The appeal was endorsed by 237 women leaders from was released to coincide with International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament on May 24.
The intention of Count the Nuclear Weapons Money is to show the true scale of the investments that nine countries are planning for the modernisation of their nuclear arsenals over the next 10 years. Volunteers in New York, London (UK), New Mexico, Philadelphia and Wellington (New Zealand) gathered to manually count $1 Trillion over 7 days and 7 nights.
Our Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu is speaking at the UN High-Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York today. You can read her presentation here.
Another step towards future justice
Hamburg/ Göttingen (Germany) 18th July 2018 – The University of Göttingen (Germany) announced yesterday that they will end all investments in fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. The move follows an appeal from students of the university organised by Fossil Free Göttingen, and a similar announcement by the City of Göttingen in May last year.
‘We commend the University of Göttingen for taking this important step to divest from fossil fuels and help protect the climate for current and future generations,’ said Alyn Ware, Disarmament Programme Director for the World Future Council.
‘The growing threat to our future posed by climate change has stimulated students to take action,’ says Luisa Neubauer, Communications Officer for Fossil Free Göttingen. ‘The fossil fuel industry has been blocking change to sustainable energy for their own financial interests. We must therefore make it in their financial interests to change. Divestment can help achieve this.‘
‘In line with our motto “IN PUBLICA COMMODA – FOR THE GOOD OF ALL”, we not only bear responsibility for the findings of science, but also for how these findings can influence and guide society,’ said President of the University Ulrike Beisiegel. ‘For this reason, we also take on social responsibility for our investments and select them not only according to economic considerations, but also, in particular, using socially, ethically and ecologically sound criteria.’
The decision by the University impacts its investment portfolio of €190 million. Following the decision, the University Stiftung (investment foundation) will not invest in coal, gas or oil companies, nor companies involved in nuclear energy.
However, unlike the City of Göttingen which decided to also exclude nuclear weapons and conventional weapons from its investment policy, the University of Göttingen decided not to exclude these industries.
Nuclear weapons divestment is part of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, a global campaign initiated in 2016 by the World Future Council and others to cut nuclear weapons budgets, end investments in nuclear weapons and shift these budgets and investments into social, economic and environmentally beneficial enterprises.
‘We had hoped that they would also include nuclear weapons divestment in their recent decision. However, the nuclear weapons divestment campaign is still young, and perhaps the University will follow the example of Göttingen City once they have had experience of implementing their policy with positive result.’, says Alyn Ware, who is also the Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Prize’).
‘Nuclear weapons also pose an existential threat to humanity and absorb billions of dollars that are sorely needed for better purposes, such as investment in renewable energy,’ says Ms Neubauer. ‘In times of increasing tension between nuclear-armed countries, a demonstration of financial restraint can help governments step back from the nuclear brink.’
‘The Göttingen City action to divest from fossil fuels and weapons producers is a wonderful follow-up to the example of the Göttingen Eighteen, the group of Nobel laureates and other scientists from Göttingen who in the late 1950s argued against the deployment of nuclear weapons in Germany,’ says Dr Ute Finckh-Krämer, PNND Council Member and an adviser to the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. ‘The action complements similar divestment actions at State and Federal level. Berlin City, for example, has taken action to exclude investments from city funds in fossil fuel, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons and the conventional weapons industry.’
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Press Release: Nuclear weapons in Germany inflame conflict between NATO and Russia
Hamburg, Büchel (Germany) 13th July 2018 – Peace and disarmament activists from the World Future Council, Büchel is Everywhere, Nukewatch, Abolition 2000 Youth Network, and other organisations gathering at the Büchel airforce base in Germany this weekend, claim that the U.S. nuclear weapons deployed at the base and at other NATO countries inflame the conflict between NATO and Russia, provoke nuclear counter measures and increase the risk of a nuclear exchange by miscalculation or accident. The weekend protest is part of an international peace action camp at Büchel which started on July 10 just before the recent NATO Summit and finishes two days after the July 16 Helsinki Summit of Presidents Trump and Putin. It includes delegates from a number of countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States.
A principle target of the protest is the controversial practice of placing US nuclear weapons known as B61s in other countries, and US plans to replace the current bombs with new ones. Under a program called “nuclear sharing” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy a total of 150 Cold War-era US gravity H-bombs. The governments admit to nuclear sharing agreements, but will not confirm the numbers or locations of nuclear weapons on their territories. Critics point out that all five countries are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which explicitly prohibits nuclear weapons from being transferred to or accepted from others.
‘An overwhelming majority of the German public objects to US/NATO plans to replace the B61s deployed across Europe (including the 20 at Büchel Air Base) with new Hydrogen bombs called the B61-12,’ said Marion Küpker (Germany), a disarmament campaigner with the organization Büchel Is Everywhere. ‘Each of these bombs is more than 10 times as powerful as the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our united resistance will stop the new, illegal nuclear bombs nobody needs.’
‘The world wants nuclear weapons abolished,’ said Bonnie Urfer (United States), former co-director of Nukewatch. ‘To waste billions of dollars replacing them with new ones is outrageous considering the millions now in poverty or in need disaster relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water.’
‘Nuclear weapons threaten current and future generations,’ said Marzhan Nurzhan (Kazakhstan), Convener of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network. ‘We continue to experienced the catastrophic impact of nuclear weapons in our country decades ago, so we know that any use of nuclear weapons in a war would create a humanitarian disaster that would continue for hundreds and thousands of years.’
‘Presidents Trump and Putin are about to meet in Helsinki to discuss how to reduce the tensions and military provocations between the two countries,’ said Alyn Ware (New Zealand/Czech Republic), Council Member of the World Future Council speaking from Buchel. ‘The nuclear threat is the highest since the end of the Cold War. The two Presidents should use this opportunity to take their nuclear forces off high alert, commit to never initiating a nuclear war, renew the New START treaty and supplement the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty by removing all tactical weapons from forward deployment, i.e. the US nuclear weapons in Europe and Russian tactical weapons deployed near their western borders.’
On July 11, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation and Cooperation in Europe approved the Berlin Declaration which endorses the call for nuclear-armed States to adopt policies never to initiate a nuclear war (‘no-first-use’ policies) and to adopt other disarmament and confidence-building measures. The declaration also calls on OSCE governments to affirm and achieve the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
‘As the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly includes the legislatures of Russia and the United States, as well as of all NATO countries, the Berlin Declaration could be very influential in the run-up to the Trump-Putin Summit and beyond the summit,’ says Mr Ware who also serves as the Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. ‘The Berlin Declaration joins other parliamentary and civil society calls for Dialogue, détente and disarmament, indicating the breadth of support for the Buchel action this weekend.’
Note: The World Future Council 3DnukeMissile will be on display at the gate of the Büchel airbase on July 14.
Contacts for comments or photos of the action and 3DNukeMissile: Alyn Ware +420 773 638 867, Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck +49 (0) 176 5062 8377, Marzhan Nurzhan +420 770 649 750 or Marion Küpker +49 (0) 172 771 32 66
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Media & Communications Manager, World Future Council
Tel: +49 40 307 09 14 19
The World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy planet and fair societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying and spreading effective, future-just policy solutions and promote their implementation worldwide. The Council consists of 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil societies, academia, the arts and the business world. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organisation under German law and finance our activities from donations. For information on the Future Policy Award, visit: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/future-policy-award
For press enquiries, please contact Miriam Petersen, email@example.com, +49 40 307 09 14 19.
This Valentine’s Day, instead of splurging on roses and chocolates, why not do something different and take a moment with that special someone to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most important multilateral treaties, of which you have probably never heard: the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Read more
With the passing of Judge C.G. Weeramantry on 5 January the peace, disarmament and sustainability movements have lost a monumental figure. Judge Weeramantry dedicated his life to strengthening and expanding the rule of international law and demonstrated how the rule of law can be used to address critical global challenges such as the continued threat of nuclear weapons, the protection of human rights and the protection of the environment.
In addition to being one of the brightest legal minds on these issues, he was a tireless activist. Nuclear weapons were always a particular concern of his. As we face a future still marked by the nuclear threat, his wisdom and activism will be sorely missed. Fortunately, in the five decades spanning his career he has produced some of the most pioneering, convincing and eloquent analysis and arguments on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.
We would do well to revisit some of Judge Weeramantry’s treatises and learn from them as we continue to make the case for a world free of nuclear weapons. These include:
As relevant today as when he wrote it, Judge Weeramantry’s strong dissent from the majority’s decision to leave undetermined the legality of the use of nuclear weapons in self-defence when the survival of the state would be at stake, is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive arguments on the illegality of nuclear weapons “in all circumstances and without reservation.”
See here for a summary.
The World Future Council co-published this informative booklet with the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research on the occasions of the 2005 and 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. In concise yet convincing arguments, Judge Weeramantry highlights the uniqueness of the nuclear threat and how our complacency risks the human future: “Never in the history of humanity has such urgency existed in relation to any issue and never were the consequences so devastating to the human future and to all that we hold dear. The danger grows not from year to year or from month to month but from day to day.”
As long as nuclear weapons exist, Judge Weeramantry’s unique insights and arguments remain powerful and pertinent. Using the legacy he has left us to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons would be the greatest tribute we can pay him.
From October 1-3, a three-dimensional street painting of a nuclear missile being fired from the ground was unveiled next to the German Parliament. The art project occurred in conjunction with the opening of an international conference Disarm! For a Climate of Peace – Creating an Action Agenda.
Ela Gandhi, the grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi, will address the 2016 United Nations commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 27 in Geneva.
‘There is no moral justification for nuclear weapons,’ says Ms Gandhi, who is a Co-President of the global, inter-faith organization Religions for Peace. ‘People of faith the world over cannot but reject nuclear weapons – including their possession and the threat of their use – as an affront against God and creation.’
Ms Gandhi was recently in Kazakhstan, where she led an international delegation to the site in Kurchatov where the Soviet Union detonated over 450 nuclear weapons for tests, causing death or serious health impacts to over 1.5 million people. ‘The catastrophic impact of these nuclear tests on the health of the Kazakh people demonstrates the immorality of these weapons. Their use is a crime against current and future generations.’
‘One of our actions is a joint statement of religious leaders, mayors and parliamentarians which highlights the Common Good of a nuclear-weapon-free world and which we have presented to the United Nations demonstrating global support for nuclear disarmament. Now it looks like the UN will take up our call and commence multilateral negotiations in 2017 for a nuclear-weapon-free world.’ Ela Gandhi.
The UN commemoration event is being organised by UNFOLD ZERO, a global platform promoting United Nations initiatives for nuclear disarmament, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (Geneva) and the Permanent Missions of Kazakhstan and Ecuador to the UN.
‘The risk of nuclear weapons use by accident, miscalculation or intent has increased due to conflicts between Russia and the West over Ukraine, heightened tensions in North East Asia and increased possibilities of terrorists acquiring nuclear materials or hacking into nuclear command and control systems,’ says Alyn Ware, Member of the World Future Council and Co-founder of UNFOLD ZERO. ‘The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons occurs on the anniversary of an incident in which a nuclear war nearly occurred due to technical faults in the Soviet nuclear command and control system during a similar time of high tension. A similar incident today could lead inadvertently to the destruction of human civilization.’
The UN commemoration event will also highlight the links between nuclear disarmament and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. ‘The nuclear weapons industry consumes $100 billion per year,’ says Colin Archer, Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau. ‘This money could go a long way in financing the SDGs, offering a much better chance that the goals can indeed be reached.‘
The commemoration event is part of Chain Reaction 2016, a series of nuclear disarmament actions and events around the world running from July 8th (the 20th anniversary of the International Court of Justice decision affirming the general illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons) until October 2, the International Day of Non-violence and birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
When the atom bomb was detonated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Mahatma Gandhi noted that ‘The atomic bomb has deadened the finest feelings which have sustained mankind for ages.’ Ela Gandhi believes that humankind can recover its soul, prevent a nuclear war, and achieve peace through co-operative actions, especially by people of faith working in cooperation with legislators, governments and the United Nations. ‘One of our actions is a joint statement of religious leaders, mayors and parliamentarians which highlights the Common Good of a nuclear-weapon-free world and which we have presented to the United Nations demonstrating global support for nuclear disarmament. Now it looks like the UN will take up our call and commence multilateral negotiations in 2017 for a nuclear-weapon-free world.’
The UN commemoration will include a video of Chain Reaction events around the world, plus the presentation to the United Nations of the Astana Vision declaration: From a Radioactive haze to a nuclear-weapon-free world.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Chain Reaction – UN event.
You probably don’t know but today marks the UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Not to be confused with the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests – that was on 29 August (don’t feel too bad if you totally forgot about it).
UN ‘International Days’ are designed to promote international awareness and action on certain issues. For the most part, they deal with key security, development and health issues that the international community is facing – e.g. water security, slavery and environmental degradation, just to name a few examples.
Over the years, the number of such days has ballooned – to date, there are 130 such observances (not counting the UN 2016 International Year of Pulses and 6 UN Decades in which we currently live). The main reason for this growth is that it’s low-hanging fruit for member states to propose a commemorative day as many are dedicated to lofty ideals that few others would want to oppose (what country wants to go on record as not caring about migratory birds?).
That’s why you can now have your awareness raised about child labour, albinism, blood donation, elder abuse, family remittances and desertification and drought – all in one week in June! You cannot help but feel that packing the calendar with so many commemorative days devalues and defeats the purpose of awareness raising.
And so today it’s nuclear weapons’ turn, as we mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. A lofty goal if there ever was one, a world free of nuclear weapons has been a shared vision of the international community since the first nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, 71 years since those attacks it’s safe to say that the goal has proven elusive.
When in 2013 the UN General Assembly voted in favour of designating 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, few thought it would be a game changer. That’s not to say it’s without value. Intended to enhance “public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination, in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”, the day rightfully highlights the critical gap in public awareness on the dangers on nuclear weapons.
But it was never going to constrain the actions of any of the nuclear-armed states. For them it has been business as usual.
All nine have been involved in renewing and extending nuclear weapon programmes or modernising forces, none of them have lowered the role of nuclear weapons in their defence policies (quite the contrary – in some cases, nuclear weapons have enjoyed increased salience in military posturing), one carried out a nuclear test as recent as 9 September (less than a fortnight after the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests no less!) and the majority has forcefully resisted multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts—case in point being that the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Israel voted against the resolution that designated 26 September as the International Day as well as, inter alia, “calls for urgent compliance with the legal obligations and the fulfilment of the commitments undertaken on nuclear disarmament.”
And so it has been left to the non-nuclear weapon states to take up the baton and advance nuclear disarmament. By definition, what they can achieve as countries without nuclear weapons is limited in the push for a world free of nuclear weapons. But two recent initiatives are worth highlighting – worth raising awareness about, if you will.
On Wednesday, Austria announced that it would join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month at the UN General Assembly to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.
The move follows a recommendation adopted last month by the UN Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. The recommendation was supported by 62 countries (all non-nuclear weapon states).
The recommendation was part of a more detailed report that will be presented to the UN General Assembly, and which also includes a recommendation for States to undertake measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of nuclear weapons use, increase transparency about nuclear weapons and enhance awareness about the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. In yet another sign of their reluctance to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations, none of the nine nuclear weapons possessors participated in the OEWG.
The second initiative is a bold legal action that puts the legal obligations on nuclear disarmament back at the heart of the debate and action.
In April 2014, the tiny Pacific Island state of the Marshall Islands took the nine nuclear-armed States to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming they are in violation of their nuclear disarmament obligations, as rooted in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Customary International Law.
The unprecedented legal action requests a declaratory judgment of breach of obligations relating to nuclear disarmament, cessation of the nuclear arms race, and good faith as well as an order from the Court directed at the nine nuclear powers to take, within one year of the judgment, all steps necessary to comply with their nuclear disarmament obligations.
The cases have proceeded against the three nuclear-armed states that have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ – the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. In March this year, the Court held hearings in these cases on preliminary issues. Next week, on 5 October, the Court will issue its judgement on these issues and whether the cases are to proceed to the merits phase.
What the Austrian-led push for a legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons and the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases have in common is that they are born of frustration about the ongoing inaction of the nuclear-armed states to implement their disarmament obligations and advance the nuclear disarmament enterprise in any meaningful way.
Although it remains to be seen where both initiatives will go and what effect they will have on the policies of the nuclear-armed states, they are being pursued in the full spirit of today’s goal – the total elimination of nuclear weapons.