G7 Hiroshima Summit should reaffirm the Nuclear Taboo

Declaration of Public Conscience submitted to the G7 Summit in Hiroshima

Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA, who are meeting in Hiroshima for the G7 Summit this week, should reaffirm the global norm against nuclear war and help make this norm part of accepted international law, according to a Declaration of Public Conscience released in conjunction with the Summit by NoFirstUse Global an international coalition of over 90 civil society organizations.  

The Declaration – which has been endorsed by over 1000 legislators, youth, academics/experts, religious leaders and civil society leaders from around the world – refers specifically to the statement agreed by the Leaders of the G20 counties in Bali last year that “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” It calls for this stance to be enshrined as a dictate of international law in order to rule-out any initiation of nuclear war and pave the way for the global abolition of nuclear weapons. 

The Declaration also calls on the nuclear armed and allied states – which includes all members of the G7 – to implement this norm in their security policies, starting with the adoption of no-first-use commitments. 

“Hibakusha and citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know the misery and inhumanity of the atomic bombs from our own experiences,” says Tadatoshi Akiba (Japan), former Mayor of Hiroshima. “That is why they, and we, have been strongly urging the disuse of nuclear weapons for the sake of human beings, and of this planet, in any circumstances.”

NoFirstUse Global presented the Declaration of Public Conscience to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a meeting in Tokyo yesterday (May 17) in preparation for the G7 Summit, and is circulating it to Summit participants in Hiroshima over the next few days.

“If the 2023 G7 leaders — all of whom were at the 2022 G20 Summit — do not reiterate that the threat/use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible (or something even stronger), they will be saying, in effect, that threat/use is admissible.  Music to Putin’s ears!” says Aaron Tovish (USA/Philippines), Member of the NoFirstUse Global Steering Committee.  “The endorsers of the Declaration of Public Conscience know better: plunging the world into nuclear war — even threatening to do so — in unconscionable.”

“The meeting of the G7 in Hiroshima is the right and appropriate time for the participants outrightly to endorse this Declaration of Public Conscience,” says Commander Robert Forsyth (Royal Navy retired, UK), a former nuclear submarine commander. “No responsible State should threaten, initiate or respond to a nuclear weapon exchange that would bring untold suffering – and possible large-scale extermination – to the peoples of this planet.“

This is the moment to demand that no-first-use be made a binding mandate of international law by the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly and that every state that possesses nuclear weapons commit itself to no first use.” says Morton Halperin (USA), Senior Adviser to theOpen Society Foundations and former Political Adviser to the Johnson, Nixon, Clinton and Obama administrations.

“We are on a highway to climate hell, but world leaders are accelerating towards nuclear apocalypse with equal speed. The time is now to put both feet on the break,” says Nico Edwards (UK/Sweden), Core Team Member of Youth Fusion, PhD Student in International Relations, University of Sussex and Advisor, Scientists for Global Responsibility. “World leaders must take today to recognise their responsibility towards people and planet, and choose nuclear disarmament and climate action over doomsday posturing and brinkmanship peacocking. Or else, there is no tomorrow for my generation nor those to come.”  

In 1955 Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell appealed to political leaders to respond to the threat of nuclear war ‘not as members of this or that nation, continent or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt,’” says John Polanyi (Canada), Founding Chair of Canadian Pugwash, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1986. “The Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law Declaration is a reminder of the Einstein/Russell message, and that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is violation of the principle of humanity and an inadmissible threat to current and future generations.”

“World leaders have an urgent and desperate obligation to avert the danger of nuclear Armageddon by committing themselves to a binding No-First-Use of nuclear weapons,” says Uta Zapf (Germany), Council Member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and former Chair of the German Parliament Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation. “We ask NATO to take the lead in supporting this step. Not only Europe will suffer but all mankind is at stake. Don’t turn Doomsday Clock further!”

“The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons – weapons with brutal and catastrophic consequences for life on earth – cannot be reconciled with humanity, saysJutta Bertram Nothnagel (USA), Vice-President of Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. “International law must not permit inhumanity. It must not remain silent about inhumanity. It must condemn inhumanity. With a voice loud and clear.”

”The Hiroshima appointment is a historic opportunity, offered by Japan, to re-launch the disarmament and non-proliferation of atomic weapons” says Carlo Trezza (Italy), Steering Committee Member of NoFirstUse Global, former Italian Ambassador for Disarmament and former Chairman of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Disarmament Affairs. “A glimmer of hope has been lit in recent weeks with the proposal by the “No First Use Global” group to promote the concept of the inadmissibility of the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. World leaders are not allowed to return empty-handed from Hiroshima.”

With nuclear weapons, humanity has given itself the ability to destroy itself,” saysGeneral Bernard Norlain (France), President ofInitiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire and Former Air Combat Commander of the French Air Force. “Nuclear powers must make formal commitments and concrete actions to renounce nuclear use and threat. The nuclear powers have the survival of the planet in their hands. This overwhelming responsibility requires them neither to use nuclear weapons in any form whatsoever nor to raise the threat of them.”

“The future of life on Earth is far too important to be left in any one person’s hands, which is the unacceptable reality of the nuclear weapons states’ policies that allow their chief executives to initiate a nuclear war on their own authority,” states Kevin Martin (USA), President of Peace Action, the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization with over 200,000 supporters. “Enshrining the taboo against the first use of nuclear weapons by any country’s leader into international law is a common-sense step for the security of humankind.”

NoFirstUse Global also plans to submit the Declaration of Public Conscience to the Preparatory Meeting of States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in Vienna (August), G20 Summit in Delhi (September) and the UN General Assembly and Security Council in New York (October).


Additional Quotes from endorsers:

Nuclear weapons threaten current and future generations. They cannot resolve the conflicts between countries, and they are counter-productive to the human security issues of today and tomorrow – the COVID pandemic, climate crisis, food security, cybersecurity, and achievement of the sustainable development goals.”Maria Fernanda Espinosa (Ecuador), Member of the World Future Council, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador, President of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly

“Confidence building through diplomacy and dialogue is key to global peace and human integrity. By prioritizing conflict resolution over nuclear weapons, we can ensure security and uphold the Right to Life. Initiatives like the Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone 3+3 approach demonstrate the power of dialogue impacting global agendas.”
Tadashi Inuzuka (Japan). Co-President, World Federalist Movement. Former Senator for Nagasaki. Executive Director, 3+3 Coalition for a North-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

“Key security issues of today, whether that be climate change, conflict, poverty or pandemics cannot be resolved by threats or even actual use of nuclear weapons. On the contrary, such weapons make these situations much worse and threaten current and future generations. This Declaration of Public Conscience reinforces the urgency and highlights the legal obligation and public call to eliminate the nuclear threat, now.”
Saber Chowdhury MP (Bangladesh). Honorary President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union

“I often ask myself how our leaders can promise us a strong economy, healthcare, and education when our existence is not protected by law and millions are funneled to increase nuclear weapons arsenals. Endorsing and enshrining the inadmissibility of threat or use of nuclear weapons into law is a direct obligation of those who we elected to protect us. The earlier the norm is shaped, the closer we get to abolishing nuclear weapons altogether.”
Ivan Siluianov (Russia/Turkey). Secretary, Abolition 2000. Member Youth Fusion. UN SDSN Youth Russia

“We all, but especially nuclear weapons states, must do all we can to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.”
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (UK). Member of the UK House of Lords, PNND Co-President;
Deputy-Chair of the UK All-Party Group on Non-proliferation and Global Security

“In a time when the nuclear threat is used again and again it’s even more urgent to come to a common agreement on no-first-use. The use of nuclear arms will effectively only create loosers. Those who suffer the nuclear attack, those who will suffer the retaliation, and all others when radioactivity spread around the globe.”
Bodil Valero (Sweden). Chair of the Defense and Security Wing of G100 (Global Network of Women Leaders), former Member of the European Parliament

“During his historic 2019 visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pope Francis condemned both the use and possession of nuclear weapons by any state. We join him in imploring world leaders to support international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to enshrine as international law that the use or threat of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. Peace will never be attained as long as we live under the shadow of total annihilation.”
Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

“In Bali, the G20 stated that the use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. This must be reiterated again and again, in the light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and even more so in the light of its repeated threats and veiled threats to either use tactical nuclear weapons on Ukraine, or to use nuclear weapons against NATO countries. Such use will put Russia outside the bounds of civilised discourse.” 
John Hallam (Australia), NoFirstUse Global Steering Committee Member