By: Hanna Kasahara
September 26 marks the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The United Nations adopted a treaty to ban nuclear weapons on July 8, 2017, 72 years after the first nuclear weapon was used, to mixed opinions. There were strong oppositions from the nuclear states and even from Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear attacks on its territory that say the treaty is dividing the unity of the international community to eliminate the weapons. On the other hand, the treaty is our first ever hope to eliminate nuclear weapons and it is time for young people to stand up for a nuclear free world.
The discourse of nuclear disarmament is getting weaker and the average age of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is now over 81. Once we lose the voice of these survivors, it will be much harder to talk about nuclear weapons, even with nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons existing in the world today. If people don’t speak out for a world without nuclear weapons, the disarmament process will never start. If politicians and diplomats delay pushing this process ahead, people can no longer be quiet. So, a group of people stood up and now we have an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
The nuclear ban treaty made a significant step in highlighting the role of women and civil society in establishing international peace and security, unlike most treaties on weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 promotes women’s positive role in the international security field and the treaty is responding to this resolution. The UNSCR 2250, a follow-up resolution adopted in 2015 on Youth, Peace and Security, urges all states to include “youth in decision-making at all levels in local, national, regional and international institutions.” Now, the international diplomatic arena recognizes that youth has the power to choose a future that is free of nuclear weapons.
Fifty states have already signed the treaty on September 20th, 2017 and it will be in effect after 90 days. As one atomic bombing survivor said, the treaty is “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons,” and now we can finally start this process with the entire world. The Treaty on Prohibition of the Nuclear Weapons is an option whether we choose hope or give up on humanity. This is why civil society, women, and youth are standing up one by one. Even if different political analysis and history talks about the nuclear deterrence, the treaty is not looking back on the past, but forward to the future. The treaty has the potential to shape our history, but at the end of the day its success depends on us.
Hanna Kasahara is currently working for a consulting firm based in Washington D.C. Hanna was a head delegate to the G20 Youth Summit China 2016 and now is supporting the Y7/20 Japan to dispatch the future delegations. She gained a B.A. in International Relations from the State University of New York at New Paltz.