On March 27, negotiations will commence at the United Nations for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. As Nobel Peace Laureates we applaud the UN General Assembly for convening this negotiating conference, fully support its goals, and urge all nations to work for the speedy conclusion of this treaty in 2017 and for its rapid entry into force and implementation.
The nine nuclear-armed states retain some 15,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy the world many times over. Nearly 2,000 of these warheads are on hair-trigger alert. They can be launched in a matter of minutes at the whim of an unstable or intemperate leader, and leaders of nuclear-armed states have made increasingly dangerous and irresponsible statements about the use of these weapons. Some display a shocking and appalling ignorance about the nature of nuclear weapons and the consequences of their use.
In response to this danger, more than 120 nations around the world have supported a Humanitarian Initiative that seeks the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. The nine states that possess these weapons have responded with plans to spend more than a trillion dollars to upgrade their nuclear arsenals and make them even more dangerous. Their behavior is an intolerable threat to the lives of everyone on this planet, including the citizens of their own countries. That behavior must change.
A large-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia would cause a global winter that would kill most of the people on the planet, and possibly cause our extinction as a species. Even a very limited nuclear war, as could well take place involving states with smaller nuclear arsenals, could disrupt the climate sufficiently to cause a prolonged global famine that would put up to 2 billion people at risk of starvation and destroy modern civilization.
The danger of nuclear war is growing. The time for action is now. We must prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.
Oscar Arias (1987)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama (1989)
F. W. de Klerk (1993)
Shirin Ebadi (2003)
Leymah Gbowee (2011)
Mikhail Gorbachev (1990)
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)
International Peace Bureau (1910)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985)
Tawakkol Karman (2011)
Mairead Maguire (1976)
Medecins Sans Frontiere (1999)
Rigoberta Menchu (1992)
Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (1995)
Jose Ramos-Horta (1996)
Kailash Satyarthi (2014)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984)
Lech Walesa (1983)
Betty Williams (1976)
Jody Williams (1997)
Muhammad Yunus (2006)