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.