International Meeting
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Pierre Villard
National Secretary
French Peace Movement

Developing Peace Force Solidarity for a 21st Century Free of Nuclear Weapons

This first world conference against A and H bombs in the 21st century is very important.

At the beginning of this new millennium, after a very deadly century where human beings invented ways to destroy the entire planet, we must state again our opposition to nuclear weapons. Yes, itfs time to make a new start and to give to young people a future of a peaceful planet without atomic bombs. These weapons, which were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki fifty-six years ago are cold war symbols. The Cold War has been over for more than ten years now. Nuclear weapons make no sense.

This new millennium could and should mark the prospect for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This is a must. For decades, those in power in nuclear states argued for deterrence. But recent armed conflicts - like the Gulf war or the war in the Balkans - are evidence that all manufactured arms eventually come to be used. Today itfs wrong to say that nuclear weapons are just for deterrence. All arms can be used one day. The Hibakusha have survived to testify about suffering. I would like to express to the Hibakusha the solidarity and friendship of French peace activists. American soldiers, French soldiers, suffer from the consequence of depleted uranium weapons. At the start of the twenty-first century, we must start up debate and action to demand the abolition of nuclear weapons and a treaty for a complete ban on these weapons. It is all the more urgent after US plans for NMD. There is a risk that people may now talk about the need for protection, instead of referring to abolition. The best way to protect people and countries against missiles is to eliminate them, along with the atomic bombs which they deliver. The greatest danger comes from missile loads.

This is why the French Peace Movement has launched a campaign called gneither NMD, nor missiles - Give peace to the stars - Eliminate nuclear weapons.h

Whatfs really a matter of concern with the American nuclear shield, is that nuclear states appear not to be in a hurry to do away with nuclear arms. Yet in New York in May last year they agreed to accomplish total elimination. They were under pressure from non-nuclear states. Itfs also and foremostly the result of the mobilisation of public opinion all around the world. Itfs evidence that we must never let up the pressure.

How can we develop mobilisation against nuclear weapons and make a significant move towards their elimination? We must make it difficult for nuclear states to breach treaties. It is necessary to broaden the pressure of public opinion to enforce treaties. Thatfs why it is so important to develop active solidarity between peace forces that act for nuclear weaponsf elimination and between everybody working to promote a culture of peace. This is particularly important with peace movements from nuclear weapon states.

In France, our action aims at urging the French government to take initiatives for such a conference and to stop modernizing the nuclear arsenal, as planned in the upcoming military 5-year programme.

This is why we have started a mobilization and consciousness-raising campaign. Last year, with our gImagine a peaceful planeth campaign, 130 youth from France were able to go to the UN, during the last disarmament week. This year, we have started a new campaign, called gLetfs open up the avenues of peace.h It focuses on three issues, and three figures:

0% new weapons

All nuclear weapons must be destroyed progressively. New arms and new research must be forbidden.

50% less for military spending

Military budgets must be reduced by half during this decade and they must be reduced to less than 1% of gross domestic product.

100% UN

Any Peace maintenance operation must be placed under UN control.

These demands constitute a call for a human 21st century with:

Our campaign brought us to demonstrate in front of French nuclear sites. In April we demonstrated in front of the French simulation test site. In May Nuclear Disarmament Days took place organised by French Abolition 2000 co-ordinatiers. Now a camp for the elimination of nuclear weapons will take place in Brittany near the base where 90% of French nuclear weapons are situated. They will be met by a caravan of youth peace messengers.

I propose to send them a message from Hiroshima.

Because we are convinced that public opinion holds the key to nuclear disarmament we are favourable to developing co-operation between peace forces of nuclear states. It is very important for each of us to acquaint ourselves with other peace activistsf actions. It is a decisive element in increasing mobilisation.

The 13 of October - chosen as the international day against space militarization - can be the next step in the mobilization against nuclear weapons and toward making the 21st century the century of their abolition and of advent of a real peace culture.

To the 2001 Wolrd Conference against A & H Bombs