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“Working for a world free of nuclear weapons – what can the United Nations and civil society do?”

To read full lecture of Vijay Mehta click here

CND Southern region meeting, Winchester

Saturday 7th March
Our chairman, Vijay Mehta, was invited by the southern region of CND to present a talk based on nuclear disarmament at their AGM. His wife Shanti and ACT-UN’s Campaigns Officer Talyn accompanied Vijay to Winchester, and it was the first time for the party to visit such a delightful town.
Despite being a small town, Winchester is packed with historical buildings and people young and old. When walking through the town to reach the meeting destination, it was welcoming to be surrounded by much live music played by buskers and students alike. With these renditions, Vijay was more than ready to present his speech about what the UN and civil society can do about disarming nuclear weapons.

The meeting was chaired by David Hougley, who is the treasurer of CND Southern Region. The event kicked off with Vijay’s speech, followed by the rest of the AGM after the break.

Before highlighting the current threats that nuclear weapons pose in today’s world, Vijay most fittingly congratulated CND members in their efforts to campaign against nuclear disarmament. It is true that CND have been campaigning for a nuclear free world for over 50 years, however there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for bringing global disarmament. Vijay reflected how proliferation of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel is inciting fear in civil society and causing political violence, becoming the “hallmark of new terrorism”. Nukes are continuously being upgraded by US and UK, overlooking pledges signed in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by major nuclear powers. The truth of the matter is that, nuclear weapons has no utility and only exist as a power symbol, which ironically only threatens security.

In an effort to develop positive action, Vijay reminded the audience of the 5 Point Proposal towards a nuclear free world, which was put forward by Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the UN last year.
1/ Urge NPT states to fulfil their obligation under the treaty agreeing on a framework which is backed by a strong verification system (investment in verification R&D)
2/ Security Council to start dialogue to freeze nuclear weapon capabilities and make own disarmament commitments
3/ New efforts to bring a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty into force without preconditions, by having nuclear weapon free zones
4/ Nuclear weapon states to encourage wider dissemination of information for greater transparency on use of obtained nuclear weapons
5/ New efforts against terrorism, limitation on nuclear production and trade, new weapons ban including missiles and space weapons

Permanent members of the Security Council are also all have nuclear weapons. However, for enhancing Article VI of the NPT, signatories of the treaty are obliged “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race...under strict and effective international control”. However, the UN have much to do to prove they are more than just a ‘talk-shop’ in regards to committing to disarmament.

Civil society and organisations like ACT-UN and CND are more committed to envisioning a world without nuclear weapons. Vijay highlighted a 13 step action point to what individuals can do (please see main handout which can be found on ACT-UN website). Many initiatives have been made by organisations in tackling and taking this issue to national and international level. Although there is a chance to prevent proliferation by limiting available sources, the UK and other nuclear powers have to recognise that their own weapons and policies are part of the overall problem. By uniting our voice into one, we can at least see that the UK acts to moving towards being a nuclear free world.

The presentation ended with a very active question and answer session, particularly rousing curiosity on how to encourage local mayors to become “Mayors of Peace”, which was initially started by the Mayor of Hiroshima. Remember, as Dalai Lama said “If you think you are too small to change the world, try sleeping with a mosquito”, which apparently is one of Vijay’s and Shanti’s favourite quotes – and now mine.