After hearing presentations from a wide range of experts on the various effects of nuclear-weapon detonations the conference concluded that "it is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear-weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected." Conference members also agreed that the effects of a nuclear-weapon detonation will not be constrained by national borders but will produce significant negative regional and global effects 6.
Mexico offered to host a follow-up meeting to this conference and such is the vital importance of this approach that other states declared their intention to organise additional events on this subject.
The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in Nayarit, Mexico, on 13 and 14 February 2014. It included delegations representing 146 States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and civil-society organizations.
The powerful summary statement of the conference Chair pointed out that the broad participation of states and civil society reflected the burgeoning awareness that this issue is of the utmost importance to all the peoples of the world. Due to "...proliferation, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks and to human error and potential access to nuclear weapons by non-state actors, in particularly terrorist groups, the risks are 'growing globally'. The risks of 'accidental, mistaken, unauthorised or intentional use is growing significantly due to more countries holding weapons on higher levels of combat readiness'." As awareness of the humanitarian impact grows hearts and minds are being changed worldwide. These weapons must be outlawed; "In the past, weapons have been eliminated after they have been outlawed. We believe this is the path to achieve a world without nuclear weapons." He called for a 'legally binding instrument' and declared that the "time has come to initiate a diplomatic process conducive to this goal. Our belief is that this process should comprise a specific time-frame, the definition of the most appropriate fora, and a clear and substantive framework, making the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons the essence of disarmament efforts. It is time to take action 7."
The Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons will be held in Austria later this year. The movement for an international ban is unstoppable.
The International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) 8 is a coalition of over 350 organisations in 90 countries. Ray Acheson, in his closing statement on behalf of ICAN to the Second Conference, included the words "The claim by some states that they continue to need these weapons to deter their adversaries has been exposed by the evidence presented at this conference and in Oslo as a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with our future."
He went on to explain that the use against cities of less than one percent of existing weapons would put billions of lives in jeopardy and have a long-lasting detrimental effect on both the planet's climate and agriculture. He insisted that we must act to get rid of them or they will be used by accident, misunderstanding or malicious intent. Getting rid of them will take courageous leadership by states but such leadership will have the support of civil society. He concluded, "It is time to change the status quo. It is time we ban nuclear weapons."
So with these and other major forces at work there is an unstoppable movement towards banning these Armageddon machines. The nuclear states have become a sorry sight. Frozen in a realm of outdated thinking that was always inhuman; their leaders frightened and paranoid and prepared to put the survival of humanity in jeopardy simply in order to feel important and powerful as they strut, uncomprehending, on the world stage.
Their brief and nightmarish ascendancy is over. The world has moved on.
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