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Joint statement on nuclear weapons

14 February 2014

Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Joint statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Thank you for the opportunity to make a short statement on behalf of the ICRC and our Federation and National Society partners, which reflects the fact that the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a common position on the issue of nuclear weapons. At the start, we like to congratulate Austria for its decision to host a follow-up meeting - a decision which we warmly welcome.

When the States party to the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons recognized the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons" in 2010, it was an important reminder that nuclear disarmament is, in the final analysis, about human lives and the future of our planet. Yet this reference also raised several important questions, specifically what are the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and who would assist the victims of a nuclear detonation? We believe that Oslo and Nayarit conferences have provided the answers. The presentations by experts and new information such as the research of IPPNW, the preliminary findings of the UNIDIR study and the testimonies of the Hibakusha have provided important information and food for thought.

With the conclusion of the Nayarit conference the international community has a full appreciation of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. It is essential that States now use this information to guide their views and reflect on how best to advance nuclear disarmament. For the ICRC, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement more generally, our conviction is clear: nuclear weapons must never be used again and that the time has come for States to fulfill their existing obligations and prohibit and eliminate them once and for all.

If you allow me Mr Chair, I will give the microphone to Robert Tickner, Secretary-general and CEO of the Australian Red Cross who will speak on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

On behalf of the IFRC, I am honored to deliver this intervention. The IFRC is component of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - and represents at these events the voice of the 189 National Societies.

The resolution adopted by the Movement in 2011 and the 2013 action plan have helped to give us a common message on nuclear weapons and are allowing us to work more closely with governments and civil society on this issue.

When the Movement and States are able to work together, we have a proud tradition of idealism and practical humanitarian diplomacy and as history has shown us, this can have significant results. The founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Henri Dunant and his Red Cross colleagues worked with governments to develop the first Geneva Convention in 1864 - the first treaty of international humanitarian law. Such landmark humanitarian achievements are accomplished through a blend of vision, idealism and leadership supported by practical diplomacy. We believe we are now on a similar journey and that the next steps on nuclear weapons can be of historical importance. We urge governments to have courageous leadership and to drive this issue forward in a constructive and tangible manner. Ridding the world of nuclear weapons is truly an idea whose time has come. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement stands proudly with you at this critical time.

Australian Red Cross and nuclear weapons

Target Nuclear Weapons

Red Cross has consistently voiced its deep concerns about nuclear weapons and the need for the prohibition of their use. Read more.