A one-million signature petition from cities around the world demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons went on exhibition at United Nations Headquarters in New York today in a ceremony attended by Japanese survivors of the first and only use of the devastating bombs.
Organized by Mayors for Peace, which was founded in 1982 by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities laid waste by atomic bombs in 1945, and now counts 4,540 cities in 150 countries, the exhibition underscores the goal of transcending national borders to fight for nuclear disarmament in what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called a “landmark occasion” that helps to build international momentum.
“These one million signatures demanding an end to the nuclear threat are the voice of the world’s people. This movement brings together mayors and mothers, like-minded citizens and peace groups. They all understand that nuclear weapons make us less safe, not more,” he told those present, first addressing three ‘hibakusha,’ as atomic bomb survivors are called, including one he met on a visit to Hiroshima last year.
“Everywhere I go, I will repeat my strong, consistent and clear call for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. I will carry the message of the million petitioners represented here today and the many millions more around the world seeking to end the nuclear threat. Together, we can rid the world of nuclear weapons and answer the call of these hibakusha, who survived a nuclear attack and dedicated themselves to making sure no one else would ever suffer the same fate.”
Mr. Ban, who noted that today’s event added to the UN’s permanent disarmament installation – the first exhibit of which emphasizes the importance of the world Organization’s partnership with a global non-governmental organization (NGO) – then signed the petition himself.
Also present was award-winning actor Michael Douglas, a UN Messenger of Peace, who said: “Obviously, any time I can be here to have a reminder, a memoriam of the first and only use of atomic weapons and the destruction they did, I think it’s an important reminder,” he told UN Radio.