Written by Sara Medi Jones
Sara is a CND Campaigns Officer representing CND at the NPT Review Conference.
The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference begins today at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This conference is held every five years to take stock of disarmament progress under the NPT, which 189 states have signed.
Despite having signed the NPT in 1968 and therefore committing to disarm, the UK continues to possess nuclear weapons. Since then, the current system Trident has entered into service and the government want to spend £100 billion on another system.
Ahead of the conference, campaigning network Peace and Planet arranged a programme of protest events, at which CND participated, which included a conference, rally, and march. Civil society had come together to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons and therefore the possibility of catastrophe through nuclear war or accident.
The devastation caused by the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago had a huge impact on the tone of the weekend, especially as around 1,000 Japanese activists were in attendance. The mayor of Hiroshima set the scene for why we campaign against these weapons of mass destruction and we heard from many hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings) as the weekend continued.
Everyone was on their feet to welcome one of this year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, Sumiteru Taniguchi. He was on his bike, delivering post, when a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was in hospital in excruciating pain for two years, but he survived and has spent his life campaigning in the hope of preventing any more communities from going through the same horror.
CND was well-represented during the activities, with two of our parliamentary supporters making important contributions. SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament Bill Kidd spoke to huge applause when he announced that his party is determined to get rid of Trident from the UK. Green Member of the European Parliament Jean Lambert greeted a crowd of thousands and praised CND’s strength and vibrancy before explaining how the coming election in the UK could provide us with an opportunity to scrap Trident.
It was estimated that up to 10,000 people marched through the streets of New York and there was a lot of interest from old and new friends in CND’s No Trident Replacement banner. A petition with 8 million signatures calling for the total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons was then presented to Ambassador Taous Feroukhi (who is chairing the NPT conference) and United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane. Angela Kane had spoken at the conference, and had struck a disappointingly pessimistic tone. She expects this year’s NPT Review Conference to feel very different from the last one in 2010 when many were hopeful regarding disarmament progress following President Obama’s speech.
With a different geopolitical landscape this time around as well, the UN’s disarmament expert believes there is much hard work to be done