Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason was honoured to speak at the international conference Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World in Astana, Kazakhstan on August 30th.
She began her remarks, entitled, A-Canadian-Defence-Policy-that-moves-towards-Security-without-Nuclear-Weapons-or-War with:
Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev in his Manifesto of the World for the 21st Century set out a visionary, yet clear and practical programme for achieving security without reliance on nuclear weapons or war of any kind. He builds his plan on the central principles of the UN Charter: the peaceful resolution of disputes, the non-threat or use of force, the importance of human development and the common security of all states.
The conference brought together parliamentarians, NGOs, academic experts, UN representatives, and other diplomats to reaffirm the fervent desire of the vast majority of the peoples of the world to achieve nuclear abolition. The proceedings culminated with the adoption of The Astana Vision: From a Radioactive Haze to a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-World:
Deeply concerned for the future of all humanity, and encouraged by the example of Kazakhstan in the field of nuclear disarmament we affirm the possibility and necessity to achieve the peace and security of a nuclear-weapon-free world in our lifetimes. (Final paragraph of Declaration).
Following the conference, participants had the opportunity to visit the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk, where over a 40-year period a total of 456 nuclear bombs were detonated, 116 of which were above ground. The cumulative radiation inflicted on the Kazakh people was equivalent to 20,000 Hiroshima bombs.
The UN General Assembly, the forum where every one of the 193 UN member states has a vote, began its 71st session on 13 September. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has made clear the priority he hopes UN member states will give to the urgent goal of nuclear disarmament:
The consequences of any further use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by mistake, would be horrific. When it comes to our common objective of nuclear disarmament, we must not delay — we must act now.
The Liberal Cabinet is in the process of deciding how Canada will vote when the UN First Committee of the General Assembly considers the Geneva Report of the OEWG (discussed in our blog post of 26 August last: Canada Spurns UN Nuclear Disarmament Plan).
We call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure that Canada’s vote will be unambiguously in favour of this groundbreaking report, calling as it does for nuclear abolition negotiations to commence in 2017.
Let’s make 2017 the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.