On September 26, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, world leaders will participate in a High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament.
'The United Nations and its member countries should focus more on disarmament for sustainable development' says 2016 Children's Peace Prize winner Kehkashan Basu, who was last week selected by the President of the UN General Assembly to address the UN High-Level Meeting as one of the two speakers from global civil society.
'The nuclear arms race, in particular, should be halted and the $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget be redirected towards ending poverty, reversing climate change, protecting the oceans, building a sustainable economy and providing basic education and health care for all humanity,' says Ms Basu, who was also named last week as one of Canada's Top 25 Women of Influence for 2018.
'Instead, the nuclear armed States are squandering resources and keeping their nuclear weapons poised to strike. One mistake would cause a humanitarian disaster, robbing children and youth of their health and future, and maybe even ending civilization as we know it.'
The High Level Meeting on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Abolition Day) will involve Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and UN ambassadors presenting either their hopes and aspirations for nuclear disarmament or their excuses for keeping the nuclear arms race going. It falls on the anniversary of the incident in 1983 when a nuclear war was almost fought by accident.
When an incoming US ballistic missile attack was detected at the Serpukhov-15 nuclear warning centre, duty officer Stanislav Petrov, defied protocol and reported a false alarm. He was right. The satellites were wrong. And his action, which is chronicled in the award winning movie The Man Who Saved the World, prevented a potential nuclear calamity the life of which we have never experienced and hope never to see.
The lesson of the 1983 incident, and the 15-20 other times we have nearly had a nuclear exchange, is that nuclear deterrence could fail - and that failure would mean game over,' says Jakob von Uexkull, Founder of the World Future Council. 'As such, the nuclear armed States have to replace nuclear deterrence with better ways to achieve security, just as the overwhelming majority of other countries have already done.'
'Regardless of what the governments do at the UN, civil society will step up its action for nuclear disarmament,' says Ms Basu. 'The most powerful lobby for the nuclear arms race is the nuclear weapons industry.'
'From Oct 24-30, in locations around New York, we will count the $1 trillion nuclear weapons budget for the next 10 years and demonstrate how this money can be reallocated from the nuclear weapons industry into the Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of human and environmental need. This includes direct cuts to nuclear weapons budgets, and divestment from the industry, and is part of the global campaign Move the Nuclear Weapons Money.'
From Basel Peace Office. Learn more here