In hot weather that made you want to jump into the Jet d'Eau, Abolition 2000 held its annual general meeting beforehand of the iCAN conference on the weekend of September 16th to 19th. More than 40 participants came together to share and exchange ideas and information.
Among others the network will continue working in working groups on: de-alerting nuclear weapons, global space as a nuclear weapons free zone, nuclear energy, deterrence, NWFZ, NWC. New working groups will deal with: promoting the illegality of use of nukes, radiation/ health, nuclear divestment. As to the new working groups, the illegality of the use of nuclear weapons will take on an existing campaign of individual affirmation that their use is a war crime (for more information and in order to sign the affirmation visit www.nuclear weapons-warcrimes.org). The working group on radiation/ health will tackle the obscurity that WHO's decision making on connecting nuclear radiation and health issues is based on data of IAEA, which is promoting nuclear energy, and thus extremely biased. The working group on divestment deals with analyzing and publicizing the profiteers of nuclear industry and the questions of how people are indirectly investing in nuclear industries, ie. via state pension funds.
Next year three important dates for the abolition of nuclear weapons are coming up: the NATO Summit in Chicago (May) will decide on a revision of its nuclear posture including deterrence; the NPT PrepCom in Vienna will initiate negotiations on what topics will be discussed at the NPT Review Conference 2015; and last but not least a conference on a NWFZ Middle East will take place (up to now it is not decided when and where, most likely in a UN-city). In the general annual meeting no strategies on how to deal with and to approach either of these events were decided nor discussed, this is being left up to the working groups and the participating organizations.
The iCAN international conference at the Maison Internationales des Associations had about 100 participants and mainly focused on three issues: the broadening of the iCAN community – especially in the global South –, the shaping of public relations, as well as exchanging information on activities of iCAN hubs (affiliates). Many activists engage in the abolition of nuclear weapons in various creative ways, tapering on the issues of nuclear weapons. By doing so the iCAN community utilizes “new language” and an “emotional approach” towards reaching individuals and the public. In that sense iCAN breaks with the old, negative-connotated language of the abolitionist movement of nuclear apocalypse and tries to break in its communication with the language of the nuclear weapons proponents (i.e. “65 years of peace”, the nuclear weapons won WWII, etc.) as well as their “worship” of nukes.
The iCAN campaign focuses on reaching young people. This is mainly achieved by utilizing new media as well as internet’s social networks and smaller creative events reaching regional public awareness. iCAN does not focus on mass mobilization for a single event (like a national demonstration) but on coordinated dezentralized actions in the virtual as well as real world. In that sense the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons recognized and adopted to the lifeworld of the young generations who embraced newer communications technologies into their lifes. Furthermore the campaign takes into account the regionalization of processes and thinking in a globalized world.
In more than one term the weekend of Abolition 2000 meeting and the iCAN international conference was a weekend of contrasts; while the Abolition 2000 meeting focused on lobbying for steps towards a nuclear weapons free world, the iCAN conference discussed strategies to gain the heart and minds of future generations for a world without nuclear weapons. On the one hand there was a huge age difference in the two meetings: at iCAN mainly young people of all kinds of political and professional backgrounds met while Abolition 2000 drew in old forces struggling for abolition for decades. On the other hand the iCAN conference encouraged thinking “outside the box” in order to find new ways and strategies to broaden the abolitionist community focusing on the empowerment of individuals, stating “I can”!
Lucas Wirl is Executive Director of Scientist’s Initiative – Responsibility for Peace and Sustainability (NatWiss, www.natwiss.de) and participated in the two meetings for IALANA and INES.
For more information on Abolition 2000 visit: www.abolition2000.org For more information on iCAN visit: www.icanw.org Lucas Wirl is Executive Director of Scientist’s Initiative – Responsibility for Peace and Sustainability (NatWiss, www.natwiss.de) and participated in the two meetings for IALANA and INES.