Guest blog from Dawn Rothwell, CND Campaigns Officer, at the NPT Review Conference in New York 1st May 2010
People try to pigeon-hole us peace and anti-nuclear types, but they’re wrong. The NGO conference today, in advance of the NPT Review Conference on Monday, showed that to me very plainly. There’s just so many of us, and we come in all different shapes and sizes! But one thing we share is our conviction that having nuclear weapons in the world is wrong. And today many hundreds of us came together from so many different countries to share information and support each other in a global goal to get rid of them.
And the Secretary General of the United Nations agreed with us. He came to this conference, organised by myriad organisations including CND, and he thanked our movement for its ‘strong commitment, courage’ and ‘leadership’. It was fitting that the conference was based at the Riverside Church where Martin Luther King himself once spoke to so many people about the terrible injustices of the Vietnam war and the need to work for peace. I think we might have made him proud.
There was much to say in the workshops and plenaries: the conference lasted almost 12 hours. My tiredness was mixed with feelings of sadness. After all the hope, speakers spoke of their doubts about Obama; in one workshop I learnt details about the enormous investment the US government is making in the labs and facilities that design and produce the US weapons, even more than the enormous investments we are making in our Aldermaston bomb factory. Although, Obama’s new Nuclear Posture Review says there won’t be a new design of warheads, there will still be lots of ‘refurbishing’ and modernising. A triad of new facilites will cost $9 billion dollars and, with this, production can go from 20 warheads a year to 80! I commented that the close, sharing relationship the UK and US have in nuclear weapons matters means that whatever the US does impacts upon our government’s decisions.
Much still to do. But tiredeness was dispelled by the plenary in the evening. Ban Ki-moon told us campaigners that we must ‘Keep it up’, we can be positive, there have been shifts in the right direction: ‘the time for change is now!’ Like us, nuclear disarmament is his ‘top priority’ and he gave his important support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. And then there was the Mayor of Hiroshima, telling us that soon over one billion people would be represented by Mayors for Peace. He dared the leaders of the nuclear weapon states to come to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and stand in front of those who survived, those who have known ‘hell on earth’, listen to their accounts and then tell them that nuclear weapons are still needed.
‘Together we have the power’ he said, to bring about disarmament. And I agree with him. As Ban Ki-moon said, ‘What I see on the horizon is a world free of nuclear weapons. What I see in front of me are the people who will make this happen.’ And that’s all of us.
Read Ban Ki-moon’s full speech here and see more details about the conference here
Read more thoughts from the CND delegation at New York: Vice-Chairs Sarah Cartin and Dave Webb