Mayors for Peace ends General Conference: Citizens should take the initiative to move international politics

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

Mayors for Peace closed its General Conference in Nagasaki on August 10. The main theme of the gathering involved how citizens can influence international politics and advance the aim of eliminating nuclear weapons. A clear course of action and specific measures are presented in the Mayors for Peace Nagasaki Appeal adopted by the conference. Now is the time to put them into action.

The central focus of discussion at the conference was on how to promote the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, which has been advocated by Mayors for Peace as a path toward the elimination of nuclear arms by 2020. It was agreed that the biggest goal for the moment is to have the protocol adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference next spring.

With the advent of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, the anti-nuclear movement is gaining global momentum. The Nagasaki Appeal not only calls for a nuclear-weapon-free world, but it also urges national governments to shift military expenditures to measures for such things as environmental protection and poverty reduction. These propositions are based on the mayors’ recognition that resolving problems of a global nature and abolishing nuclear weapons are two sides of the same coin: the fulfillment of a safe and peaceful civic life. They are also aware that cooperation with wide-ranging citizens’ movements will be a driving force toward a nuclear-weapon-free world.

It can be said these concrete steps have been presented to facilitate the groundswell of global opinion from the perspective of citizens. However, setting a course for conveying public calls for a nuclear-weapon-free world to the arena of international politics is not an easy task.

To pave the way for the protocol to be adopted at the NPT Review Conference, one approach is to call on the United Nations General Assembly this coming fall to make a resolution requesting that the protocol be discussed at the review conference. But it has not been decided which country would introduce the resolution.

According to Pol D’Huyvetter, the Belgium-based executive advisor to Mayors for Peace, several countries in South America and Europe are under consideration for the possibility of a joint submission of the resolution, but those nations are hesitant. The munitions industry, with the United States on top and a broad base in a range of countries, has enormous influence on national governments. Japan, since it relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for its security, will likely be unable to bring itself to submit the resolution even though it is the only nation to have experienced nuclear attack.

Time is short before the review conference opens next spring. For the cause of nuclear abolition, how can public opinion be unified and an environment created where citizens can be proactive? The world’s mayors must now take the initiative.

(Originally published on August 11, 2009)

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