UNfold Zero

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 7 Sep 2020

Alberto Portugheis – TRANSCEND Media Service

This article is based on an Open Letter I sent to the UNFOLD ZERO membership on 2 Sep 2020. For those who are not familiar with it, here is a short introduction:

UNFOLD ZERO is a project of Prague Vision, PNND, (Parliamentarian Network for Nuclear Disarmament), Mayors For Peace, Aotearoa (New Zealand anti-nuclear Movement), Lawyers for Peace, and Global Security Institute. The UZ project aims to unfold the path to zero nuclear weapons through effective steps and measures.

Up to here the project sounds wonderful and has all my support. I am sure all of you will agree; it is a great initiative. My dilemma starts, and worries me considerably, when I read on whom UNFOLD ZERO relies to achieve their aims: the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UN Security General and other UN bodies.

The well-meaning UNFOLD ZERO group think the United Nations provide “the environment for the international community to implement the collective obligation and the global common good to achieve a nuclear weapons free world. Here I would like to add that, unlike most anti-nuclear movements or organizations, UNFOLD ZERO also links with platforms like mine, HUFUD, (Humanity United for Universal Demilitarization), who work for the abolition of all weapons, for complete disarmament.

My concern is comes from the seven years I spent in Geneva, Switzerland, in close contact with the United Nations and with the United Nations own nuclear laboratory, CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), known in English as European Organization for Nuclear Research). UN member countries first met at UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Parios, in December 1951 and approved a resolution for the creation of the nuclear research centre. They met again at UNESCO, over three days – from 29 June to 1st July 1953 – to discuss the nuclear initiative and the agreement for the establishment of the Organization was signed by twelve countries. .

Hence CERN was born.

By now, many of you will guess my concern. Basically, UNFOLD ZERO is expecting to achieve the impossible, UNITED NATIONS and Nuclear Research are one. This is why CERN was also based in Geneva. So linked are the political and nuclear activities of the United Nations, that CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research – in now officially a ‘UN Observer’.

In other words, Nuclear Power watches over UN activities and not the other way around. Another important point is the United States of America. They were not going to accept being ‘excluded’ from the nuclear UN Nuclear Club of 22 European countries plus Israel, so they offered a staggering US$531M to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, and they now are also in it. CERN is—officially-–not concerned with nuclear weapons. They only study the atom. And from these 64 years of studying the atom come all the nuclear plants and nuclear weapons in the world!

To conclude, I would like to say, that, if we expect the UN to dismantle the world of nuclear, whoever is the UN General Secretary in 2095 will be saying the words Antonio Guterres pronounced this year, only changing ‘seventy five’ for ‘one hundred and fifty’.

“One hundred and fifty years ago, a single nuclear weapon visited unspeakable death and destruction upon this city. The effects linger to this day. The birth of the United Nations in that same fateful year of 1945 is forever intertwined with the death rained down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“Since its earliest days and resolutions, the Organization has recognized the need to totally eliminate nuclear weapons. Yet, that goal remains unachieved. One hundred and fifty years is far too long not to have learned that the possession of nuclear weapons diminishes, rather than reinforces, security. Today, a world without nuclear weapons seems to be slipping further from our grasp. The web of arms control, transparency and confidence-building instruments established during the Cold War and its aftermath is fraying.”

Guterres went on talking about division, distrust, competition, the modernizing of nuclear armaments, the risk of nuclear weapons being used, intentionally, by accident or through miscalculation, etc.

Guterres reminds us all nuclear countries “have repeatedly committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”, but he doesn’t tell us why those countries don’t fulfil their commitment. He doesn’t tell us why, as UN boss, he cannot ‘order’ the elimination of nuclear weapons. He says,

“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a further pillar of the disarmament regime, and I look forward to its entry into force”.

The Treaty was signed in July 2017 and three years later he’s only “looking forward its entry into force”! It is almost a joke.

His second joke is “We must also safeguard and strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.”, but he doesn’t say why he accepts countries manufacture machine guns, bullets, grenades, bombs, rockets, rocket- launchers, tanks, torpedoes, warships and air-fighters.

He ends his message exhorting, because the young “have proved their power time and again in support of the cause of disarmament.”, but he doesn’t say those millions of young people who were campaigning for Peace and Disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, are now eighty years old and have achieved nothing, except the development and manufacture of conventional weaponry, which has by now achieved such degree of power and sophistication to make nuclear power obsolete.

Guterres, in traditional political style, adds:

“We should listen to their ideas and give them the space to make their voices heard”, omitting to explain “their voices are heard by the masses, all dreaming of a Peace, whilst we, the United Nations make sure Peace never comes”

Guterres’ last words are:

“The United Nations and I will continue to work with all those who seek to achieve our common goal:  a world free of nuclear weapons.”

My last words to him are:

“If you are a man of Peace, Mr Antonio Guterres, create NOW a world free of all weapons, nuclear and conventional, a world free of Armed Forces, to allow humanity to live in Peace. Military activities cause every years, in Africa alone, over three million dead, half of them children under five years of age, from malnutrition or lack of medical care”.

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Alberto Portugheis is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. By profession a concert pianist and pedagogue, he is an active peace campaigner, whose anti-military stance earned him a nomination for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, Portugheis wrote Dear Ahed…..The Game of War and a Path to Peace – a book that has received critical acclaim.  Another successful book followed: $$$$$s In Their Hearts. In 2015 he founded the Movement HUFUD-Humanity United For Universal Demilitarisation, which has many followers worldwide.  In 2018 HUFUD Latin America was born, based in Bogotá, Colombia. In Portugheis’ writings, speeches, thoughts, ideas and reflections transpire his desire “to make people think” and not take for granted what they read or hear, “no matter where.”


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Sep 2020.

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