The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was founded in 1982 by a small group of citizens who believed that peace is an imperative of the Nuclear Age – that our powerful technologies, particularly nuclear weapons, have brought us to the stage in human development when we must put an end to war before war puts an end to us. We created the Foundation in the belief that citizens can make a difference by influencing other citizens and government officials.
The Foundation began with only a handful of individuals and now reaches millions of people annually through our programs, publications and websites. We operate internationally and are on the Roster in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The Foundation has been named a United Nations Peace Messenger organization, and among our advisors are many Nobel Peace Laureates from throughout the world.
The work of the Foundation is based upon a commitment to achieve a more secure and decent future for humanity. We have three principal goals: to abolish nuclear weapons; to strengthen international law and institutions; and to inspire and empower a new generation of peace leaders. We seek these goals by means of education and advocacy.
Abolishing nuclear weapons may seem like an impossible goal, but it is critical to pursue because these weapons can destroy cities, civilizations and even the human species. The stated purpose of nuclear weapons has always been deterrence, to prevent others from using nuclear weapons by threatening to retaliate with massive force. But now that the Cold War has ended there are no nuclear weapons states that remain enemies, excepting possibly India and Pakistan , and even they are attempting to work out their differences.
Nuclear weapons are not needed to deter friends, and they cannot deter terrorists who cannot be located. Thus, our most practical and safest course of action is the phased and verifiable elimination of all nuclear weapons. To succeed in this endeavor, the US must take the lead, for without the US it will not happen. The Foundation works with other organizations around the world on these issues. We helped form a network of over 2000 organizations working for a nuclear weapons-free future. We have also initiated a national campaign to chart a new course for US nuclear policy. The campaign is called Turn the Tide and it allows citizens to learn about US nuclear policies and to play a role in changing them.
Each year the Foundation hosts a symposium on international law that looks at strengthening some aspect of the global legal structure. One of our symposiums focused on creating a United Nations Emergency Peace Service – a small UN rapid deployment force that could be used to stop genocides and crimes against humanity from occurring by moving rapidly to prevent them. Another symposium focused on the importance of supporting an International Criminal Court that will hold all individuals, including national leaders, accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Foundation is also active in reaching out to young people. We are working to create a new generation of peace leaders. Michael Coffey , our Director of Youth Programs, travels around the country speaking to and working with youth on high school and college campuses. In 2005, the Foundation will host a conference of 50-60 young nuclear activists from around the country to learn from each other and from a team of experienced activists about being more effective in creating a nuclear weapons-free future. We are very excited about the potential of this youth conference to have a multiplier effect in reaching a broad audience of young people and influencing them to play a role in shaping their future.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is an organization that works daily to build a peaceful and nuclear weapons free world. It is a persistent voice for peace in our troubled world. We invite you to add your voice and help support our efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, strengthen international law and reach out to young people. Help us create a world we can be proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. This is an edited version of remarks made at the kick-off event for the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Campaign.