On 1 December, together with ICAN Austria and PAX for Peace, ICAN Germany organised a parliamentary briefing on the upcoming conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, to be held on 8-9 December 2014 in Vienna, Austria.
We were joined for the occasion by Alexander Kmentt, Director of Disarmament Affairs at the Austrian Foreign Ministry, and Frédéric Casier / Red Cross.
– Welcoming remarks by Julie Ward, MEP
– Amb. Alexander Kmentt, Head of Disarmament and Non-proliferation, Austrian Foreign Ministry
– Frédéric Casier, Red Cross Belgium
– Krista van Velzen, PAX Netherlands
– Silvio Heinze, ICAN Austria
– Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm, ICAN Germany
In 2010, the Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons”. Ever since, the so-called Humanitarian Initiative has generated new momentum in the international nuclear disarmament debate. After conferences hosted by the government of Norway in March 2013 and Mexico in February 2014, the Austrian government will hold the 3rd Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna on December 8-9, 2014. Immediately before the conference, on December 6-7, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will hold a Civil Society Forum.
Just a few weeks ago 155 States supported the Humanitarian Initiative’s joint statement at the United Nations General Assembly, demanding that the humanitarian concerns of the continued existence of nuclear weapons be placed at the center of nuclear disarmament. A growing number of States call for their prohibition. With the NPT Review Conference scheduled for spring 2015, the December events are likely to contribute to meaningful progress in the field of nuclear disarmament, overcoming decades of stalemate.
THE ROLE OF ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
Elected representatives have a vital role to play in promoting the humanitarian approach to nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament, and challenging decades-old discourses on mutually assured destruction, and billions of tax payer money wasted on weapons of mass destruction which must never again be used, under any circumstances. ICAN and its partner organizations invited you to sign the attached Parliamentary Appeal to Ban Nuclear Weapons.
The Vienna conference seeks to engage elected representatives, as part of national diplomatic delegations as well as in parliamentary side-events hosted by the Austrian Parliament. The involvement of the European Parliament in particular will be decisive in keeping nuclear disarmament on the EU’s agenda and in amplifying awareness of the opportunities generated by the humanitarian discourse on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.