Our very own WILPF member Dr Rebecca Johnson spoke, on behalf at ICAN, at Oslo Central Station on Sunday at a torchlight procession to celebrate ICAN winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. You can read the speech in full below.
Rebecca’s SPEECH FOR ICAN AT TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Oslo Central Station, 10 December 2017
It’s wonderful to be in Oslo on this amazing day. On behalf of ICAN I want to say thank you to all of you, from Norway and so many different countries, for joining us today to celebrate and march together, taking the ban treaty to the streets and everyone.
We are happy that ICAN has been honoured with this Nobel Peace Prize because it will help us do more.
This International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is not about a few individuals but about our global Movement that reawakened understanding of all the horrendous dangers and consequences of nuclear weapons.
We put Humanity first, and then worked with governments and diplomats to ban these inhumane, abhorrent weapons – the vital next step to take away whatever military, political or status value is attached to them. So that all existing arsenals get eliminated. Not modernised, but banned and eliminated.
This Nobel award is a celebration of all our hard work – citizens, activists, survivors, doctors, advocates, brave, scared, determined, thoughtful, inspirational people – all over the world – who put banning nuclear weapons back on the agenda and brought as many governments as we could to the United Nations to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty.
The biggest Prize we’ve won is the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is a strong and effective multilateral humanitarian disarmament agreement that clearly makes nuclear weapons illegal. It requires their abolition and shows the pathways for states to join and eliminate existing arsenals and nuclear use doctrines.
Walking this route together, working inside and outside parliaments, unions, schools, banks, militaries and related businesses: We call on all governments to sign and ratify.
We can bring this Nuclear Ban Treaty into legal force in a thousand days. That is ICAN’s next goal – support us to achieve this.
It will no doubt take longer to bring the nuclear-armed states and their allies on board. We have to do more now to engage the countries that think they must rely on nuclear weapons, and persuade them that joining this Treaty will bring better security for them, as well as the whole world.
Countries like Norway, that are in NATO. And Japan, also shivering under a nuclear umbrella, despite that Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered so terribly from atomic bombs and despite the testimony of Hibakusha who have taught us so much and campaigned for this nuclear ban.
And nuclear-armed states like my country, Britain, where Trident nuclear weapons are stockpiled and deployed in Scotland, a close neighbour with Norway, which has taken the lead in calling for the UK to sign the Treaty and scrap the weapons.
All the nuclear-dependent countries need to hear from civil society and voters every day. We need to tailor our messages, arguments and campaigns to change nuclear and defence policies in each and every one of these countries – so that they change how they look at security.
We have to persuade them to join and implement the Treaty and put more resources into real security needs, like environmental protection, tackling climate change, ending poverty, and providing health and education for all. Using our Nuclear Ban Treaty we can help the leaders in the nuclear-addicted countries to kick their deadly habit of threatening to use nuclear weapons for deterrence and terror.
As our indomitable Setsuko Thurlow, Hibakush Survivor from Hiroshima, and one of the two women we chose to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all of us, said today: “as we march through the streets of Oslo with torches aflame, let us follow each other out of the dark night of nuclear terror. No matter what obstacles we face, we will keep moving forward, and keep pushing and keep sharing this light with others.”
Here, now, is where we move forward. Taking the next steps to accomplish the total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.
Arm in Arm, torches and hearts aflame, with all our voices and all of our visions for peace, freedom, justice and our shared world and humanity.
Thank you all for taking part in this momentous journey with us.
Let’s shout together: ICAN… WE DID… and WE’LL KEEP GOING!