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On first ever UN day for total elimination of nuclear weapons civil society demands a ban on nuclear weapons

Published 26 September 2014


September 26, 2014 marks the first ever UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Established in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly the international day of action puts the issue of nuclear weapons once again at the top of the global agenda. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) welcomes this effort by the United Nations to strengthen nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

To ensure that this day of commemoration is an indicator of real intention to take action by states, ICAN calls for governments to start negotiating a treaty to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. The third conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons to be held in Vienna, Austria on December 8-9, 2014 should mark a turning point in the process to outlaw the last weapon of mass destruction.

In August 2014, the United Nation Institute for Disarmament Research released an inter-agency study An illusion of safety - Challenges of Nuclear Weapon Detonations for United Nations Humanitarian Coordination and Response. The study concludes that “…the United Nations is unlikely to be able to offer much humanitarian assistance in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear weapon detonation event…”

Baroness Valerie Amos, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs admits in the foreword of the study: “until we achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, they will continue to pose the risk of catastrophic consequences for humanity – whatever the United Nations and its humanitarian partners endeavour to do to pick up the pieces.”

Despite resistance from nuclear-armed states, a growing number of states and international organizations compelled by the undeniable evidence of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and concerned about the limited progress of nuclear disarmament, recognized the imperative to address the global humanitarian threat of nuclear weapons, with bold and urgent actions toward prohibition.

“By keeping the focus on their humanitarian impact, we acknowledge that nuclear weapons are weapons – not tools of power - says Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN “We expect states to commit to negotiations at the next meeting in Vienna. No security doctrine or theory can obscure the fact that any use of nuclear weapons would entail catastrophic humanitarian consequences. This international day of action is a reminder that a new instrument for the prohibition of nuclear weapons is urgently needed and we need to seize this window of opportunity to begin negotiations”.

ICAN – a campaign coalition with more than 360 members in over 90 countries – will organize a series of events all around the world. Nuclear Abolition Day will be a call to demand governments to make a clear commitment to supporting negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.


For interviews with ICAN spokespeople please contact:

Daniela Varano
+41 78 7262645

About ICAN

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. It has 360 partner organizations in over 90 countries, and was launched in 2007. Prominent supporters include Desmond Tutu, Yoko Ono and the Dalai Lama.

Details available at: http://www.icanw.org