author: Mustakim Ahmed Sunny

The huge influence that the fight for a nuclear-free world has had on both my life and the lives of countless others occurs to me when I put pen to paper. Every year on September 26, we observe the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which serves as a sobering reminder of the urgency underlying our cause and the hope that drives our hearts.

In the midst of tumultuous geopolitical tensions and the relentless instability in Ukraine, the world stands at a crossroads. It is a significant juncture where the use or threat of nuclear weapons is regarded impermissible. As we approach the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26, 2023, we find ourselves on a precipice, teetering between the past and the future, between devastation and survival.

Imagine a world without nuclear weapons testing or proliferation’s constant drumbeat. Imagine a world free of the threat of extinction and a sky no longer marred by mushroom clouds. We picture a world in which humanity has prevailed over the most evil powers of its own making.

The G-20 Summit in New Delhi in 2023 reverberated with a declaration that sent shockwaves around the world. It explicitly declared that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” While this declaration may seem like a whisper amidst the cacophony of international affairs, it bears tremendous significance. In a world where the shadow of nuclear weapons continues to haunt us, the recognition that such actions are abhorrent constitutes a tremendous step forward.

The context of the Ukraine War loomed large in the G-20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, with measured references that refrained from singling out any one nation. It reflected the sentiments of previous summit meetings, but today, we must look beyond rhetoric and demand tangible, time-bound action. The G-21 must step up to the plate, embracing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and compelling all nations, particularly nuclear-armed powers, to sign and ratify this historic treaty.

The TPNW, adopted by 122 United Nations member states in 2017 and enacted in 2021, stands as a beacon of hope. It prohibits states from engaging in any activities related to nuclear weapons, from their use to possession, testing, and transfer. Astonishingly, none of the world’s nuclear-armed powers, including China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have endorsed this landmark treaty. The G-21 presents a unique opportunity for nuclear weapon possessors to engage in dialogue with leaders like Mexico and South Africa, who champion the TPNW and nuclear disarmament.

But it goes further than that. We have to come together in the name of change, motivated by a common desire to live in a society free from the threat of nuclear Armageddon. A road map is provided by initiatives run by UNFOLD ZERO, a platform for UN-focused measures toward a nuclear-weapons-free world. Their overwhelming appeal to “Protect People and the Planet: Appeal for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World” seeks to protect both people and our vulnerable planet.

We must endorse the transformation of the “Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law.” We need to advocate for common security and nuclear disarmament on a global stage. It’s not enough to merely condemn the use or threat of nuclear weapons; we must take concrete steps to ensure they become relics of a bygone era.

In the age of social media, our voices go farther than ever before. We should collectively join the “Don’t even THINK about starting a Nuclear War” social media action. Our online presence has the power to inspire change and serve as a call to arms for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

On this International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we must reflect not only on our past achievements but also on the road ahead. Our task is far from complete, but the urgency remains undiminished.

The metaphorical sword of Damocles still hangs over us, suspended by the fragile thread of international cooperation. The recent tensions among nuclear-armed states serve as a vivid warning that the hazards endure. It is important that we renew the spirit of disarmament, for it is the only road forward.

In our pursuit of a world free from nuclear weapons, let us remember that this is not a mere political issue; it is a human issue, a humanitarian one. The cataclysmic consequences of a nuclear conflict would spare no one, no nation. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” we must act decisively to eliminate this existential threat.

To those who argue that nuclear deterrence has kept us safe for decades, I say this: We cannot let the illusion of security blind us to the ever-present danger. We must not allow our survival to depend on a precarious balance of terror. Instead, we must embrace the audacious dream of a world where the very notion of nuclear weapons is consigned to history.

Let us draw inspiration from the courageous Hibakusha, the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who have borne witness to the unimaginable horrors of nuclear warfare. Their stories are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that we must never allow history to repeat itself.

As we observe this International Day, let us reiterate our resolve to the eradication of nuclear weapons. Let us insist that our officials prioritize disarmament over deterrence, that they understand the moral responsibility to defend humanity’s future. Our world is not lacking in obstacles, but the fear of nuclear destruction should not be among them. As we observe the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons this year, let us remember that the power to transform our future rests within our hands. It is a power generated from unity, conviction, and an unflinching dedication to a world that no longer lives under the shadow of nuclear disaster.

The road ahead is fraught with challenges, but as long as we stand together, resolute in our determination to eliminate nuclear weapons, we can, and we will, build a safer, more peaceful world for generations to come. This is not just a dream; it is our shared responsibility.

In closing, I leave you with this thought: The journey to a world free from nuclear weapons is not an easy one, but it is a journey worth taking. It is a journey driven by the most profound of human values—life, compassion, and the unshakable belief in a better tomorrow.

May we continue to work hard, may we continue to educate and advocate, and may we continue to be the voice of reason in a world that cries out for sanity. Together, we can pave a road to a future where the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is not simply a day of reflection but a day of celebration—a celebration of our united triumph over the abyss.

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