ICAN Campaign meeting in Hiroshima
21 August 2012: More than 100 nuclear disarmament campaigners from 25 countries today took part in an ICAN meeting in Hiroshima on 21 August. It was the first ICAN meeting to be held in Japan. The objectives of the meeting included: developing a unified global strategy for the coming year; building the campaign’s presence in Asia; introducing campaigners to new action ideas; and developing the concept of a humanitarian-based approach to nuclear disarmament.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning federation of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which held its 20th World Congress from 24 August in Hiroshima, initiated ICAN in 2007. Mayors for Peace – a Hiroshima-based network of more than 5000 cities globally that are calling for nuclear abolition – was among the campaign’s first partner organizations. ICAN has also worked closely with the Japanese NGO Peace Boat.
Download meeting report
Highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian harm
At the meeting in Hiroshima, ICAN launched a new publication detailing the “catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons on our health, societies and the environment”. The publication argues for nuclear weapons to be banned just as other inherently inhumane and indiscriminate weapons – such as landmines and cluster munitions – have been prohibited by treaties.
“Although the number of nuclear weapons in global stockpiles is declining, the risk of their use, by accident or design, appears to be growing. Any such use would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences,” the report says. “The death toll from a nuclear attack against a large city today could be measured in the millions rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands.”
The publication provides information on the immediate and long-term effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the harm caused by radiation, the likelihood of global climate disruption and widespread famine in the event of a regional nuclear war, the enormous toll of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons production on our health, and the opportunity costs of investing in nuclear armaments.
1000 paper cranes to be sent to all world leaders
ICAN also launched an initiative on 21 August to send 1000 paper cranes to every president and prime minister in the world. The cranes will be accompanied by a request from Hiroshima schoolchildren for a message supporting a global ban on nuclear weapons. Campaigners in more than 80 countries will be involved in the delivery of the cranes, which have become a worldwide symbol for nuclear disarmament.
Messages from the leaders will be published on the ICAN website as they are received. In some countries, ICAN campaigners will meet with their head of state or government to discuss the urgent humanitarian necessity of banning nuclear weapons. The objective of the initiative is to strengthen global support for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a ban.
To prevent another Hiroshima, eliminate nuclear weapons
ICAN is motivated, first and foremost, by a desire to ensure that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will forever remain the only cities to be attacked by nuclear weapons. The achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world is the only absolute guarantee against any future use of these ultimate weapons of terror and mass destruction.
ICAN favours a humanitarian-based approach to nuclear disarmament – one that emphasizes the catastrophic health and environmental effects of nuclear weapons – rather than a non-proliferation or arms control approach that is concerned principally with managing power relations among states or minimizing the risks of use.
We are greatly encouraged by the recent increased focus among states on the effects of nuclear weapons. In May 2010 the five nuclear-weapon states parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – joined more than 100 other nations in expressing their “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”.
At this year’s preparatory committee session of the NPT in Vienna, 16 nations issued a statement calling for a humanitarian-based approach to nuclear disarmament, including “intensified efforts” to outlaw nuclear weapons. In addition, Norway announced that it would hold a major conference in March 2013 focusing on the harm caused by nuclear weapons, and ICAN will organize its own conference immediately prior to the official gathering.