Dear NAPF Community,

It is with a great sense of excitement that I greet you following my first month as NAPF’s President. Coincidentally, August 1 turned out to be three things: 1. My first official day in this position; 2. The first day of the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference at the United Nations (UN) in New York City; and 3. My daughter’s (oldest of three children) 21st birthday. And thus the day marked a new phase in my own personal and professional life, but also in the nuclear disarmament sphere more generally. Meeting both NGO colleagues and diplomats that first week, I kept saying in jest that my hope was that the failure or success of the conference would not be a reflection on my own path at NAPF.

Attending the conference was truly an emotional rollercoaster. That first day, I was elated hearing from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, whose brilliant statement will surely provide no shortage of quotes on the urgency, necessity, and imperative of nuclear disarmament. From saying that humanity is “one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” to warning that, “luck is not a strategy,” Secretary General expressed deep commitment to nuclear abolition and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). In fact, Secretary General left the conference after his remarks to board a plane to Japan, where he was to visit Hiroshima on August 6, the 77thanniversary of the atomic bombing. His dedication to the cause was apparent from both his words and his actions.

But the first day wasn’t all wonderful. I got to watch the United States (US) Secretary of State Anthony Blinken state that “The United States would only (emphasis mine) use nuclear weapons under extreme circumstances,” a position I find morally and ethically repugnant. In my opinion, no circumstances would justify incinerating and sickening civilians by the thousands or millions, while putting all of humanity at risk of starvation following use of even a fraction of today’s nuclear arsenals. The remainder of the week featured statements by individual states or groups of states, and I would single out the statements made by Austriathe Holy See, and South Africa, as models for how countries should be thinking about the NPT and its disarmament provisions. Also notable were the statements by the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, two countries that experienced the devastating short- and long-term consequences of nuclear weapons testing, conducted by the US and the United Kingdom (UK). Sadly, the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS: China, France, Russia, UK, and US) and many of their allies, especially the France/UK/US NATO allies, expressed far too little interest in nuclear disarmament and far more interest in maintaining the status quo. It’s as if they had not listened to the Secretary General’s remarks at all, as if the TPNW did not exist, as if there weren’t a war and other geopolitical tensions involving multiple NWS. They seemed to advocate for business as usual, with disarmament only a dream for the naïve.

The end of the week featured the NGO session, where I was proud to deliver a statement on behalf of NAPF. If you have not watched the statement, I hope you’ll take time to do so. It is only six minutes long and you can find it here.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall

It was exhilarating to not only have the opportunity to share with the conference my own and NAPF’s views on the urgency of nuclear disarmament, but also to hear from giants in the field, such as Sergio Duarte (former UN High Representative for Disarmament and President of the Pugwash Conferences) and Jackie Cabasso (from Western States Legal Foundation and Mayors for Peace), as well as rising stars of nuclear disarmament such as Yuta Takahashi of NO NUKES Tokyo and Benetick Kabua Maddison of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, who is also a part of our youth initiative, Reverse the Trend.

I missed the second week of the conference in order to be in Santa Barbara for our 28th Annual Sadako Peace Day and to spend time in person with various members of our community. My time couldn’t have been more energizing and humbling. Sadako Peace Day saw us back at La Casa de Maria, with many in our community eager to reconnect and gratified to be back on the beautiful grounds of La Casa. In fact, we were their first public event since the site was closed following the devastating mudslides in 2018. I also had the opportunity to meet with our Board in person, following which our Senior Vice President Richard Falk wrote two essays inspired by our discussions. I hope you will read them.

With Father Larry Gosselin at Sadako Peace Day

During the third week of August, and back in New York and at the UN, I had the opportunity to participate in three separate conference side events. The first, co-organized by NAPF and IPPNW, took place on August 15. I was fortunate to Chair a fantastic panel of four fabulous experts and fierce advocates of a nuclear weapons-free world: Veronique Christory (ICRC Senior Advisor), Ambassador Tito of Kiribati, Tilman Ruff (Co-President of IPPNW), and Bonnie Docherty (Harvard Law Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch). The focus of the panel was on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the discussion ranged from past to present to future, with important remarks and connections to the TPNW. I also participated at an August 17 side event, co-organized by Austria and Princeton, where I spoke about the environmental consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands. And finally, on August 19, at another side-event co-organized by Abolition 2000 and World Future Council and others, I made the case for an absolutist position on nuclear abolition. All three events were amazing opportunities to advance NAPF’s mission and vision.

The fourth week of the conference featured negotiations on drafts of the outcome document, which ultimately did not end up being adopted. I wrote an article for our website following the late Friday night closing session. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll consider doing so. In the article, I outline the issues that were at stake during the conference and make a case for why nuclear disarmament is more important than ever.

Throughout the month I have felt warmly welcomed by everyone at NAPF – Carol Warner, Christian Ciobanu, Josie Parkhouse, Sandy Jones, and our Board of Directors. Each in their own way has supported, trusted, encouraged, and welcomed me into this family that is NAPF. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Stay tuned for more updates from us this month on the continuation of our Nuclear Dangers in Ukraine Discussion Series (on Zoom), a new series of invited articles on nuclear abolition and other global challenges, and important work that we will be doing at the UN in regards to the TPNW. We also have an event coming up in November, a Women Waging Peace Luncheon, for which you can now purchase tickets and/or consider sponsorship opportunities. We are excited to honor two amazing women – Cynthia Lazaroff and Monique Limón – both of whom have made significant contributions to a nuclear weapons-free world and both of whom truly embody one of our guiding principles, “Peace is more than the absence of war.”

This note also comes with an enormous thank you to all those who have supported NAPF over its four decades of existence, in a myriad of ways – from giving their time, energy and generosity to supporting nuclear disarmament efforts locally, nationally, and internationally. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. We remain committed to a peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons, for as long as it takes to achieve.

Warmly and with gratitude,