Australian news, and some related international items

The long haul towards getting rid of nuclear weapons

A long road to abolishment of nuclear weapons,   JONATHAN DOWN / Times Colonist DECEMBER 7, 2017 With the Doomsday Clock now set at 2.5 minutes to midnight, the key role of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in building the historic UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is more remarkable than ever.

On July 7, 122 United Nations member countries adopted the treaty, and 50 nations have signed it since Sept. 20. It is anticipated that by the end of 2018, the treaty will become international law.

Recognizing that the risk of nuclear war is even higher today than during the Cold War, the Nobel Committee is honouring ICAN’s work with the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded in Oslo on Sunday. Canadian peace campaigner and Hiroshima bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow, together with ICAN’s executive director Beatrice Fihn, will accept the prize.

However, although a Canadian activist will receive the Nobel in Oslo, Canada has turned its back on the treaty and refused to sign. Pressure from the United States is considered the main reason for this decision, which directly contradicts Canada’s international reputation as a supporter of nuclear disarmament. It also flouts the treaty’s vision of a world where nuclear weapons are stigmatized, prohibited and eventually eliminated.

 The idea of ICAN came from a 2007 meeting of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The humanitarian consequences of the use of any nuclear weapon had been the central focus of physician concern for many years. However, after years of government inaction on the part of both nuclear and non-nuclear nations, a decision was made to launch an international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, and ICAN was born.

Run almost entirely by enthusiastic, highly motivated young people from different parts of the world, ICAN clearly understands that 21st-century threats such as terrorism, cyber-security, failed states and climate change can’t be solved with nuclear weapons. Inflammatory rhetoric threatening “fire and fury” moves the world ever closer to the catastrophe of a nuclear war. Rather than acting as a deterrent, the threat of nuclear weapons encourages nations such as North Korea to accelerate their efforts to acquire their own nuclear arsenal.

ICAN-affiliated organizations are found in more than a hundred countries, including Canada, and the Nobel prize is a tribute to the millions of activists such as Thurlow who have worked to abolish the worst weapons of mass destruction. Victoria-based Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network is affiliated with ICAN through member organizations, and several members participated in the negotiations leading up to the landmark treaty.

Canadians should be extremely proud of ICAN and the huge amount of work that has been done to advance the cause of global peace. We have a long way to go before nuclear weapons are finally abolished — but this year’s Nobel Peace Prize shows that the civil world is on the right track.

Jonathan Down is a pediatrician in Victoria and president-elect of Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian affiliate of IPPNW. He is a member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network.


December 9, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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