World citizenship has become essential to our survival as a species. Our powerful technologies have made our problems global, and the solutions to these problems must also be global. If the Earth is destroyed, no country, no matter how powerful, will be spared the devastation. We all have a vested interest in preserving our planet. Our time calls out for world citizenship.
On our planet today are many greedy plunderers, individuals and corporations that would use up the Earth’s resources for their own short-term profits, polluting the air, water and land without regard for the good of the planet and its inhabitants. These plunderers, who often seek out the weakest national link to gain greater advantage in enhancing their profits, are destroying our wondrous life-supporting planet.
Some governments have stockpiled thousands of nuclear weapons, the worst of all weapons of mass destruction, weapons that are capable of reducing our great cities to rubble. Despite obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, these governments have clung tenaciously to their large nuclear arsenals, threatening the survival of the human species and most life on Earth.
Finding global solutions to global problems demands a worldwide constituency for change, a constituency of world citizens, who put the problems of the planet ahead of their concerns for their particular geographic portion of the planet. The number of world citizens on the planet is relatively small, but growing. The growth curve is in a race against time to save the planet from plunder and destruction and to achieve sustainability for future generations.
In 1998, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation began presenting an annual award for World Citizenship. Previous honorees have been media innovator Ted Turner; Queen Noor of Jordan; poet and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda; artist Frederick Franck; and entertainer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte. This year’s honoree is – for the first time, an organization – Mayors for Peace.
Mayors for Peace was selected for their innovative approach to the abolition of nuclear weapons. They have initiated an Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons by the year 2020, which they call Vision 2020. Witnessing the strain on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by the failure of the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their treaty obligations for nuclear disarmament and recognizing the dangers that nuclear arsenals pose to all cities, the Mayors for Peace created their Emergency Campaign. The Campaign calls for initiating negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition in the year 2005, concluding these negotiations in the year 2010, and completing the process of eliminating these weapons by the year 2020. The Emergency Campaign brings the issue of nuclear disarmament to cities throughout the world through the commitment of mayors who have a responsibility to protect their constituents.
In 2004, the Mayors for Peace Emergency Campaign brought 16 mayors and deputy mayors from 12 countries to the United Nations in New York for the Preparatory Committee meeting to the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT). The organization is currently making preparations to have more than 100 mayors and deputy mayors at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. Their presence made a strong impact in 2004 and will undoubtedly make an even greater impact in 2005.
The superb leadership of Mayors for Peace has come from its president, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima , and its vice-president, Mayor Iccho Itoh of Nagasaki. It is altogether fitting and proper that the leadership of this organization and campaign should come from these cities that suffered the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons dropped on them. We hope that the survivors of the bombings in these cities, the hibakusha , who are ambassadors of the Nuclear Age, will take particular pride in this World Citizenship Award and the efforts of their mayors for a world free of nuclear weapons. We also hope that this Award will help in mobilizing additional mayors to join in the global effort to eliminate nuclear weapons.
It is my honor and pleasure to present the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2004 World Citizenship Award to Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba representing the Mayors for Peace.
David Krieger is a founder and the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org)