|Roskill MP and opposition Labour spokesperson on disarmament Phil Goff speaking |
at the World Without War conference in Auckland today. Image: Del Abcede
And Bikini Atoll was the Ground Zero for 23 US nuclear tests in the Pacific – out of some 67 conducted over the next dozen years in the Marshall Islands. (Excellent background on this in Giff Johnson's Don't Ever Whisper).
Last year the little republic filed a controversial lawsuit in the International Court of Justice at The Hague against Washington and the eight other nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, India, Israel (although it denies possessing a nuclear arsenal), North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.
The Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear club members of “violating their duty” to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of these weapons.
Now, over this weekend in New Zealand, some 200 people have participated in a World Without War conference drawing up a list for proposed action for peace and the Marshall Islands action came in for some strong support from several speakers.
Speaking in a video message from outside UN headquarters in New York, Alyn Ware, international representative of the Peace Foundation, organisers of the event at Auckland University of Technology, gave updates on various initiatives and was optimistic about the Marshall Islands case, believed that it would at least gain sufficient traction to drive the nuclear powers into serious negotiations.
|The WILP information stand ... much interest. Image: Del Abcede|
His positive voice was echoed by Dr Kate Dewes, co-director of the Disarmament and Security Centre, and lawyer Matt Robson, a former Alliance MP, who outlined how international humanitarian law currently “banned” the use of nuclear weapons.
|Part of the crowd at the World Without War conference. Image: David Robie|
Other global proposals included promoting the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26, supporting the creation of a UN Open-Ended Working Group to take forward nuclear disarmament negotiations, and promoting environmental security.
|Auckland ... Peace City and a vision. Image: David Robie|
|The SGINZ Victorious March Band. Image: David Robie|
Where were the students and school children in the programme - almost apart from the SGINZ Victorious March Band who were stunning? Surprising given the foundation's tremendous education programmes, especially Cool Schools. (Many remarks were made too about the almost exclusive middle-aged male line-up in the two-hour "opening remarks" session - no gender balance, but two impressive youngsters added zest to the session.)
|Peace Foundation publications ... education programmes. |
Image: David Robie
Peace Foundation president Dr John Hinchcliff, Vice-Chancellor Emeritus of AUT, had given challenges to the conference in the opening session, and also in a video reported by Pacific Media Centre student Alistar Kata a few days earlier.
|Pacific Media Centre's Dr David Robie speaking on media coverage |
and refugees at the conference.His presentation also included
a video about Japan's biggest defence about-face in 70 years.
Image: Del Abcede
There was strong support for New Zealand to take more refuges than doubling the quota from 750 to 1500. (Ireland, for example, with a similar population, is taking up to 5000; and Lebanon, also with a similar population, already has more than 1.5 million).
Dr Arif Sayeed, chair of the NZ Refugee Council, applauded many New Zealanders for their support but also called for more compassion and understanding for refugees coming from war zones such as Syria.
A new feature documentary, The Man Who Saved the World, was screened about the extraordinary 1983 case of Russian retired colonel Stanislav Petrov, who refused to follow protocols and order a counter-strike when Soviet early warning systems wrongly signalled that five nuclear missiles had been launched by the US. It could have been a global nuclear winter.
Even now there are still at least 15,695 nuclear warheads with at least 1302 on high-alert after almost a quarter century since the end of the Cold War.
|Stanislav Petrov ... "right person at the right time". |
Summing up from several contributions, conference organiser Christopher Le Breton said: “We have huge rampant social injustice, and wars and conflicts, precipitating a mass refugee crisis, and we have pollution to our seas, extinctions of species, and a sense of frustration and alienation among some that one person cannot make a difference.”
He said awareness of strengths of living in Aotearoa, “together with the possibilities we have, helps inspire our attitude, and the action we get involved with to transform our lives and the planet.
“We have a chance to be seeds for the future.”
The foundation intends to follow-up with participants and involved groups through a range of key action recommendations.
- UN Secretary-General's peace message on September 21
- Marshall Islands sues nuclear powers
- Pacific Media Centre video on the conference
- Niklas Pedersen's report on the new Japanese 'defence' bill
- PMC director calls for 'real justice' over nuclear weapons
- Advocate for nuclear test victims honoured
- New generation of Japanese anti-war protesters
- World Without War video and earlier story