Annan urges city leaders to work with global partners to help eradicate nuclear weapons
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged a gathering of mayors from around the globe to press ahead with their valuable work – building bridges of international cooperation at the community level – to help revitalize the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Revitalizing that vision “is the only way to guarantee that these terrible weapons will never be used again,” Mr. Annan said in remarks to a conference of mayors at UN Headquarters in New York. The visit by the “Mayors for Peace,” who are in town to promote their vision of a global ban on nuclear weapons by 2020, coincides with the opening of the 2005 Review Conference of State Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The group is composed of cities around the world – led by city leaders from Hiroshima and Nagasaki – who have formally united against nuclear weapons. The non-governmental organization (NGO) is now supported by 554 cities in 107 countries and regions, endorsing the 1982 Programme to Promote Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.
“Your work is very important to us here at the United Nations,” Mr. Annan said. “This UN is a meeting place of national governments, but it also needs the ideas and enthusiasm of local communities around the world.”
Welcoming a number of “Hibakusa” – living witnesses to the horrors wrought by the atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – the Secretary-General urged the mayors to press ahead with their work, even in the face of what might seem to be insurmountable obstacles.
If the world’s NPT obligations – ensuring nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – were to be revitalized, action would be required on all fronts. “Your efforts, of course, are a part of something bigger – the struggle for a freer, fairer and safer world,” Mr. Annan said.
At a press conference earlier Tuesday, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, President of Mayors for Peace, said the interim goal of the so-called “2020 Vision Campaign” was to have a universal nuclear weapons convention prepared by 2010, for consideration by the next NPT review meeting. He said he hoped the discussions over the next few days would be the beginning of a constructive exchange between the custodians of the NPT and the mayors, citizens and NGOs of the world.
Mayor Kazunaga Itoh of Nagasaki said that in the 60 years since the horrific attacks on his home city and Hiroshima, many nuclear weapons had no doubt been produced but not one had been used. That was perhaps because the countries that have or those that would like to have such weapons realized what a devastating thing they could be. He added, however, that six decades after the event, one could still identify cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. Calling for the eradication of all nuclear weapons, he said that the effects of the bombs were such that even today, the long-term after-effects were still being felt.