Role of Civil Society in Ending Nuclear Weapons and War


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate – TRANSCEND Media Service

Presentation at a panel discussion on Japanese TV – 11th Nobel Peace Summit, Hiroshima, Japan, Nov 12-14, 2010

Mina Sama,

I am very happy to be with you all here in Japan and would like also to thank our hosts for inviting me to attend the Nobel Peace Summit in Hiroshima.

I would particularly like to pay tribute to the Japanese people who have shown to the world that it is possible to move from militarism to peace. I thank them also for the inspiration of Article 9 in their Constitution, which rejects war and nuclear weapons. Many people see Article 9 as a model for other governments to include in their own Constitutions so that they may move to abolish force in international relations.

It is to the credit of the Japanese people that after the bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo they did not call for revenge but rather dedicated their lives to telling their stories so that the world would not again use nuclear weapons and war but would move to abolish them.

The world has not yet learned the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and even today there are states that by their very possession of these weapons threaten mass extinction and environmental destruction of our world, and continue to take the world to war.

Many of the nine nuclear-weapon states are members of the UN Security Council, the same UN whose mission is to ‘save the world from the scourge of war’.   They are often referred to as the Nuclear Club and there are many other countries ambitious to join this club. Although five of them have signed the NNPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), they are slow to take seriously their obligations to begin disarmament, and the remaining four refuse to sign it — Israel neither denying nor admitting possessing them. Far from being an honourable, prestigious club,  all officials in this Nuclear Weapons Club are acting immorally, illegally and criminally according to international law, as their governments nuclear policies break  the Nuremberg Principles by threatening and possessing nuclear weapons.

Much has, and is, being done by some governments and civil societies to build the critical political will to end these criminal policies, but we all need to increase, multiply and coordinate our efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons and war. We can recognize the politics of fear behind these nuclear policies and make friends with our perceived enemies.

We can insist that our political leaders distinguish between individuals and their countries’ policies, and we must not allow our political leaders to demonize, scapegoat, isolate and marginalize individuals, groups or countries, whipping up fear and hate towards others, thereby preparing their own citizens to support force, occupations, invasions and war.

We can work to delegitimize nuclear weapons and war and end resources for them. We can support the call for the full implementation of the unilateral, bilateral and multilateral steps of the nuclear disarmament action plan agreed by the NNPT state parties at the 2010 Review Conference.

We can encourage Israel to sign the NNPT and participate in the UN proposed Middle East Conference for a Nuclear Free Middle East.

We can support nuclear whistleblowers and work for their freedom,  particularly Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear whistleblower who, after 25 years, is forbidden to speak to foreigners and leave Israel.

We can take hope from the fact that l89 states have signed the NNPT and that a verifiable nuclear weapons convention is technically, legally and politically feasible, when underpinned by the Nuremberg Principles, under which the threat and use of nuclear weapons are illegal and criminal.

We can support those individuals living in European and NATO states, who are asking for nuclear weapons to be removed from their countries as they recognize their criminality and the illegitimacy and fundamental lawlessness of the policies pursued by their governments — lead by the USA, which has nuclear weapons in six European countries and maintaining a nuclear first use option).

The German government has asked the United States and NATO to remove their nuclear weapons out of Germany. The expansion of USA and NATO has now drawn in almost all of Europe, breaking down many of the traditional neutral states. Personally I believe it is time to dismantle NATO, replacing it with a Nonviolent European Common Security Community. We can support those countries that wish to protect their own neutrality.

We may join and support people who are carrying out nonviolent civil resistance (many of whom are imprisoned) in many countries, in order to change their governments’ criminal policies of nuclear deterrence/nuclear terrorism and war.  Their actions challenge the conscience not only of leaders and officials, but also of soldiers, scientists and all those who participate in the planning and construction of weapons that threaten to burn whole cities and people alive. They must take responsibility also for the spreading of fear and depression amongst many people and particularly little children.

The Nobel Peace Laureate Charter for a world without violence, article 13, sets out the Principle that ‘Everyone has the right not to be killed and the responsibility not to kill others.’  And if we can accept this and unite to agree to solve our problems without killing each other, we will be on our way to peace.



Mairead Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her actions to end the violence in her native Northern Ireland. In the last 10 years, she has travelled to Israel and Palestine promoting human rights and nonviolent resistance.

Maguire is a founding member of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Nov 2010.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Role of Civil Society in Ending Nuclear Weapons and War, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

One Response to “Role of Civil Society in Ending Nuclear Weapons and War”

  1. […] Role of Civil Society in Ending Nuclear Weapons and War – Transcend […]