coordinator of Network Disarmament – the so-called Humanitarian Initiative seems to offer excellent prospects for overcoming the obstacles that still prevent humanity from finally enacting the ban of nuclear weapons.”

“The permanence of 19,000 nuclear warheads still in possession of nine countries, but concentrated to a jaw-dropping 90% in the U.S. and Russian arsenals, continues to pose a threat to the whole of humanity, which has not yet found in the two major treaties (the Treaty on the Non proliferation NPT and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty – CTBT), an adequate response to the atomic challenge”- said Maurizio Simoncelli, Vice President of the Disarmament Archive and partners of the international campaign ICAN. “As long as some countries continue to have such weapons, others will aspire to have them too and the potential for nuclear proliferation will persist in making our world more insecure.”

But is there a possibility that nuclear weapons could actually be removed from the face of the earth? Could the chosen Nobel Prize for Peace of this year, the organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, be a step in this direction?

Half a century ago possessing nuclear weapons was synonymous with the size of power, in fact, the two blocks (USA and USSR) were competing for whoever built it before the other.

Today, the states that possess nuclear weapons have increased but are we sure that they would be willing to abolish them completely if it might cost them their “hegemony”? It is generally known that in spite of the will of man to save humanity, the concept of “homo homini lupus” will always remain true.

Erika Sciarra.

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