7 August 2009

Secretary-General's Message to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony

(Delivered by Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 2009)

VIENNA, 6 August (UN Information Service) - Every year on the sixth of August, we honour the memories of the countless men, women and children who perished in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we pay our respects to the hibakusha and their families, whose lives have been unfathomably devastated.

We also use this day to reflect on the lessons of August 1945. We must never forget not only the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, but also the human costs of war itself as a means to resolving disputes. The attacks brought the world to a crossroads. Nuclear weapons and the United Nations were born that same year - one offering a so-called peace based on terror and destruction, the other a peace co-created by nations through debate, compromise, the rule of law, human rights, the pursuit of justice and economic prosperity.

Today is therefore not just a day to remember the past, but a day to re-commit to a common future of peace - a world free of nuclear weapons. Some say this is impossible, and that security can be achieved only by acquiring nuclear weapons.

Yet we are witnessing today a cascade of new and powerful ideas for security through the elimination of nuclear weapons. All the nuclear-weapon states officially support this goal. Civil society initiatives appear with great frequency. Last October, I launched a five-point proposal that contains practical, realistic steps the international community can take and which rests on my conviction that nuclear disarmament is the only reliable way to prevent any further use of such weapons. To build on this momentum, next month's observance of the International Day of Peace will seek to mobilize the world to advance the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.

We have the power to build a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. I call on all humanity to support this sensible and achievable goal. Let us each do our part in this common journey - and thereby ensure that there will be no more victims such as those we honour today.

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