11 November 2011
"Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons"
Remarks on the occasion of the
Opening of the Exhibition
“Toward a World Free of Nuclear weapons”
Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament
and Personal Representative of the United Nations
Secretary-General to the Conference
Geneva, 11 November 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to welcome H.E. Mr. Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima and H.E. Mr. Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki, at the opening of this important exhibition. I am extremely grateful for their presence here today.
As you all know, 2011 marks the 66th
anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an experience that should never be repeated but also one that mankind should never forget.
Those who experienced first hand that traumatic experience, the hibakusha, have been using their personal experiences to promote peace and strive towards a world without nuclear weapons.
While the hibakusha are rapidly becoming senior citizens, we must ensure that their message stays alive, including through exhibits like the one were are about to open.
During the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held in May 2010, nearly 100 atomic bomb victims went to New York to call attention to the horror of nuclear weapons at the venue and in the streets.
The efforts of these people -- the atomic bomb victims as well as the NGOs and citizens that support them -- were directly behind the achievement of the Conference, the adoption of its final document.
Movement toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has gained new momentum since President of the United States of America Barack Obama delivered his speech in Prague on nuclear weapons in April 2009.
Everywhere, there are calls to action for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. But the road towards this objective is long and difficult and it will require continued and intense efforts, also here in Geneva through the work of the Conference on Disarmament.
You will recall that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban ki moon, was the first Secretary-General to attend the Hiroshima Memorial on 6 August 2010, following his visit to Nagasaki.
Many who attended the ceremony in Hiroshima or heard or read his speech thought that it was most compelling and extremely sincere.
He shared his personal experience in the Korean War as a child, reinforced his commitment to world free of nuclear weapons, recognized hibakusha’s suffering and their contribution to the cause of nuclear disarmament, and suggested some concrete steps for nuclear disarmament.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For me, who comes from the country that served from 1949 till 1991 as a nuclear testing ground for 468 explosions, the tragedy that struck Japan is absolutely understandable.
You, citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, became victims of nuclear disaster as the citizens of the Semipalatinsk region became subjects of nuclear tests, with disastrous effects on the health of the people and the environment.
It is sobering to know that there are still more than 20,000 nuclear weapons left over in the world today.
Only by eliminating those remaining nuclear weapons can we eliminate the risks that they will ever be employed. Our vision for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons is more than our common dream; it is common sense policy.
The exhibition that has been established here in the Palais des Nations, thanks to the initiative and contributions of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, serves not only to remind us what happened 66 years ago. It should also serve as a stimulus in our efforts to eliminate all nuclear weapons.
I thank you for your attention, and I would like to invite H.E. Ambassador Amano to make a statement.