On 24 October 2022, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu met for an informal consultation with civil society organizations at the United Nations Headquarters. The discussion focused on nuclear disarmament, particularly with respect to heightened tensions and dangerous rhetoric around nuclear weapons in the context of the war in Ukraine.
Including within the frameworks of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the past year saw broad and active participation by civil society in worldwide efforts to sustain and strengthen the nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control regime. Looking ahead, representatives of the 12 participating NGOs sketched out their plans for upcoming campaigns.
The High Representative asked the participants for ideas and actions to further strengthen the efforts of global civil society in stigmatizing nuclear weapons, preventing their proliferation, and upholding the norm against their use.
Specifically, Ms. Nakamitsu wanted to gain a better understanding of civil society’s views on the increasing risk of nuclear escalation in relation to the conflict in Ukraine and how to address it. In such alarming situations, civil society organizations have a vital role to play she said.
Leaders from civil society organizations agreed that the current priority is to prevent any use of nuclear weapons, which would result in unimaginable devastation and suffering. The attendees considered ways to mobilize public support to that end, including through petitions, international action months and peer-to-peer dialogue among youth, as well as by focusing key messaging through social media posts, television, and other public platforms around the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
Ms. Nakamitsu strongly supports dialogue with NGOs and other civil society partners. Such actors are instrumental in advancing disarmament goals, the High Representative said. Ms. Nakamitsu will continue to regularly meet with NGOs working on disarmament issues.
Throughout the discussion, the High Representative also reiterated her firm view that broad and inclusive participation by diverse actors can bring crucial contributions to intergovernmental debates on matters of peace and security.
The meeting coincided with the start of Disarmament Week, which seeks to promote a better understanding and awareness of disarmament issues. It runs annually from 24 October, the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, to 30 October. Disarmament Week is also an opportunity to spotlight the efforts and involvement of a range of actors contributing to a safer, more peaceful common future through disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation efforts.