4 May 2005

Nuclear Weapon Ban only Guarantee They Will Never again Be Used, Says Secretary-General in Remarks to Mayors for Peace

NEW YORK, 3 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Mayors Conference at the United Nations on the theme “Ending the Threat of Nuclear Devastation”, in New York, 3 May:

Let me perhaps start by telling you, and our Chairman, Mayor Akiba, and of course Mayor Plusquellic and Mayor Itoh, how happy I am to be here with you and to join you this afternoon.  I am delighted to see so many city and civil society representatives here at the United Nations.  You come at a time when we have an important conference taking place here -- the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) -- and I am really happy to see the strong support you bring to the cause of disarmament.

We are also honoured by the presence of a number of Hibakusha.  They are the living witnesses of the horrors of atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

That year also witnessed, of course, the hope of the United Nations, the hope of our founding fathers in San Francisco.  And early the following year, the United Nations General Assembly, in its very first resolution, made clear that our goal must be the “elimination of [all] weapons adaptable to mass destruction”.  Our burden, and our challenge, were made abundantly clear.

They remain clear six decades later, in a world reawakened to nuclear dangers.  Yesterday, at the opening session of the NPT Review Conference, I stressed that all States have obligations in the fields of disarmament,

non-proliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  If we are to revitalize that regime, which is the cornerstone of our global security, action is required on many fronts.  All States must resist the temptation to focus only on some truths while denying others.

We must revitalize the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, because that is the only way to guarantee that these terrible weapons will never be used again.  I am therefore truly delighted that you, the Mayors for Peace, are here today to promote your vision of a global ban on nuclear weapons by 2020. 

Your work is very important to us here at the United Nations.  This United Nations is a meeting place for national Governments, but it is also for the peoples -- it needs the ideas and enthusiasm of local communities around the world.  You have a special role to play in building bridges of international cooperation on issues of common concern to your communities.  Indeed, without the work of groups like yours, who knows whether the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change or the Mine Ban Convention would exist today?  It was the work you did, and your advocacy and pressure that made these two possible.  I hope those examples will inspire you in your equally important and noble work.

Your efforts, of course, are part of something even bigger -- the struggle for a freer, fairer and safer world.  Each generation should hand on to its successor a world closer to that vision than the one it inherited from those who came before.  If we are to achieve this, all States, and I mean all States, must work together to advance development, security and human rights.  And their common home -- the United Nations -- must be an effective instrument of their common purpose.

It is with these goals in mind that, six weeks ago, I placed before the Member States of the United Nations my report, entitled “In larger freedom”.  It lays out a broad agenda of both policy commitments and institutional changes.  I hope that it will help world leaders to strike a global deal on far-reaching reform when they come here for a Summit in September.  The decisions are for them to take -- but this is an agenda which concerns every citizen, and every citizen has a stake in it.  I have made it clear that we cannot have development without security and we cannot have security without development.  We will have neither without respect for human rights.

In that spirit, I urge you to press ahead with your work.  Even as we face what seem to be insurmountable obstacles, let us all keep our eyes firmly on the goal of a freer, fairer, and safer world.  And let us act to bring it closer to reality.

* *** *