10 January, 2000
Our vision is a world free of nuclear weapons and the intolerable threat that they pose to humankind, the environment and all living creatures. It is a vision the United Nations General Assembly recognized in its very first
resolution, which sought to address "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction." It is a vision reaffirmed in numerous resolutions of the General Assembly throughout the past five decades.
Our vision is a world in which the obligations of Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are adhered to by all states.
Our vision is a world in which the obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament
Our vision is a world in which no nation's security rests upon threatening the "ultimate evil" of murdering tens of millions of innocent people by means of nuclear annihilation.
The obstacles to achieving this vision have been created by the nuclear weapons states, which have continued to rely upon nuclear deterrence as the cornerstone of their defense policies and have actively resisted all pleas to meet their obligations under international law as well as their moral obligations to humanity and the earth.
A decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the danger of intentional or accidental use
of nuclear weapons remains very real. Nuclear tests in South Asia, wars in the Balkans and
Chechnya, and plans for theater and national
In 1995, citizens' organizations at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference released a statement calling for the implementation of NPT disarmament obligations through the commencement of negotiations leading to the conclusion by the year 2000 of a nuclear weapons abolition convention setting out a binding schedule for the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Over 1400 organizations have endorsed this statement, and comprise the Abolition 2000 Global Network. In 1999, the abolition of nuclear weapons was adopted as a core program of the Hague Appeal for Peace, a multi-issue, international civil society initiative. Public opinion polls show over 80% support for a nuclear weapons convention in most NATO countries and nuclear weapon states, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The General Assembly and the European Parliament have both adopted resolutions calling for a nuclear weapons convention. A Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, demonstrating the feasibility of nuclear abolition, has been circulated within the United Nations.
Nonetheless, the states possessing nuclear weapons show few signs of willingness to relinquish their nuclear arsenals. Instead, they are continuing with deployment of nuclear weapons and deterrence policies including massive retaliation and, for most, an option of first use. They also spend vast amounts on infrastructure to enable the indefinite maintenance of their arsenals, and continue to research and develop new nuclear weapons and to test them through a variety of means. Most refuse the commencement of multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.
To end reliance on nuclear weapons, the doctrine of deterrence must be squarely
rejected as a viable basis for international security. It instead must be recognized as
illegal, immoral, and irresponsible. True security can
At the dawn of the new millennium, the world's governments must move rapidly to fulfill the promise of complete nuclear disarmament expressed by the first General Assembly resolution. Urgent actions include:
John Burroughs, Executive Director