At the UN, ratifiers of the TPNW Ban Treaty reject nuclear deterrence, push for treaty universalization December 15, 2023

Activists holding an ICAN flag and nuclear ban signs
Photo: Darren Ornitz / ICAN

From November 27 to December 1, representatives from the 69 “states parties” (a.k.a. ratifying nations) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) met at the United Nations in New York for the second Meeting of States Parties (2MSP) to the treaty. Sixteen PSR members, along with colleagues from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Back from the Brink, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), International Committee of the Red Cross and other allied organizations were among the 700 civil society registrants participating in the meeting. The official joint Declaration — issued at the conclusion of the meeting — challenged nuclear deterrence theory, advocated for justice for nuclear-affected communities, and urged nuclear-armed countries to cease wasting precious resources on the chimera of nuclear weapons “security.”

The 65 “side events” associated with the 2MSP included a “Youth MSP” conference on November 28, hosted by the group Youth 4 TPNW. Bella Javidan, PSR’s Communications Director and Maylene Hughes, Grassroots Organizing & Policy Coordinator, Nuclear Threats Program at PSR-Los Angeles were among almost 100 young people from over 20 countries around the world who participated in Youth MSP. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) was among the 23 Parliamentarians from 14 countries who met in a “Parliamentarians for the TPNW” conference on November 27, which issued a Parliamentarian Statement urging all nations to join the TPNW.

Germany and Belgium, who are not parties to the TPNW, sent “observer” delegations, whose statements, regrettably, upheld the NATO nuclear weapons sharing arrangements.

Dr. Lars Pohlmeier, Co-chair of IPPNW Germany, was one of 41 IPPNW representatives at 2MSP.   In IPPNW’s Peace and Health blog [link to https://peaceandhealthblog.com/2023/12/21/the-tpnw-provides-hope-for-nuclear-disarmament-part-3/  ] , Pohlmeier wrote: 

“The UN Final Declaration on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons specifically stated that the ideology of deterrence, to which the nuclear powers and their supporter states adhere like drug addicts, must be made one of the central topics of debate in order to demystify and overcome nuclear weapons fanaticism.

The conference showed once again that nuclear weapons kill even without being used. They are not an abstract or academic issue, but a concrete danger and long-term damage to health for generations.”

Now let’s hear directly from some of the PSR members and staff who traveled to New York to participate in 2MSP and associated events: 

“This past week New York City was invaded by nuclear abolitionists from around the world coming together as part of civil society, scientific, and affected communities, to support, strengthen, and move forward with the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They gathered to celebrate what has been achieved and with hope and conviction for the complete elimination of these weapons to achieve a future free from the threat of their use.”

– Bob Dodge, MD, PSR-Los Angeles Board President, PSR Board member, PSR-CAN co-chair 

“This amazing Treaty, ratified by 69 nations and signed by 93, is, at its heart, a humanitarian document, centered on the devastating effects of nuclear bombs, whether in testing or used in war in the past, as well as new evidence on the cascading effects and the threat to humanity should they be used in the future. The voices of victims were part of the writing of the Treaty and their concerns were integral to the proceedings in this meeting, especially those who live today in areas — mostly inhabited by minorities and people of color — where testing occurred: including people from the Tularosa basin of New Mexico, the South Pacific Islands, Kazakhstan, Australia, and the diaspora from the Marshall Islanders. ‘Nuclear colonialism has disproportionately impacted Indigenous Peoples and marginalized communities. Indigenous Peoples lands were taken. Bodies were used, people were bombed.’

— Gwen DuBois, MD, Chesapeake PSR Board President, PSR Board member

“For me the most impactful experience at 2MSP came at the end of the rally and march, when we gathered at the Russian Mission to urge Russia to eliminate its arsenal and join the TPNW. A representative from the Mission met us on the sidewalk. After a few short remarks, hibakusha led the crowd in singing “We shall overcome.” It was strange, moving, both sad and uplifting at the same time, to be among these long-suffering yet ever-hopeful souls singing truth to power. The hibakusha and nuclear abolitionists gathered on that cold sunny day in NYC reminded me of what is so important during these troubled times — and that is: simply affirming our own agency. We are not powerless. Together, we can and we will create a safer, healthier, and more just world, a world without nuclear weapons.”

– Denise Duffield, Associate Director, PSR-Los Angeles  

“At the UN, I sensed a renewed presence/solidarity of physicians/healthcare professionals’ involvement for nuclear disarmament and ultimately abolition, focusing on articles 6 & 7 of the Ban Treaty — victim assistance and environmental remediation — especially infusing/drawing attention to the humanitarian aspects and health effects of nuclear weapon usage and testing. It is imperative for us as physicians, especially as clinicians, to take leadership roles in all this to help prevent catastrophic events. No nuke usage and no more testing! We need to adhere to our mantra: we must “prevent what we cannot cure”.  

– Ellen Ferranti MD,  PSR-New York Board of Directors

 “I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to connect with numerous individuals in the field of nuclear abolition. The week was marked by an infectious atmosphere of support and enthusiasm. This gathering held special significance for me as it was my inaugural event since joining PSR-Los Angeles as a new team member in August. The experience left me inspired, filled with ideas, and hopeful for the future of nuclear disarmament.”

– Maral Hassanshahi, PSR-Los Angeles Board of Directors

“A moment that was full of hope and unity was when we were marching with everyone from Back from the Brink and other activists…seeing everyone from different generations coming together, supporting the youth to be the frontrunners of this movement. That day I really told myself that we are going to abolish nuclear weapons, these people are going to do this.  

“A noteworthy moment occurred during the Youth MSP event, where I had the privilege to meet and engage with other young activists dedicated to this cause. The event facilitated valuable connections and a mutual exchange of insights through group discussions and enlightening panel roundtables. It was a truly enriching experience.”

— Maylene Hughes, Grassroots Organizing & Policy Coordinator, PSR-Los Angeles Nuclear Threats Program

“Being surrounded by this international community with the shared values of accountability and justice inspired me, especially seeing young folks my age caring so deeply for our collective future. 

The New Manhattan Project: A concert for nuclear abolition was an expansive experience for me. The historical timeline encourages me — that if New York City can become a nuclear weapons free zone, we can organize for this in my home city too.”

— Kimmy Igla, PSR-Kansas City and Kansas City Peaceworks 

“I found the idealism of 2MSP inspiring. I learned that in the 1945 Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings, 30,000 enslaved Korean workers died and that of the 300 doctors in Hiroshima, 270 died. I was moved deeply by the testimonies of people from countries that are directly victimized by tests of weapons or the use of nuclear weapons: Kiribati, Kazakhstan, Australia , the U.S., the Marshall Islands, and Japan.”

– Todd Sack, MD, PSR Board President

“As I stood in line on the first day to get my UN badge, I became acquainted with Hirotsugu Terasaki, Soka Gakkai Director General from Tokyo. I told him through his interpreter about the nuclear bomb parts plant in Kansas City which has made over 85% of the parts for U.S. nuclear weapons since 1949.  And I told them the plant is planning to double in size next year, starting a new arms race, despite its toxic work causing cancers and deaths of hundreds of its workers. The interpreter said to me, ‘Those are your hibakusha!’ The solidarity of affected peoples worldwide is what will ensure the TPNW will succeed.”

–  Ann Suellentrop MSRN, PSR Board of Directors, Program Director, PSR-Kansas City

“It was so exciting and inspiring to represent PSR Maine & Back from the Brink at 2MSP at the UN with officials representing 68 TPNW ratifying nations. It gives me hope to have spent that time with hundreds of advocates, young & old from around the world, all calling for nuclear abolition.”

– Peter Wilk, MD  Back from the Brink Management Team, Board Member, PSR-Maine, Former PSR Executive Director

For further exploration of the TPNW:

“The U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty is How We Will Avoid a Nuclear War”
Dec 5 Newsweek Op-ed by ICAN Executive Director Melissa Parke

“Nuclear Abolitionists Occupy New York”
Op-ed by Bob Dodge, MD in Common Dreams

“The Nuclear Ban Treaty in a nutshell”
ICAN Youtube video, 2 mins 11 seconds 

Letter to President Biden from 218 mayors, city councilors, county and municipal officials and state legislators from around the United States, urging the Biden Administration to send an official Observer delegation to 2MSP and start negotiations with the other 8 nuclear-armed countries for total abolition of nuclear weapons. This was a project of Back from the Brink.

Consensus Joint Declaration
Issued by the States Parties at the meeting’s conclusion

Report of the TPNW Scientific Advisory Group on the status and developments regarding nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon risks, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and related issues (40 pages) 

Parliamentarian Statement to the 2MSP

Decisions emanating from 2MSP

Photos

Nuclear Weapons ban treaty supporters converge on New York City. Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN
Activists holding an ICAN flag and nuclear ban signs
ICAN campaigners bring new energy to the UN.    Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN
Nearly 100 young people from over 20 countries attended the Youth MSP conference on November 28. Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN
Group standing outside the UN with sign reading "No nukes! No war! No warming!"
IPPNW and PSR representatives at Youth MSP Conference.
PSR Board President Todd Sack, MD (on the right) helps Steve Baggerly and Anthony Donovan tell U.S. citizens about the TPNW.
From Kansas City PSR, Kimmy Igla and PSR National Board Member Ann Suellentrop outside the UN.
Back from the Brink supporters in the March to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, November 28. Peter Wilk, MD, Denise Duffield, Devin Kellis, Maral Hassanshahi, Bob Dodge, Maylene Hughes, Alex Jasset, Ira Helfand.
Ellen Ferranti, MD and Ann Suellentrop, MSRN at the MSP meeting room. PSR-New York board member Ferranti was the official Head of Delegation for the PSR delegates.
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced H.Res.77 into the U.S. Congress, urging support for the TPNW and the Back from the Brink policy recommendations. Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN
Parliamentarians for the TPNW, a network of legislators in support of the treaty, held a Nov 27 conference at the UN. The 23 participants from 14 countries–including Rep. Jim McGovern–expressed resolute support for the TPNW and their willingness to make the treaty a political priority in their respective parliaments. Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN
ICAN Executive Director Melissa Parke addresses the ICAN Campaigner Meeting on Nov 26. Photo credit: Darren Ornitz / ICAN

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