“A world in which nuclear weapons are eliminated … is possible.”
–Ottawa, September 24, 2009.

In the wake of US President Obama’s call at the UN Security Council for greater commitment by nations towards disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, a group of 17 Nobel Laureates today issued a call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The group—which includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, F.W. de Klerk, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and John Hume—is calling for a comprehensive international ban on nuclear weapons.

The call notes that “nuclear weapons are indiscriminate and thus already illegal under international humanitarian law”.  The Laureates are calling for a plan for “safe disarmament under effective international control”.

Here is the complete statement:

WHEREAS the nuclear age has unleashed unprecedented destructive force that can destroy our planet in an afternoon, as well as radioactive poison that will contaminate it for 250,000 years;

WHEREAS waste from every aspect of the nuclear fuel chain is a threat in all forms to the human gene pool and the sustainability of our environment;

WHEREAS nuclear weapons are indiscriminate and thus already illegal under international humanitarian law;

WHEREAS the 8 July 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons found that “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”;

WHEREAS the call for nuclear disarmament and a Nuclear Weapons Convention is growing, including from former military and political decision makers who once oversaw nuclear weapons policy; and

RECOGNIZING that while the linkage between nuclear power and the building of nuclear weapons is clear and a clear threat to security, nuclear energy is an issue that will likely be addressed in other frameworks;


A comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons: their development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, or use; and

A plan for the safe disarmament and disposal of all nuclear weapons under effective international control.
A world in which nuclear weapons are recognized as indiscriminate, illegal and immoral and thus rejected and eliminated is possible. Working together, we can make that vision a reality.

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize (1976)
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize (1976)
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize (1980)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize (1984)
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize (1986)
His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize (1989)
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Prize (1992)
F.W. de Klerk, Nobel Peace Prize (1993)
President José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize (1996)
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize (1997)
John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize (1998)
Kim Dae-jung, Nobel Peace Prize (2000) *
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize (2003)
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize (2004)
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize (2006)
Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Prize in Physics (1988)
Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1993)
September 2009
* (President Kim Dae-jung signed onto this call some months before his passing.)