deutsch | english
Yuko Gulda, 2008
Tadatoshi Akiba, 2009
Norbert Scheed, 2009
Gertraud Führer, 2009
Maher Nasser, 2009
Yukiya Amano, 2010
Ana Maria Cetto, 2010
Maher Nasser, 2010
Klaus Renolder, 2012
Yuko Gulda, 2013
Nachruf Dr. Scheed, 2014
Péricles Gasparini, 2014
Thomas Mützelburg, 2014
Yuko Gulda, 2014
Yuko Gulda, 2015
Yuko Gulda, 2016
Alissa Jachs, 2016
Yuko Gulda, 2017

PÉricles Gasparini

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen and the children with us here today,

I am honoured to represent the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in Vienna, and follow the tradition of supporting the NGO community in organising the Atomic Bomb Awareness Day at the Vienna International Centre. The GENBAKU NO HI is a commemoration of the catastrophic events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that happened on 6 and 9 August 1945. These events continue to stand as a reminder of the immense suffering and the dire humanitarian consequences caused by the use of nuclear weapons.

On the 6th of August the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Angela Kane, delivered a special message from the UN Secretary-General at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, demonstrating his personal interest and commitment in highlighting the importance in eliminating nuclear weapons.

Disarmament is one of the oldest goals in the United Nations. In January 1946, the first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly called for "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction."

Sixty-nine years later, we are still working on the challenges presented by nuclear disarmament. Over 75,000 nuclear weapons were estimated to exist in the late 1980s. Today, this number is believed to be around 16,000.

Yet, the effort to achieve global nuclear disarmament is still a work in progress. Well-funded, long-range nuclear weapon modernization programmes are underway – but nuclear disarmament negotiations are not. Long after the end of the Cold War, thousands of such weapons remain on high alert. And most of humanity still lives in countries that either have nuclear weapons or belong to a nuclear alliance.

Let me mention three main areas that need attention in order to change the status quo:

First, we need a change in paradigm to deal with nuclear disarmament:

There are already some encouraging signs that nuclear weapons are increasingly being viewed throughout the world community in a negative light. While some States continue to regard them as vital to their security, most UN Member States – backed by numerous groups in civil society – view such weapons as repugnant because of the catastrophic consequences of using them. Even former military and defence personnel have admitted that such weapons serve no useful military purpose and are more of a risk than a benefit.


The growing interest in the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was the focus of major international conferences in Oslo, Norway and Nayarit, Mexico in March 2013 and February 2014, respectively. Another such conference will convene in December 2014 in Vienna. What we are seeing is the emergence of a new way of looking at nuclear weapons- a new paradigm that questions the compatibility of nuclear weapons with international humanitarian and human rights laws. New thinking is confronting old weapons and this is something upon which to build future disarmament initiatives.

The second initiative should involve expanded efforts to end the stalemate in the UN disarmament machinery – in particular the Disarmament Commission, the General Assembly's First Committee and the Conference on Disarmament. The meetings last year of the General Assembly's open-ended working group on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations was an important step in this direction and I am sure we will witness many other such initiatives in the future.

Thirdly, we need to do more to promote education on disarmament and non-proliferation issues. The world community has a long history of efforts to deepen the public's understanding of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and the benefits of eliminating them. Much of this work was reinforced by the 2006 UN Study on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education. Universities, specialized institutions and NGOs have contributed to this awareness by offering courses dealing with many of the practical challenges of achieving disarmament and non-proliferation goals.

f we truly wish the next generation (represented by the youth, as we see here and around the world) to be the last to live under the shadow of nuclear war, we must do more to ensure that they have the information and understanding necessary to change nuclear disarmament from a desirable goal to an accomplished fact – and education will be indispensable in meeting this need.

Here in Vienna, various educational programmes and publications of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) have helped to bring this treaty close to universal membership. They have promoted the treaty by stimulating a growing number of stakeholders, particularly from civil society, scientists and many others to embark on initiatives to ban nuclear testing.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, CTBTO and other entities such as the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) are jointly developing an online course platform that will address a wider range of disarmament and non-proliferation issues.

These three initiatives have the potential to inject new political momentum to our collective aspirations. In recognising both the ordeals of the survivors of two nuclear attacks and the interests of future generations, we must all redouble our efforts to achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

We all know this work will not be easy. The road we have travelled has been difficult, often with unexpected sharp turns and obstacles along the way, but the journey ahead is surely one we must complete.

UNODA's support to today's event is another way that the UN highlights the importance of striving for a world free of nuclear weapons. I would personally like to thank each and every one of you for coming to this event, particularly the young generation – for it provides further evidence that our journey is continuing.