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From March 4-5, the government of Norway hosted an international conference to focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The conference, the first of its kind, was chaired by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and attended by delegates from 127 governments, representatives of UN agencies and a selection of civil society groups. SGI Executive Director of Peace Affairs Hirotsugu Terasaki participated in the conference.
Presentations by experts explored the immediate and long-term human, developmental, economic and environmental consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon, and the preparedness of states and international organizations for such an eventuality.
Speakers included Dr. Masao Tomonaga, director of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Hospital, who described the medical effects of nuclear weapon detonation, and Kanat B. Saudabayev, chairman of the Commission on Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Kazakhstan, who described the legacy of nuclear testing in his country.
Prior to the conference, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), created by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), hosted a Civil Society Forum from March 2-3. With the participation of some 500 campaigners from 70 countries, including scientists, physicians and international policy and military experts, the forum was aimed at galvanizing efforts to get negotiations started on a comprehensive treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The exhibition "Everything You Treasure--For a World Free From Nuclear Weapons," recently produced by SGI and ICAN, was also shown in conjunction with the forum.
The exhibition launch was held on March 2 and was attended by Akira Kawasaki and Rebecca Johnson, ICAN cochairs, and the copresidents of IPPNW, Dr. Ira Helfand, Dr. Robert Mtonga and Dr. Tilman Ruff (also a cochair of ICAN).
The Civil Society Forum concluded that the disastrous humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the risks of existing stockpiles and the failures in nuclear non-proliferation efforts make banning these weapons of mass destruction an urgent priority for global civil society.
[Adapted from an article in the March 9, 2013, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun and reports from the SGI Office of Public Information (SGI-OPI), Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI-OPI]
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