Opening Plenary
2003 World Conference against A and H Bombs- Nagasaki
August 7, 2003

Kate Dewes
New Zealand Peace Foundation
Vice-President, International Peace Bureau

Konnichiwa! I bring greetings from our local Maori elder, and peace people from Christchurch - New Zealand's first Nuclear Free City.

I wish to pay tribute to the Hibakusha from both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Their powerful stories, poems and paintings inspired me to devote my life to the struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world.

I was privileged to be a pioneer of the World Court Project. In 1995, a Non-Aligned Movement-sponsored UN resolution asking the International Court of Justice to give an Advisory Opinion on the legal status of nuclear weapons was passed.

In 1995, the Mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima testified at the World Court about the suffering of the Japanese people after the American nuclear strike against your beautiful cities 50 years earlier. They fearlessly showed huge reproductions of some of the most graphic photographs of the destruction. I will never forget the sobs from the group of Hibakusha present in the Court. That courageous act of witness was crucial in the struggle fro the hearts and minds of the judges.

Since then, many World Court Project activists have kept up the pressure on the nuclear weapon states and their allies to comply with the Court's judgment that the thereat and use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal.

A year ago, Mayor Itoh met our mayor, Garry Moore in Christchurch, which had just become New Zealand's first Peace City. The city hosted the Hiroshima and Nagasaki exhibition of photographs, paintings and artifacts, which was viewed by over 20,000 people. Today, our Mayor is in Hiroshima to sign a formal agreement linking the two peace cities, and tomorrow, he will meet Mayor Itoh. Municipal leaders can play vital roles in educating the local public by speaking out about peace and nuclear issues.

Last year the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education. It recognized the urgent need for disarmament education, and made many recommendations calling for the UN, governments, cities, educators and community groups to develop relevant educational resources. It encouraged municipal leaders, working with citizen groups, to establish peace cities, through, for example, the creation of peace museums, peace parks and websites. It also encouraged governments to include NGO representatives and politicians as advisers on government delegations to UN disarmament meetings, and to establish public advisory bodies to advise governments on disarmament education.

It is my hope, as the New Zealand government expert on the UN Study, that you will get copies of this Report from the UN website and continue to encourage your governments to implement the recommendations. Our only hope for a future free from the threat of nuclear annihilation and ongoing wars is to educate our decision-makers, our young people and future generations about the urgent need to adopt a culture of peace, not violence.

Together we must educate, educate, educate and act, act, act!


Peace and Nuclear Abolition!