Kofi Annan’s Clarion Call for Nuclear Sanity


Nearing the end of his second term as Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan went to Princeton University on November 28, 2006 to make what may well be remembered as the most important speech of his tenure. He began by talking about the general sense of insecurity in our world today related to a broad range of issues, including poverty, environmental degradation, disease, war and terrorism. He concluded that “the greatest danger of all” may well be “the area of nuclear weapons.” He gave three reasons for this conclusion:

“First, nuclear weapons present a unique existential threat to humanity. “Secondly, the nuclear non-proliferation regime faces a major crisis of confidence….

“Thirdly, the rise of terrorism, with the danger that nuclear weapons might be acquired by terrorists, greatly increases the danger that they will be used.”

He pointed to the two significant failures by governments in 2005 to achieve progress on the twin issues of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament: first, at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference; and second, at the World Summit, which brought together heads of governments from throughout the world.

Annan attributed the current stalemate, which he termed “mutually assured paralysis,” to the deadlock between those who put nuclear disarmament first and those who put non-proliferation first. He urged both sides to come together and tackle both issues “with the urgency they demand.”

He called upon the nuclear weapons states “to develop concrete plans – with specific timetables – for implementing their disarmament commitments.” He also urged them “to make a joint declaration of intent to achieve the progressive elimination of all nuclear weapons, under strict and effective international control.”

He concluded his remarks by appealing to young people: “Please bring your energy and imagination to this debate. Help us to seize control of the rogue aircraft on which humanity has embarked, and bring it to a safe landing before it is too late.”

This speech is a parting gift from the Secretary General to humanity. I urge you to read it and to demand far more serious action on these critical issues by the leaders of the nuclear weapons states, those who are attempting to control the hijacked “rogue aircraft on which humanity has embarked….”

Read the Kofi Annan Speech

David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is a leader in the global effort for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Lecture at Princeton University

Let me begin by saying how delighted I am to have been invited to give this address by a School named after Woodrow Wilson, the great pioneer of multilateralism and advocate of world peace, who argued, among other things, for agreed international limits on deadly weapons.

Princeton is indissolubly linked with the memory of Albert Einstein and many other great scientists who played a role in making this country the first nuclear power. That makes it an especially appropriate setting for my address this evening, because my main theme is the danger of nuclear weapons, and the urgent need to confront that danger by preventing proliferation and promoting disarmament, both at once. I shall argue that these two objectives — disarmament and non-proliferation — are inextricably linked, and that to achieve progress on either front we must also advance on the other.

Almost everyone in today’s world feels insecure, but not everyone feels insecure about the same thing. Different threats seem more urgent to people in different parts of the world.

Probably the largest number would give priority to economic and social threats, including poverty, environmental degradation and infectious disease.

Others might stress inter-State conflict; yet others internal conflict, including civil war. Many people – especially but not only in the developed world — would now put terrorism at the top of their list.

In truth, all these threats are interconnected, and all cut across national frontiers. We need common global strategies to deal with all of them — and indeed, Governments are coming together to work out and implement such strategies, in the UN and elsewhere. The one area where there is a total lack of any common strategy is the one that may well present the greatest danger of all: the area of nuclear weapons.

Why do I consider it the greatest danger? For three reasons:

First, nuclear weapons present a unique existential threat to all humanity.

Secondly, the nuclear non-proliferation regime now faces a major crisis of confidence. North Korea has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while India, Israel, and Pakistan have never joined it. There are, at least, serious questions about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. And this, in turn, raises questions about the legitimacy, and credibility, of the case-by-case approach to non-proliferation that the existing nuclear powers have adopted.

Thirdly, the rise of terrorism, with the danger that nuclear weapons might be acquired by terrorists, greatly increases the danger that they will be used.

Yet, despite the grave, all-encompassing nature of this threat, the Governments of the world are addressing it selectively, not comprehensively.

In one way, that’s understandable. The very idea of global self-annihilation is unbearable to think about. But, that is no excuse. We must try to imagine the human and environmental consequences of a nuclear bomb exploding in one, or even in several, major world cities — or indeed of an all-out confrontation between two nuclear-armed States.

In focusing on nuclear weapons, I am not seeking to minimize the problem of chemical and biological ones, which are also weapons of mass destruction, and are banned under international treaties. Indeed, perhaps the most important, under-addressed threat relating to terrorism — one which acutely requires new thinking — is the threat of terrorists using a biological weapon.

But, nuclear weapons are the most dangerous. Even a single bomb can destroy an entire city, as we know from the terrible example of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and today, there are bombs many times as powerful as those. These weapons pose a unique threat to humanity as a whole.

Forty years ago, understanding that this danger must be avoided at all costs, nearly all States in the world came together and forged a grand bargain, embodied in the NPT.

In essence, that treaty was a contract between the recognized nuclear-weapon States at that time and the rest of the international community. The nuclear-weapon States undertook to negotiate in good faith on nuclear disarmament, to prevent proliferation, and to facilitate the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while separately declaring that they would refrain from threatening non-nuclear-weapon States with nuclear weapons. In return, the rest committed themselves not to acquire or manufacture nuclear weapons, and to place all their nuclear activities under the verification of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Thus, the treaty was designed both to prevent proliferation and to advance disarmament, while assuring the right of all States, under specified conditions, to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

From 1970 — when it entered into force — until quite recently, the NPT was widely seen as a cornerstone of global security. It had confounded the dire predictions of its critics. Nuclear weapons did not — and still have not — spread to dozens of States, as John F. Kennedy and others predicted in the 1960s. In fact, more States have given up their ambitions for nuclear weapons than have acquired them.

And yet, in recent years, the NPT has come under withering criticism — because the international community has been unable to agree how to apply it to specific crises in South Asia, the Korean peninsula and the Middle East; and because a few States parties to the treaty are allegedly pursuing their own nuclear-weapons capabilities.

Twice in 2005, Governments had a chance to strengthen the Treaty’s foundations — first at the Review conference in May, then at the World Summit in September. Both times they fai— essentially because they couldn’t agree whether non-proliferation or disarmament should come first.

The advocates of “non-proliferation first” — mainly nuclear-weapon States and their supporters — believe the main danger arises not from nuclear weapons as such, but from the character of those who possess them, and therefore, from the spread of nuclear weapons to new States and to non-state actors (so called “horizontal proliferation”). The nuclear-weapon States say they have carried out significant disarmament since the end of the cold war, but that their responsibility for international peace and security requires them to maintain a nuclear deterrent.

“Disarmament first” advocates, on the other hand, say that the world is most imperilled by existing nuclear arsenals and their continual improvement (so called “vertical proliferation”). Many non-nuclear-weapon States accuse the nuclear-weapon States of retreating from commitments they made in 1995 (when the NPT was extended indefinitely) and reiterated as recently as the year 2000. For these countries, the NPT “grand bargain” has become a swindle. They note that the UN Security Council has often described the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a threat to international peace and security, but has never declared that nuclear weapons in and of themselves are such a threat. They see no serious movement towards nuclear disarmament, and claim that the lack of such movement presages a permanent “apartheid” between nuclear “haves” and “have-nots”.

Both sides in this debate feel that the existence of four additional States with nuclear weapons, outside the NPT, serves only to sharpen their argument.

The debate echoes a much older argument: are weapons a cause or a symptom of conflict? I believe both debates are sterile, counterproductive, and based on false dichotomies.

Arms build-ups can give rise to threats leading to conflict; and political conflicts can motivate the acquisition of arms. Efforts are needed both to reduce arms and to reduce conflict. Likewise, efforts are needed to achieve both disarmament and non-proliferation.

Yet, each side waits for the other to move. The result is that “mutually assured destruction” has been replaced by mutually assured paralysis. This sends a terrible signal of disunity and waning respect for the Treaty’s authority. It creates a vacuum that can be exploited.

I said earlier this year that we are “sleepwalking towards disaster”. In truth, it is worse than that — we are asleep at the controls of a fast-moving aircraft. Unless we wake up and take control, the outcome is all too predictable.

An aircraft, of course, can remain airborne only if both wings are in working order. We cannot choose between non-proliferation and disarmament. We must tackle both tasks with the urgency they demand.

Allow me to offer my thoughts to each side in turn.

To those who insist on disarmament first, I say this:

— Proliferation is not a threat only, or even mainly, to those who already have nuclear weapons. The more fingers there are on nuclear triggers, and the more those fingers belong to leaders of unstable States — or, even worse, non-State actors — the greater the threat to all humankind.

— Lack of progress on disarmament is no excuse for not addressing the dangers of proliferation. No State should imagine that, by pushing ahead with a nuclear-weapon programme, it can pose as a defender of the NPT; still less that it will persuade others to disarm.

— I know some influential States, which themselves have scrupulously respected the Treaty, feel strongly that the nuclear-weapon States have not lived up to their disarmament obligations. But, they must be careful not to let their resentment put them on the side of the proliferators. They should state clearly that acquiring prohibited weapons never serves the cause of their elimination. Proliferation only makes disarmament even harder to achieve.

— I urge all States to give credit where it is due. Acknowledge disarmament whenever it does occur. Applaud the moves which nuclear-weapon States have made, whether unilaterally or through negotiation, to reduce nuclear arsenals or prevent their expansion. Recognize that the nuclear-weapon States have virtually stopped producing new fissile material for weapons, and are maintaining moratoria on nuclear tests.

— Likewise, support even small steps to contain proliferation, such as efforts to improve export controls on goods needed to make weapons of mass destruction, as mandated by Security Council resolution 1540.

— And please support the efforts of the Director-General of the IAEA and others to find ways of guaranteeing that all States have access to fuel and services for their civilian nuclear programmes without spreading sensitive technology. Countries must be able to meet their growing energy needs through such programmes, but we cannot afford a world where more and more countries develop the most sensitive phases of the nuclear fuel cycle themselves.

— Finally, do not encourage, or allow, any State to make its compliance with initiatives to eliminate nuclear weapons, or halt their proliferation, conditional on concessions from other States on other issues. The preservation of human life on this planet is too important to be used as a hostage.

To those who insist on non-proliferation first, I say this:

—True, there has been some progress on nuclear disarmament since the end of the cold war. Some States have removed many nuclear weapons from deployment, and eliminated whole classes of nuclear delivery systems. The US and Russia have agreed to limit the number of strategic nuclear weapons they deploy, and have removed non-strategic ones from ships and submarines; the US Congress refused to fund the so called “bunker-buster” bomb; most nuclear test sites have been closed; and there are national moratoria on nuclear tests, while three nuclear-weapon States — France, Russia and the UK — have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

— Yet, stockpiles remain alarmingly high: 27,000 nuclear weapons reportedly remain in service, of which about 12,000 are actively deployed.

— Some States seem to believe they need fewer weapons, but smaller and more useable ones — and even to have embraced the notion of using such weapons in conflict. All of the NPT nuclear-weapon States are modernizing their nuclear arsenals or their delivery systems. They should not imagine that this will be accepted as compatible with the NPT. Everyone will see it for what it is: a euphemism for nuclear re-armament.

— Nor is it clear how these States propose to deal with the four nuclear-weapon-capable States outside the NPT. They warn against a nuclear domino effect, if this or that country is allowed to acquire a nuclear capability, but they do not seem to know how to prevent it, or how to respond to it once it has happened. Surely they should at least consider attempting a “reverse domino effect”, in which systematic and sustained reductions in nuclear arsenals would devalue the currency of nuclear weapons, and encourage others to follow suit.

— Instead, by clinging to and modernizing their own arsenals, even when there is no obvious threat to their national security that nuclear weapons could deter, nuclear-weapon States encourage others — particularly those that do face real threats in their own reg— to regard nuclear weapons as essential, both to their security and to their status. It would be much easier to confront proliferators, if the very existence of nuclear weapons were universally acknowledged as dangerous and ultimately illegitimate.

— Similarly, States that wish to discourage others from undertaking nuclear or missile tests could argue their case much more convincingly if they themselves moved quickly to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force, halt their own missile testing, and negotiate a robust multilateral instrument regulating missiles. Such steps would do more than anything else to advance the cause of non-proliferation.

— Important Powers such as Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Japan have shown, by refusing to develop them, that nuclear weapons are not essential to either security or status. South Africa destroyed its arsenal and joined the NPT. Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan gave up nuclear weapons from the former Soviet nuclear arsenal. And Libya has abandoned its nuclear and chemical weapons programmes. The nuclear weapon States have applauded all these examples. They should follow them.

— Finally, Governments and civil society in many countries are increasingly questioning the relevance of the cold war doctrine of nuclear deterrence — the rationale used by all States that possess nuclear weap— in an age of growing threats from non-State actors. Do we not need, instead, to develop agreed strategies for preventing proliferation?

— For all these reasons, I call on all the States with nuclear weapons to develop concrete plans — with specific timetables — for implementing their disarmament commitments. And I urge them to make a joint declaration of intent to achieve the progressive elimination of all nuclear weapons, under strict and effective international control.

In short, my friends, the only way forward is to make progress on both fronts — non-proliferation and disarmament — at once. And we will not achieve this unless at the same time we deal effectively with the threat of terrorism, as well as the threats, both real and rhetorical, which drive particular States or regimes to seek security, however misguidedly, by developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.

It is a complex and daunting task, which calls for leadership, for the establishment of trust, for dialogue and negotiation. But first of all, we need a renewed debate, which must be inclusive, must respect the norms of international negotiations, and must reaffirm the multilateral approach — Woodrow Wilson’s approach, firmly grounded in international institutions, treaties, rules, and norms of appropriate behaviour.

Let me conclude by appealing to young people everywhere, since there are — I am glad to see — so many of them here today.

My dear young friends, you are already admirably engaged in the struggle for global development, for human rights and to protect the environment. Please bring your energy and imagination to this debate. Help us to seize control of the rogue aircraft on which humanity has embarked, and bring it to a safe landing before it is too late.


Kofi A. Annan is Secretary General of the United Nations.

A Nonkilling, Nonviolent World for the 21st Century

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to be attending this Summit, and I would like to thank President Gorbachev, Mayor Veltroni, and the City of Rome for hosting this event. Thank you for inviting me to make this contribution towards the Nobel Peace Laureates Charter for a Nonviolent World.

I believe that, one of our greatest challenges as the human family, is to transform our violent cultures into a nonkilling, nonviolent culture for the World. This journey from violence to nonviolence will be long and difficult, but human beings mimic each other, and as increasingly more people reject violence, and use the alternatives available, others will follow their example, and change will happen. Already many people are asking, ‘Is it possible to move beyond violence? To build Nonkilling, Nonviolent societies, and World?’ I believe, the answer is YES! However, where violence is endemic, it is easy to be apathetic. Also, particularly in our current world political situation, faced as we are, with an ethical and moral crisis, brought about by many Governments’ abuse of their power, especially those Governments’ who have the most temporal power, often civil society feel disempowered and hopeless.

But we should never give up hope. If we continue in a negative frame of mind, to accept violence, it will seriously threaten our quality of life, and our security. The bad news is that all violence, be it bullying, torture, homicide, violent crime, terrorism, violent revolution, armed struggles, suicide bombings, hunger strikes to the death, nuclear weapons, militarism, and war, tragically often take human life, and add to the culture of violence. And all violence, State and Non-state, is a form of injustice, which demeans us all.

Killings by Governments, and nongovernmental armed groups, and threats to kill, underlie all other threats to the survival of humanity, damaging peoples’ physical, psychological, economic, social, cultural, and environmental, well-being. If we are to reverse this downward spiral of violence, we need to uphold the Principal that, everyone has a right not to be tortured, or killed, and a responsibility not to torture, kill, or support the killing of others. These are basic human rights enshrined in national and international laws and we all must stand firm on the upholding of these Rights by our Governments and by ‘armed revolutionaries’ or ‘armed insurgency groups’.

The good news is that we are not born violent, most humans never kill, and the World Health Organization says Human Violence is a ‘preventable disease’. So happily we can be cured! Prevention starts in our own minds, with us choosing to reject negativity, changing to a positive, disarmed mindset, cultivating love of ourselves and others, and choosing not to kill. Prevention, also starts in our own conscience where we know what is right and refuse to be morally blinded in our mind and heart by nationalism and militarism, a moral disease which continues to destroy many people. For example, in Iraq, where the USA Government has carried out war crimes, in Chechnya where the Russian Government continues to commit war crimes, the Israel Government’s massacre in the occupied Palestinian terroritories, and State and non-state killings in many other places around our world.

Nowadays we hear a lot of talk about security, The greatest power on earth, the United States, decided that the way to achieve security was through shock and awe, destruction of countries, and the multiple deaths of people including her own young men and women transformed into soldiers. Over 654,000 Iraqi civilians and over 2,800 USA soldiers have needlessly died. Such violent reactions endorse a culture of violence, rather than a culture of dialogue with its citizens and perceived enemies. In Northern Ireland, we have been through all of that. And we know that it doesn’t work. Violence does not prevent violence. The failure of militarism, paramilitarism, in Northern Ireland is mirrored in Iraq. Should it not be obvious that we are now at a point of human history where we must abolish the culture of violence and embrace a culture of nonviolence for the sake of our children and the children of the world? But is such a quantum leap of thinking possible? Nothing is possible unless we can imagine it. So what is meant by such a society?

Prof. Paige in his book ‘Nonkilling Global Political Science’ (l) says: “A nonkilling society can be defined as a human community from the smallest to the largest in which (l) there is no killing of humans and no threats to kill, (2) there are no weapons for killing humans and no ideological justifications for killing – in computer terms no ‘hardware’ and no ‘software’ for killing and (3) there are no social conditions that depend, for maintenance or change, upon the threat or use of killing force”. I would add that it is not enough to decide not to kill but we need to learn to live nonviolently in our lives and families. Nonviolence is a decision to protect and celebrate life, to love oneself, others, and ones enemies, and to bring wisdom, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation into our relationships. Nonviolence recognizes principled dissent against injustice and the misuse of power and upholds the right to civil disobedience as an integral part of a democratic society. Nonviolence is based on unconditional love, truth, equality, justice, and respect for life, and all of creation.

To build such a nonviolent culture we need first to move away from dependence upon threat and use of killing force for security, and by that I mean armies and all imitations of armies. Second we must stop using our economic resources for the unholy alliance of arms dealers and warmongers. Currently there are over 20 million people under arms, and an annual military budget of one trillion dollars a year. According to one United Nations report, an investment of less than a fourth of the world’s collective annual expenditure on arms, would be enough to solve the major economic and environmental problems facing humanity. If this is true, and I believe that it is, isn’t it a crime against humanity that those who exercise power in our world continue to pour billions of dollars into so-called security enriching the arms dealers in the process, while neglecting the children who are dying every day of poverty and disease. Ending the military/industrial corporations stranglehold on many Governments’ policies, and introducing policies which meet the basic needs of the people would help remove many of the root causes of violence. We know what to do, but what is lacking is the will of economic and political leaders, who continue their policies to feed the death culture of war, nuclear weapons and arms. This then is just not a political, economic, and socio-cultural crisis but a deeply spiritual and moral one.

The Human family is moving away from the violent mindset, and increasingly violence, war, armed struggles, violent revolutions, are no longer romanticed, glorified, or culturally accepted as ways of solving our problems. As a pacifist I believe that violence is never justified, and there are always alternatives to force and threat of force. We should challenge the society that tells us there is no alternative to violence. In all areas of our life we can adopt nonviolence, in our lifestyles, our education, our commence, our defense, our governance. Also the Political scientists and academics could help this cultural change by teaching nonviolence as a serious political science, and help too in the further development of effective nonviolence to bring about social and political change. Also by implementing the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and nonviolence for the Children of the World, (2001-2010) and teaching it in educational establishments, can help evolve this new culture.

Nonviolence is an ideal that has seldom been explored. But it is not an impossible ideal. History is littered with examples of nonviolent resistance, many of them successful. Gandhi and King successfully used nonviolence for human rights issues; Italy’s own St. Francis, a Mystic/Ecologist/Environmentalist, is a model to us of how to apply a holistic approach to living nonviolently, especially in a world where climate change is one of the greatest challenges to humanity’s future. Abdul Khaffer Khan, a great Muslim leader, demonstrated the power of courageous Islamic nonviolence through the unarmed Servants of God army and parallel government to liberate the Pathan people from British colonial rule in India’s North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan). Their example deserves to be known widely throughout the world (2).

All Faith traditions can play a role in building this new culture, as each have their own prophets of nonviolence. They can teach the Golden Rule of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ and also to ‘love your enemies’, which, I believe, is necessary for humanity’s survival in this age of military madness. I speak from my own faith tradition which is Christian. I myself came into pacifism and nonviolence in the early l97O’s. Facing State Violence I asked myself ‘As a Christian can I ever use violence”? I studied and rejected the ‘Just War’ theory and went to the cross where Jesus’ message of love your enemies, do not kill, is most clearly shown. I also agree with the American theologian, the late Fr McKenzie, who said ‘You cannot read the gospels and not know Jesus was totally nonviolent.’ He also described the Just War theory as a phony piece of morality. How tragic, in light of Jesus’ example, to know that the American Catholic Hierarchy, with a couple of honorable exceptions, have blessed yet again Catholics going to participate in an unjust, immoral and illegal war, in Iraq, thus ignoring their own Pope’s guidance on this matter. But, I believe, until the Christian Churches resurrect from their longstanding moral malaise of blessing, ambiguity, or consent-bestowing silence, on violence, militarism, and war, and gives Spiritual guidance by abolishing the Just War theory, and developing a theology more in keeping with the nonviolence of Jesus, it behooves those of us who are Christian, and those who follow other spiritual paths, or none, to follow our own conscience in such matters.

As world citizens working together in solidarity we can abolish nuclear weapons and war, demilitarize the World, build neutral and nonaligned countries, develop unarmed policing and nonmilitary forms of self-defense. We can establish or strengthen nonviolent institutions, such as: Global Nonkilling Spiritual Council: Global Nonkilling Security Council: Global Nonkilling Nonmilitary self-defense Security, such as the Nonviolent Peaceforce: Global Nonkilling Leadership Academies: Global Nonkilling Trusteeship Fund: Ministries of Peace by National Governments: (2) (All of these proposed nonviolent institutions are described at as addendum to this paper).

To build a nonviolent culture will also mean changing Patriarchal and Hierarchical systems which are unjust and under which women, suffer from oppressive structures and institutions. It will mean in particular challenging violence and injustice in our own societies and extending our support to all humans who suffer injustice everywhere. To people who are suffering torture, the imates in Guantanamo and other such Guantanamos in whatever country, and supporting whistleblowers like Mordechai Vanunu who continues to suffer for telling the truth. It will not be easy but it is necessary, and it is possible together, in our interconnected, interdependent human family, to build a new world civilization with a nonviolent heart.

Peace and happiness to you all,

Mairead Corrigan Maguire (www.peacepeople.com)

Note l: “Nonkilling Global Political Science” (Xlibris 2002) by Prof. Glenn D. Paige (Freely posted on web at www.globalnonviolence.org). It is being translated into 24 languages. Former Indian Prime Minister I.K. Gujral has advised, “This book should be read in every political science department and by the public”. In his introduction to the Russian edition, Prof. William Smirnov, Vice-President of the Russian Political Science Association and the International Political Science Association has written: “The basic idea in this unique book can and should become the basis of common values for humanity in the 2lst century as well as a programme for their realization”.

Note 2. The Pathan Unarmed (Oxford University Press 2000) by Dr. Mukulika, Banerjee.

Details of nonviolent institutions:

Global Nonkilling Spiritual Council: Composed of men and women elected to represent faiths and philosophies committed to principled nonkilling. Serves as a continuing body to counsel the United Nations, governments, other institutions, and world citizens.

Global Nonkilling Security Council. Composed of persons elected among distinguished contributors to the theory, strategy, tactics, and practice of nonkilling domestic and transnational defense. Serves as a continuing source of nonviolent security alternatives for consideration by all parties in potential or actual deadly conflicts that threaten physical, economic and ecological well-being.

Global Nonkilling Service: Composed of locally rooted professional and volunteer workers in every country, trained in nonmilitary skills of security, conflict transformation, constructive service, and humanitarian and disaster relief. Builds upon nonviolent military and nongovernmental experience such as the Gandhi and Shanti Sena and the Nonviolent Peaceforce.

Global Nonkilling Leadership Academies: Prepares local and transnational leaders, partly by biographical studies, to take nonkilling initiatives in response to the interdependent human needs for security, economic well-being, dignity, ecological sustainability and problem solving co-operation. Seeks to build mutually strengthening relationships based upon the nonkilling principles in co operation with the United Nations University Japan, the UNU International Leadership Academy in Jordan, the University of Peace in Costa Rica, and other peace-seeking educational and training institutions.

Global Nonkilling Trusteeship Fund: Established in the Gandhian tradition of mutual trusteeship for the well-being of all, honors pioneers of nonkilling service to humanity, throughout the world. Collects voluntary and service contributions to support implementing institutions. Management board to be composed equally between representatives of the most and least wealthy global citizens.


Mairead Corrigan Maguire received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1991 Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Distinguished Peace Leadership Award. She recently participated in the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2006 International Law Symposium, “At the Nuclear Precipice: Nuclear Weapons and the Abandonment of International Law.”

War is a Racket

War is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Full text available at http://lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm.

Smedley Butler was a Major General in the US Marine Corps. At the time of his death, he was the most decorated Marine in US history.

Preventable Genocide: Who Speaks for Humanity

It’s wonderful to be in Santa Barbara and to see such a good crowd – especially given the fact that it is beautiful Saturday morning in sunny California and genocide is the subject of our discussion. It is clear that I have strayed from my California roots and been on the East Coast too long, as I am reminded of a cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker magazine, with the text, “Would you like to grab a drink after the Genocide panel?” How indeed, do we incorporate something like genocide into our “normal” lives?

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Raphael Lemkin coined the word ‘genocide’. Lemkin, a lawyer and Holocaust survivor wanted to find a way to describe the policies that were intended to exterminate Jews throughout Europe in order to prevent such a thing from happening again. Based on his efforts, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and went into force three years later. The Convention defined genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” and it made genocide a punishable crime under international law.

Institutionalization of Hope

The United Nations was itself created from the ashes of World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust in order to prevent the extraordinary human suffering witnessed at that time. From the beginning, the United Nations has spoken to the ideals of people around the world for a better and more secure future – it was what former President Clinton recently called the institutionalization of hope,” based on three ideals: the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of economic development, and the protection of human rights. As envisioned from the beginning of the Organization, governments could take action under the United Nations Charter to prevent genocide. The United Nations second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold said the United Nations’spare job was not to take us to Heaven but to keep us from Hell. Genocide is the ultimate Hell.

But we have not always lived up to the promise, sometimes succumbing to divisive international politics; the lack of collective political will to confront evil; and a callous tendency to preference sovereign rights of nations over the rights of vulnerable individuals in those nations. While the United Nations helped ultimately bring peace to Cambodia in the 1990s, it did so only after more than a million people died at the hands of the pathological Khmer Rouge regime. Alongside all countries of the world and all other international institutions, the United Nations failed to stop the mass murder of 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994. And again it failed, we all failed, to protect civilians from ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the mid-90s.

In short, history demonstrates that the United Nations faces a fundamental dilemma: on the one hand it represents both the highest ideals of humanity and the “institutionalization of hope,” but at the same time, its high ambitions have often contrasted sharply with the realities of what national governments have been able to agree on and deliver.

While the United Nations may be imperfect, it is also indispensable. As the only universal body representing and bringing together every country and region of the world, the United Nations enjoys a unique legitimacy.

So the United Nations is being asked to do more and more things: a quadrupling of United Nations peacekeeping forces in the last decade, so that at this moment, with over 93,000 sets of “boots on the ground” in 18 hot-spots in every corner of the globe, the United Nations is second only to the US in terms of the number of troops deployed around the world. The United Nations has also been relied on for providing humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies, such as in Southeast Asia after the tsunami and in Darfur, so that now there are more humanitarian missions run by the United Nations than ever before, serving the needs of over 40 million people around the world each year in almost 40 countries. The United Nations has also become the pre-eminent provider of organizing and monitoring national elections. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are a blueprint that have been agreed to by all the world’s countries to meet the needs of the poor, including halving extreme poverty and curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Responsibility to Protect

But what about preventing genocide?

Is the United Nations’role limited to providing the normative and legal framework for combating genocide embodied in the Convention? Or can the United Nations become the pre-eminent service provider in this area, as it has in peackekeeping, humanitarian, elections, and providing a framework for development? The United Nations is not a world government, and it does not have its own military to send in to prevent or stop genocide. Ultimately, the decision to intervene and deliver troops and equipment is up to the governments of the countries that make up the United Nations, and more specifically, the Security Council.
But the United Nations’s role is extremely important in getting governments to make that calculation. The Secretary-General has a moral voice to draw attention to humanitarian crises and he has done that tirelessly on Darfur.

And in September 2005 at the United Nations, the largest gathering of heads of state ever assembled took another huge step. They approved, by consensus, the principle of the “Responsibility to Protect” – the idea that every government has a responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, but when they are unable or unwilling to do so, the community of nations is be prepared to take collective action. In terms of international norms and law, this was a fundamental shift. Governments have always been able to hide behind sovereignty, by saying that they have a right to determine what goes on behind their own borders. Now, governments as large as China and as small as Burundi have acknowledged that they have a responsibility to their civilians and that failure to do so means that the international community has the responsibility and can take action, either through diplomatic, humanitarian, or other means, including military means (under Chapter VII) of the United Nations Charter.

Such a historic agreement is possible only through the United Nations. Those who criticize the United Nations, arguing instead for coalitions of the willing or alliances of democracies to replace it, have failed to realize that an agreement on how to address genocide by angels alone, leaves most of humanity at the mercy of those less angelically inclined. But through the United Nations we now have an agreed principle for protecting all of the world’s people.

However, despite its adoption last year, the Responsibility to Protect has not yet been operationalized. Turning it from a principle into an actionable norm is essential. Civil society and NGOs can help by influencing policy makers in governments and insisting that they put into action the Responsibility to Protect.
Three different types of United Nations institutions can play on enhanced role in the fight against genocide:

First, the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide

In 2004, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Juan Méndez, Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide based on the lessons learned from past instances of collective failure to address gross human rights violations. The Special Advisor acts as an early warning mechanism to bring attention to situations that could result in genocide and advises the Secretary-General and the Security Council. This is the first time the United Nations has had a position that is devoted exclusively to preventing genocide and mass abuses of human rights, and he has been active on Darfur, traveling to the region and reporting back on how to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Second, the new Human Rights Council

Another recent development that can significantly bolster human rights at the United Nations is the establishment of the Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights. The world needs an intergovernmental body which effectively deals with human rights. The Human Rights Council is a crucial opportunity and holds great promise despite some early stumbles that make it appear to be replicating some of the failures of the Commission. It meets year around and has a new feature – the universal peer review that ensures that all members, including the most powerful countries, who sit in judgment of human rights situations around the world, have their own human rights records scrutinized. The Council is an important development but it has to be supported and made to work.
Third, the International Criminal Court , war crimes tribunals, and “hybrid” courts

Within the last 10 years, we have seen ICC investigations on Sudan and Uganda have dramatically changed the political equation there. remarkable progress in international justice – the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, which have tried the first genocide cases against top officials, and the hybrid national/international courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia. But questions have been raised about whether pursuing justice may undermine peace. In cases like Uganda, where the suffering has gone on for two decades, some say that we should not disrupt such hard won peace talks by trying the perpetrators. But peace without justice for the victims is not sustainable or wise.

Darfur as a test case

So we have witnessed progress in key areas. But can we prevent genocide?

The singular biggest test we face is that in Darfur, Sudan.

The situation on the ground is stark. Since the conflict began in 2003, more than 200,000 people have been killed from fighting, famine, or disease, and over 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. As a reminder, just 6 days ago large scale militia attacks in West Darfur on 8 settlements caused scores of civilian deaths, including 27 children under the age of 12.

With the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May we had a framework for ending the violence and a road map for moving to stability, but not all parties have accepted the Agreement. The Security Council adopted a resolution to send in United Nations peacekeeping troops. This has been rejected by the Sudanese government. We therefore need smart pressure and a global diplomatic campaign. In the meantime, the African Union has done a tremendous job, but it needs to be strengthened. The UN has committed to providing support for the AU mission in Sudan, and we are looking at bolstering that support, but again, contributions depend on Member States.

Now we have to alter the calculation of potential perpetrators of abuses, and equally importantly, make it much more difficult for governments which decide not to act to prevent genocide.

The Responsibility to Protect must be put into practice. The role of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide could be strengthened. The Human Rights Council, should adopt a country-specific resolution on Darfur as recommended by the Secretary-General that urges the government of Sudan to allow United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur.

Achieving a lasting peace in Darfur also means bringing those responsible to justice. The Security Council has referred Darfur to the International Criminal Court. The case against the perpetrators is being built as we speak. Action by the International Criminal Court must be supported and seen through.


In order to prevent genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, we still face tremendous challenges. But nothing is inevitable. Genocide is indeed preventable. 60 years ago, we didn’t even have a name for this evil. Now, we not only can name it, we have legal mechanisms obligating all to act to stop it, and increasing experience at trying to stop it. We now have the knowledge, we have the United Nations institution to help organize our response, and the political, economic, and military tools to prevent it. The question is, “Will we use them?”

Let us work together to do so. Santa Barbara may feel as far from Darfur as a place can be – indeed it is. And yet, you all turned up today to engage on this most difficult of subjects. A crucial first step. Now organize, let your representatives know how you feel. The United States as a country must show leadership. Support United Nations efforts. Place pressure on all national governments to fulfill their obligations. Support the NGOs whose dedicated staff are risking their lives on the front lines.

Today’s topic was “Who speaks for humanity?” One of my favorite saying is by Pastor Martin Niemöller, a German citizen of conscience who reflected on his experience with genocide in his own country 60 years ago:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

So to the question posed today, “Who speaks for Humanity?”, the answer is clear – we do. We must.

Robert Orr is Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The speech was given at a United Nations Day event held in Santa Barbara, California on November 4, 2006.

2006 Annual Dinner Speech: World Citizenship Award to Bianca Jagger

Let me state the obvious: We are living in deeply troubling times. Having learned little from our mistakes in Vietnam, we repeat them in Iraq. Having learned little from the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have moved again to the nuclear precipice. Our cities, our country and civilization itself remain at risk of catastrophic nuclear devastation.

The North Korean nuclear test did not happen in a vacuum. It happened after continued failures to negotiate in good faith with the North Koreans and after failures of our country to lead in fulfilling our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also happened after our government performed 1,054 nuclear tests, and has continued to the present to conduct sub-critical nuclear tests. Current US nuclear policies are leading us in the same direction with Iran, and other countries will follow if we do not change these policies.

At the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we are convinced that we cannot trust the future of civilization and humanity itself to political or military leaders. We must bring about change – change in vision and in leadership. Our work is to educate and inspire you and others throughout the world to become the leaders we have been waiting for so that together we can change the barren landscape of nuclear arrogance, threat and absurdity to a beautiful global garden, alive with diversity, which assures a future for our children and all children, including those of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. We will not be safe until all the world’s children are safe, and this cannot happen in a nuclear-armed world.

In the past week, the Foundation sponsored its third Think Outside the Bomb Conference, bringing together more than 150 young people to learn about nuclear dangers and to develop the tools of leadership that they will need to change the world. I’d like to ask our Youth Empowerment Director, Will Parrish, who organized this conference, to stand and be recognized. Next week Will travels to New York, where he will lead an East Coast Think Outside the Bomb Conference with more than 100 young leaders. Let me also ask the rest of our committed and hardworking staff at the Foundation to stand and be recognized.

I’ve recently returned from Japan where I participated in the 3rd Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The event was sponsored by the city of Nagasaki, and reflected the desire of the people of Nagasaki to assure that they would remain the last city ever to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

At the conference, there was considerable concern expressed about the North Korean nuclear test, which took place very much in the neighborhood of Japan. Rather than seek heavy sanctions on North Korea or push for Japan itself to develop a nuclear force, the desire of the Global Citizens’ Assembly was for the creation of a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone to include all the countries in the region as well as the nuclear weapons states, such as the United States, with nuclear forces in the region.

The conference concluded with the adoption of a 15-point Appeal. I’d like to share with you just two points from this Appeal.

The first point stated: “We strongly proclaim that nuclear weapons are the most barbaric, inhumane and cowardly of weapons, and we call upon the governments of all countries, without exception, to renounce the practice of seeking security through nuclear weapons.”

The final point of the Appeal stated: “We call upon citizens everywhere to add their voices to those of the Hibakusha [atomic bomb survivors] in calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons before these weapons destroy our cities, our countries and civilization itself.”

The survivors of the atomic bombings speak as World Citizens, as does our honoree for our World Citizenship Award tonight.

A World Citizen recognizes the fundamental unity of humankind, and the increased need to embrace that unity brought about by the dangers of the Nuclear Age. A World Citizen recognizes that our greatest problems can neither be contained nor controlled within national borders. Solving all the great problems of our time – from preserving the environment, to halting global warming, to upholding human rights, to living in peace and preventing war, to ending the nuclear threat to humanity – all of these require global cooperation that must be built on a foundation of World Citizenship.

Bianca Jagger was born in Nicaragua and witnessed first-hand the terror and brutality of the Somoza regime. Witnessing the greed and injustice of this regime set her on a lifetime path of speaking out and working for the oppressed and dispossessed of the world.

Ms. Jagger has traveled the world in support of the poor, the infirm and the disadvantaged, those whose lives have been torn apart by war and environmental devastation. Wherever she has gone she has taken a strong and outspoken stand for peace and justice. She has put her life at risk in war-torn countries, and used her celebrity to be a voice for those who would not otherwise be heard or even noticed.

For her tireless efforts, she has received many awards, including the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She honors us with her presence this evening, and we are very pleased to present her with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2006 World Citizenship Award.


David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is a leader in the global effort for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Helen Caldicott: Credo

I believe that women have the fate of the Earth in the palm of their hands. Some 53 per cent of us are women and we really are pretty wimpish. We don’t step up to the plate – and it’s time we took over. I think men have had their turn and we’re in a profound mess.

I believe that money is the root of all evil. When people start believing that materialism will produce ultimate, lasting happiness, it is a sure sign that they will be intensely unhappy. One third of Americans are on anti-depressants. Instead, what they should be doing is lifting their souls, not their faces.

I believe in the sanctity of nature. I believe we can save the planet. We are smart enough to do that, but we must act with a sense of dire emergency.

I believe that the media are controlling and determining the face of the Earth. As Thomas Jefferson said, an informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.

I believe in the beauty of classical music. I must have it; it feeds my soul.

I believe in the goodness in every person’s soul even though it’s sometimes hard to see. I treat a lot of patients where either their children are dying or they are dying. Even though sometimes it’s heavily obscured, in extremes this goodness will emerge.

I don’t believe in a god. I have helped many people to die and believe that it’s ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

I believe that heaven and hell are present every day.

I believe that life is an absolute gift to be treasured accordingly. We are very privileged to even have been conceived.

I believe that we are here to serve. We are not here to make ourselves happy, to be self-indulgent or to be hedonistic. The happiest state that I achieve is when I work in my clinic helping my children with cystic fibrosis to face death and help to treat them and look after their siblings. I’m utterly exhausted at the end of the day, but deeply, deeply fulfilled.

I believe in the beauty of my garden. I’ve got two and a half acres and I’m never more in touch with the power of the universe than when I’m in my garden on a warm, sunny day tending to my flowers and my trees, with the pelicans circling overhead.

I believe that there are far too many people on the planet. In the year 1900 there were one billion of us in the world. Now there are 6.5 billion and the predictions are that within a few decades there will be 14 billion.

I believe that the greatest terror in the world is not a few terrorists hitting the World Trade Center. It’s the fact that half the world’s people still live in dire poverty and 30,000 to 40,000 children die every day from malnutrition and starvation, while the rich nations continue to get richer and richer.

I believe that the most important job in the world is parenting. Women need to be financially supported for it. Their job is far more important than that of chief executive officers at the head of huge corporations.

I believe the secret of happiness is a) serving our fellow human beings and loving and caring for everyone. I don’t mean crappy Californian love; I mean really deep caring for each other; b) to understand our own psychology in a profound way, so we can be a more constructive human being; and c) to care for this incredible planet of ours.

Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician, is president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute and author of Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer (The New Press). She lives near Sydney, Australia.

Originally published by The Independent UK

Building Global Peace in the Nuclear Age

In an age in which the weapons we have created are capable of destroying the human species, what could be more important than building global peace? The Nuclear Age has made peace an imperative. If we fail to achieve and maintain global peace, the future of humanity will remain at risk. This was the view of the preeminent scientists, led by Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell, who issued the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955. They stated, “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” They continued, “People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.”

With the end of the Cold War, nuclear dangers did not evaporate. Rather, new dangers of nuclear proliferation, terrorism and war emerged, in a climate of public ignorance, apathy and denial. Awakening the public to these dangers and building global peace are the greatest challenges of our time, challenges made necessary by the power and threat of nuclear arsenals.

Peace is a two-sided coin: it requires ending war as a human institution and controlling and eliminating its most dangerous weapons, but it also requires building justice and ending structural violence. One of the most profound questions of our time is: How can an individual lead a decent life in a society that promotes war and structural violence?

The answer is that the only way to do this is to be a warrior for peace in all its dimensions. This means to actively oppose society’s thrust toward war and injustice, and to actively support efforts to resolve disputes nonviolently and to promote equity and justice in one’s society and throughout the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” We know, though, that it doesn’t bend of its own accord. It bends because people care and take a stand for peace and justice.

If we are committed to building global peace in the Nuclear Age, we must say an absolute No to war, and we must demonstrate by our words and actions our commitment to peace. We must have confidence that our acts, though the acts of a single person, can and will make a difference. We must understand that we are not alone, although we may be isolated by a corporate media and a sea of indifference. It is our challenge to awaken ourselves, to educate others and to consistently set an example for others by our daily lives. To be fully human is to put our shoulders to the arc of history so that it will bend more swiftly toward the justice and peace that we seek.

Humanity is now joined, for better or worse, in a common future, and each of us has a role to play in determining that future. Issues of peace and war are far too important to be left only to political leaders. Most political leaders don’t know how to lead for peace. They are caught up in the war system and fear they will lose support if they oppose it. They need to be educated to be peace leaders. Strangely, most political leaders take their lead from the voters, so let’s lead them toward a world at peace.

If you are an educator, educate for peace. If you are an artist, communicate for peace. If you are a professional, step outside the boundaries of your profession and act like the ordinary human miracle that you really are. If you are an ordinary human miracle, live with the dignity and purpose befitting the miracle of life and stand for peace.

This will not be easy. There will be times when you will be very discouraged, but you must never give up. You will find that hope and action are intertwined. Hope gives rise to action, as action gives rise to hope. The best and most reliable way to build global peace in the Nuclear Age is to take a step in that direction, no matter how small, and the path will open to you to take a next step and a next. In following this path, your life will be entwined with the lives of people everywhere.


David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is a leader in the global effort for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Weapon Abolition and Multilateral Negotiations

In the six decades since the beginning of the Nuclear Age, despite the critical need, there have not been multilateral negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition. The closest to achieving such negotiations was the inclusion of Article VI in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which calls for “negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament….”

On the basis of NPT Article VI, a 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion unanimously stated, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the parties to the treaty agreed to 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament, including “[a]n unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States parties are committed under Article VI.”

These are clear directives and commitments to pursue multilateral negotiations for nuclear disarmament, but none have taken place. For ten years the Conference on Disarmament, the international community’s single multilateral negotiating body on disarmament issues, has been blocked by rules of consensus from making any progress.

Even partial measures aimed at arms control have been blocked or diverted by nuclear weapons states. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), although opened for signatures in 1996, has not entered into force because all nuclear capable states must ratify the treaty for this to happen. As yet, the treaty has not been ratified by the US, China and Israel, and three nuclear weapons states – India, Pakistan and North Korea – have not yet even signed the treaty.

A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) has long been discussed as an important next step on the path to nuclear disarmament, and was included as one of the 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament. In May 2006, the United States tabled a draft FMCT in the Conference on Disarmament, but one that contained no provisions for verification, making it largely meaningless. Nonetheless, it could provide a starting point for negotiations.

In addition to their failure to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith, as called for by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and by the International Court of Justice, the nuclear weapons states have failed to take nearly all of the other steps called for in the 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament. The US scrapped the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to pursue missile defenses, and has failed to proceed with negotiating with Russia a third Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III). In the bilateral Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) negotiated by the US and Russia, there are no provisions for transparency, verification or irreversibility as called for in the 13 Practical Steps.

The failure of the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their obligations was noted in the 2006 report of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Weapons of Terror. The report stated, “The erosion of confidence in the effectiveness of the NPT to prevent horizontal proliferation has been matched by a loss of confidence in the treaty as a result of the failure of the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill their disarmament obligations under the treaty and also to honour their additional commitments to disarmament made at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences.”

The result of the failure of the NPT nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, UK, France and China) to pursue multilateral negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition has led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the potential for even further proliferation. India, Pakistan and Israel, all of which never signed the NPT, have developed nuclear arsenals; and North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003, has announced its entry into the nuclear weapons club. Some 35 to 40 other countries are nuclear weapons capable and could decide in the future to develop nuclear arsenals.

Israel does not publicly acknowledge its nuclear arsenal, but it is evident to all parties that they are a nuclear weapons state, and other Middle Eastern countries question why they should accept a second tier nuclear status. Proposals for a Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone have been consistently rebuffed or ignored by Israel and the US.

In 1998, India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests and announced their nuclear weapons capacity to the world. These tests were greeted with elation in both countries, as if they were a badge of honor rather than dishonor. Both countries made clear over a long period of time that they were not prepared to be second class global citizens in a world of nuclear apartheid. Although, the nuclear tests were at first condemned, this condemnation has turned to acceptance. The US now seeks to change its own non-proliferation laws as well as the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in order to provide nuclear technology and materials to India.

Most recently, North Korea conducted its first nuclear weapons test, raising considerable alarm around the world. The North Korean test carries with it the potential for a dangerous nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia involving North Korea, Japan, South Korea and China. This would create a far more dangerous region and world.

North Korea’s nuclear test should be setting off loud warning sirens. Instead of looking at their own obligations, however, the nuclear weapons states are only pointing a finger at North Korea, in effect looking only at the symptom and not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is the ongoing possession and reliance on these weapons of mass annihilation by the nuclear weapons states. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission stated what should be obvious to all: “So long as any such weapons remain in any state’s arsenal, there is a high risk that they will one day be used, by design or accident. Any such use would be catastrophic.”

Five countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – recently established a Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (CANWFZ) in their region. They became the world’s sixth nuclear weapons-free zone, following Antarctica; Latin America and the Caribbean; the South Pacific; Africa; and Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the United States has expressed its opposition to this new treaty and is reportedly pressuring the United Nations and other international bodies to withhold their support of the treaty.

The question that I would pose is this: What is the world to do when the governments of nuclear weapons states act immorally, illegally and dangerously in failing to fulfill their obligations for good faith negotiations to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons? This question is, of course, not easy to answer. We may seem largely powerless in the face of bad faith by the nuclear weapons states, particularly the United States. It may be difficult to see the way forward, but once we have seen the problem we have no choice but to keep trying.

I don’t have an answer to this question. I believe it is one we must find together. I have faith that the answer will be found as we move forward, step by step. My fear is that the urgency of the situation does not seem to be recognized widely, and the many efforts that have been made to influence the nuclear weapons states seem to fall on deaf ears.

I want to encourage us all to appreciate each other on this journey. Each of us who embrace this issue, embraces humanity. I want to express my deep appreciation to the Hibakusha of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima for their persistent efforts. And to the Mayors for Peace for their wonderful 2020 Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, as well as to my colleagues throughout the world in Abolition 2000 and the Middle Powers Initiative.

On the barren landscape of nuclear arrogance and absurdity we must have faith that humans of goodwill will triumph over catastrophically dangerous technologies in the hands of national leaders with proven capacities to act in ways that are foolish, shortsighted and incompetent. That is a leap of faith that we have all taken. We know that we cannot trust the future of the human species to political or military leaders. We must be the leaders we have been waiting for, and we must prevail in awakening humanity to the cause of a nuclear weapons-free future. Despite the odds, we have no choice but to continue and to prevail. Given the clear record of human fallibilities, there is no place for nuclear weapons in our world, and no alternative to our efforts.


David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is a leader in the global effort for a world free of nuclear weapons.