Let’s move towards a world without nuclear weapons – World
Joint Statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Vienna , Austria,
June 21-23, 2022
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation (IFRC), made up of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, have the honor of jointly addressing this first meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The Japanese Red Cross and the ICRC were among the first to respond to the atomic bombings of 1945. Understanding the horrors of nuclear war and the limits of our ability to help, the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is strongly committed to ensuring that these weapons are never used again and are eliminated.
The new international legal norm completely banning nuclear weapons in the TPNW is a historic achievement. This reflects the global revulsion towards these weapons. It honors the hopes and dreams of the atomic bomb survivors or “hibakusha” and the memory of so many victims who have not lived to this day. The Japanese Red Cross, through its hibakusha hospitals in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has for decades come to know and treat tens of thousands of survivors. As a youth representative of the Japanese Red Cross, I would like to share some of what we have learned from hibakusha.
The Hibakusha taught us why the scenes they experienced must “never again” happen anywhere on this earth. Their perseverance, patience and humility moved and motivated us. As fewer hibakusha remain among us today, Japanese Red Cross youth are committed to keeping their voices and stories alive for future generations. Without the testimony of the hibakusha nuclear weapons can become a mere military-technical abstraction devoid of the appalling horrors they rain upon peoples and their societies. With the TPNW, we now have a crucial tool that most hibakusha could only dream of: a global treaty that recognizes the horrors of nuclear weapons and bans them on humanitarian, moral and legal grounds. We thank States Parties for responding to the call of humanity by establishing this legacy and invite all others to do the same.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has consistently called for a ban on nuclear weapons since 1945. Recent advocacy efforts were launched by a resolution from our 2011 Council of Delegates that helped reframe the issue nuclear weapons in human terms. The ICRC and National Societies around the world played a key role in the “humanitarian initiative” on nuclear weapons that gave birth to the TPNW and in supporting its negotiation in 2017.
Tomorrow, the same Council of Delegates is expected to adopt a new resolution and multi-year action plan on nuclear weapons that will welcome the adoption and entry into force of the TPNW and recommit the Movement to continue its work in all contexts to reduce the risks of the use of nuclear weapons and to keep the catastrophic human costs of these weapons at the center of national and international debates. The draft resolution commits the Movement to “seize with determination and urgency the unique opportunities presented by the entry into force of the TPNW to ensure that it ushers in a new era for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.” Our Movement will work tirelessly to promote the adherence of all States to the TPNW and its implementation as well as the adherence to and faithful implementation of other mutually reinforcing international legal instruments on nuclear weapons.
We are grateful that Article 7.5 of the TPNW recognizes the ICRC, IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as potential partners to provide treaty implementation assistance and specifically victims of the use or testing of nuclear weapons.
As a Movement with long experience in assisting hibakusha while assisting victims of radioactive releases following several major accidents at civilian nuclear facilities, we appreciate the trust placed in us by States Parties. We warmly welcome the draft action plan examined by this meeting and we stand ready to support States Parties in the universalization of treaties, national legislation if necessary, as well as in assistance to victims. We look forward to opportunities to engage with States Parties that require assistance in preparing the national plans called for in the draft action plan. We would also consider expanding our own victim assistance support, where possible, based on these plans and available resources.
In conclusion, we call on all states to recognize the crucial role that the TPNW plays in international efforts to prevent the “catastrophic consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons” that all states parties to the Treaty on the Non- nuclear proliferation have recognized.
States have a solemn responsibility to prevent these consequences, to reduce the risk that nuclear weapons will be used again and to move towards a world without nuclear weapons.
The TPNW now provides a roadmap to this end. Nuclear disarmament is a legal obligation under the NPT, a moral duty and above all a humanitarian imperative aimed at nothing less than ensuring the survival of humanity.