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2015 NPT-Related Organizing

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Proposal for International Conference, Rally, March and Other Activities on the Eve of the 2015 NPT Review Conference (April 8, 2014)*

Background: Fulfilling the mandate of the 2014 Abolition 2000 annual general meeting, international coordinating and advisory committees have been created to build popular pressure to impact the  Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference. The international network's demands are that the Review Conference require the commencement of international negotiations to ban and completely eliminate the world's nuclear arsenal as provided by Article  VI of the NPT; that substantive international actions be taken to reverse climate change, and that military budgets be significantly reduced to prevent war and meet human needs. Actions will include an April 24 & 25 international peace conference; a people's march on April 26 to the United Nations, the site of the NPT Review Conference; the presentation of millions of petition signatures demanding nuclear weapons abolition; student and youth events; and creative and bold nonviolent actions. 

The NPT, despite its serious flaws, established the legal obligation on the part of the P-5 nuclear powers to negotiate the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals. In addition to enforcing nuclear weapons non-proliferation, the NPT Review Conference, held every five years, provides one of the most important opportunities for the majority of the world’s nations and international civil society to demand that the nuclear powers fulfill their article VI obligation to negotiate the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals, which is essential to human survival.

Numerous forces are at work as we approach the 2015 NPT Review. This past year the majority of the world’s governments expressed their anger and frustration over the failure of the P-5 nuclear powers to fulfill their Article VI NPT obligations as seen in: the U.N. Open Ended Working Group’s recommendations; the debate at the U.N. High Level Meeting on Disarmament; at the Oslo and Narayit Human Consequences conferences; and in the General Assembly resolution calling for negotiations for a nuclear weapons abolition convention to begin in 2014. New and invaluable energy and commitments for nuclear weapons abolition are increasing among governments and civil society.

At the same time, the P-5 are investing hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems, They have boycotted and denigrated critically important multi-lateral nuclear disarmament forums, and in the case of the United States, conducted simulated nuclear attacks. The Ukraine crisis has reinforced Cold War attitudes and rhetoric, including calls for increased reliance on preparations for nuclear war, and the NPT itself has been placed in jeopardy by the failure of the United States to fulfill its 2010 NPT Review Final Declaration commitment to co-convene the Middle East Nuclear and WMD Free Zone conference.

In these circumstances it is incumbent on the nuclear weapons abolition movement to be present in force in New York City in the days leading up to and during the NPT Review, lobbying and (as appropriate) encouraging governmental delegations to the NPT Review, in other fora, in the streets and through the media. A major mobilization carries the possibility of impacting the Review Conference and other multilateral disarmament processes, including the Vienna Conference which has grown out of the Human Consequences of Nuclear Weapons conference. Failure on our part to mobilize will communicate the absence of popular demands and will for the creation of a nuclear weapons free world. The NPT Review also provides a unique opportunity to attract new allies and activists to our movements for longer term organizing.

At the 2009 Abolition 2000 conference, an international planning committee was established to organize NGO events in the days immediately preceding and during the first days of the 2010 NPT Review. Those activities included:

  • An international peace conference (which ultimately brought together 1,000 activists at the Riverside Church – half from countries other than the U.S., who were addressed by Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon among others, and included 28 workshops);
  • A march from Times Square to the United Nations where marchers were welcomed by the President of the Review Conference and the U.N. High Commissioner for Disarmament and which garnered considerable U.S. and international press attention;
  • The presentation of tens of millions of petition signatures to the President of the Review Conference on the floor of the General Assembly;
  • A peace festival at the end of the march; and
  • An international interfaith religious service on the eve of the Review Conference. 

TO 2015:

A base in the United States for similar organizing has been created in the form of the ad hoc committee which has initiated this proposal and in which over the past year has initiated sign-on letters and generated tens of thousands of petition signatures directed to the Obama Administration, and in the UFPJ Disarmament Working Group, whose membership overlaps considerably with the ad hoc committee. We have also been in dialog with a number of international partners. Roughly two-thirds of the funding needed for such organizing (based on the costs of the 2010 organizing) has been committed by the American Friends Service Committee and Gensuikyo, with the rest to be raised from participating organizations, conference registration fees and contributions. AFSC and Peace Action have committed staff to facilitate this organizing, with the expectation that many A-2000 organizations will engage in the planning and organizing process.

Recognizing that there will be additional initiatives launched by partner organizations, we propose:

  1. The organizing of an international planning committee for  the 2015 NPT Review Conference be approved by the A-2000 AGM, with Joseph Gerson, Judith LeBlanc and Jackie Cabasso to serve as initial conveners, as we did in organizing activities for the 2010 NPT Review; and
  2. That the international planning committee for the 2015 NPT Review be charged with:
  • Organizing an inclusive** international Nuclear Weapons Abolition conference on the eve of the Review Conference;
  • Organizing an inclusive mass rally and march on the eve of the Review Conference to demand nuclear weapons abolition, peace and justice – including reducing military spending and the funding of essential human needs;
  • Organizing an inclusive peace festival at the conclusion of the rally and march;
  • Facilitating organizing by the rising generation of young nuclear abolitionists;
  • Facilitating delivery of millions of Japanese petition signatures urging negotiations without delay for a nuclear weapons abolition convention;
  • Facilitating the organization of an international interfaith service on the eve of the Review Conference;
  • Facilitating the visits of Hibakusha and international peace activists to communities in the United States to encourage nuclear weapons abolition organizing; and
  • Explore addition nonviolent actions, bold and otherwise, that can reinforce our demand for nuclear disarmament.

*Submitted by an ad hoc committee composed of American Friends Service Committee, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Disarmament, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Peace Action (national), Peace Action (New York State), Western States Legal Foundation

**Inclusive here is meant to encompass the multiple trends within the nuclear weapons abolition movement, as well as others in the justice and peace movements who share our commitment to nuclear weapons abolition.


People light and float luminaries on a river
Almost 70 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Joseph Gerson, AFSC's disarmament coordinator, answers questions about the legacy of the 1945 atomic bombings.