Debbie Grisdale and Sarah Estabrooks
Report from the seventh NPT review conference.
The first week of the RevCon is wrapping up, and the governments are still struggling to reach consensus on an agenda for the work ahead. The delay has prevented move into committees, where substantive work should occur. Behind the scenes, negotiations continue, while the states parties continue to make general statements. All RevCon documentation is being posted, with video streaming, on the website of the Department of Disarmament Affairs.
Despite the absence of tangible work in the General Assembly, NGOs have held a busy week of activities, with several information sessions and side events. Canadian NGOs met with Ambassador Meyer, head of the Canadian Delegation and Ambassador on Disarmament, who briefed the NGOs on Canada’s priorities for the Review Conference. Ambassador Meyer also briefed all the NGOs in a morning briefing on Thursday.
A highlight of the week was the conference of Mayors for Peace, which Canadian mayors from Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, North Saanich, BC, and Burnaby, BC attended. On Wednesday, May 4th, there was a special hour of NGO presentations in the General Assembly on the occasion of the presence of some 100 mayors and their representatives. The event featured a presentation of petitions from Japanese citizens, a sample of the nearly 10 million collected in Japan alone. There were comments from Janet Bloomfield, the head of the Abolition 2000 “Abolition Now” campaign, Alfred Marder of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, and a representative of For Mother Earth (Belgium), which has led an active campaign against NATO nuclear weapons stored in Belgium.
Yoko Ono, a celebrity guest, reminded delegates about the lifetime of suffering experienced by Hibakushas, the Japanese victims of the atomic bombings. The mayors of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki spoke about the Mayors Campaign and made a call for abolition of all nuclear weapons by 2020. Mayor Tadoshi Akiba projected that “the overwhelming majority of the human race will demand, with increasing intensity for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020, beginning with: immediate end of launch on warning status; beginning of negotiations of a nuclear weapons convention by 2010; and total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020.”
Closing the presentation, Mayor Akiba urged delegates to look beyond their political roles, to take ‘a rare opportunity to be the saviors of the world’ and begged them not to let humanity down. Now, if they could only get to work.