Peace award for UNIC Director

28 September 2014
Receiving the award

UNIC New Delhi Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman was awarded the Brahma Kumaris – Sister Shanti Award for “extraordinary ordinary and commitment to humanity” at a ceremony in New Delhi on 28 September.

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman said she was humbled by the award, and that it was the “spirit of the UN Charter” as well as UNIC’s motto – UN-India Connect! – which guided and defined her work.

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman was one of three awardees at the special ceremony.

The United Nations and the Brahma Kumaris have similar aims," Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman said in her acceptance speech. "Peace is one of the three pillars of the United Nations and it is our constant endeavour to promote it."

And “when I stand here and look at your faith in peace, tolerance and harmony, it gives me hope. Your work gives us strength,” Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman added. 

“Through this act of coming together for a common purpose, the United Nations, with organizations such as yours, strives to contribute to the cause of peace.

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Premiere Celebration de la Journee Internationale Pour L’elimination Totale des Armes Nucleaires

25 September 2014
Entertainers at the event

A l’instar des Centres d’Information à travers le monde et comme souhaité par le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, Monsieur Ban Ki Moon, le CINU Lomé s’est fortement impliqué dans l’organisation de la première célébration la Journée Internationale pour l’élimination totale des armes nucléaires. Fixée au 26 Septembre 2014, cette journée a été observée à Lomé vingt quatre heures plus tôt, soit le jeudi 25 Septembre. Elle a été organisée par le Centre régional des Nations Unies pour la paix et le désarmement en Afrique (UNREC) en collaboration avec l’Institut Goethe de Lomé, le Centre d’Information des Nations Unies (CINU) et des organisations non gouvernementales ainsi que les Associations Les Messagers de la Jarre de Paix (AMJP) et Visions Solidaires. L’organisation de la couverture médiatique a été assurée par le CINU tout comme les prises de vues. Une projection de film documentaire suivie de débat a constitué le clou de la cérémonie qui s’est déroulée dans l’enceinte de l’Institut Goethe. Intitulé « L’HOLOCAUSTE NUCLEAIRE », le film rappelle la puissance destructrice des armes nucléaires capables d’anéantir l’humanité.

Dans son mot de bienvenue, le Directeur de l’Institut Goethe, Monsieur Edem Attiogbé a exprimé sa gratitude au Directeur de l’UNREC pour avoir choisi son Institut pour abriter cette cérémonie historique. 

Après avoir exprimé sa joie d’organiser cette journée destinée à sensibiliser le public sur la menace posée à l’humanité par les armes nucléaires, le Directeur de l’UNREC, Monsieur Marco Kalbusch a lu à la centaine de participants le message circonstanciel du Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, Monsieur Ban Ki Moon. Selon ce dernier : « La Journée Internationale n’est pas seulement l’occasion d’appeler à une limitation des armes nucléaires, de leur portée ou de leurs déploiements ou à l’atténuation de leur rôle dans les politiques de sécurité. C’est aussi l’occasion pour la communauté mondiale de réfléchir aux nombreux avantages que présenterait le désarmement nucléaire, qu’il s’agisse de la sécurité ou de la préservation des ressources financières et scientifiques. C’est l’occasion d’imaginer les conséquences auxquelles on peut s’attendre si la doctrine, fragile et risquée de la dissuasion nucléaire, venait à échouer. »

L’intervention du Directeur de l’UNREC a été suivie de la prestation du conteur traditionnel Eklu Nathey Ablodévi qui a délivré un message au « nom des artistes du monde entier » appelant à l’élimination totale des armes nucléaires et à un engagement de tous à œuvrer dans ce sens. 

Suite à la projection du film, le public a été convié à un débat animé par un panel de cinq personnes qui ont mis en exergue les différents aspects de l’utilisation des armes nucléaires allant des traumatismes et des séquelles sur la santé des victimes aux conséquences sur l’environnement  et  la nécessité de les éliminer complètement, afin de mobiliser la communauté internationale en vue de la réalisation de l’objectif commun qui est l’édification d’un monde exempt d’armes nucléaires. Le débat avec le public composé d’étudiants, d’universitaires, de diplomates, de représentants d’organisations de la Société Civile, etc a permis d’approfondir les différentes interventions du panel.

La soirée de célébration de cette Journée Internationale pour l’élimination totale des armes nucléaires a été égayée par la troupe de ballets « AMLIMA » et ses échassiers.  

First Celebration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Togo

25 September 2014
Audience members

To mark the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (26 September 2014), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Lome, in collaboration with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and two NGOs -- “les Messagers de la Jarre de Paix” (AMJP) and “Visions solidaires”, organized a screening of the documentary "Nuclear Holocaust”, followed by a panel discussion, on 25 September, at the Goethe Institute in Lome. The documentary, recalls the adverse effects nuclear weapons have on humanity.   

In his opening address, the Director of the Goethe Institute in Togo, Mr. Edem Attiogbe, expressed his gratitude to the Director of UNREC, Mr. Marco Kalbusch, for having chosen his Institute to host the historic ceremony.

After expressing his appreciation in raising awareness to the threat posed by nuclear weapons on humanity, Mr. Kalbusch, in his remarks, relayed the commemorative message by the UN Secretary-General which read in part…. “This International Day is not merely one on which we call for limiting nuclear weapons, reducing their range, constraining their deployments or reducing their role in security policies.  It is also a day when the world community reflects on the many benefits that nuclear disarmament would offer, from enhanced security to the conservation of financial and scientific resources.  It is a day on which to imagine the consequences should the dangerous and fragile doctrine of nuclear deterrence fail”.

Mr. Kalbusch’s remarks were followed by a message by a traditional storyteller, Eklu Nathey Ablodévi, who delivered in the “name of artists from around the world", calling for all to work for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Following the film, a panel discussion was held with five national experts, focusing on the trauma and severe consequences of the use of these weapons on victim’s health, and their derogatory effects on the environment. The panel members also emphasized the need to mobilize the international community so as to eliminate nuclear weapons completely. 

The event received good media coverage, which had been arranged by UNIC Lome.

First International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons observed in New Delhi

25 September 2014
At the event

On 25 September, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), New Delhi, marked the very first observance of the International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons with a seminar hosted by Lady Shri Ram College's (LSR) new Aung San Suu Kyi Centre for Peace. This observance also dovetailed into UNIC’s ongoing annual Peace to Non-violence Campaign. 

Highlighting the UN perspective on the issue of elimination of nuclear weapons, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message said:  “What matters most is not which path is taken, but that the chosen path is heading in the right direction – toward the internationally agreed goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Validating that direction was the seminar inaugurated by UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, and featuring JNU Professor Dr. CSR Murthy and LSR Professor Dr. Veena Ravi Kumar, who discussed the politics and morality of nuclear weapons, and the role of the UN in the world’s nuclear history. 

Siddharth Trivedi, Coordinator of LSR’s Conflict Transformation and Peace-Building course, also spoke on the occasion. Given that the very first UN General Assembly resolution ever passed was on the issue of nuclear weapons, the panelists noted the centrality of the question of nuclear disarmament to the UN agenda. Ranging from Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Speech to the Rajiv Gandhi Plan for a Nuclear-free World, from the legality of nuclear weapons according to the ICJ to the various compulsions that shaped India’s path to nuclear status, the talks were both expansive and detailed. 

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman opened the session with the Secretary-General’s message on this Day, describing it as an opportunity for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to complete nuclear disarmament. She was followed by Dr. Murthy who described the role of the UN as forum, a funnel and a front for nuclear disarmament, outlining key issues of politics of nation states around nuclear weapons. 

Dr. Ravi Kumar, speaking on the ethics of nuclear weapons, pointed out the evolving but constant moral grounding of India’s nuclear doctrine – from maintaining a nuclear option to today’s no-first-use policy, India has managed a moral justification for all its choices in the field of nuclear capability. Finally, Mr. Trivedi reminded the audience that 17,000 nuclear weapons still exist today and more than half of the world’s population lives in countries under the nuclear umbrella. 

The session closed with a number of deeply insightful and highly incisive questions from the audience, comprised of a number of political science students, and students of LSR’s Conflict Transformation and Peace-building course. A student raised a question regarding the fate of Scotland’s nuclear installations had the Scots chosen independence from Britain, leading into the far less hypothetical situation of the potential transfer of nuclear facilities in Pakistan. This was followed by a discussion of the threat to West Asian stability posed by Israel’s nuclear capabilities. 

The event ended with remarks by Mrs. Mehra-Kerpelman responding to some of the speeches.