August 2001


NEW YORK, 6 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, delivered today by Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator:

It is a great honour for me to join the people who gather here today, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, to remember those who died in the tragedy and to pray for world peace.

Fifty-six years ago, the explosion of an atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima, shattering hundreds of thousands of lives and causing untold suffering. Three days later Nagasaki suffered the same fate. The world woke to the palpable threat of annihilation by the atomic bomb –- the most devastating invention of the twentieth century. Ever since, the elimination of nuclear weapons has been a priority for the international community. In fact, the first resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 called for "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction".

There have been remarkable advances in nuclear disarmament since 1945 and nuclear weapons have never again been used in war. However, the fervent hope of humankind -- to see nuclear weapons abolished by the end of the twentieth century -- was not realized, despite the strenuous efforts of peoples and governments.

Last year, at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, States with nuclear capacity made an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit, the largest number of world leaders ever assembled resolved to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.

It is time now to turn these words into deeds. We must dispel the fearful shadow that weapons of mass destruction cast across every nation. We must replace a culture of reaction with one of conflict prevention. In this new century, let us renew our solemn vow never to repeat the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let us also resolve to prevent conflict by ending the poverty, inequity, and intolerance that foster it.

I join the people of Hiroshima in their prayers for a peaceful world, united in serving all its peoples.

* *** *