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.

World Expo 2015 – Cooperation UN system-Fabrica

22 September 2014

The UNRIC Brussels Desk for Italy arranged and took part in a meeting between Clara Velez Fraga, FAO-based representative of the UN Task force for the Expo, and Giovanni Flore, Fabrica’s Project manager and design researcher on prospective cooperation for the Milan event. The Desk Officer had, on the occasion of Clara’s mission to UNRIC last week, expressed the conviction that synergies could be developed with Fabrica, both reviving the Livewindow project (http://www.livewindow.it) and looking into new projects, with the aim of contributing to the UN system’s input into the Expo. Fabrica has long been UNRIC’s reliable partner in disseminating high-quality video products on the occasion of UN thematic days, including at HQ level.

At the meeting, which was followed by another meeting on 23 September, in the presence of the Task force’s art director as well, it was agreed that the Livewindow’s output – dating back to the campaigns held in 2011 and 2012, coordinating the work of a Fabrica-monitored network of creative institutes throughout Europe - would be included in the contributions that will have to be submitted to the Task force by 31 October 2014.

The Fabrica representative confirmed that he would present management with the proposal to give fresh impetus to, revive and renew the existing Livewindow platform, while in parallel looking into alternative forms of partnership, geared towards the corporate world. Fabrica undertook to keep UNRIC abreast of development, and then enhance the already excellent working relationship. The UN task force welcomed this development, acknowledging UNRIC’s crucial contribution. The office’s familiarity with Fabrica and its working practices are bound to prove an asset, in what is a win-win exercise as it would allow Fabrica to get access to the World Expo via the direct channel of the UN system. The next step is now UNRIC’s identification of visual material stemming from past Europe-wide info campaigns for submission to the Task force.

Migration – Lipadusa, stories of life and sea

22 September 2014

Following a recent meeting with the Italian office of the European Parliament and in partnership with the UNHCR Italian office and IOM, UNRIC Desk for Italy was among the participants in the presentation of “Lipadusa, stories of life and sea”, a Fabrica-sponsored creative multi-artistic project (www.fabrica.it/projects/sciabica) that lasted nine months to document the real life of islanders affected by the migration phenomenon and the migration tide itself. The event, attended by media, public authorities, creative community, followed the stream of Sciabica, a project started up by Fabrica (Benetton’s creative branch) in October 2013 following the shipwreck that caused more than 350 people to drown just a few miles off Lampedusa. As already reported, migration, alongside youth unemployment, is to stay as one of the priorities in the European institutions’ agenda and in particular of the Rome-based European Union Parliament’s office. It should therefore feature high on the office’s agenda given the implication that practically all of the countries covered by UNRIC Brussels are affected by this phenomenon. 

War paradigm must be changed to peace paradigm: Former President Khatami

21 September 2014
Participants at the event

The Head of the International Centre for Dialogue among Civilizations, former President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami said here that the paradigm of war and conflict must be changed into a paradigm of peace and understanding.

Addressing a ceremony marking the International Day of Peace at Tehran Peace Museum on 21 September, the former President added that this paradigm must be changed so that people’s lives can be improved.

He added that the ‘Dialogue among Civilizations’ had been introduced to counter the talk – a decade and a half ago – of the prevalent talk of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’.  

“War mongers and extremists must be rooted out so that peace, reconciliation, mutual understanding and security can prevail for all,” Khatami said.

During the ceremony, the UNIC Tehran National Information Officer, Mohammad Moghadam, read the UN Secretary-General’s message on Day.

Also speaking at the event, was the Manager of the Tehran Peace Museum, Mohammad Reza Taghipour-Moghadam , who said that unfortunately,, even as the world commemorated the International Day of Peace, millions of people around the world were still suffering from war and violence and its aftermath.

Mr. Taghipour-Moghadam added that this did not mean that the efforts for peace were in vain or that peace was not achievable. In fact, peace is indeed achievable and today more than ever, the world needs to promote a culture of peace.  “That is why we are gathered here at the Tehran Peace Museum, to recall that we all belong to each other, regardless of political boundaries that separate nations from each other,” he emphasized. 

Speaking on the occasion, the UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Gary Lewis, pointed to the “right to peace” aspect of the UN Secretary-General’s message, indicating that all rights have reciprocal obligations.  He indicated that there were a number of things that could be considered a obligations incumbent on governments and individuals to reduce the risk of conflict.  According to Mr. Lewis, “If we, as human beings, expect the right to live in peace, what is our obligation to make that peace happen?”  

Among these obligations, he suggested, were the need to reduce poverty, reduce injustice, protect the environment, improve accountability and “promote a culture of peace”.  He added that the concept of “human security” should be elevated as an effective measure of security of peoples.