Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for further progress on the global disarmament agenda, stressing that getting rid of nuclear weapons is the best way to ensure security for all.
“Let us be clear: the only guarantee of safety, and the only sure protection against the use of such weapons, is their elimination,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020.
“Nuclear disarmament is often dismissed as a dream, when the real fantasies are the claims that nuclear weapons guarantee security or increase a country’s status and prestige,” he noted.
“The more often countries make such claims, the more likely it will be that others will adopt the same approach. The result will be insecurity for all.”
The three-day conference is organized by Mayors for Peace – which unites more than 4,000 mayors and other city officials with the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world – and includes representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cities and national governments, as well as concerned citizens.
Mr. Ban noted that the timeline in the 2020 Vision Campaign initiated by the Mayors for Peace to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons is especially important.
He also voiced deep admiration for the survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who are known as hibakusha, and their determination to tell the world about their experience of the horrors of nuclear weapons.
The Secretary-General urged all leaders, especially those of nuclear-weapon States, to visit both cities – which were reduced to rubble in the August 1945 attacks that also claimed hundreds of thousands of lives – to see first-hand the impact of nuclear weapons.
Next month Mr. Ban will participate in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, becoming the first UN Secretary-General to do so.
“I myself will go there in 10 days’ time for this year’s peace memorial ceremony, at which I will appeal for urgent steps to advance the disarmament agenda,” he told the gathering.
He recalled his own five-point plan, which was first put forward in October 2008 and offers a practical approach to eliminating nuclear weapons. It begins with a call for the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, either through a new convention or through a series of mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a credible system of verification.
The plan also urges the Security Council to consider other ways to strengthen security in the disarmament process; measures to strengthen rule of law, accountability and transparency; and progress in eliminating other weapons of mass destruction and limiting missiles, space weapons and conventional arms – all of which are needed for a nuclear-weapon-free world.