The theme for the 2018 International Day of Peace (Friday, Sept. 21) is The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on Dec. 10, 1948, to recognize “the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race.”
To honour this year’s theme Project Ploughshares will present, each day this week, an aspect of the work we do, work that is rooted in the belief that every human being has a right live in peace and security.
Nuclear disarmament and the Humanitarian Initiative
Beginning in 2010, a movement—led by some governments, civil society groups including Project Ploughshares, various UN agencies and the international Red Cross and Red Crescent—that focused on the humanitarian imperative to ban nuclear weapons shifted the discourse around nuclear disarmament so that it started to address more explicitly the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons on human beings – on our health, societies and the environment.
This brought the debate around nuclear disarmament to a visceral, human level.
The shift in the parameters of the conversation helped lead to the groundbreaking adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017.
But the work is far from over
More than 15,000 nuclear warheads remain in existence, many of which are tens of times more powerful than the ones that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nearly 2,000 are on high-alert status, ready to be launched within minutes, thereby exacerbating the risk of their deliberate or accidental use.
Demands for nuclear abolition are mounting. Calls come from a growing number of scientists, legal scholars, mayors and parliamentarians, active and retired diplomats, statesmen and regular citizens—from both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states. The message is clear: the threat posed by nuclear weapons is real, their use is unacceptable and the goal of their complete elimination is not negotiable.
The cost of inaction could be another Hiroshima. Or worse.