More efforts needed by European Union to Stop nuclear weapons and to support the Treaty to ban them

©International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Fremantle - banner at Peace Boat
©International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Fremantle - banner at Peace Boat

(5 August 2021) The Olympic Games are in full swing in Japan. Athletes are doing wonderful and sportsmanship and comradery show how people can relate to each other. The Olympic Committee has refused to take one minute silence though during the Games to commemorate the victims of the 2 nuclear bombs that destroyed the lives of more than hundred thousand people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively 6 and 9 August 1945. It was the start of the movement that calls for nuclear disarmament supported by the trade union movement.

A victory was achieved in 2017 when the UN agreed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It entered into force in January 2021. There are now 55 countries that support it including in the European region Austria, Ireland and Kazakhstan. However, no other European countries have joined. EPSU has asked Charles Michel the President of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen the President of the European Commission as well as the General Secretary of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić to take steps to promote the Treaty. New emerging technologies will bring additional risks. As the European Union seeks to create a Digital Europe, it should take this serious and answer which steps are taken to protect workers and our communities.  

According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons of which the ITUC is a member “Emerging technologies could significantly increase the risk of nuclear weapons use. New developments in offensive cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies will significantly impact on military behaviour, and experts agree that they could add another layer of risk to an already unacceptable level of risk of nuclear weapons use.

Any use of nuclear weapons, either by intent, accident or miscalculation, will cause catastrophic humanitarian consequences, so it is critical that policymakers and the public understand the pre-existing dangers of nuclear weapons as well as added risks posed by emerging technologies. Adopting measures that only seek to reduce or mitigate the additional risk that emerging technologies pose to nuclear weapon use is not an adequate response to the nuclear status quo. Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only way to eliminate these risks altogether.”

A follow up Conference will be organised in Vienna, Austria, probably in January 2022. The European Commission and Council of Europe should be present to support the Treaty and encourage more ratifications. Some banks have already drawn the conclusion and are no longer investing in companies that are associated with the production of nuclear weapons. This merits further promotion as well.

Statement of Members of the European Parliament urging the Commission to be more active (21 January 2021)

For a previous article

Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki call for support of nuclear ban Treaty