The Key to a World without Nuclear Weapons

Second round of U.N. talks on nuclear ban treaty begins

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The second round of talks to establish a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons opened at the United Nations headquarters in New York on June 15. Government representatives from the participating countries will discuss the draft treaty which contains a preamble that refers to the suffering of the A-bomb survivors and would completely prohibit the use, development, and possession of nuclear weapons. The participants will seek to adopt the final text of the draft by July 7, when the meeting closes.

At the start of the talks, Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, delivered a speech in which she expressed her concern over the impasse in nuclear disarmament and said she hopes these negotiations will bring the world closer to the abolition of nuclear arms.

Following Ms. Nakamitsu’s speech, the participants began discussing the published draft treaty prepared by Elayne Whyte Gomez, the U.N. representative from Costa Rica who is chairing the negotiations, based on the results of the first meeting in March. The participants briefly offered their opinions at the beginning of the session then entered the final stage of discussion on the specific elements of the treaty.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be given the opportunity to express their opinions at this session. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui will deliver a speech as the president of Mayors for Peace, an organization which strongly supports the conclusion of a nuclear ban treaty. Toshiyuki Mimaki, 75, the vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi), and other A-bomb survivors also arrived in New York as Nihon Hidankyo delegates. They will appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons at several gatherings.

According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international NGO, while 132 non-nuclear states attended the first round of talks, none of the nine nuclear powers including the United States and Russia were present. Japan, which relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for its security, announced that it would continue to forgo the negotiations. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as A-bomb survivors’ groups, have urged Japan’s foreign ministry to take part in the treaty talks.

(Originally published on June 16, 2017)