October 24th is not only UN Day but also the opening of the UN’s annual Disarmament Week (a). This year it had special significance for our Branch, as it provided an opportunity to draw attention to the Ottawa chapter of one of our community partners of the last few years – a nongovernmental organization (NGO) striving to create a better world – who is also a strategic partner of the NGO that in October won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN (b, c) received the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
As a part of a global campaign to raise awareness of nuclear weapons, ICAN in 2012 launched an exhibition entitled “Everything You Treasure – For a World Free from Nuclear Weapons” (the EYT Exhibition), which has been toured around the world (d). The tour has been done in co-operation with like-minded individuals and organizations, notably the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) – a worldwide organization (e) dedicated to peace, culture and education based on the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism.
Since 2014, the National Capital Region Branch of the UN Association has supported the Ottawa chapter of SGI in local showings of the EYT Exhibition at City Hall and elsewhere. Indeed, the SGI has been one of the most active groups in recent years to promote general public awareness in Ottawa of the threat of nuclear weapons.
In a historic vote on 7 July 2017, the UN General Assembly approved the final text of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, which would be the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. In order for the Treaty to come into effect, signatures and ratification by at least 50 countries are required (f).
With a global campaign underway to get the needed ratifications – including Canada’s – much will need to be done to mobilize public opinion and change the policies of governments, including Canada’s. Lets hope that SGI carries on its partnership with the Nobel winner ICAN and that the SGI’s Ottawa chapter continues to show its praise-worthy bilingual edition of the Exhibition “Everything You Treasure – For a World Free from Nuclear Weapons” to Canadians. The UNA’s NCR Branch is ready to continue supporting this crucial educational effort to warn more global citizens of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.
Canada did not participate in the negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It voted against the UN General Assembly’s resolution in 2016 that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty. It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security.
[URL for ICAN’s statement]
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